NECESSITY GRANTS OPPORTUNITY

2 great businesses come together

Very few things can get me to drive in the snowstorm that we experienced Tuesday evening. Two things that can, however, are great friends and pizza. Those two things came together in a new and unique culinary adventure I would like to share with you.

This pandemic has forced businesses, and their owners, to take new and creative steps. A great example was brought to my attention by the owner of Transaction Skate Shop here in West Allis Wisconsin where I live. Lisa, one of the owners of this fun establishment, used this challenging time to expand her creative and business ventures. One passion this young lady and I share is the passion for great pizza. As Covid-19 began to take hold about 6 months ago, Lisa began creating her own pizza at home. When I say creating her own pizza, that is exactly what I mean. She perfected making pizza dough from scratch, then worked on recipes for homemade sauce as well!

Lisa loves to share her passions

Lisa ended up falling in love with the process of making pizza from scratch. After tasting her creations, she wanted to share them with others. Knowing that it would be difficult to create pizza in her West Allis skate shop, she shared her ideas with her friends from Sweet Basil Mke, a Thai street eats restaurant in Franklin Wisconsin. Together they came up with combining Lisa’s passion for made-from-scratch pizza with their amazing Thai and Lao flavors. I live for pizza and love the flavors of Thai cuisine. The thought that they could be combined both frightened and excited me. Would the combining the two take away from how delicious each is on their own? Would putting to two together take the whole flavor experience to new heights? With these questions in mind, I could not refuse Lisa’s offer to try one for myself.

As I bravely drove through the threatening weather, my mouth began to water. I arrived at Sweet Basil Mke, where the pop up pizza kitchen was. Normally, this family-owned and operated establishment features Thai and Laotian street eats reminiscent of the markets in Thailand and Laos. They use only high-quality ingredients from reputable sources and make your dishes fresh, as soon as you order. I am looking forward to returning to try more of these dishes as well.

This evening I was going to be spending the night at my mother’s house and thought what a great place to share these new creations. The first pizza we opened up was the crab rangoon pizza. Served with a side of sweet and sour sauce, it smelled divine. I love crab rangoons as does my beautiful Margie. This made choosing this offering out of the 5 you can select, a clear winner. I would describe this crust, which I am told is kneaded by hand, no machine here, as more of a flatbread crust. The dough itself seems to have a flavor all its own that is there in every bite. This may be due to the slow 24 hour fermenting period the dough is put through. Great flavor takes time. Now it is time to discuss the toppings Chef Bee Praseutsack put together. The presentation was an added bonus. The white of the cheese and crab were complimented nicely with some green onions and what I would guess was wonton strips. My concern was spreading the topping over the crust would take away from the intense flavor you get when biting into a crab rangoon. This fear was completely unfounded. The crust, although thin, held up remarkably well. There was no worry about the topping sliding off. Somehow, despite being flat on a crispy crust, once you wrap your taste buds around this delicacy, you would swear you were enjoying that wonderful Asian appetizer! Adding the sweet and sour sauce almost brought confusion to my brain. “This is a pizza and yet it is a rangoon.” I kept muttering after each bite. Lucky for me, all around the table knew of my questionable sanity and not much was made of my mumblings as I chewed.

Next up was the Steak Garpow pizza. Let it be known that on a Thai menu I am often drawn to garpow options. The first thing that jumped out at me, as I am sure it did to you, was the fact there was an egg in the middle of the pizza. I am not sure what transpires in the mind of Chef Bee, all I know is I seem to really enjoy it. This pizza featured all of the toppings of a garpow dish including basil, which I thought brought an exceptional brightness to the dish. The steak was packed with flavor and very tender. The dough on this pizza was different than the first. Still thin and crispy, it was a little thicker on the edge. I found it a perfect match for this pizza as it allowed you to have somewhere to hold on to as the aroma prompted you to quickly insert it in your mouth for tasting. We were not disappointed in the least! As one person described it, “It is like they took a terrific steak garpow and placed it on a light and crispy delicious plate!” truer words have never been spoken.

two delicious choices

As we all look forward to closing this year out and ringing in the new year, you owe it to yourself to take your taste buds on a year-end adventure. When a West Allis skate shop owner combines her made from scratch dough and sauces with the talents and fresh ingredients of a Chef who specializes in Thai and Laotian street eats, you know the result will be amazing. Below is a link to see the other 3 options and to place your order. They are only available until this Saturday, so order yours today. After that, I encourage you to stop into Transaction Skate Shop to find ways to work off your calories, or stop in at Sweet Basil Mke to explore their wonderful menu.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE ASIAN PIZZAS AND ORDER ONE OF YOUR OWN!

A VITAL COMMUNITY

Time is one thing that always moves on. In the photo above you see the intersection of the streets of 70th and Greenfield in the city of West Allis taken in the early 1900s. The Bank is still there. It is now BMO Harris, not First National. It also doesn’t look nearly as cool though. The building that says Schurs was for a moment a diner called Skelly’s that served delicious greasy breakfast. I recall walking in there and always smelling eggs and toast. The street lights also look a great deal different.

Some people may lament over the passing of time and the changes it creates. Not only is this a fools endeavor, as the only thing constant is change, but it robs us of a chance to focus on some of the positives. Yes, the bank looked far more impressive to me in the picture above than it does now, but it also has a little seating area it didn’t have before. I sure love little places that you can stop and get breakfast and would have loved to go to Skelly’s with Margie. What is there now is a nice place called Urban Joe’s. Not only do they serve wonderful breakfast and great coffee, they do so with a smile.

2 great local businesses

It certainly doesn’t do us harm to fondly remember the businesses of yesteryear, but let us celebrate and support the businesses of today. We may not have a Shur’s or Skelly’s anymore, but we do have plenty of other amazing businesses. We have Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli where you can explore the crazy possibilities of creating things with… you guessed it peanut butter and jelly! Trust me when I tell you that you will be in for some delicious surprises. There are also great gyms like Peak Physique where you can learn everything from kickboxing to yoga and so much more. Ricky, the owner, is passionate and knowledgeable about fitness and would love to help you.

Supporting local businesses is one way to have a vital and healthy community. What I think is even more important and constructive is to get to know and support your neighbors. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways in which to do this. True, we may never go back to the days of leaving our doors unlocked, but we can make our towns a lot friendlier and safer by connecting with those in our community.

Supporting local businesses and getting to know their owners like Mike from Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli and Ricky from Peak Physique is a good start. I suggest adding connecting with other neighbors through groups on social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor. You can also join local community groups. We have several in my city such as East Allis Association and Women’s Club of West Allis. There are countless others that all represent one possible fun way to get to meet and know your neighbors. Taking classes at your local recreation center is another great way to meet those who live near you. Even simply taking a walk through the neighborhood can introduce you to a host of new smiling faces.

Everyone wants a safe, strong and vital community. It is up to us to create it. Support local business, get to know your neighbors and join groups that make a difference. Be a part of the solution and you will feel better about the town you live in.

TRY SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Most times in our household when the question comes up, “What do you want to do for dinner?” my quick answer is “Pizza!” To me, a bad pizza is still a better dinner than one without a pizza. My first choice, of course, would be to enjoy some of my lovely lady’s culinary creations, but if the question is asked, chances are we are going to go out. In most households, pizza, burgers or something similar is usually a quick answer.

This past Monday evening, after having put a new battery in my car, I was keen to try something different. In most towns there are plenty of wonderful independent restaurants that deserve your patronage. Especially during these tough times with the pandemic, I encourage everyone to support such places as you are able and feel comfortable doing. In our small town of West Allis, Margie and I love to frequent locally owned establishments. We stop for coffee and breakfast at Urban Joe’s Cafe and visit our wonderful friend Curtis. If we feel like a beer we head to Westallion Brewery, where our friend Kim can be found serving some of their wonderfully created in house beers.

This night we wanted to not only support a local business, but try something fun and unique. We decided to visit a local Peruvian restaurant called Chef Paz. We see on social media that the establishment as well as the owner is very involved in the community and we like to see that. When you walk in Chef Paz you will notice the cozy and quaint feel of the place. The decorations are fun and you do not have to wait to be greeted. On this night it happened to be quite cold and the gentleman working even turned on a small heater by our table to make it more comfortable for us. This made us feel valued. There was even a fun little sign on the table letting you know it had been cleaned. We felt it necessary to use it as a photo prop.

As food from the wonderful nation of Peru is not something we normally enjoy, we found the options and flavors wonderful. This isn’t one of my food reviews so I will not get into great detail about the dishes we chose, other than to say they were delicious. What I will tell you is that it was fun to take our taste buds on a little journey. It may be difficult to travel these days, but you can explore some of the culture of different places through their food. Trying new dishes and local places is a great way to add a little variety into your life. Here in West Allis, winter is setting in and it is the perfect time to find and explore new joys with the ones you care about.

Another great thing about giving your business to locally owned establishments is the pride and care they show when dealing with their customers. You could really tell Raul, the gentleman who helped us this evening, was dedicated to that goal. He explained the flavor of lots of the dishes and even made a few recommendations. To him, we were just not another table. To locally owned businesses you are guests and supporters. The service we received at Chef Paz was friendly and welcoming.

We ended our evening enjoying some delicious rice pudding for dessert. There are certainly more dishes we would love to try and will return again another evening. Leaving Chef Paz that evening, we felt good about supporting a wonderful local business. We also felt like, if for just a moment, we escaped the cold confines of West Allis and found ourselves in the city limits of Lima, Peru. I encourage you to explore local shops and restaurants in your community. They will appreciate your business during these trying times, and you will enjoy being treated like a valued customer.

3 PEOPLE, 3 LOCATIONS, 4 ADVENTURES

In the past, I have written a good deal about the walks in nature that I enjoy so much. It not only provides a good source of exercise, but stress relief, entertainment and spiritual fulfillment as well. In this post I would like to share with you the story of a few of these walks and the things I noticed they all had in common as well as what makes each on a unique adventure in its own right. I have noticed each walk contained four of the same elements. They each had people, places, exercise and conversation.

The first adventure in our story came on a Monday morning. There is a park that I drive past daily on my way to work. It is called Falk Park. It looks quite small from the side of the road. As with most natural areas I pass, there was a voice in my head saying “That looks like fun. I really should explore there.” I contacted my regular fellow explorer, who also happens to play the role of my mother. She wasn’t quite sold on the idea of exploring what could be a small park. Weeks went by and I kept driving past thinking the same thought. I eventually looked up the park on a map only to discover that there seemed to be a healthy bit of green behind that roadside entrance. I looked at a few photos and saw wooden bridges, creeks and a host of other interesting views. As I relayed this information to my traveling companion we decided to venture out that Monday, which is my off day from the Postal Service.

When it comes to walking with my mother, exercise is generally the main facet focused upon. We walk at a good clip not shying away from hills and valleys. This is good as it keeps us healthy and able to walk further. The sad part is that often we miss some things due to the speed. On this day it was a new place and we were both excited to walk. As we set out the scenery changed often from woods to prairie and back again. We discovered one trail ended up right behind an Ikea store. Soon, there was an unscheduled break for personal relief and refueling. Stopping by our local Valentine coffee shop, we were caffeinated and ready to explore some more. The conversation consisted mainly of observing all of the new scenes we were taking in. This included a stop and comparing of notes with a fellow hiker. Four and a half miles later we returned to the car having exhausted most of the trail possibilities.

The second walk happened the following day. I was joined by my good friend Nick. The journey again began at a coffee shop on the east side of Milwaukee. Regretfully, we were on a limited time frame because of Nick’s professional responsibilities. That was just fine as any time with a good friend is time well spent. We both grabbed a delicious beverage and began what was certainly a more leisurely stroll towards the shoreline of lake Michigan. As we walked the conversation consisted a great deal of ways of improving ourselves and the state of my next book. We strolled down to the lake and the turned and walked through the neighborhood surrounding it. Nick saw several people he knew and we exchanged pleasantries. The great thing about walking with Nick is the conversation is always positive and free flowing. I leave with a great deal of inspiration and ideas for writing. I do so hope he is as least half as blessed with the situation as I am.

Our third adventure took place the next day. I had such a good time with Nick, I decided to suggest the lake front for a walk with my mom. She was up for the stroll as she had just done ten miles the day before in a state park. I picked her up and we began our journey at the same coffee shop as Nick and I had. Carrying a full cup of coffee tended to slow our travel speed a little. As we began to walk the lake front we noticed people availing themselves to the brew pub and its refreshments. It was an unexpectedly warm day in early November and it appeared that everyone was trying to make the most of it. There seemed to be an aura of joy and easy-going nature in the air.

As we walked along the lakefront we took in visions of the downtown skyline, spoke with people walking dogs, noticed how many more people we enjoying this trail than the ones in the woods that we usually travel on. The pace was still brisk, but the conversation was plentiful. We talked about other places we have walked, the weather and were we should go next. There were brief strolls through areas covered by trees, but most of the time we found ourselves on paved paths shared by walkers, joggers and bicyclists alike. It was quite a different vibe than our walks in the woods, but still a very nice one. We walked along the shoreline for a little over two miles until it ended at the Milwaukee location of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We watched and marveled at the wonderful security measures in place outside the building and then turned around to make our way back.

The last of our adventures for this blog finds me joined by a very familiar companion – me. In other words, I was walking by myself. It was again an unseasonably warm day and I could not pass the opportunity to enjoy some time outside. Just about ten blocks from my house in West Allis Wisconsin, is a small park that has a very ‘neighborhood’ vibe to it. I decided that a quick walk around there is just what was needed. As I set out I started my health app to track my distance and pace to make sure I got a small amount of exercise out of this walk. It was indeed the slowest pace of all four walks. I have a tendency to stop and take in different scenes as well as explore different things just off the beaten path. On this day I discovered a wonderful painted rock that was places by a local rock-painting club that Margie and I belong to. Fittingly, it was painted with the word ‘Love’ as I was loving this stroll. (walk may have been a little bit ambitious on this day)

The conversation on this day was mostly internal sans a few greetings to passing neighbors. I noticed that while walking by myself I tend to be very introspective. I tend to be that way in general, but something about walking by myself in nature brings it out even more so. The idea for this very blog came about as I was overlooking the lagoon. As I continued on I was struck by how many of my community were enjoying the park on that afternoon. Then I recalled that living in a place where the weather can be described as nine months of winter and three months of very poor sledding, they were probably equally as excited to enjoy the day as I. The sun made every glance look like a scene from a jigsaw puzzle. I captured a few of the ones that I thought were the best and sent them to Margie who was busy at home.

The interesting point out of all of this is that you can do the same activity and have a completely different adventure. The people you share it with, the conversations you have and the places you go can make all of the difference. Even if they are completely different, they all serve their own purpose. You can get a good workout one day. You can stop and marvel at nature the next. Perhaps even ponder life and its great mysteries as you walk with a good friend. As for the conclusion of my last walk, I found myself a little disheveled, but very relaxed. If you happen to see me and any of my walking companions out on an adventure, feel free to say hello or even join us for a few paces. You might end up in my next blog post.

3 TALKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

As a professional speaker, the pandemic has really changed the way I do things. The seminars I usually hold several times a year have disappeared. The speaking engagements I have with groups and companies have either been postponed or moved to a virtual setting. Recently, I was offered a very unique speaking opportunity. My friend Katie, who is a teacher, asked if I would speak to 3 different 4th and 5th grade classes at Franklin Elementary school in West Allis Wisconsin where she teaches.

Being that I have a passion for inspiring people of every age I was quick to accept this generous offer. Shortly after saying “yes” my mind began to race with concerns. “Most adults take a while to understand some of the concepts I speak about. How will 4th and 5th graders understand?” My brain began to do its best to fill my mind with doubt. I shared my concerns with both Margie, the love of my life, and my mother. It was through discussions with both parties that I began to change my focus from how will I do this and what if I do not do well to the more important focus of what can I say to the children that will serve them the best?

It was with this focus I began to consider what I would like to discuss. Of course I was going to share the steps it takes to be a writer and how my book came together. Then I began to ask myself a very important question, “What would I have liked someone to tell me when I was that age?” The focus of the project they are working on is how to improve both their school and their community. I began to think of ways I consider best for helping to do both of those things. Then it occurred to me, my poem! As some of you may recall, this past year I had written a poem on how to have the best city you can. That poem won a city wide poetry contest and is now stamped in the sidewalk in 2 locations throughout the city.

The poem read as follows:

The true worth of great city is not defined by its buildings or how many have a steeple.

The true worth of a great city depends on the quality of its people.

Whether you are a child, a woman or a man,

if you want a great city, be the best person you can.

That is the idea that I wanted to convey to these wonderful and talented young people. Each one of them, just like each one of us has the ability to change their community. We can do so by being the best person we can. I wanted to empower the hearts and minds of the students to understand that each one of them was special and each one of them can make a big difference despite their small stature.

In our own communities it is so important to remind the young people what a big difference they can make. I applaud Katie, Amanda and Jordan, their teachers, for taking on such an important project. Teaching, and learning from, students on how we can make a better community is more important now than ever. Next post we will take a deeper look into my experience with the kids and much of what I told them, and what they taught me.

CAMINO OPENS NEW WEST ALLIS LOCATION!

Always on the lookout for new and fun places to try close to home, I was quite excited to hear that Camino had opened a new location just blocks away from my house. Their first location on south 2nd street has always received rave reviews and I was about to discover why.

What Margie and I discovered was a menu full of unique items, an interior that was airy and clean, food that was hot and delicious and service that was friendly and prompt. You can read my full review to hear about some of the exotic options available at this location as well as our dining experience. This was one of the most enjoyable reviews I have written for Chow Down in Milwaukee. I encourage you to click the link below and see what is in store for you in you treat yourself to a visit to Camino in down town West Allis.

CLICK HERE TO BE TRANSPORTED TO CAMINO WEST ALLIS

I’M RECOVERED… WELL ALMOST

Oh happy days! As you can see by this letter, today I am considered recovered from the coronavirus. Sadly for her, Margie still has a bit of time left before she is considered fully recovered, but she is relatively symptom free. I will be allowed to return to work on Thursday. I will keep all of you updated on how that goes. I was told employees might be a bit nervous around me. If you think about it, I am probably the safest employee there right now. Why? This leads to one of my first questions I have for the powers that be.

My first question even before I was fully recovered was, “Am I now immune to this virus?” According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (You know the guy on the news that sounds a lot like Mel Brooks to me) “You’re going to have some degree of durable immunity. It may not be 50 years, but it’s certainly going to be a matter of a few years.” He said this on the Doctor Mike YouTube show. Even if it is only 12 to 18 months like I first heard, I will take it. Still, I am going to abide by all of the social distancing and washing hands (which I hope we all did before this) and wiping down things with wipes just to be safe.

My second question revolved around donating blood to help critical patients. I heard if you have antibodies they can do that. I have not found anything definitive, but will continue to investigate. Along with sharing my story to help calm some of the fears, if I could donate antibodies to help critical patients, that would be awesome. If anyone knows of information in this regard, please do not hesitate to share.

Margie and I have also taken additional steps to upgrade our life for the future. We bought the new air purifier we have been searching online for 6 months for. It is running next to me as I write this. We are also invested in a new high-powered vacuum cleaner. I had ordered some cleaning supplies before I got sick and they are waiting at my work to be picked up as well. We also started drinking a lot of our wonderful herbal teas we have and began eating some healthy things. Even the not so healthy dishes are homemade by my lovely lady, the most beautiful chef I know.

As odd as this may sound to many, getting this virus has been a blessing to me in many ways. I was able to share my story and help others be a little less afraid as well as give hope to others who have tested positive. I also discovered, sadly, how little I am valued at my day job. That is a blessing because I am even more motivated to look for jobs as a full-time writer. Again, if you have any information in this category please share with me. I was able to meet (virtually) many new neighbors and received so many well-wishes I get chocked up just thinking about it. Most of all, I was able to spend some quality uninterrupted time with Margie. I have seen funny memes online about people getting ready to strangle their spouse (even saw one of Tommy Lee jumping off the roof) but our love is different in so many ways. We learned so much about each other and grew closer than we have in a long time. It was certainly no fun being sick, but I am grateful I made it through. I am grateful my symptoms were not worse. I am grateful to have such amazing friends and family to help us out and cheer us on. I am grateful I have such an amazing lady to be stuck with.

BEST NEWS SO FAR IN MY JOURNEY WITH CORONAVIRUS

That’s me rocking the quarantine look. Today is roughly day 6 since being diagnosed with coronavirus. It is the best I have felt so far. Shortness of breath is hanging on, but getting better. As an example, last Monday I took out the garbage and didn’t even get back to the house before feeling winded. Today, I took out both the garbage and recyclables and was just a little short of breath when I got back inside. This may not seem like a big difference but I sure felt better. The dizziness is also getting better. It seems less intense and certainly less frequent. Also, my sense of smell seems to be returning slowly. This symptom is the worst. It affects your sense of taste as well. I am hoping it continues to get better every day.

People are asking me what Margie and I are doing during this time. We are doing the same as many of you. We take turns watching movies, we play games and are creating and enjoying meals together. We also have read to each other. Margie has a hard time staying awake during reading so I usually read out loud to her. I rather enjoy this as I feel it is an activity that brings us closer together and we both get to learn something in the process.

One of the books I read during this time was How to live to be 100…or more. It was written by the comedy legend George Burns. I was never a big George Burns fan until recently. Not only does his humor amuse me, but in many ways his relationship with his wife Gracie Allen reminds me a fair deal of Margie and I. People ask how we can work together, live together and sleep together without killing each other. This quarantine time was not that big of an adjustment for us because we do spend a lot of time together. (about the only time we are apart is when I am at the post office) Doing so takes a great bit of effort and comprimise. I am sure a lot of you are discovering this as we speak. I think it is a great way to get to know your partner and strengthen your relationship.

Today we also left the house for the first time. We both walked around our neighborhood. It felt good to get some fresh air. My shortness of breath would not have allowed me to go much further. It is funny to think that just 2 weeks ago I was running on a treadmill and now it is tough to walk a few blocks. It makes me grateful for my health. I am also grateful that my symptoms were mild enough I could breath, especially with my asthma. It also made me grateful for the neighborhood I live in. Margie and I live on a busy street, but the streets behind us is a rather closed in little neighborhood. It is a shame we do not take the time to walk there more often. I hope these coming days will get us a chance to see and meet more of our neighbors (from at least 6 feet away) and say hello. I recall a conversation I had with a former alderperson who said the best way to improve your neighborhood is get out in it. I couldn’t agree more.

Speaking of getting out in your neighborhood, I aim to do that as soon as possible and I encourage all of you to do the same. When this world regains a sense of normalcy, I encourage all of us to get out and support the local businesses in our neighborhoods. They are certainly going to need our help. It is not just the business and business owner (who is often a neighbor) that you will be supporting, but you will be supporting all of your neighbors who are employed there. Small businesses are what drive the economy. It is important to take care of them. By doing so we are taking care of our neighbors and our neighborhoods. Mr. Rogers would like that I dare say. If you are reading this and you live in my neighborhood, Margie and I look forward to meeting and getting to know a lot more of you. So if you see us out supporting a local business please come up say hello and introduce yourself. Let us use this challenge we have all faced to build a better world.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING

ME AND THE VIRUS – DAY 5

Here I am rocking the quarantine look. Usually I am much more clean shaven than this. Today is day 5 of this virus and I being partners. It is frustrating that certain aspects of it seem to cling on. The breathing issues, which tend to be worse at night, are improving slightly. I still have bouts of extreme dizziness. As an added bonus, when I returned home from being tested I noticed something else. My sense of smell was off. Margie was cooking hamburger with garlic and onions. Something normally that makes my mouth water. I could not even smell it. I just read that could also be a symptom of the coronavirus. Gratefully, my sense of smell seems to be returning every so slowly.

Speaking of being grateful, I wanted to take a moment and give some genuine thanks to a few amazing people. Melissa from the West Allis health department has been amazing. She calls to check on both Margie and myself on a regular basis. Today she even dropped off a little care package on our porch. (see photo below) This is much appreciated and she is certainly an asset to our community. That takes us to my next point – my community. I have been sharing my journey in our West Allis community page on Facebook. The response has been overwhelming. I did so to reassure members of my city and take a little of the fear out of this virus. In doing so, I have not only met a great deal of new neighbors (virtually of course) but received such kind words and encouragement from them. Margie and I are so grateful to live in a city filled with such wonderful people. Then there are our friends from our DJ shows. They have checked in and offered to help us. I cannot not begin to convey what a great deal this means to us. Even had a great early morning conversation with our friend Kurt.

In the coming days and weeks I know they are planning on ramping up testing. This makes me happy to hear. I cringe when I think about how I would have been back to work now trying to ‘make it through’ the symptoms. Meanwhile, I would have been spreading it to my coworkers. When these additional tests are given it will obviously increase the number of positive cases as well. This is something that I want us to all keep in mind. When they tell you “cases have doubled overnight!” Before cowering in fear consider the fact they may have doubled the amount of tests they gave and are just getting better at identifying cases that have been out there.

When will this all end? Nobody can say for sure. Are we making a difference with all of the measures we are taking? I believe so. Doing our best to practice physical distancing is the least we can do. Staying in touch with and helping out our friends as we are able also makes a great difference. I look forward to being out in the world again and I know all of you do as well. Let us be patient and remember those like Anne Frank who had to hide in an attic and remain almost silent for two years to avoid persecution of her and her family. We can just relax in our homes, order take-out, surf the web, watch movies and play games. This is certainly not an easy time for any of us, but let us be grateful it is not much worse.

If any of you have any questions in regards to how I am feeling, what I am doing to treat this virus or how the symptoms seem to be progressing, please do not hesitate to ask. I am sharing my story for that purpose. So that all of us can not only have an insight into this virus from a person perspective, but limit our fear while increasing our caution.

ISN'T THAT SPECIAL? DAY 4 OF MY JOURNEY WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

This was a post I began writing under very different circumstances but I find the meaning still holds true. My idea then was to write about how this virus has us looking at different aspects of our lives with a more grateful perspective. Then I was informed that I, indeed, had the virus. I used a tool I use with most challenging situations that occur in my life – I asked myself two very important questions.

1. How can I use this? and 2. What is good about this?

You may think that being someone who has several high risk symptoms (asthma and a bad heart) that it was difficult for me to find something good about this virus. Certainly, nothing is good about having one’s health compromised. Right away that was one good thing. It gave me a whole new appreciation for my health and how important it is that I do my best to take care of myself. Making the 5 days a week spent at the gym worthwhile. It will give me something to keep in the back of my mind as motivation when I return.

The next question was how could I use this. Without a second thought I was grateful for the opportunity to be able to share my journey and hopefully help keep people calm while showing them a real person behind the virus. If, by sharing my struggle I can help bring peace and answer questions for many others it will be worth suffering through the days of feeling like I can’t breath, coughing, fevers, getting tired just walking from the kitchen to the living room and being so dizzy I feel like Captain Jack Sparrow without the rum. This may all sound a bit frightening but I am making it through. What is helping is all the well-wishes I am recieving from the community and even complete strangers. This is but one of the many joys this virus has brought to my life.

I always enjoy meeting friends for coffee at great local places like Urban Joe’s. If you have never had that pleasure let me encourage you to do so as soon as we get through this. Breakfast at West Allis Cheese and Sausage? Very hard to beat. These places are run by great local people in my community such as Curtis and Mark respectively. Although I always enjoy them, I will cherish such experiences far greater the next time I have that chance.

Of course there is this wonderful lady. My beautiful Margie. I am grateful she has not displayed many symptoms. I feel bad because of me she has to be quarantined as well. If I have to be stuck at home for two weeks I could not pick a nuttier, funnier, sweater and more wonderful person to be stuck with. Although the social distancing has been a nightmare for two people who love each other as much as we do, we have been finding ways to pass the time. Like, for example, arguing whose beard has grown more in this period. I am kind of jealous of hers, but don’t tell her that. She is an amazing cook and I have never had so many good meals! Even though we can’t be as close as we like, seeing her face lighting up the next room still puts a smile on mine.

As the days tick on by I watch numbers for positive cases continue to climb. This makes me think of two very important things. First, we must continue to work hard at practicing physical distancing. Yes, I did say physical distancing. Just because we have to be geographically apart, does not me we have to lose our sense of community. I have met many great neighbors by sharing my journey than I knew before. I have found new ways to bond with and love my lady than I knew before. Now more than ever we need to use the technological tools we have at our disposal to lift each others spirits. Local community pages, like the one we have for my city of West Allis, can be a place to gather virtually and encourage one another. We can use Facetime to connect with friends and family. Even take the time we have to call our elderly relatives to not only check on them, but let them know we love them.

This crisis has brought together many who otherwise stand on opposite sides. I hope we can continue this sense of unity once we have overcame this virus. It has challenged our sense of normal but caused us to appreciate the mundane. It may have kept us away from those we care about but has us missing and loving them so much more. There are many things about this virus that are frightening and terrible, but let us dig out what blessings we can discover to keep the light of hope burning in these dark times.