Gratitude Entry

Looking around at the world around me, I can feel myself getting frustrated.

Is frustrated the right word? Maybe not. Listless? Looking that up right now: “Lacking energy or enthusiasm”. That feels closer than frustrated. In March we closed down the Williamston Theatre building to public performances, hoping for a few week hiatus while the world sorted out the virus.

That, of course, hasn’t happened.

And as the months have dragged on, I’ve found myself having a hard time maintaining my energy, my drive to create or produce or explore. There are some things I’ve done, like worked on being more fit (I’ve been walking between 3 and 5 miles a day since Spring), and I’ve been using a couple of apps and podcasts to work on learning the Italian language. But my frustration with the virus, the poor national response to it, the inability to produce live theatre, the question of HOW and WHEN to re-open the theatre… it’s been energy draining. (I know this is not a phenomenon unique to me, also!) I know that this whole year is an anomaly, and that we have to allow ourselves a little slack, but as someone who runs a small institution devoted to “making the world a better place through storytelling”, I am frustrated by my inability to do that, as well as by the fact that over the last few months I just can’t muster the energy to do much. Listless is probably the better word. I feel like I should be doing MORE. But I have no interest in re-inventing theatre for online consumption… maybe that will change in the future, but honestly one of the things I love about theatre as an art form is the presence of a bunch of people in a room breathing together with the performers. Anyway, that’s a whole topic that I could ramble about…. but instead I’m going to change the topic. Listless and frustrated is not something I want to be.

So, often, I find myself taking note of the things I have that I am lucky to have in an effort to make sure I’m not just being whiny and petulant. Here are a few of the things I’m grateful for this afternoon:

My wife will be donating a kidney to me! We find out recently that Jeanne and I are a match, and she can donate a kidney directly to me. She decided a long time ago to get tested and be one of the people to see if she was eligible to donate, but we never expected that she’d be able to give one directly TO me. Turns out that only happens about 5% of the time. I’m just overwhelmed with her generosity! It probably won’t happen for many months, because they’ll wait until my kidneys have given up the ghost, so hopefully the pandemic will be cleared up before the big event.

This past Tuesday, on December 1st, we had a wonderful “pandemic version” of our annual Giving Tuesday Play-a-Thon at Williamston Theatre. It was terrific, the plays were great, the performances were great, Zoom was mostly adequate with only a few challenging lag issues. The most wonderful part was seeing faces of people I hadn’t seen in months, chatting with them about the plays, stories, and seeing people who were looking forward to the theatre coming back in person.

Ted Lasso. YES – if you haven’t yet watched the tv show Ted Lasso, please do. It did not originally seem like anything I would be interested in (American football coach gets hired to coach soccer in England?), but after having many people give strong recommendations, I sat down to give it a try, and was HOOKED. I watched the whole series with Maggie, and then we convinced Jeanne to watch it and she fell in love so we rewatched it with her! Go watch it. It’s just one of the most hopeful, funny, heartfelt things and is a great remedy for the current…. world.

Decaf Chai Tea with Honey. Yeah, everything in my life is decaf now, and I’ve been enjoying tea more than ever. Even peppermint tea, which I expected to hate. But lately the decaf chai with a bit of honey has been a go-to favorite.

Today, I’m doing a couple of Zoom chats with people, and then I’ll be taking my walk. Then I’ve got a date with the couch and a good book. How do you fight off “listless”? Not sure, but I’m going to try!

Grateful for awesomeness…

Something I haven’t talked about a lot online yet: I’m currently going through the evaluation process to get on the kidney transplant list. After years of not needing to be on dialysis, my kidney disease has almost reached the inevitable point of needing dialysis and, hopefully, a kidney transplant. Could be a year, could be two, but the process has begun. More info on that will come later. In preparation for that, I have been undergoing the evaluation process to determine if a transplant is feasible. We should know the results of that in a couple weeks.

This post, though, isn’t about me, it’s about the whole Kidney Transplant team at UofM hospital: they have been fabulous. Every single person I’ve dealt with, as I go through this evaluation process to determine if I can be listed on the transplant list, has been really wonderful. Helpful, patient with my questions, compassionate and personable.

I say this because I think awesomeness deserves to be recognized. This process, which has the potential to be monumentally daunting, is made more understandable and less scary by how good these people are at their jobs and how much care they take with each step. From the giant binder of information (that is SO well prepared), to the many phone calls checking in on me confirming appointments and easing any concerns, I (and I think Jeanne) have been put much more at ease by the reassuring calm and open discussions with the many staff people we’ve talked with.

It’s really energizing – seeing how much they care about getting it right, and helping each person to have every resource, every piece of information they need, and a clear path into and through this complicated and scary thing.

Today I sat through another several hours of tests, and the thing I realized is that everyone that I was working with, again, was operating with an amazing ever-present sense of empathy. How much information did I want? Or how little? Was I comfortable? Was I anxious? Was I clear on what was happening and why? What could they do to help?

As I was realizing this and watching them work, I started thinking about the season at Williamston Theatre (which is BASED around the idea of empathy this year), and how much the practices of empathy and compassion are able to change the world. We can see examples of it all around us, just as we can so clearly see the examples of people behaving without these traits.

So, this is a long way of working through this, and saying THANKS to the amazing transplant team I’ve been working with. We’ll know soon enough if the process bears fruit but, in the meantime, MY world has been made a little better by these people. And I’ve been reminded of how I want to impact the world as well.

Not bad for a cloudy Tuesday morning!

Grateful

So grateful for the chance to visit Italy last week, and see Tommaso! More pictures will follow.

One more thing I’m really grateful for is that this massive sinus infection waited until I was most of the way home before it hit me, and that my doctor could see me right away, and that breathing treatments and antibiotics and codeine cough syrup exist. And that my family has helped me set up camp on my couch for a few days while this thing runs its course.

Now, I sleep more. In the meantime, here’s a picture of something I tried in Italy.

It was NOT good. If you see this out in the wild, avoid.

All good news…

So, yeah, this space has been silent for a few weeks.  In truth, I was unsure what to write, because I was going through a health scare thing, so I just didn’t write anything…..

Fortunately, everything has turned out pretty much okay.  Want too much medical info?   Here ya go:  The doctors discovered a tumor in my bladder.  So, we had a month or so of worry about whether it was going to be cancerous and, even if it wasn’t cancerous, if the removal of it would necessitate the removal of my bladder.  Fortunately, we got more or less the best news – it was removed without too much damage to the wall of my bladder, and it was not cancerous, although I now will have to get checked every 6 months for cancer cells there, because statistics show that a certain percentage of people who get this type of tumor do eventually develop bladder cancer.  Still, with all of the other medical stuff I’ve had going on over the last few years, I’ll take the win!  🙂

Of course, following that, I was reminded by the doctors that because of my CVID, and all of the aforementioned medical adventures, that I should probably make sure I’m not taxing my “compromised” immune system.  So, the “slow down” message was given again, and I need to listen to it.  SO, some slowing down is in the works.  More QFT* and less overlapping, back-to-back work projects, etc…  All good news.

Other good news:
Ernie opened this week, and I got to spend the week doing brush-up rehearsals with the gang.  Season 7 – it’s a fascinating thing, this “bring a play back for 7 seasons”, from a directing viewpoint.  Finding things, 7 years later, that make us go “OH! This moment will be better if we XYZ instead of ABC! – Cool, let’s do it!”  There are some serious lessons to be found in watching your own work replayed over years – I’m grateful for that.  I’m also grateful for the super team of actors, stage managers and designers who work to keep the show fresh and engaging.

We are running Taking Shakespeare at Williamston Theatre, and it’s just wonderful.  Funny, smart, thoughtful, and full of love and joy and hope! Great performances, terrific direction and designs – I just couldn’t be prouder to have it on our stage.  This weekend and next weekend are the final performances, check it out if you haven’t! Click Here!

OH!  I redid the layout of my website.  I still need to update with a bunch of new show photos from my directing gigs, but let me know if you like the new look of the site.

Maybe the biggest good news of all: Maggie comes home in less that 2 weeks!  Our world-traveling, Finnish exchange-studenting oldest kid finally returns.  It’s been about 10 months since I got to hug her and squeeze her, and I can’t wait!

I hope good news is running through all of your worlds this month too.

*Quality Family Time

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.

bethankful

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!

begrateful