Take this advice to heart

Early this year, I sent out a LinkedIn blast wishing everyone in my network a happy and prosperous New Year .My theme for my 2011 remarks was” Expect the Unexpected.”

Little did I realize at the time how this might affect me personally.

On Feb..2, 2011, the day of the big blizzard in town I suffered a heart attack while snow blowing (Ironically I was across the street with my son helping my recently widowed neighbor get out of her house!)

Events of this nature have a way of getting your attention, and luckily with an angel by my side and some wonderful care at St Luke’s Medical Center, I’m back up and running and feeling excellent.

As I recovered, I had a lot of time to ponder and learn from what had just occurred. I also had time to watch with fascination what was unfolding in the Capitol.

Anger is a pretty destructive emotion. It can make normal people crazy, cloud good judgment and as I learned during my cardio rehabilitation classes, it can adversely affect one’s health.

The head is directly connected to the heart… (which is good) but that close relationship can put an inordinate amount of stress on the heart.

Back to the Capitol drama.  Some folks got a little carried away .Emotions ran high, and blood pressures surely followed!

I watched with fascination how invested each side was and how things degenerated so quickly. Not a lot of respect and honest communication was demonstrated by either side.

Being a child of the sixties, I also heard in my head the chant, “The whole world is watching.”

So my point is this. Life is very precious…you never know when it will be taken away ….so you need to put things in the proper perspective.

For me personally, I now enjoy a lot of the little things in life we all are guilty of taking for granted:

  • A smile or a good laugh with your son/ daughter/ spouse or co worker.
  • Surprising an old friend with a phone call.
  • A chance encounter with a little fawn on the bike trail.
  • A heartfelt hug from someone who just learned you are OK.

For all those heavily invested in the politics of the moment, I’d suggest…Put things in perspective, show respect for others’ opinions (even though you may have different ones) and listen.


I truly believe the system is designed to reflect the wishes of the people.

If you don’t like what your government officials are doing….you can change them out.
No shots will be fired or people slaughtered in the streets, ala the recent Middle East events.
Our Democratic free enterprise system has worked in the past and will serve us well in the future.
I wouldn’t want to live in any other country on the face of this planet for the rest of my life..or better said…my second life.

What’s truly important is that we all pass the final exam.

That exam has two simple questions: Did you give more than you received? Did you leave this earth a better place than when you arrived?

I received a great gift from my traumatic personal health event

From my perspective, I intend to make sure I pass the final exam with an A+.


Gary Billington is vice president at Plunkett Raysich Architects LLP in Milwaukee.

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