Sunday, April 22, 2018

3 Steps to Bloom

Back in March 2017, I wrote an essay on my blog, Verbostratis, called Finding Ourselves. In it, I wrote that I feel there are 3 keys to becoming our true selves:

  1. Figure out where we started
  2. Receive some opportunities to face fears, challenge ourselves and try new things
  3. Accept who we are and who we’re becoming

The photo I took this morning reminded me of this evolution. Ideally, over our lives, we emerge out of a frozen, older world into a newer, fresh beauty that is our own. What that “self” is, how long it takes, and what it ends up being are unknown at the start.

Now that I’m editing my guided journal for those with T1Ds, Dear Warriors, and speaking with more people with type 1 diabetes, these steps feel more poignant. I felt the need to review them in light of diabetes and this new book. As I’ve begun introducing the premise of Dear Warriors to others and asking for help by collaborating with me in its creation, I’ve heard similar ideas from others who have been dealing with this condition for a while. They speak of learning patience, persistence, acceptance and empathy. There’s a combination of internal and external things we need.

1. Figure out where we started

Family stories and traditions came out as I sketched out Dear Warriors. As I mulled ideas over, it became evident to me that each person alive today is fighting something. We’re all warriors, so my writing evolved to include that. Who were/are our teachers? What tendencies did we have at birth? How have we been trained to behave?

2. Receive some opportunities to face fears, challenge ourselves and try new things

Diabetes is scary. I wrote of changing technologies, exercise routines, family dynamics and schedules that can advance us. I’ve added stories of gifts from fellow T1Ds and medical professionals that move us forward or brighten our days. I’ve also written of ignorance and indifference that have harmed along the way. Of ridiculous stumbling blocks. T1D demands connections with others. In truth, I’ve discovered that all humanity benefits from those same connections- and suffers alongside us if they are too few or too erroneous.

3. Accept who we are and who we’re becoming

I’ve shared instances in Dear Warriors that have been uniquely my style, even if they may seem strange to others. I’ve confessed where I fall short medically and in my own eyes. I describe where I feel I’ve grown since the beginning and what I’m still working on. The very act of writing this book is evidence, in my opinion, that I’m willing to reveal secrets to both myself and others. That’s a huge leap for me. It’s definitely felt painfully honest at times, and humbling at others.

The journey is not over yet. I’m still looking forward to seeing this book populated with more images from other Diabetic Warriors that will help fill in the stories. (Please email me your art for review at!) I’m also anticipating after publication: seeing how other T1Ds absorb my essays and others’ art, how they respond to them, and how they turn this work into an even more collaborative effort by adding their own lives and thoughts through the journalling spaces I’m providing.

The sketch I’ve including here was in my original essay in 2017. It’s a drawing I did of the crow-tit, a bird that is the basis of a Korean adage that reminds us to be ourselves and to not try to copy someone else. Being our genuine selves. That’s the greatest gift we can have, and the greatest gift we can share with others.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Introducing Dear Warriors

I wanted to share the introduction to my Work in Progress, Dear Warriors: A Guided Journal to Support & Inspire T1Ds and Their Warrior Allies, set to publish by October 14, in time for November's Diabetes Awareness Month and World Diabetes Day on November 14

Do you or someone you know have any art the expresses your unique experience as a person with T1D? I am welcoming art for consideration in the book's illustrations until July 31. Please see Collaborations are Awesome for more information.

Introduction: Why “Warriors”?

Having type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be alienating and exhausting. I think that’s why the term “warrior” has been used in recent years to describe us. It's supposed to make us feel stronger.

I really resisted accepting and using that term as I wrote this book. “Warrior” is used by so many and the baggage of its meaning is getting heavier and heavier as the years go by. Take a moment to list things you think of when you hear the term. From a negative perspective, you may picture:

  • ·        Hostility and confrontation
  • ·        Exhaustion and isolation
  • ·        Grit and misery
  • ·        Massive weaponry
  • ·        Win or die

That’s not the whole story.

As a former master gardener and someone who worked in botany once upon a time, I’m much more inclined to harmonious nature themes. Think puffy clouds and cute chipmunks. Among my brainstorming notes for this book’s outline, is a tree I drew as a representation of what a human is. We, like trees, are composed of several parts (more on that later), and we interact with our environments. For trees, that’s water, sun, air and the ground they find themselves. For us, our “environments” are the things and opportunities we have around us. As I sat with the idea, I realized that in both cases, if there’s a bunch of individuals together (trees create forests and people create communities), they also have positive and negative interactions with each other.

Trees fight for space in a forest. People fight for space in a community.

That last thought is what convinced me to use the term “Diabetic Warriors”. “Fighting for” is a vague phrase, often related to survival and winning, with the visuals I’ve listed. “Fighting for” can also mean “struggling for”, and that adds more depth to our life picture.

We are all struggling for something. That’s what life is. However, the struggle or fight does not have to be the completely devastating guerilla warfare we sometimes believe (and experience). There are benefits in living in the forest. There can be honor on that battlefield of life.

With this book, I hope to bring back the emphasis of honor when it comes to “Warriors”, especially, Diabetic Warriors. By honorable, I mean: able to be respected and to behave with respect. I want us to have images of:

  • ·        Teamwork and trust
  • ·        Collaboration and sharing
  • ·        Intense effort and joy
  • ·        Resourcefulness and creative thinking
  • ·        Alliance-building and shared experiences

Please take this opportunity to write down your own words on what you think describe the honorable Warrior of today. To me, honorable Warriors…

With that, I welcome you as a fellow Warrior- part of my tribe and forest!  Although our details differ, we are a band united by some common threads, including type 1 diabetes, thus we are not only Warriors, we are Diabetic Warriors. Diabetes touches us or someone we hold dear.

Catch that last word? My book titles include the salutation “Dear” for a reason. Corny as it sounds, we’re dear to someone. You’re probably dear to many, but you are dear, at the very minimum, to one very important person: yourself. A second goal of the book is to prove we are united and dear in any number of other ways. Ways that can offer us strength and light.

Our dearness matters. Our relationship to others matters. This Warrior idea is a universal one and I want to help build our connections with other people- other Warriors. We’re together, including people without the need for insulin. We all benefit by living that truth. To present this argument, I’ve relied on other minds and life stories for support. There are images I’ve included from a range of people with T1D and voices of those with diabetes and those without. I believe all of it helps build the narrative that our forest, our army, is bigger than we usually allow it, or believe it, to be.

My last goal in Dear Warriors is to challenge us to stretch. We are something today. We can be something else tomorrow, if we try. I’ll ask questions to both you and myself. I’ve set aside space for you to write down your reactions, your past, your hopes and your plans. You’ll see my prompts in bold as I’ve done in this introduction. I want Dear Warriors to be a working space for growth and acceptance, so that the book you hold becomes specific to you.

In summary, we’re all Warriors.  

When I refer to “DW”s in this book, it stands for 2 things:

Diabetic Warriors:

Honorable people,
who just happen to also have the added twist of type 1 diabetes.

Dear Warriors:

Honorable people, T1D or otherwise,
who are held dear by themselves and others.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Life's A Marathon!

I finished the first draft of Dear Warriors in September. Here it is, April 9, and I just assembled Version 3.0!

The weather is practically the same as it was back in September. Other than that, a ton of stuff has changed both in this manuscript and in my life. That's the way of the world, isn't it? 

I've added a CGM into my life and met some more amazing people. I'm seeing all sorts of cool art and amazing stories of lives touched by diabetes. I'm also working out with a friend and hoping to check something off our bucket lists together this year: running a legit 5K.

Life's a marathon, especially with T1D. We can do it together. 

If you or someone you love has some 2-dimension art they'd like to send my way for possible inclusion in Dear Warriors, I would love to check it out. Please see here for details. Submission deadline is July 31, 2018.