New Normal

You know how there are some phrases that just rub you wrong?  Push your buttons? Raise your hackles? Yep, that feeling.

There is no such thing as “the new normal.” For me, life just goes on. Every day brings change. There really never was a “normal” point in my life. I suppose if you used the picket fence, 2.5 kids example as normal….well, not sure what you did with the other half of a kid.

My point is, change brings about more change. Just because your life changes doesn’t mean it’s not normal. It also doesn’t mean it’s going to stop changing, thus my objection to “new.”  It just is. We live in a state of constant change and trying to label that is just an exercise in futility.

Instead, try living. Stop trying to pin labels on everything and everybody. While it is human nature to want to categorize things, labels are pretty meaningless in reality. Live. Love. Let go.


Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.~ Winston Churchill

I had another doctor’s appointment today. Another specialist who is referring me to yet another specialist. Some days it seems like an endless road of cobblestones with the all too frequent speed bumps. I know I’m not alone on this journey. Many of my social media contacts seem to have similar paths. I read their updates and laugh/cry with them. I’ve met many of them in person now and am constantly amazed at how much people cope with on a daily basis.

Today my new specialist asked me how I could be so clinical and calm when describing my health. I must have looked weary as well since she asked me how many times I had repeated my history. Truth be known, I’ve lost count. I’ve been ill since 2000 and “chronically” ill since 2010. My life changed. I can’t do some things anymore. I’ve discovered new pursuits to replace the ones I’ve had to cross off. My coping mechanisms are wide in scope since I have so many things to deal with. Yes, I am clinical. It’s actually one of my ways of dealing with the speed bumps.

What I find interesting is how different people look at their circumstances. I have one friend whose battle cry is “Quality over Quantity!” This friend is determined to live a full life, however long it is. I read their updates and find myself hoping it’s a long one. The sheer will to keep getting up day after day, never knowing how beat down you’ll be at the end of the day, is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

And I know other people who see what I envision as small challenges melt into a hot mess. Their response to a stubbed toe is worthy of an Oscar for Best Acting. Yes, I find myself chuckling and restraining myself from posting something sarcastic. I keep telling myself that I haven’t walked in their shoes and shouldn’t judge. But, really. I have a hard time sympathizing with you over a cold that lasts THREE WHOLE DAYS when I have weeks where I struggle to stay out of the hospital.

Then there are my “in between” friends. They triumph over challenges and quietly mention their latest success. They write about things that bug them and a few days later post about how it’s amazing the way things work out.  I read about their kids and family members and cheer them on. Again, seeing the human spirit in action is an amazing thing.

So what am I talking about in this blog post? Attitude. There’s a whole lot of “not fun” in this world. there’s also a lot of great opportunities. People who get hung up on the “not fun” parts absorb that attitude and, in a way, make their own lives “not fun.” I used to be one of those people. There was a time when I would have stayed in bed all day because of a cold. I’d bemoan my stuffed up nose and feather-filled head. Even in the early years of being ill, I’d do an “oh poor me” schtick for anyone who would listen.

Now, I see things differently. I weigh whether the level of “not fun” is worth doing an activity. I speak up and tell people what activities I can do without experiencing too much “not fun” as a consequence. Ever so slowly, my friends are picking up on my cues. More people are becoming less fearful about including me in activities. I like to think it’s because I’ve put them at ease. That maybe they have learned that while I’m ill, I’m still a person who needs companionship. I can still do many things. Sometimes it’s mind over body if I really want to do something.

It comes down to attitude. We have to make peace with our past, cherish our todays and celebrate our tomorrows. That’s what I told the specialist today. The look on her face was one of astonishment. And we proceeded to map our the next plan of action to deal with the latest issue. I encourage you to continue moving forward, head held high, facing the challenges with grace and dignity. It’s your call.

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….

Live, Love, Laugh

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.~Henry A. Kissinger

This quote was made in jest during a time of intense political stress. Yet, it rings true today because we have filled our lives with things that need doing, places we must go and people who demand our presence. Our lives have become schedules, without room to pause and savor what is right in front of us.

One of my friends recently attended the funeral of a very good friend. My friend found herself unable to cry at the service and was wondering what was wrong with her. I thought about this for a while, as I am prone to cry at a picture of cute puppies. Then I realized, it’s because my friend lives in the now. She savored her time with her friend as it came and thus had no regrets other than losing the companionship of a dear friend. They laughed and shared life every day. Even though her friend passed rather suddenly, my friend found herself understanding that life is meant to be lived right now, not as a series of regrets.

I frequently joke about how my housekeeping skills have been lacking for the last decade. No, I’m not a hoarder and my house, while messy, is not unsanitary. I’ve just found that as my kids were growing up, I wanted to be involved in their lives. I led Scouts, volunteered at schools, taught my kids to serve others and made dinner almost every night. The dust bunnies could wait. My life was full of kids and their activities.

Today, I am grateful I lived in the now. My kids are young adults and can fend for themselves. The only major skill they lack is housekeeping, but that probably has to do with me being a poor role model. My days are still full, but not with the things I want them to be. Living in the now was crazy busy, but strangely liberating.

I encourage all of you to pause for a few moments and look at your schedule. Then look at your life. Happiness is found in doing the things you love. Don’t worry about a crisis…there will undoubtably be one anyway. Live, love, laugh. Those three words sum up how to handle a crisis.