Diabetes Blog Week, Day 1, Message Monday: Let's kick off the week by talking about why we are here, in the diabetes blog space. What is the most important diabetes awareness message to you? Why is that message important for you, and what are you trying to accomplish by sharing it on your blog?
Yesterday I celebrated the one year anniversary of my published book about diabetes, Maddie's Me Bag. 366 days ago the delivery truck brought 1,800 copies to my home. Ahhhhhh...my house smelled like paper for a few days. Maddie (yes, sometimes I feel like she is a real person, "Maddie is on her way from Texas!") has led me to experiences and relationships I never dreamed of. I like to think that the book has helped me as much as I hope it has helped others....
The intention of Maddie's Me Bag was to educate others about diabetes and support those who have it. Through Amazon reviews and several conversations, I have realized that the book represents more than that: we all have things that make us feel different and it is time to share them and celebrate our uniqueness.
Over the last 12 months, I have realized that I LOVE AUTHOR VISITS to schools. Yes, with my "big girl job" I had to be creative with personal days and days off from teaching. I visited 9+ schools this year, I spoke to a high school staff and presented to 2 district support groups. I. Love. This. I love meeting people and celebrating what makes me unique. Yes, I have Type 1 diabetes, but it is not going to define who I am.
When I visit schools, my focus is on the publishing process. Of course, diabetes is discussed, primarily as my story idea. Using a slideshow and props, I share the manuscript, all of the editing pages and illustration development. The presentation concludes with a reading of the book. I tell the students and staff that the pages' slides contain no words, only illustrations. This was not a mistake, but this process allows the audience to listen to the words while studying the illustrations' emotions and details. All of this while thinking about the writing tips and steps previously discussed.
Then I come to a particular page. I tell the audience that this is my favorite page and it is so special that I included the words on the slide. After I read the page, I ask if the students know why I like this page the best.
Here is when I admit I am a cheeseball. I choke up each and every time I read this page, including the words,
"I'm okay. I can do everything you can."
YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT! Yes, Maddie has diabetes. Yes, she shares the tools and resources she needs to lead a happy and healthy life. More importantly, she shares other items that aren't related to diabetes that make her special. DIABETES DOES NOT DEFINE WHO SHE IS!
A child's lens may reveal a feeling of difference or isolation. It might be diabetes. It might be a food allergy. It could be a learning disability. Whatever the situation, we should be proud of who we are. We are never, ever, alone.
Here's to "Year 2" of Maddie's Me Bag. I have enjoyed the journey and I hope to continue to share my message.