I love everything about the theatre, including eavesdropping on my fellow theatregoers. While I imagine no comment will ever come close to the person at Jersey Boys who asked their companion “did you know this was a musical?” – there were some pretty amusing comments during previews of The River. Admittedly The River – starring Hugh Jackman, Cush Jumbo, and Laura Donnelly – is deeply layered, symbolic, and mystical; however, some of the confusion seemed to involve much more basic deductions. The beauty of the work, written by Jez Butterworth and directed by Ian Rickson, is that each person will be moved by it in a different way and perhaps leave with more questions than answers. That being said, I think we can all agree that it’s pretty obvious that it is a real trout Hugh is preparing on stage each night…
Top Ten Things Overheard at The River …
10. You better turn your phone off, I saw him stop a show and yell at someone on YouTube…
9. Do I turn this off with the selfie button?
8. Are there real birds in here?
7. Is he a serial killer?
6. When will they tell us what happened?
5. Is this like Scoop?
4. I think that was a real fish….
3. I can’t believe they won’t let you take pictures in here…
2. Why are they harassing me about not being able to be late or get up during the play? They sent me an email…
1. The show was about this guy having a threesome…
We were stuck in a holding pattern until my insurance company approved the iron iv infusion. At least a week of phone calls and tenacity on my part finally got the approval. It was so very frustrating as it seemed as if I they weren’t understanding just how important the treatment was to me. My first iron infusion therapy appointment on November 28, 2012 was nerve wracking for me, as it is administered in the same infusion suite where chemo is delivered it was a quick reminder just how fortunate I was to be here with a plan. The infusion has to be done where they are prepared for any allergic reactions and can act quickly to address adverse side effects, the surroundings remind you that this is not something to be taken lightly. I was searching within and without to find a way to calm myself, to focus, to visualize healing taken place – and then it happened. As the nurse approached me with the rather large syringe containing black liquid (my iron) I immediately saw her coming at me with Adamantium- I knew as soon as I started getting that force into my system I would be strong again and be ready to take on the world! Okay, so there was a slight moment of panic when I proved to be a bit allergic to Adamantium and started itching all over my body. I did get to see just how quickly the doctors, nurses and aides could get a crash cart over and start injecting benadryl into my IV. Once that passed I went back to my visualization, made even stronger by a dose of benadryl.
In case you are not familiar with Adamantium, in the Marvel Comics universe it is an indestructible metal alloy best known for being the substance bonded to Wolverine’s skeleton and bone claws. I saw the iron flowing into my body, bonding to my blood cells and bringing me strength. I saw myself running again, being active, being strong. Those images helped me hold on and get through the process. I left feeling pretty lousy, beat up and achy, happy to be able to make it home before I started vomiting. We had to call the doctor so he could prescribe anti nausea meds, with that I was finally able to sleep a bit. The next day I felt horrible, but kept revisiting my visualization and using the power of positive thinking sure that each day I would feel better. I knew I had one more treatment to get through and I had to believe that this would be the answer for me. Any other outcome was unacceptable.
Those unfamiliar with the importance and healing power of visualization in healing, and with that visualization having a personal power for the patient, tried to tell me that what I really should be thinking about was Iron Man – as the infusion was in fact iron. For me there is only one superhero who could save me – for me that syringe was Adamantium. I had my second of two infusions on December 6, 2012. I always find myself more apprehensive when I know what pain awaits me, when I have a clear idea of just how uncomfortable the getting to the other side of this thing would be. One benefit was that after my last experience I first received benadryl through the iv prior to the infusion – no itching, no creepy crawlies! Also, although I was exhausted and a bit nauseous afterward I did not throw up and was able to sleep it off most of the afternoon.
The next step was the waiting, and as Tom Petty sings, it truly is the hardest part. I would now wait six months and have my blood work repeated to see if this was my cure, my own personal Adamantium. If the levels made it up into normal range, I would then have the test repeated in another six months to check levels again. How often I need to have the iv iron infusion therapy will be totally dependent on how my body absorbs, stores and utilizes the iron injected into my body. Potentially the treatments could only be once a year – I won’t know until time passes. What I do know is that this will be a forever thing, considering all of the horrible things I narrowly avoided, this was totally acceptable.
In the mean time I had a very important goal that my recovery process was based on. Whenever I felt weak, I kept reminding myself that by December 10th my strength would return enough for me to make a very important date. Tenacious, determined, focused and unrelenting are qualities I have relied on to get me through even the most difficult of times. When I set my mind to accomplish something very little gets in the way of me and my goal. Even more so when I had a date to thank the person who in a unique way was part of my healing.
Update: On May 10, 2013 I had blood work done that showed all of my results falling into the normal range. I pride myself on never being defined as “normal”, but in this case it was wonderful news. As long as I remain symptom free, my next blood work will be in November of 2013 – hopefully I won’t need my next infusion of my super hero cure for quite awhile!
While visiting Ethiopia as an ambassador for World Vision Hugh Jackman had the opportunity to meet a coffee farmer named Dukale. The time spent with Dukale, his family and community, enabled Hugh to see the benfits that the aid from World Vision provided to this group. Not only was Dukale able to provide for his family, but he was able to expand enough to provide work for others in the community and start a cafe serving his coffee. The coffee farm was also utilizing a new method of using manure as a source to provide methane to the homes, enabling the families to avoid the many negative aspects of using a fire as a source of heat including health risks due to the smoke.
The aid from World Vision – supporting a business and enabling it to grow and expand while improving the quality of life – was not a one time lump sum of money, but a resource toward a brighter, more productive future.
Hugh left Dukale promising to find a way to continue the dream of success and expansion for his friend.
Fast forward a few years, add the inspiration of Paul Newman and AE Hotchner’s Newman’s Own using fine product and public profile to do good as detailed in Pursuit of the Common Good. The final piece of serendipity, a meeting with friends Barry & David Steingard who mention they are interested in re-entering the coffee business and you have the birth of Laughing Man: coffee, tea, chocolate and fine merchandise.
The motto for Laughing Man is “all be happy”, taken from the ancient Sanskrit Lokah Blessing ” “May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” All profits from Laughing Man will be donated to charity – starting with World Vision and Harlem Village Academies and expanding to opportunities of education and growth for businesses and communities. This “seeding” of minds and businesses not only provides the immediate resources needed, but hope for the future as those benefiting from these opportunities grows exponentially. Opportunity to learn, grow and work is without a doubt a path to happiness and freedom.
Now onto the most important part – is it any good?? Well this morning I brewed my first pot of 184 Home Blend, ground from whole beans, and it was delicious. I am looking forward to visiting the Laughing Man Marketplace at 184 Duane Street in Tribeca soon to sample the other offerings and hopefully educate myself and expand my caffeinated horizons. My husband Anthony had the hot chocolate and enjoyed the rich, dark flavor. Definitely not the after school sweet powder from your childhood! I am waiting for my daughter Katie, the tea aficionado, to weigh in on the various teas offered. Love my tee shirt, and most importantly love that it all is part of doing good.
I aspire to be a philanthropist, to save the world one amoeba at a time. For now I am incredibly happy to find ways to contribute to businesses already in motion achieving those goals. You can do this too – visit Laughing Man online at www.livelaughingman.com, or visit the Laughing Man Marketplace in person at 184 Duane Street, New York – just make sure you visit and do good!
I know what it is to be loved and love, to be afraid of losing and being given the gift of time. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of that spirit.
Kristian was diagnosed with liver and bowel cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments to fight this disease. Rachel went back to teaching high school to support her family financially and comes home to take care of the kids and be there for her husband. As you can imagine this can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
Kristian, a television editor, wanted to celebrate his wife’s birthday in a special way so that she might understand just what her actions, sacrifice and love mean to him – and to their family. As you can see he was able to find a magical way to do so. In keeping his promise to use no words, he is assisted by a pretty well known Aussie and a pretty well known Kiwi.
As you can imagine, this video has gone viral and at this point has been viewed over 191,000 times. Beyond this amazing story, this amazing effort, there is the universal understanding of what it means to love. The sacrifice, the leap into the unknown, the joys and the sorrows are something we all can relate to. Whether for someone in our family, a friend, a neighbor or a stranger literally halfway around the world we connect through our collective soul to what this effort means. This act of love is as healing to the giver as to the one receiving the gift.
Today this story and video were featured as part of Oprah’s visit to Australia. Oprah was able to arrange, along with Xbox, for this family to be financially secure so that they can spend the time together with their small sons. $250,000.00 will enable this family to have the most precious gift of time without worrying about bills, without wondering how to fit a day’s worth of teaching plus a day’s worth of homemaking and mothering, plus a day’s worth of care for a very sick husband into one day. How can you put a price on the ultimate value of this gift for this family?
I do not envy what Oprah has as she has worked so very hard to earn it, but I do envy her ability to do this kind of good. Some discredit her actions feeling that she’ll never miss that amount, some criticize it isn’t enough; some will pass it off as just another opportunity for public relations. Regardless of what you earn, a responsible person knows exactly what they have and what they choose to do with it. Is this amount enough – for this family it might be as much as a few years income and priceless in terms of what it will allow them to do in that time. I argue that at this point in time Oprah is far beyond needing to be charitable for public relations. What would it be like to accept that a choice was made to do good where good could be done?
How many times do we think about doing something when we hear about a person in need, read a story online or in the news or hear something on TV? Often the next thought is one of feeling that what we are able to do wouldn’t really make a difference, what we could afford would just be a drop in the bucket. Imagine if every person that felt they wanted to help did one thing, one small thing, do you believe that could make a difference? What about reaching out to family and friends and sharing the story and seeing what you as a group might be able to do. Could that make a difference? I believe that it would and could make a difference not only to those in need but to you in your life as well.
I think we can all try to do good where good can be done in ways big and small. We can ignite a spark within ourselves, our families and our communities to make a difference. I aspire every day to do some small good in the ways I can, imagine the difference if we all did. xo