Earlier this week, I was asked why I advocate. The discussion was both about my own advocacy in pursuit of healthcare and the advocacy I do for people affected by disabilities. As I tried to explain that being a “sheeple” was not in my nature, the following two pieces came to mind.

“Once, on ancient Earth, there was a human boy walking along a beach. There had just been a storm, and starfish had been scattered along the sands. The boy knew the fish would die, so he began to fling the fish to the sea. But every time he threw a starfish, another would wash ashore. “An old Earth man happened along and saw what the child was doing. He called out, ‘Boy, what are you doing?’ ” ‘Saving the starfish!’ replied the boy. ” ‘But your attempts are useless, child! Every time you save one, another one returns, often the same one! You can’t save them all, so why bother trying? Why does it matter, anyway?’ called the old man. “The boy thought about this for a while, a starfish in his hand; he answered, “Well, it matters to this one.” And then he flung the starfish into the welcoming sea.”
― Loren Eiseley, The Star Thrower

This reflects my own struggle to get doctors and healthcare professionals to understand that I am deserving of their time. I have recently been feeling that my health is only a priority to me. My last set of physicians dismissed me while I was medically unstable because I “used too many resources.” Fortunately, I believe I am now with a group that is interested in my care. The last two weeks, I been able to establish care with providers who have taken the time to hear my story. They have not dismissed my illnesses as psychosomatic. I am now receiving the care that should have been happening for the last two years.

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

― Martin Niemöller

I have considered this piece as one of the most important lessons that came out of World War II and the Holocaust. It projects the effects of apathy on the human race. For me, it gives the impetus to advocate for those whose voices may not be strong.

Both pieces highlight the importance of doing something…whether for yourself or someone else. When you turn away from others, you are denying yourself the opportunity to lift someone else up. And there is really nothing quite like the feeling of making a difference.

Open Mind Without Inserting Foot

The only source of knowledge is experience.~ Albert Einstein

Oh, this quote could take me down so many roads…from watching new parents struggle with the new normal in their lives, hearing stories of success from the families I help support in the education system, guiding my own children as they journey to adulthood. To me knowledge is hard-won through experience. You can read books (an experience), become involved in something (more experience) or try something new (experience). It’s all in the perspective.

I wonder sometimes if the quality of the experience affects the value of the knowledge. If my school teacher (read college professor) hasn’t worked directly with elementary age students in over 10 years, how valuable is their experience today? Does the new influx of information add or detract from previously learned knowledge? That’s probably too philosophical and abstract, which means it’s best filed under keep it in my head for now.

Tomorrow, I will present my knowledge, gained through research and personal experience, to an individual who may or may not be receptive to the information. I’m no professional in the field I’m presenting and the individual is. My task is to make this information palatable so the professional can see and think from my perspective. Am I the only one who plans out these things?

I doubt it. When the message is near and dear, we all think about the best way to convince others we have at least part of the answer. For some, it’s a matter of pride. For others it’s seriously questioning the established “chain of command.” You need look no further than your news casts or social media platforms to see this playing out on an hourly basis right now.

I’m just hoping that if I leave big enough breadcrumbs, this professional will follow the trail and consider what I’m saying. I’m hoping the individual sets aside the need to be right and recognizes that I am the most invested person in the process and therefore the most devoted to the outcome. I’m hoping the individual’s prejudices can be set aside long enough for my message to be heard. That’s a lot of ifs and hopes to expect.

The next time you find yourself trying to present information, think about your audience. What can you do to make sure your voice is heard? Take the time to prepare. This applies to school, work, recreational activities and social lives. Give some leeway in your interpretations to provide an opportunity for the other person to be heard. You can be strong in your convictions, but opening yourself to new ideas can help you understand that there is a wide spectrum of ideas and some just might make sense.


I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks.~ Winston Churchill

I recently had to opportunity to pass the reins of leadership to another person. I had been heavily involved in a non-profit organization. Finding out that my near future would make it almost impossible for me to continue leading, I stepped out of that role. It may have come as a surprise to the next person in charge, but I’m a huge fan of on the job training. In my experience, nothing drags an organization down faster than staying after you have done your job.

Letting go can be hard. I know a great many people who cling to the past, not realizing that it is time to move forward. Time to change. Time to let go. As a parent, I’ve had to learn this over and over again, usually because one of my children has informed me, in no uncertain terms, that my presence is no longer necessary. In retrospect, that means I’ve done my job. My kids can fly solo, or at least with minimal guidance from ground control.

Back to the non-profit. I am very pleased to say that by stepping aside, the new leadership can and has started moving forward. There comes a time when you become an obstacle to growth and stepping aside allows change to occur. I still keep an eye on things, but it is wonderful to see the direction things are going now. And, on the selfish side, I love that it’s not all “on me” now.

Never fear change. Change forces you to grow and expand your thought processes. Change grants you the opportunity to see success in other parts of your life. Instead of dreading it, embrace change and see where it takes you. Change is like a small child, ready to show you the world from a new perspective. Take the hand being extended to you and go find out what lies ahead.