Saturday, March 19, 2016

Reconnecting with my tribe

Although it’s been a while since I’ve written in this space, I’ve been here thinking about things to write and diabetes campaigns to promote. I candidly wrote previously about my struggles over the winter and they continued into January and part of February. I’m ok but it’s not been easy to climb out of the funk.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the 2nd annual Diabetes UnConference. Not only did I attend for the second time, but I was honored to be one of the facilitators! It was an amazing experience. Last year I wrote about experiencing the first UnConference and, honestly, I could cut and paste that post here and it would remain just as relevant. If you want to know what the UnConference is like, please go and read that post. Go ahead, seriously.

You may think that having the same experience would make the UnConference a one-shot deal. If you’ve been once, you don’t need to go again sort of thing. Nuh uh. Not even close. You see, what makes the UnConference so special is that it’s people with diabetes coming together to talk about things that affect our lives; things that are meaningful to us. It isn’t “how do I insert this CGM sensor” or “what is the best diet to follow” (although those discussions do happen), it’s discussions about the emotions that we feel when living with diabetes. It’s talking about difficult subjects in a place where you feel safe to do that. It really is a large support group meeting that takes place over 1 ½ days. Powerful stuff.

This year there were familiar faces but the majority of the attendees were new to the event. How cool is that? There was over 2,500 years of diabetes experience in that room. Let that sink in for a minute. Two thousand five hundred years! And yet, we didn’t have all the answers because diabetes changes; diabetes doesn’t play fair. I think one of the things that stands out for me is that, regardless of how many years you’ve been living with diabetes, you still need your peeps. You still need the connection to others who “get it”. You still need someone to understand. The Diabetes UnConference is simply a room full of people who get it and are ready, willing and able to support each other.

So back to me (it is my blog, after all). I was apprehensive about going to the conference this year because I would be facilitating and I was worried that my fibromyalgia would cause me issues. It didn’t, at least not until it was all over. That’s when I hit what I call my “fibro wall” and I spent the last night in my room resembling a rung out dishrag, but a dishrag that felt content and happy. I reconnected with my tribe. I came home filled with renewed determination to start living my life again. What I’m feeling now isn’t just a desire to get back in the saddle with my diabetes but I feel more able to begin living my life now that my responsibilities for my mom’s care have diminished. I want to go camping! I’m looking forward to our “big trip” this summer! Walking. Writing. Hiking. Crafting. LIVING! I may have eventually gotten to this point on my own, but my current feeling of STOKED! comes directly from my experiences at the Diabetes UnConference and all the people who attended alongside me. A weekend spent with my tribe; the people who get what this part of my life is like. It. Was. Amazing.

What happens at the UnConference, stays at the UnConference (and not just because it was Vegas). We pledge to not discuss other people’s stories outside of the event and that allows the attendees to feel safe talking about their fears and issues. If you want to experience this weekend of awesomeness, there is a way. There will be a 2nd UnConference this year in Atlantic City. Check it out here. If you live in the east or are free to travel about, I highly recommend that you register and attend. You won’t regret it (and I’ll be there too!). And, there is always next year! The UnConference will be back in Vegas next spring and I’m sure there will be another one later in the year in the east. So many opportunities are out there for you to experience this phenomenon. Do something good for yourself. You deserve it.

6 comments:

  1. Kate, you were super(as always), and I was honored to facilitate with you at the UnConference. You've described the experience perfectly. I can't wait until September!

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    1. I know! I'm not usually one to wish my life away, but I wish the AC conference was sooner! I'm glad we got to work together, although it didn't feel like work at all!

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  2. Hope to see you in AC Kate, if all goes well with financing for travel - I'll be there if I find someone to share the drive (it's an 10 hour drive to that part of your country) . Will you be a facilitator there too? If so great!

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    1. Yay! I hope it works out. Yes, I'll be facilitating again. Can't wait to see you!

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  3. I heard terrific things about the Unconfernece the last two years. It must have been a terrific time for all who attended. While what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas, I think a lot of it will be transferred back the communities each of you are part of.


    I included your blog on the TUDiabetes blog page for the week of March 21, 2016.

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I truly love to receive comments from readers, however, if your comment includes a link to a website about diabetes or information on how you "cured" your diabetes, it won't be published. If your profile name links to a website about diabetes, it won't be published. If you also write a blog and would like me to include it in my blog roll, please say so in a comment and I'll do that. Thanks.