Empathy…

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”― Ernest Hemingway

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – HARPER LEE

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” – Barack Obama

“The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” – Meryl Streep

 

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Marking the day

It was five years ago today that I collapsed at home and was taken to the hospital, marking the beginning of an ordeal that changed my whole life. If you don’t know that story, click here!

It seems crazy that it was 5 years ago – it feels like it just happened, but at the same tine it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

I am so grateful to the amazing people in my life who helped my family and I through that time. As awful as that was, it taught me how wonderful people can be, and how precious our minutes are. As I enjoy these extra innings of my life, I hope you all remember to enjoy your lives too. Love loudly, savor the world around you, every moment you can. Be a force of awesomeness and drag people in your wake! There is so much beauty to see, so much joy to share, so many people to embrace, and such an unknowably finite amount of time in which to do it – Be Relentless!

Pic Post Friday!

I had a wonderful quick getaway with my amazing wife Jeanne earlier this week.   We stole a couple days from the schedule and visited Saugatuck, Michigan.  We stayed in the fabulous Hidden Gardens bed-and-breakfast, where I now want to live year-round.

We spent a lot of time on Lake Michigan, at Oval Beach. Just beautiful.   Here’s the only pic I took at the beach!


To get to the beach, you have to take a short walk from downtown Saugatuck, across the Kalamazoo River.  This chain ferry is the way to cross and, according to the operator, it’s one of only a handful still in operation across the country!

Here is the guy cranking us across the river. Yes, when offered the chance, I did some cranking! Life is short, try stuff, celebrate everything!  😁


Jeanne and I had a great time, it was a wonderful relaxing couple of days. Downtown Saugatuck is adorable with lots of parks and little shops and great food. (If you go, don’t miss The Southerner, or Phil’s!)

This flower shop has the best name ever.

We also enjoyed some relaxing and great wine at a cool place called Borrowed Time…

 

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With life being crazy, and politics driving everyone nuts, and work being always busy, and Jeanne and the kids going back to school in a week…. a little breathing room with the most important person in my world was just perfect.

I hope you’re all able to carve out some hammock time, whatever your version is, before long.  These are the moments all the hard stuff should lead to. Don’t forget to take them.

Taking a breath

Sometimes the best thing, the most productive thing, is a little down time.  

Just being outside, breathing. Being with family. Do some reading. “Refill the well”, as Julia Cameron would say. 





Some Kazan, some beverages, a tiny fish and a couple more days of this to come.  Thanks, Universe. 

Wednesday: things to be grateful for. 

Hanging out with these awesome people…


When this awesome person comes back after being in Finland for almost a year…. 


Having a nice breakfast with these two!


This bit of cleverness!


A great day at the ballpark!

Starbucks Matcha Lemonade 


Season 7 of ERNIE!

Closing this amazing show, and being really proud it was on our stage…

Starting rehearsal for THIS amazing show! 


And…. just this sentiment!

Hi Blog, We Meet Again…

Well, it’s been 4 and 1/2 months since I’ve written here.  This will be a long entry about why. 🙂

Many of you who read this blog regularly already know, but for those who don’t, from January 19th to April 1st I was in the hospital.  The last post on my blog leads right into this one, because I was writing about fighting illness, and 2 days later I collapsed and was taken to the ER.  It turns out that some of the problems I was having were due, at least in part, to bacterial meningitis.  While in the hospital, the bacterial meningitis caused my brain to swell up, and my breathing trouble turned into pneumonia.  The pneumonia turned into Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, and they wound up putting me in an induced coma state, which I was in for 4 and 1/2 or 5 weeks.

Waking up was a slow process.  I started to wake up around the 28th of February, my wife Jeanne says, but there was about a week or so where I was awake but not very responsive, but slowly started asking some questions and responding to some questions with witty one-liners , but shortly after that I got a secondary infection that wiped me out for a couple more days, and I don’t really have any clear recollection of anything until early March when I started to become a little more lucid.  Once they’d determined that I hadn’t suffered any brain damage from the bacterial meningitis they started me on a series of different rehabilitation therapies (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, swallow studies, things like that) which I did for a while in the acute care ward, and then moved to the rehab ward for a couple more weeks of PT and OT.

Shortly before being released back into the wild on April 1st, Jeanne helped me post on Facebook – what I wrote is here, if you’re interested.

Once I got home, I spent a month going to out-patient physical therapy, which I finished in early May.  I’m still going to dialysis 3 times a week, due to the damage my kidneys took during my illness.  There’s still hope they could rebound and heal themselves, but right now we have to move forward as though I’ll need dialysis forever, just to be safe.

SO.  Life has changed a lot in the last 4 and 1/2 months since my last blog post!  🙂  Now I’m doing physical therapy exercises at home and lots of walking to try and get my strength back.  I’m almost to the point where I don’t need a nap daily.  I’m using my cane for walking less, and soon won’t need it (although everyone wants me to get a cool cane with a sword in it!).  My kids can still beat me in arm wrestling, and we’ve had to buy me new pants because I lost 47 pounds in the hospital!  Still, life is darned good.  I’m slowly starting to do some work back at the theatre, getting better at the new diet I’ve got to live by, and trying to gain some muscle weight back!

This has been the most amazing experience, even though there is a huge part of it that I have no recollection of at all.  (I remember Jeanne taking me into the Emergency Room on January 19th, and I threw up.  The next clear memory I have is waking up in early March with people looking down at me, wondering what happened.)  During the time I was down, my family and I received the most amazing amount of support and love from friends and family… it was, and continues to be, simply overwhelming.  Cards, food, messages, chores, errands, money, prayer quilts, helping with kids and their travel needs, the list goes on and on.  My friend Emily started a thing called “Team Tony”, and created a t-shirt with my image on it for people to buy as a fundraiser to help my family cover medical bills.  That took off and, amazingly, 693 shirts were sold and $14,000 was raised.  Everyone started posting pictures of themselves wearing their Team Tony shirts, and it was the most wonderful, uplifting thing in the universe to wake up in the hospital and have my wife and family share this amazing outpouring of generosity and love with me.  I truly believe this massive positive energy helped me recover and heal, and it’s been the most life changing experience in the world – I’m so incredibly grateful.

So.  This is the longest post ever.  I’ll end it here.  But I’m hoping to be posting a lot more regularly – this experience has been such an eye-opening journey.  I have so many people to thank, and so much more I’m looking forward to sharing about it and, to be honest, I’m still processing it all.  Not a day goes by that I don’t re-realize how lucky I am to be here right now, and how all of this time with my family and friends is a gift that I almost didn’t get.

It’s good to be back.

Being grateful

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted any thoughts or pictures or anything fun on this Commonplace Book I call my blog.

Unfortunately, I spent most of that time feeling pretty ill and being very under the weather.  I talked about being diagnosed with diabetes here, but thankfully that’s been under control nicely from diet and exercise.  The reason they found the diabetes though, back in April, was because for months I’ve been having issues with my breathing – my lungs keep shutting down, and none of the doctors are quite sure what the deal is yet.  SO – while doing tests to figure that out they found out I had diabetes.  As I said, I’m glad that I’ve been able to keep the diabetes in check, but the up and down roller coaster of recurring coughing/wheezing episodes has proven to be a bigger challenge.  A big recurrence of that about 2 weeks ago hit me hard, and slowed down everything in my life EXCEPT the doctor visits!  🙂

I’m doing better now, and we’ve got another, hopefully solid, plan to combat it.  Time will tell, and we’ll continue moving forward.

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The thing for me, though, and the reason I’m writing this post today, is because it really has been a couple weeks of being reminded how much I have to be grateful for.  My wife, who is the strongest most supportive amazing woman ever.  My kids, who are the best.  My co-workers, who picked up the slack and said “Stay home and get better” and made my life so much easier.  My brother and sister who made me laugh the whole time, and my folks who have been  super supportive.  Health insurance, which has made this easier (although it’s amazing how you think “Oh, we’ve got insurance” and then still wind up paying thousands of dollars for things. I’m not going  to get into a Universal HealthCare rant here, though! I’m grateful it hasn’t cost us more.)

So, other things I realized that I’m grateful for:  Heating pads.  Cool washcloths on foreheads.  Good music.  Soup.  Tylenol with codeine.

Something I’m still LOOKING FOR to be grateful about: A replacement for coffee.  I am done drinking coffee, have obviously eliminated (or greatly trimmed) sugar from my life, and am avoiding artificial sweeteners.  So, I haven’t found a warm drink like tea with a flavor that I like unsweetened yet.

Ah, now I’m off and rambling.  Things are looking up, health is on the mend, my family is fabulous, the theatre is launching into Season 8 and it’s going to be terrific.

So, thanks to those of you who’ve already heard some of this and sent “Feel better” wishes – I am – and today my blog post is a simple request:

Look around.  Take note of things you’re grateful for, and take a second to appreciate them.

Happy Monday, y’all!

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