One of the exercises I use in workshops that shows the power of conversations entails “speaking virtues” of people in your life. In one round, I invite participants to speak about a child — preferably one of their own, if they have one. Although the primary purpose of the activity is to provide an experience of how what we say can alter our moods and the energy of a room, it also can be a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of what we love about some key figures in our lives. When I demonstrate, I usually speak about my son, Michael.

The unfortunate truth is far too often we complain about our spouses and loved ones. We share our upsets and disappointments. In everyday life, I’m embarrassed to say I speak from my fear about Michael’s future more often than I speak to his accomplishments and gifts. Typically human, yet below the standard I set for myself. Today Michael turns 19. A few days ago, the thought of writing this blog about him came to mind.

Part of the context for the idea was I had answered questions about the three best and worst experiences of my life. Among the former: the birth of Michael and becoming a dad. Among the latter: putting a young child through the divorce of his parents and the ongoing aspects of a “broken family.” Often love, appreciation, and joy must work through the filters of pains, frustrations, and disappointments. So it is particularly important to remind myself and speak the virtues.

Today as Michael “becomes legal” in the rest of Canada, I think back through his Gerber baby face, first steps, and early signs of his thesbian ways — many costumes, fantasy games, and imagination. He has grown into a “triple threat” as actor, singer, and dancer. His resumé includes local and international theatre festivals and songs he’s written and performed with self-taught guitar. Through the tribulations of seeking to stay connected, in this moment I feel Michael’s heart. Wounded, yes, for how could it not be, but full of the magic of the world and the lore of what can be created.  Happy Birthday Michael. I love you.

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