Let us all start to appreciate our own life more!

I have been thinking about writing today’s blog for several days now. I have been home from the hospital for 5 days now and have a food tube inserted into my stomach to helpfully gain weight and have more stomach comfort as I fight this cancer.

It sure is no way to eat or enjoy food in my life, after a lifetime of enjoying food always.  But today I really don’t want to talk about just me anymore.  Instead I want to add some thoughts from my heart from a person whose life was turned upside down 9 months ago and how we can ALL value our good heath and the many blessings we all have that we too often don’t shine a light on because we live too busy.  Don’t wait for really bad news to appreciate how good your life is now.

So forgive me for stepping on a soap box for a few minutes here now.  And I hope that I say something in the next paragraphs that may mean something to each of you, may help you to remember to  consider your BLESSINGS.

On June 25th of last year, I came back from a trip to be told I have a major cancer that could well take my life.  Shocked … NO.  Angry …. NO.  My immediate reaction was NUMB.  It was like I was in a room looking down from the ceiling on two doctors talking to someone out of my own body.

Please realize, until that horrible June day, in my mind I was Superman.  For over 35 years, I have never missed a beat.  I traveled the world to over 200 countries, taking 10-12  trips each year to exotic parts of the world that took several weeks each usually.  I ate at the best restaurants in the world… a big part of traveling to me.  And now I am in my house getting nutrition from a bag hanging above me.  Wow, talk about changes!

Now I am hoping that I never felt entitled of that I deserved this big life that I was living for so long.  I will have to have those that have known me for so many years to judge me on that.  I sincerely feel that I always felt tremendously BLESSED and joyful that this teenage boy from Pittsburgh was so lucky that my childhood hobby of photography turned into a career that he loved and appreciated.  I felt so blessed that and thankful that I had great clients that believed in me and trusted me to roam the world and come back with colorful pictures for their magazines, for their ad campaigns, for their television campaigns.  I was thankful to the wonderful client Kodak for sending me all over the world on my Kodak World Tour for 2 years and 72 countries.  I felt blessed that I had so many cruise lines, airlines, travel companies, tourism boards, magazines, exotic resorts,  Fortune 500 companies, etc had faith in my ability to produce often in so many corners of the world. I was in charge of so many photo crews as we traversed our Earth, and I created friendships with them that have existed for decades now.  And I joyfully led my BTO Group Photo Tours, again exploring our wonderful globe with dear, dear friends.

But when you get hit BANG by news that could be indeed fatal, you again reevaluate how you lived your life and how you have appreciated the life each of us is given.  Let me hold a mirror up,to each of you for a moment that I have had to hold up to me.  Any one of you could so easily get the worse news you could ever get that could change your life in AN INSTANT.  Any one of you could have an accident, cancer, a stroke, someone in your family have horrible news, etc that could change your life completely.  I hope this does not ever happen to you, but I want the thoughts to make you more aware of living fully now.

What I want for each of you …. and why I am writing this longer blog to each of you today, is to APPRECIATE  your life and health now and live with that joy.  You don’t have to travel the world each day, but live your life with joy NOW.

I can tell you that anyone that has cancer does now get upset my traffic jams anymore!  And we need to all stop sweating the small stuff and having so much conflict in your life now.  Stop rushing so much each day as weeks fly by and we find ourselves missing out on so many of the gentle moments of life. While you have good health and life is good, be a better listener, be a better friend, or spouse, or family member.  If you have not called a loved one for some small conflict, call them now and sweep that slate clean.  Live life with joy, noticing the small wonders of life.  Eat more ice cream and less bran!  Take your shoes off  earlier in the Spring and keep them off longer into Fall.  In other words, please — and I tell you this from someone who has tried to live my life that way always — strive to make you life better NOW!

I trust & hope that I have always tried to live my life helping others, even perhaps inspiring others.  I spent so many of my years lecturing around the world or on tv/radio shows (hopefully) inspiring many people to travel our beautiful planet and yes, shoot beautiful pictures.  Now I feel that maybe God now wants me to inspire others to just make sure that they live their lives with joy & happiness.

I hope this is not too long of a blog and I hope it touches some small part of you.  I each year for the last 30 years have sent out a Christmas card and newsletter that had this phrase on the very last sentence in the letter.

It read:  “Care Deeply … Think Kindly … Act Gently … Pray Daily … and be at Peace with the Earth!”  That phrase means even more to me now.   Thank you for reading this and I send you joy now.