Atlas Shrugged

If you’ve ever read any of Ayn Rand’s writing, you know the focus is on a dystopian future filled with philosophical implications. I originally read her works over 30 years ago as a teenager. Then, they seemed to be a rallying cry for my rebellious self to shirk tradition and become a “forward thinker.” Now, her writings seem more predictive in that many of the situations presented in her books seem to have come true.

Atlas is a Titan from Greek mythology who crossed the Gods and must now hold the sky up for eternity. Many people believe Atlas was charged with holding up the Earth. Either way, the implication is that a sole being is responsible for maintaining the balance. That is a mighty burden.

Until recently, I felt I had found a kindred spirit in Atlas. I had crossed the powers that be and my punishment was to forever battle the weight of the world. For 4 years now, I’ve been fighting to find out what was making me so ill. My doctors fought me literally every step of the way. I would research a possibility and then be told that there was no way that could be my problem. As this process repeated itself, I became very depressed. I felt like I was the only one who was interested in discovering what was happening to me.

Last year, I was able to convince one of my doctors to send me to The Mayo Clinic. He did it reluctantly and told me that the only reason he was writing the referral was to convince me that my illness was psychsomatic. When all was said and done, I received two diagnoses. Neither one could be “faked” or deemed psychosomatic. From November until January, my doctors continued to deny I was physically ill. They refused to provide treatment for these illnesses, claiming that I was making up my symptoms. At the end of January, a decision was made by the medical group to fire me as a patient. They claimed I used too many resources and filed too many complaints about my care.

I’m sure the medical group felt they were punishing me by forcing me out of their system. In the last 6 weeks, I’ve discovered that the medical group actually did me a favor. And today, I shrugged.

I now have providers who see me as a person and are at least professionally concerned about my well being. Today, I had a provider caution me about corporate policies and what I needed to do to ensure that my medical needs were being met without crossing corporate decision makers. I have been reassured that I have physiological issues that are severe, but manageable. I was told, very compassionately, that this is my life now. No more tests, no more medication trials, no more feeling like a guinea pig. We’ll follow new developments and talk about if they are worth trying for me. I was given permission to live again.

This. Is. My. Life. I don’t consider that a death sentence. It’s a challenge. Live fully. Love unconditionally. Enjoy every sunrise and sunset. Stop worrying about my medical journey. “We’ve” got your back. And with that conversation, I realized that I was going to be okay. No promises of smooth travels, but it will be okay. And I can live with that.

“Home” by Phillip Phillips

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave (wave) is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
You get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m gonna make this place your home….

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.

Life happens, even when we’re not looking

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on~ Robert Frost

Life can be a tricky thing. It’s always full of surprises, some pleasant and some not so much. Remembering that what some consider pleasant, others consider absolutely horrible is a full-time job. I am constantly amazed at how different people take the same information and shape it to fit their needs.

For example, I raised two children who are on the Autism Spectrum and a third who has her own challenges. When one child was first diagnosed, people were shocked. When the second one was diagnosed, people starting asking me what I did wrong. Did I vaccinate them? Feed them mercury-laden fish? Drink alcohol while pregnant? Breathe in toxic fumes? How could I ever be successful raising three kids when two demanded so much attention?

The truth is, I didn’t “do” anything wrong. Despite what news stories you may have read, Autism happens across all demographics. I don’t believe there is any one thing that is the root “cause” of Autism. All the time spent wringing hands around why Autism occurs would, in my opinion, be better spent raising awareness. I don’t believe there is a cure unless we start messing with genetics. Then we assume that we aren’t going to muck something else up in the process and that is one heck of a slippery slope to start sliding down. So, learn something new. We all do, every day.

I’ll start off with a nugget of wisdom…If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met exactly one person with Autism. Even my two kids, having the same diagnosis and being raised in the same environment, are vastly different from each other. They have different challenges, they learn different ways, they communicate in different styles and yet, they are so much alike. I believe that is because deep down, they are my children and have been shaped by how they were raised. The successful, caring young adults that all of my children have become is because of how they have lived their lives.

Shocking, I know. Life changes us in ways we never imagine. Sometimes, we don’t even notice the change has occurred until one day, we look back and say “whew, that was a wild ride!” We get up, we go about our day and then go to bed to start the cycle over again the next day. Yet, each day is different and how we take in the information and mold it to fit our needs changes us. From brilliant sunrise through the darkening hours, we are adapting and changing.

So, I challenge you. Learn something new today. Randomly type something into your search engine, like “official animal of Scotland” or “Dr. Robert Moog.” Use your search engine to find your Doppelganger (you can look that up too). Play, learn, live. Let new things into your life. I’ll bet you’re surprised by the way your life goes on, even as you’re changing.