WHAT DO YOU DO TO FIND BALANCE?
This deep question was posed by our Diva Diabetics' leader, Joan, at our last meeting. I consider myself quite a reflector so I was able to proudly fill in my questionnaire like peanut butter claiming jelly. America finding baseball. Boom. I felt myself traveling back to a young girl in my classroom desk, anxiously waiting for the teacher to call on someone to give the answer (insert Welcome Back Kotter's Horshack..."Oh, oh, oh!).
1. Run. Running gives me balance. Not only does it offer physical rewards, but also mental ones. Professionally, I can share my personal experiences and knowledge with my school's Girls On the Run participants. Socially, running with a friend or a running group creates a spirit of comradery that many do not understand ("Hey, did that toenail ever fall off?"). The ability to have time to think, enjoy being outside and chit chat with friends is priceless. It centers me and offers a healthy spirit of competition as I set time goals and travel to various locations.
I have run in several races (5ks, half marathons, a marathon-see blog post 2, hundreds of miles around Forest Park) but one of the most rewarding runs was this year's Go! St. Louis Marathon. I ran the third leg of the marathon relay, which consisted of 7.5 miles. I raised donations and ran for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). There is nothing better than finding a cause to support. My cause. The pot was sweetened (pun intended) when I entered the JDRF tent. I smiled when I saw some of the other runners. They were checking their blood sugar levels and adjusting their basal rates before and after the race. These people are just like me! Not everyone understands the feeling of an insulin pump's tubing threaded through my clothes and worn on my left arm in a Belkin. My phone was worn in another Belkin on my right arm for music and emergency purposes (hubby called to check on me and my blood sugar levels during mile #4). Add the sportbeans in my running capris' back pocket and I suddenly added pounds of sugar-giving, emergency-avoiding precious cargo. And several additional pounds (just kidding). Despite the extra gear and anxiety regarding keeping my blood sugar levels up while I waited for my leg, I wouldn't change ONE THING about that day. I was running for diabetes, not away from it!
2. Write. Writing gives me balance. There is nothing like sitting down with a pen/pencil/laptop and letting it all go. The amazing part is when you can vent or use life's experiences to tell a story. Maddie's Me Bag has given me so much that it makes my heart want to burst. I wrote the children's book about diabetes before Patrick (now 11 years old!) was born. It is based on an actual activity I did with students when I taught third grade. Back then, in order to set MY book apart from the others out there in publishers' land, I got as creative as possible. I mailed the manuscript to many publishers and received rejection letter after rejection letter. I decided to take a break and put the manuscript away. Funny how it happens, but years passed, children were born and the National Board Certification process happened. While I was waiting for my board results, I had a hard time shutting down the ol' brain (it has to drive the hubby cray to the zay). I got the manuscript out, revised it and EMAILED it this time. Bingo...I hit a publisher whose wife had just received a diabetic diagnosis. Boom badda...a sweet connection was made. Thank you, Mascot Books!
The process has been fun and amazing and rewarding and unbelievable... I am so grateful to have met many special people. I am becoming more involved in diabetic organizations. I believe my book has given me so much, just as much as the heart and soul I have offered it. I joined a support group for women with Type 1 Diabetes (a shout out to the Diva Diabetics, whoop!). I am learning more and more about diabetic advances, technology, on and on and on.... Writing has made my life amazing, taking my everyday experiences and turning them into stories. Writing posts of life and hoping someone learns something. Maybe, just maybe, someone doesn't feel like they are going it alone. I have stories to tell and hopefully there are people out there wanting and willing to listen.