I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Gisele Bündchen

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 31, 2014 5:44 PM

It’s the last day of 2014 and you know what that means. Tomorrow is Lorin’s annual and official de-Christmasing. But as I have this last day to muse and mull, I thought I would share a little something that has gradually occurred to me. I am no longer 35. Yesterday was my birthday, and I haven’t been 35 in actually quite some time. But I use 35 as a metaphor. When I was 35, I was at my physical best. I was tall and thin, still running so I was in great shape. I could slip into my old 501 jeans and have them look spectacular.

I haven’t been able to wear those jeans in a while now though they still hang in my closet because I remain hopeful. I have aspirations.

But I will never be 35 again. I am now safely in my 50s and I am actually very OK with that. I am beginning what many have come to term the more ideal second phase of life. This isn’t to say or even imply that the first phase was un-ideal. In fact, quite the opposite. The first phase saw me get an education and embark on a career that I loved and miraculously still do. It allowed me to appreciate my family. It gave me the opportunity to make real, true, and lasting friends. It gave me my first husband to show me exactly what I didn’t want in a marriage, and thus gave me my favorite husband, Kevin who in turn gave me Justin. And Maguire. And now Cooper. The first phase was the time of my life where I began.

The second phase is the time when I enjoy. Justin is out of school and making his own living. We are now at the time in the parents-child relationship when he actually likes talking to us. When there is no agenda, just love, laughter and joy. It was a long time coming. I’m glad it’s here.

It’s a time when we have reinvented ourselves, picked up our lives and moved to a new city with a new culture, where we can spend time rediscovering things that we like. Art galleries. Restaurants. Sitting by outside fireplaces listening to nothing but music. Watching a house get built on a hill. Meeting new people. Engaging with those our own age. Being unapologetic for it and embracing this second phase as opportunity. Opportunity to live differently and possibility to change because we can. And did.

It’s a time to also realize that 50 is the new best age. We don’t look like we did at 35. We have more lines. Things sag that didn’t used to. Things don’t fit the way they once did. Hair is thinner, for both men and women. But it’s all OK. Because it’s real and true and honest and life.

I titled this post “I have come to terms with the fact that I will never look like Gisele Bündchen.” The fact is, I bet Gisele Bündchen, also known as Mrs. Tom Brady and the highest earning super model in the world, probably doesn’t always look like her magazine-self either. She’s pretty; makeup and hair and clothing and Photoshop make her stunningly gorgeous. But she’s 32. I wonder how she’ll look and feel at 53.

I was perusing the internet earlier, just bouncing around as I often do between projects. It’s how I cleanse my creative palette. I came across something entitled “GQs Sexiest Women of 2014.” Naturally I clicked. I’ll tell you about it so you don’t have to look yourself. It was filled with what men seem to think women actually look like. Most of them were women probably in their early 20s who had lithe, ridiculously hairless bodies that they showcased readily, squirming in the sand, writhing on satin sheets, all sex and foreplay. There were only a few whose names I even recognized, like Lizzy Caplan, Rashida Jones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the latter of whom is also 53. She will never look like Gisele either and I suspect she, too, is just fine with that. It’s called acceptance, and reality. And being OK with who you are, without Photoshop.

As we wrap up 2014, I hope that some of you, too, have decided that this next phase of life will be one of wonder and fun, love and laughter, and yes, beauty. And that when you look in the mirror, you’re OK with the person looking back because that person is truly worth celebrating, this day, this night and always.

Treme in the OP

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, January 1, 2013 7:34 PM

Last night was fairly uneventful here in Oak Park. We don’t go out on New Year’s Eve, haven’t in years. We used to get together with Roy and Bobbi, especially when Justin was little. Often we’d have lobster, but that got expensive and messy, and I hated having Roy and Bobbi out driving during what is traditionally a not-good-night to drive. People are a tiny bit more responsible, perhaps, than they used to be when it comes to drinking and driving, but why put yourself in that position if you don’t need to?

For several years now, probably since Justin went away to college and maybe even before that, we all prefer to hang in our respective houses; last night was no different. Kevin and I walked Cooper early. The evening was cool, pillow-top clouds dotted the darkening sky, lit from below by the setting sun. It was just about 5 pm and the temperature was dropping. Another cold night was ahead. I thought briefly about all of the people camped along Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, saving their piece of sidewalk for a perfect view of the Rose Bowl Parade in the morning. It’s a tradition, to sleep on the cement and freeze, wake up at dawn to see your breath crystallize in the air, and then have to hunt for a bathroom and an egg mcmuffin. I’ve never been to the parade; have absolutely no desire. Kevin and I don’t even watch it on television. But people come from all over the country and it’s a very big deal. Clouds or not, it wasn’t going to rain. It never rains on the Rose Bowl Parade. It simply isn’t allowed.

Cooper was his usual semi-manic self as we cruised through the neighborhood. He is wonderful in the house, gentle and mellow, but the minute we pull out his leash he turns into Crazed Puppy. We’re thinking of having a cape made. He acts like he’s never been for a walk in his life and he’s very very very excited and did he tell you how much he likes to walk and oh-boy we might see other dogs and I can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait can we go go go go NOW?!!!!!

We’re exhausted by the time we leave the house. And this is actually better than he used to be. When he first came to live with us, he was … what’s the word I’m looking for? I know it; it’s right on the tip of my tongue. Horrible. That’s it. He. Was. Horrible. He pulled, he lunged, he strained his collar or his harness so much he choked himself. I called a friend of ours, a dog trainer, who lives up in Washington State. Here was our conversation:

“Deb? He’s a nut.”

Deb: “We can fix this. You won’t believe how easy it is.”

“You’re right. I won’t. Because he’s a nut-bag. A total and complete bag of nuts and when he sees another dog, he’s like a freakin’ kite. We’re walking along and suddenly the dog is airborne.”

Deb: “He’ll be fine. Let me tell you what to do.”

I listened. I took notes. I asked questions. I relayed the information to Kevin. We tried it. He was still sort of a kite, but moderately better. We finally got a pinch collar, and he’s actually a lot better. Now he at least keeps his feet, all four of them, on the ground.

We do this walking thing twice a day, and each time the reaction is the same. OMG, a walk! A walk! A WALK!

Last night, as with so many nights, by the time we started back toward the house, he had calmed down. His gait was a bit slower; there was a little slack in the leash. As we ambled down the sidewalk, under the now darker and purple clouds, we could hear music. We paused, listening. It sounded like it was outside but we couldn’t see anything or anyone and it seemed to be too cold to be playing outside. Then we saw them, on the sidewalk, just rounding out of the cul de sac near the house. A guy sitting cross-legged with his guitar; a girl with her knees bent under her so she was just above him, playing the violin.

We stopped to listen. They didn’t see us. They didn’t seem to care that there were people out, walking, seeing them, hearing them play. They were in their own world, entertaining themselves, even as they actually entertained others. The music was good, not great, but the fact that these two kids, maybe in the early stages of high school were sitting outside in the cold, in the dusk, playing live music, was astonishing.

I don’t know what the song was. It didn’t matter. As we continued on, with Kevin holding Cooper’s leash, and me walking next to my two boys, Kevin chuckled quietly:

“What?” I asked.

“It’s a little like Treme right here in the OP,” he said.

The music filled the cold night air and the sun finally dipped down. The clouds disappeared into darkness and so did the music. We went into the house to celebrate New Year’s Eve. But outside, in the OP, some live music was playing. What a spectacular way to say hello and welcome to 2013. 

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live out loud

As we enter the year of the dragon

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 23, 2012 10:35 PM

Tonight at midnight, the Chinese ring in the year 4710. All around the world, shouts of Gong Xi Fa Ca! will ring out, and the year of the dragon will be ushered in. Those born during this next lunar calendar year will be imaginative, lucky and energetic. Dragons, it seems, are the world’s doers. They don’t sit around waiting for things to happen. They make change while demanding perfection from themselves and from others. The dragon symbolizes strength and goodness.

The year of the dragon comes around every 12 lunar years and each one is welcomed with vigor and celebration. Brightly colored silk and extravagant decorations, and people dressed like flowing dragons parade through the streets. Some of the dragon costumes are over 100 feet long and require a number of people inside to make the dragon dance and move.

There are several thoughts on Chinese New Year mythology. Some think a monster named Nian would emerge on the last night of each year to wreak havoc on villages and people. A wise elder advised villagers to scare away the monster with loud noises, to set fire to bamboo, light fireworks and bang their drums. Another version of the story had an old man, a god, riding away on Nian as people hung red paper decorations in and on their homes. Over the years, the two versions have merged somewhat though many still greet the New Year with the words Guo Nian, or survive the Nian to celebrate.

The year of the dragon is considered the luckiest of the Chinese years, of which there are twelve. People born in the year of the dragon also are associated with wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. This year’s dragon is the year of the Water Dragon, associated with winter, the north, the planet Mercury, the color black, and the moon. In Chinese lore water represents intelligence and wisdom, flexibility and softness.

I was born in the year of the Ox. The Chinese believe that you take on certain characteristics of the animal representing your year. According to my research, that means I’m patient, determined, and easy going. Except during football games. I’m evidently hard-working, logical, and tenacious, and can be trusted to get the job – any job – done. Unless it’s yard work and then I hire someone. By nature, the ox is methodical, sticking to routines and tradition. The ox is not a very attractive animal, though as one I would apparently be happy as a tennis pro, surgeon, hair stylist, or rock climber. Hmmm …. no mention of being a writer.

The Chinese New Year never begins on January 1st, nor does it begin on the same date each year. It does begin anywhere between January 21st and February 18th, depending on when the new moon is in Aquarius. Unlike our calendar, used to mark day-to-day life, the Chinese calendar marks holidays. Each month is charted by a single lunar cycle with the first day of the month beginning during the new moon when there is no sunlight on the hemisphere facing the Earth. The month lasts about 29 and a half days and adds about a quarter of a day to each year.

What happens during a Chinese New Year’s Day sets the tone for the rest of the year, so be careful in your actions. Greet people who will bring you joy. Make sure positive energy flows at home and at work. Everything associated with the day can and should mean good fortune.

I like that idea and think more people should adopt it. It’s not about making resolutions that always seem destined to fail; it’s about thinking and being positive, something destined to succeed.

There’s a Chinese proverb that states all creations are reborn on New Year’s Day. On this New Year’s Eve, I think that’s worth embracing, and celebrating.

Gong Xi Fa Ca! That’s Mandarin for wishing you prosperity, and my sentiments for living it out loud.

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And so we welcome 2012

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 31, 2011 11:04 PM

It’s expected, I know, but sometimes certain dates just scream for a particular kind of post. Tonight is such a night. It’s New Year’s Eve, the annual night when the old year graciously departs to make way for the new. There are great hopes and desires that this beginning will allow for optimism and excitement. It represents an opportunity, a chance for renewal. If the past year has presented challenges, the New Year offers renewal, possibilities and solutions. It’s usually cause for celebration, hence the big and boisterous parties that take place all over the globe. These celebrations have been taking place for many millennia.

As is my wont, I will now provide you with some history of ringing in the New Year, the earliest of which can be traced to about 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. They did not yet have the Gregorian calendar that marks our current New Year’s celebration. Instead, they celebrated the vernal equinox, a day in late (now) March with equal amounts of daylight and nighttime. They marked the occasion with a religious festival called Akitu. It lasted for 11 days and also celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian god of the sky, Marduk, over the evil sea goddess Tiamat.

Egypt’s new year began with the annual flooding of the Nile. The Chinese celebrated the New Year when the second new moon occurred after the winter solstice. Then came Numa Pompilius, a Roman king who added the months of Januarius and Februarius to the then 10-month calendar. After a while, the calendar fell out of sync with the sun and in 46 BC, emperor Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, a precursor to the modern Gregorian in use today. In his calendar, Caesar made January 1 the first day of the year only to have Christian leaders replace January 1 with December 25 as the official start of the New Year. For a while, the Feast of the Annunciation, on March 25, was also the start of the New Year. Pope Gregory XIII re-established January 1 in 1582.

As civilizations developed, celebrations evolved. Most begin on December 31, and include great foods thought to bring good luck for the coming year. In Spain, people eat a dozen grapes as the clock strikes midnight, symbolizing their hopes for the coming 12 months (I like this particular tradition, though I prefer my grapes in a liquid form). Other countries, like Italy, eat lentils. The southern states of America like black-eyed peas. Both are said to bring financial success. Countries like Cuba, Austria, Hungary and Portugal eat pork because it supposedly represents progress as well as prosperity. The Netherlands, Mexico and Greece eat ring-shaped cakes, symbolizing the year coming full circle. Sweden and Norway eat rice pudding with an almond hidden inside. Whoever finds the nut, also finds 12 months of good fortune.

In this country, we sing Auld Lang Syne. We make resolutions, much like the ancient Babylonians did to find favor with the gods. We drop a big crystal Tiffany ball from a place on high in Times Square. We’ve been doing this since 1907, when the ball was 700 pounds of iron and wood. It’s now 12 feet in diameter and weighs 12,000 pounds. Millions gather in Times Square to wait and watch. Most of them are young and have no problem with the fact that public restrooms are in short supply and the temperatures are often well below freezing.

Others go to parties, or out to dinner. In New England, my mother goes to a bonfire lobster fest every year. It’s always cold but the company is festive and the food, great. It started out as a bunch of hot air balloonists and has evolved into a rip-roaring party.

We’re celebrating tonight but not with a party. We’re not really big New Year’s eve people. We love what it promises; we’re just not big on the being out and drinking and navigating roads with others who have been out and drinking. It makes for messy confrontations and not the best way to bring in the next 365 days. Instead, we’re opening a nice bottle of wine and sitting down to a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, an idea I stole from my friend Pam who said she was doing the same thing when we spoke earlier today. It sounded good; it smells even better as it simmers in the kitchen.

As the clock rolls from 2011 to 2012, I hope we’ll still be up and can toast the change, the opportunity, and the possibilities that the next twelve months will bring. We’re hopeful; we’re excited. We’re ready to live every day out loud.

Happy New Year! May 2012 bring wonder and joy. 

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live out loud

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