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Inspired.

I spend a lot of time writing about diabetes within the diabetes online community, but I don't have a lot of opportunities to bring diabetes advocacy outside of certain parameters.  I've done some guest blogging for non-diabetes sites, but for the most part, I speak about and to the diabetes community.  Sometimes my advocacy efforts exist within a bubble. 

But last week, I had a chance to step entirely outside of my comfort ... bubble? and speak with woman bloggers who aren't living with or caring for diabetes.  It's very humbling to sit in a room with women who have lost a child.  Or who have traveled to Africa to work towards eliminating pediatric AIDS.  Or who have made a difference for women who are dealing with depression or anxiety.  Women who can make you laugh while they describe the darkest moments of their days.  Women who can find something beautiful with just a click of their shutter.

On Thursday, I traveled to New Jersey to meet with members of the Johnson & Johnson team, the Edelman PR team, and some very powerful bloggers in the parenting space.  I was honored and humbled to be in the company of Alice Bradley, Karen Walrond, Heather Armstrong, Ana Roca Castro, Catherine Connors, Katie Allison Granju, Jennifer Hutcheson, Nirasha Jaganath, Isabel Kallman, Jyl Johnson Pattee, Ellen Seidman, Heather Spohr, and Allison Worthington.  An intimate but inspiring group gathered (and dubbed 'a salon') to talk about using social media to contribute to social good. 

When it came time to introduce myself to the group, I was shaking with nerves, not sure how I ended up in this room full of change-affecting women.  (They DO know I blog about my cats, right?  I mean, really.)  I stammered through an introduction, unsure of what to say or how to measure up to these fellow bloggers, but hoping that they'd reweave my words into something that properly represented the passion and power of the patient blogging community.  After introductions, we talked.  All day.  Stories were shared; people laughed because it felt right and because it filled a moment where tears would have otherwise flowed.  (But tears flowed at times anyway.)  We discussed topics including preterm childbirth, pediatric AIDS, using social media to help educate new moms, and how we, as social media influencers and strategists, can impact positive change in these areas. 

And these discussions really embedded themselves in my brain, because it became clearer and clearer that blogging is more than just a web page filled with musings.  A blog, and a blogging community, is a vehicle for change.  Diabetes bloggers are helping to raise awareness and funds for a disease that much of society ignores or misunderstands.  I think that diabetes bloggers make a big emotional difference for ourselves and our fellow PWDs, but I do think we can do more.  And after sitting with these really inspiring women, I'm both inspired and convinced that we CAN do more.

What, exactly?  I'm not sure, but there are a few ideas percolating in my brain.  I am tired of diabetes being a condition that is ignored by society as a whole.  Just because we don't look sick until we're dealing with serious complications doesn't mean we don't deserve a cure.  And just because many of us have grown up past the "children with diabetes" phase doesn't mean that our adulthood with diabetes should be written off as "easy" or unsupported.  The support I've received from the online community has been changed how I manage my diabetes and the emotions related to chronic illness, and I want everyone who is living with diabetes to have access to this kind of care. 

I left the meeting in New Jersey renewed as an advocate and amped up as a member of the patient blogging community.  And I can't wait to develop and implement new ideas with our diabetes online community.  More to come, but for now, I'm just INSPIRED.

Advocacy is in bloom.  ... whoa, that's a lot of advocacy.

[Disclosure:  Johnson & Johnson paid me a consulting fee to attend their New Jersey-based Salon and advise on using social media for social good. I was not paid to write this post. I'm also sure there are typos in this post.  Opinions expressed, as usual, are my very own.]

Comments

Very nice post, Kerri :)

I cannot wait to hear about next moves. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to move on, and up. What a great experience this was K!

I can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve ... count me in!

Recently, I took on a personal challenge to motivate the diabetes community at large to support the Life For A Child program -- with all the rumblings about which cure focused organization to support, I figure it's something we should all be able to agree on -- and unite to make an impact -- NO CHILD SHOULD DIE OF DIABETES.

Let's GO!!!! Let's DO THIS!

Fasten your seatbelts and keep your arms inside the ride at all times...it's going to be a wild ride... I'M READY!

PS -- For more info about the LFAC campaign I mentioned, please visit

http://www.candyheartsblog.com/p/life-for-child.html

and get involved!

I find you inspiring... even if you do blog about your cat :)

No really... I think those "extra" posts make us more real. There are days that I appreciate a non-d related post. Helps me escape for a few minutes.

Great post, Kerri. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on this very inspiring stuff, on top of the inspiration you already provide on such a regular basis. It is interesting to see how much more inspiration exists outside of our little "D-bubble", and what that can translate to for the bigger picture. Looking forward to seeing how the inspiration evolves!

So nicely said! I felt the exact same way. Hope to see you again, soon.

Wow. You have NO IDEA how much I needed to read this today. PERFECT timing.

I can't wait to see the fruits of your inspiraiton.

:)

You are every bit as worthy as those other bloggers. I read some of them as well, and they fill a need, but being able to hear about someone else who has to go through what I go through every day is... well, life saving. So, thanks!

Kerri, I agree. Sometimes I feel like I need to be doing so much more with my blog...I see what Wendy is doing with LFAC and I see Laura Houston's call to "help me" and I feel a little useless...or lame. I dunno. Right now I try to write to educate. I bond with DOCers...but I know a lot of non"D" peeps read it too. I hope by writing about our day-in-the-life that people understand "D" better and realize why a cure or better treatment modalities are a must.

xoxo - Great Post!

It was really great meeting you this weekend, Kerri! You absolutely belonged there (I mean, I blog about my dog) and I was excited we were on the same team. Can't wait to spend time with you in the future!

P.S.
I am totally going to become your blog stalker!

Hey Kerri,

I just wanted to de-lurk for a moment to say that as a non-diabetic I still find inspiration in your blog. I've got a chronic illness of my own (well, two really b/c one wasn't enough for me somehow) but I still read your blog almost every day b/c a lot of the baggage that you discuss due to diabetes is universal to anyone with an "invisible" chronic illness. I can't tell you how frustrating it is for people to say I look/seem fine when I'm feeling miserable but think I have to put on this happy/healthy front (but you get it). I also hate getting dirty looks from people when i park in handicapped parking at the mall b/c they don't have x-ray vision to see the rods and screws holding my spine together. Or how about when someone asked me if I've tried (insert the simplest, most common-sense treatment you can think of) because it worked for Uncle Bill or Aunt Sue. Since there are very few blogs specific to my chronic illnesses and even fewer bloggers who write as well as you, I'm really grateful to you for helping me feel less alone, diabetes or not.

Awesome! Keep us posted & count me in!

So cool!!! I can't wait to see what is cooking up in that brilliant brain of yours. You know you'll have my full support. And also, if there is every ANYTHING I can do to help, don't hesitate to put me to work!!

Yes! I love the DOC, but I agree-- we're pretty insular. Let's cook up big dreams and get the whole community in on the action! Like many others have said, I can't wait to see what new ideas are on the horizon!

Was really so good to meet you Kerri. I hope that being in NE we get to meet more often!

Kerri, I am in it to win it with you. I agree that we can find ways to do more, and that we should find ways to do more.

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