International Diabadass Women’s Day

ride the highs, well rounded wellness

39e58cefd9a9440e53b6d39342f9239dDear Every Other Badass Lady Young And Old Who Also Happens To Be Living With Type 1 Diabetes,

Fuck yeah. You’re awesome. You are so incredibly, insanely awesome. Why? Because you are a woman and women who take care of each other, work hard, respect themselves and others, pay attention to their bodies, and give back to this world are the most amazing beings out there. And the women that I’ve crossed both physical and Internet paths with on this journey have been nothing short of all of those things. Every time I think of all of you my brain goes, “BOOM. YAS KWEEN.”

When I was first put in this tribe of lady-betics 11 years ago, I didn’t know any other lady-betics. At first I was really freaked out by that. But in the past year particularly, I have realized that on a daily basis, I am graced with the company of some pretty special gals.

On Instagram, I see how fearlessly you all own the doodads and tubes stuck on your bodies, you flaunt your gorgeous, homemade meals made of luscious greens and super foods, and how you speak words of such genuine compassion and support towards others, most of whom you’ve never even met. Being a part of that community makes my life so much richer. I feel like it’s a treat to know that Liv and Hannah, even though you’re newly diagnosed, you’re so far from alone. And that Mindy, Sara, and Erika, you’re also out there doing your thing, fighting the fight, even if it all appears to just be on a tiny social media platform. We all know it’s so much more than that.

And on your blogs, you share stories of fear, frustration, adventure, and perseverance. You spill your guts out to whoever will listen with the hope that someone will hear your battle cry or be touched by your strength. And guess what? It works. I’m listening, Kerri and Kim, (guess I should change my name to Kibby to fit in…), and without your voices, I’d feel such a tremendous void.

And let’s not forget the powerful moments IRL when I looked up in a spin class I’d obliviously attended many times and noticed the insulin pump clipped to your leggings. I was a perfect stranger to you, and yet when I nervously approached you after class, you effortlessly convinced me to hop on the CGM train and never look back. Like, holy shit. Thank you, Liz, and all of Monster Cycle for supporting Beyond Type 1. If it weren’t for you, I would have never bumped into Alyssa, my innocent spin bike neighbor who was the first person I’d met in the wild and had read my blog and acted borderline starstruck when I introduced myself. The confidence boost that 45 minute coincidence gave me influenced The Sugars and my desire to focus on this battle more than you’ll ever know.

And how about this gal, Christina, whose vision for College Diabetes Network back in 2010 when we first Facebook “chatted” was a total frickin’ game changer for me. You inspired me to pull a Robin Roberts and “make my mess my message” and I owe ya one. Big time.

There’s also niche branch of diabadass ladies that I respect with all of my might. And they’re not even diabetic. To all the d-moms out there…lookin’ at you, Kristina, BLESS YOUR ENORMOUS AND PATIENT HEARTS. Like so many amazing moms out there, you have selflessly dedicated your time and energy to empowering your kiddos to live full, happy, independent lives and as women, you are exactly what we should all aspire to be like.

To all the women out there who have crossed paths with this disease, whether you have it or not (shout out to my mom, and my cousin Katie for giving all my infusion sites their own names), just know the difference you’ve made and the energy you’ve given us to keep fighting. The support we can give each other as strong-willed, warm-hearted women is not something to be underestimated. Ever.

If I could give you all a massive hug, I would. Okay fine, I’m giving you one with my brain.
Sincerely,

The once was lost but now is starting to feel slightly more found ladybetic,

Libby
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Diabetes Awareness Month

ride the highs, the secret life of, well rounded wellness

damI think “awareness” is an interesting way to describe a month dedicated to a chronic, sneaky little bastard of a disease. It should be more like “HEY WORLD, IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GET THE HECK UP TO SPEED ON TYPE 1 DIABETES BECAUSE IT’S REALLY ANNOYING.” But to be fair, my own awareness is a little sub-par both with regard to myself as a diabetic, and just diabetes as a disease in general. I honestly can’t remember the last time I checked in on research advancement, or Congress’ movements towards improved coverage of care. Or, even more importantly, what’s happening with the other nebulous “c” word we all hate so much…you know that whole “cure” thing we’ve been promised for like 200 years? Where are we with that?

Over the past 10 years, I’ve struggled to come to terms with the fact that though I am not visibly sick, I have a very real disease. That I now require a lot of extra help from devices and sensors and finger pricks not just to “feel better” but to be alive. That my body isn’t going to look like other women’s’ bodies because I have some accessories on it I don’t have the option of removing. I’ve had a hard time learning to accept and identify with my diabetes instead of hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist. But I also have the, at times invisible gift, of experiencing a disease that forces me to dig deep and find strength when I least expect it.

So, my goal for each week of #DiabetesAwarenessMonth, is to a write a post about my own awareness. Do some research, chat with some other inspiring ladies in the amazing DOC, tell people I just got a CGM, and see what I discover on the way. I’m expecting to find all good things, but sometimes diving head first into an uncomfy territory can be, well… uncomfy!

Here’s to another #DiabetesAwarenessMonth.

bottle it up

the secret life of, well rounded wellness

Bottled Emotions by Taylor Kinser, via BehanceI am the queen of bottling. I have like, 423 water bottles. I have bottles of hair products and perfume on every surface in my bedroom. I have bottles of insulin in my fridge. And, this goes without saying, I have bottles of wine stashed away in my kitchen for the tougher every nights.

But what I’m really the master of, is bottling my stress. I’m a total over sharer when it comes to talking about arbitrary bullshit because it’s social and stimulating. But dealing with real problems is an entirely different story. In our culture of constant comparison, self-consciousness, and vulnerability, the details that are easy to share about our lives are often very surface level. It’s easy to talk about the things that make us laugh and feel good like nail polish colors and kristen wiig’s SNL characters. It’s not easy being brutally honest enough with ourselves and others to actually discover solutions. I personally tend to just talk and talk and talk until I’m too tired to take a real stab at solving my problems.

What I bottle is the big stuff. The ugly anxiety that I’m not quite armed and ready to handle the pressures of everyday life. Or of coping with the fear of getting hurt, or taking risks that could allow me to grow. It’s as if by simply avoiding it or pretending these stressors aren’t there, they’ll eventually buzz off. It’s exactly the way I was I was told to treat boys in 3rd grade when they were flicking boogers at me in class. In fact, I still do that to boys. Well, that or I flick the boogers right back at them.

I just read this article, where a career-lost 25-year-old gal reacts to her mom telling her “she has no passions.” Polly reacts quite strongly towards this, pointing her finger at the mom. Saying that people in their twenties are so over protected by their parents when meanwhile, Manhattan-obsessed 20 somethings insist on living paycheck to paycheck. This dynamic confuses the hell out of us, makes us lazy, and distracts us from finding our own path because we feel tied to our parents’ support, and therefore their opinions of our choices. It’s like Shark Tank. Investing for15% of the company means the owners can do what they want, but only if Mr. Wonderful is happy. So…the owner isn’t really doing what they want. I thought the article was very sobering. I love my parents more than anything in this world, and the fact that anyone would blame our relationship for my tendencies to be a scaredy cat about continuing to grow up got me all fired up. But then I realized, it’s no one’s fault, it’s just about how the relationship is managed.

A lot of the issues that people have in their twenties are incredibly challenging, but simply for the reason that we have had so few real challenges under our belts. Challenges are uncomfortable, and unfamiliar, and don’t feel good to us because they are foreign. Like the article states, we have no fucking clue what it means to work hard for something. We’re so afraid of ourselves and our reality, so we hide behind our phones looking for superficial, crowdsourced love on Instagram instead of fighting for something we want. This means we’re rarely learning anything about falling on our faces and getting back up. (Unless of course we’re Instagraming and walking and wipe out.) Challenges are too easily avoided. For example, I love reading, but I haven’t read a book in a year. Why? Because it’s challenging. You know what’s not challenging? Mindlessly admiring fake people’s fake lives on Pinterest and hoping that “someday this could all be mine.”

What I’m realizing is that finding success and happiness just doesn’t work like that. Nothing even a little bit works like that.

We are all scared shitless of failing or not meeting expectations, of disappointing our “investors”, but a lot of that is manifested in the fact that we come from families that have held our hands so tightly, that we barely know how to fly when the air gets bumpy. We’re way too used to bail outs and back up plans. We’ve never been put in situations we couldn’t get out of with a simple text off to a trusty advisor back in the homeland. I am more guilty of this than I’d like to admit.

Also, it doesn’t help that because we live cozy lives filled with mom snuggles when we’re home, the drastic contrast between our parents’ world and our day-to-day reality can be a little tough to digest. We forget that our parents have had a 25+ year head start on us and that they deserve to live comfortably now. We’re but mere little spring chickens, posting dramatic things on Facebook about how ironic and poor we are, while blogging about every feeling we have (ha, me!). We love to deep dive on our feelings and we love to discuss the bone crushing anxiety that the process of self-discovery can create. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to everybody else, including our parents, and we forget to just focus on ourselves and figure things out on our own terms and time. This is where the stress bottling comes from.

What I’ve come to realize is that most of us manage our lives like I manage my blood sugar…I give it a few check-ins a day, and a few adjustments here and there. It’s never pleasant to see numbers I don’t like, and it’s a pain in the ass to be fussing over corrections. But the worst thing I can do, is go a whole day without checking at all. It’s lethal, actually, but sometimes it’s easier to just not deal with it. Out of sight, out of mind. The fact of the matter is, if it’s high, I can fix it. If it’s low, I can fix it. Making adjustments to be in a healthier place is never impossible, however untrue that may feel sometimes.

My mom made a great point the other day, “You are never trapped”, she told me when I was babbling on about my never ending “Am I doing this right?” crisis. It’s so hard not to feel trapped some days. We feel suffocated by our credit card bills, jobs, where we live, student loans, and often our relationships/friends. She sort of nailed this one (go mom!). Just like a high blood sugar…you guys, we  really can fix the stuff that bugs us and is dragging us down.

At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is just keep talking about it with each other. Not complaining, not whining, but sharing goals and aspirations. We should be supporting each other and stoking challenging conversations that help us all get through this totally moody growth spurt. Bottling everything up just makes it all feel a little scarier, and certainly more ominous.

Also hey, if we don’t ask the questions, we’ll never get the answers.

the getaway gamble

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Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIn two days, I am going away for a long weekend to Las Vegas with my girlfriends. Truthfully, I have already been thinking: “Diabetes, you are not invited. If you show up as the sloppy, needy bitch you tend to be when I’m on vacation, I’m going to be so pissed.” But then I remember that I don’t have that luxury, and that whether I like it or not, the power trio of my infusion sets, reserviors, and test strips are comin’ along for the ride.

When I travel, I either over compensate by a hilarious amount, or drastically under-prepare. Whether it’s a quick trip home to my parents’ house, or to another country for two weeks, there is just no way to be perfectly prepped and ready for what could happen when I’m traveling. Unless I hire my own personal psychic, the travel gamble is just another day in the life of a type 1 diabetic.

Tonight, as I was going through my pre-flight inventory check. I learned about the article in the New York Times that was published yesterday called “Midnight three & six.” This video/op-ed piece highlights 24 hours in the life of a 15-year-old diabetic, who is still largely cared for by her parents. In the video, her mom lays out on the counter what, to me, was a very familiar pile of boxes, syringes, alcohol swabs, needles, and drugs that smell like paint (I’m serious, have you ever smelled insulin?!). The mom diligently explains what the mountain of diabetes supplies is, and that all of it is what’s used to keep her teenage daughter alive. Grace, her daughter, leans against the kitchen counter passively, distant, exhausted, you know, being a normal 15-year-old. Her mom asks her what’s up. Grace looks at the heap of stuff and says, “Sorry, I’m trying to act interested.” She sarcastically points to the box of infusion sets next to her. “WOOOOO look at all of this!” And in that moment, my heart sank, and I thought: “Holy shit, girl, I feel you.”

I had just done this routine of dumping out hundreds, maybe even a thousand dollars worth of odds and ends on to my gross shag rug to do my “pre travel inventory check-in.” The method to my madness is simple. Check on my stash every now and then, and re-order when I start playing with fire as my quantities start to dwindle. I have, admittedly, no concrete system to ensure that I’m 100% armed and ready for natural disaster, traveling around the world, or even being locked out of my apartment. I wing it. I mean, I’m responsible about it, but I don’t keep inventory on lock down. I’d be a terrible retail professional.

But back to the NYT article for a sec. It’s not really about the heap of boxes and needles, is it? It’s about what all of that “stuff” symbolizes for us. Or, to take it one step further…what, over time, we allow this stuff to symbolize for us. For some, it is crippling. It makes us feel tethered and claustrophobic. Like we are chained to our pump and it is a torture device keeping us from our freedom. Others see it and think, “we are so fortunate to have the technology and development of care that allows us to live our lives just as we wish if we follow our care routine just so.” I find myself swinging back and forth across a spectrum. Some days I want to throw my pump across the room and run away as fast as I can. Others, I find myself worshiping its existence the same way I worship pineapple pizza, my faux fur blanket, or my New England Patriots pom pom hat.

Grace is a beautiful young girl is in her prime teenage years. She can’t feel lows, her opinion of her disease is ever changing, her body is developing and growing, and therefore her diabetes is very dangerous. She even has a dog named Jackie that tells her when she needs to test her blood sugar (um hello, I need one). Her mom and dad take turns waking up through the night to test her blood sugar at midnight, 3, and 6am. This is something I did when I was first diagnosed at age 17, for about 6….days. It was simply not something I could sustain. But then again, I could go more than 4 hours without something life threatening happening to me. For this, I am insanely grateful. I have been given a much more forgiving diagnosis. I can push it to the limits most of the time. But this one girl’s story was a sobering reminder of how unpredictable and serious this disease truly can be.

I’m not sure how I felt about the story of Grace and her parents. It left me feeling…scared. There was a very sad undertone.  And personally, I struggle with scare tactics since they’re typically unnecessary and the media’s fault. But this one was raw. This one was a mother sharing her honest fear of sleeping through one alarm and having it cost her her daughter’s life. That’s a big deal.

We so often portray our-diabetes selves participating in JDRF walks, or being “resilient” and conquering lows like a boss. But this unique depiction of the uncertainty and exhausting effort that goes in to each and every day was so honest. There are so many questions, so many what-ifs, so many, “how much longer can I put up with this?” And all of that…is…well…bleak.

It’s easier for me, personally, to joke about things. Because of my 20-something ways, that’s where my mind lives, a humorous place. Maybe because I’m unwilling or unable to accept the potential permanence or misery of this situation. Also, I am lucky to know my body very, very well. I can feel lows like, 3 days before they hit me.

Like I said at first, I’ll be some pissed if bad lows, and crap infusion sites follow me to Vegas where I just want to be left alone to play with my friends. There’s absolutely nothing in the rule book that says I can’t do that, or at least try to do that, but I suppose the moral of the story is just to be prepared. There’s simply no harm in having those 9 extra infusion sets, and 3 extra tubes of test strips. It’s almost as if over-compensating for an emergency will make the diabetes more invisible once I am there. Better safe than sorry is no joke in the diabetes world.

At the end of the day, the 5% of us diabetics living with type 1 have been handed a seriously unique hand of cards. Every single one of us has a different experience. Some of us are very independent, some of us are on crazy diets, some of us are in shape, and many of us are afraid to even leave the house in the morning. Regardless, listening to and showing compassion towards the other diabetics we meet or hear stories about as we go about our merry ways, is one of the best ways to keep an honest perspective when doing something as simple as “taking inventory” on our tiny, bedroom floors.

do what you can with what you have

well rounded wellness

nelsonI just sat down and clicked through the New York Times’ Year in Pictures. If you haven’t seen it, take the 10 minutes to do so, because for no less than 25 reasons, it will take your breath away and leave tears in your eyes.

This has been a tough year for the whole entire world. 

I’ve been struggling with the idea of writing a post for Christmas because it felt forced. Do I write about family? About checking in with our mental health during the holidays? About the challenges of keeping our blood sugars happy when we get our annual flu? After looking at this slideshow, all of that felt…well, trivial. But what I’m the most torn about is: should it? Am I “negotiating with negativity” by not maintaining my course of action with the sole mission of simply feeling “normal”? The world feels like it’s crumbling around us from disease and violence. Am I wrong for still finding joy in something as simple as a Christmas pedicure?

The “news” has affected me deeply this year. More so than it ever has. Maybe it’s because I’m older, more attuned to it. Maybe it’s that I live in a bigger city where so much of the action stems from. Regardless, what we are hearing and seeing every single day is downright disturbing. The reality that fear exists in the souls of so many people just in our backyards, not necessarily across the globe has been a heavy weight on my heart. My doubt in the ability of politics and policies to do anything to uproot the cycles of desperation, racism, hunger, and poverty that plagues entire countries has left a swollen bubble of guilt in my conscience. It’s all just so very, very dark, these things.

It’s not what I want to feel this time of year. I simply want to be blissfully unaware that pain and suffering exists anywhere. I want to pretend that the entire world is at their company holiday party dancing on the couches with me and all of our friends. I selfishly want to imagine that every single kid will get a gift they asked Santa for. And that all families will be feasting on cheese, cookies, and champagne, while arguing over who has to do the dishes.

I don’t want to feel guilty. I don’t want to feel sad. And this is where I’m stuck. Should I feel guilty and sad? Should I be resentful of the gifts tucked artfully under my tree? How does one handle the absorption process of trying to grasp global warfare, local tragedies, and personal challenges all while listening to Michael Bublé and wrapping a pair of goofy Christmas socks for my brother that he’ll probably never even wear. How does one melt it all down to a bite sized portion of edible acceptance and understanding?

This is a pretty lofty post, I know. Sorry. If you wanted “LOLZ” maybe come back tomorrow and I’ll feel a little better about everything. I’m just seriously struggling here, guys! I complain about my little problems a lot. I get mad about dumb shit. I am a jealous person. I just contemplated a last minute shopping trip because I’m not stoked about my Christmas Eve outfit. But to be honest, I do all of that because that’s my reality. I’m not in Turkey, or Liberia, or even Ferguson, Missouri. I am not dying from a terminal anything (that I know of), I am not living in a shelter, or unable to afford a daily meal or two. I am not at risk of being deported, or told I can’t stay where I’m living because rebels are coming in from across the border and it’s no longer safe for me to be here. My reality is: I’m sitting in the same bedroom I grew up in. I’m surrounded by nostalgic things. My whole family is downstairs, cooking, cleaning, and preparing for tonight’s parties (some help I am, up here in my lair). But my point here is, among so much terror and bad news…we have to remember what we have. We have to maintain an attitude of compassion and hope and openness towards others. That my type 1 diabetes that is managed near perfectly by my doctors, and my supportive friends and family, is a small price to pay for the normalcy I strive for on a daily basis.

I have a good friend that believes whole-heartedly that people cannot compare their challenges to other people’s challenges because no matter what, they are yours and yours alone. If you feel pain over a break-up and you compare yourself to a friend who has been hospitalized for an illness, that gets us nowhere. We all must deal with our personal pain in our own way, or we’ll never heal enough to help others. Maybe the airlines do have it right….”put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.” I can’t sit here and feel sick over events happening in the Middle East if I’m not even taking care of myself first. That isn’t productive care.

The Christmas season is fueled by the themes of “Hope, Joy, and Peace.” I need to remind myself that in this moment, I can’t find peace amongst various religious cultures…but I can find peace in a heated car ride with argumentative relatives. I can’t provide joy for a mother caring for a sick child in a third world country in any immediate way, but I can find joy in delivering my mom’s Christmas bread to the neighbor who plows our driveway after every snow storm. I can’t be a sweeping force, putting hope in the hearts of children afraid to go to school because of perpetual violence. But I can hope that through my own acts of compassion and love, I can impact at least one person who is afraid of something.

Perspective is a very complicated thing. Maybe that’s what I’m struggling with. Why should I be allowed to feel happy if there are are so many people out there that aren’t happy? Why should I eat until my pants are tight, if people are going hungry? But that’s not how it should work either. I have to remind myself that circumstance, timing, culture, and luck have everything and nothing to do with it all at the same time. The only thing we really can do is perpetuate our own controllable forces of hope, joy, and peace. To not trivialize our own mini-battles and struggles however bleak or intense. They are our own.

I am just going to vow that this Christmas I will pay particular attention to my gratitude for my safety. That I am ok. I am surrounded by a fortress of family, a home, cars to ride in, and bars to see friends in. There is nothing wrong with enjoying whatever silly, fun-filled holiday events we have planned. Nelson Mandela said it best, “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” At the end of a year so filled with acts fueled by fear, let us feel simply okay acting out of hope.

To whomever is (already) bored enough at their parent’s house to be reading this right now, I hope that you are allowing yourself to feel happy this Christmas. I hope that you are able to focus on your own triumphs and accomplishments this year as I’m sure you’ve had many. That you are thanking your family, or whoever you are spending the holidays with, for putting up with you, and supporting you. That instead of dragging your feet saying, “The world has gone to shit” like I’ve been doing the past few days, you’re taking some time in your brain for “me time.” We are not all-powerful individuals that can change the world by snapping our fingers this Christmas Eve, no matter how badly we’d like to be. Instead let’s turn the news off for a day or two, and allow ourselves to be grateful for the joy we find in our own lives, the hope we feel about our own futures, and the peace that we can surround ourselves with.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

how i was inspired by isabella

the secret life of

waltdisneyI’ve always wanted to interview one of my heroes. But I never thought the week of Thanksgiving, after a year that has given me so many new challenges and gifts, I’d be on the phone with a 4-year-old little girl in Ohio.

This is the story about how I was inspired by Isabella.

I have never met this little lady in person, but she and her amazing parents, Kristina and Greg, are the stars behind the diabetes awareness and advocacy website, InspiredByIsabella.com. Kristina had read The Sugars before, and reached out to me through Twitter a week ago. Before we knew it, I had totally fallen in love with her family, their story, and wanted nothing more than to talk to this tiny gal that goes through life with such a tremendous amount of courage.

Isabella is 4-years-old, she is a triplet (to brother, Max, and sister, Mia), and she was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2 while her family was living abroad in Mexico. They were thousands of miles away from family and friends, with hearts full of fear and hope. Without ever stopping to question this challenge, the tribe of 5 picked up the pieces and carried on as they always had. They’re home in Ohio now, and they have made it their passion pursuit to be able to say “our daughter USED to have diabetes.”

Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Isa’s entire family via FaceTime.

When the call rendered on Isabella and her mom, she was sitting on the couch with a nervous little grin on her face. “Hiiiiiiiiii!” she said with surprising confidence. I could immediately sense that this girl knew what she was doing. She was the boss. It is also important to note that she was wearing striped tights, a chic black tutu, and a Hello Kitty shirt. She also had a pink bow on her headband, giving her an extra dosage of charm. (Spoiler alert: my kid will1,000% sport this look.) She also loves princesses and playing dress-up.

Isa stared at me for a minute, trying to figure out if she could trust me or not, then wiggled over to her mom and whispered (/yelled/spit/blew hot air) into her ear: “Momma, where’s her POD? Can I see hers?” Kristina laughed nervously like, “Sorry my kid just asked you to essentially flash her within 1 minute of meeting you.” She then proceeded to proudly show me her Omnipod and CGM, and I showed her my Minimed pump and infusion set. Instantly, she smiled. It was like I had successfully completed a top-secret handshake to be let into her exclusive club.

I was so honored.

After some casual back and forth, Isa asked me, “Where’s your mom, why are you alone?” I laughed. What I thought in my head was, “Ohhh, you sweet little peanut…just wait until you’re in your 20’s…we’re all so very alone.” but then I remembered I was talking to a precious child and revised my response to, “My mom lives in another town!” I’m still laughing about it now.

Next, Isa asked me a very personal question. “Have you ever been to the hospital? Cuz I have.” I thought of the picture her mom had posted on their blog from the time in August when she had been hospitalized with a serious DKA incident. My heart sank. “No, I said. I’ve been really lucky. I’ve only been to the hospital one time at the very beginning of having diabetes. Was it scary?” 

Yeah.”

My heart sulked a little more. “You’re so brave. But you’re okay now, right?” I tried to change the tone, lighten things up a smidge.

“Yeeeeeah!” she exclaimed, fluffing her tutu and jumping up and down. There we go, devilish confidence was back. She leaned over and “whispered” to her mom again. I could hear everything she said…the whole art of speaking quietly is rather lost on a 4-year-old. She wanted to tell me who her favorite singer was. “I love Katy Perry!” she squealed. And promptly thereafter proclaimed that the Cars gummy snacks she’d just finished were great and all, but she was still hungry. And then poof, she disappeared in search of Daddy, who would have to test her blood sugar again, and bolus her…again. Sigh.

While Isa went hunting for some Goldfish (only our mutually most fav snack ever), I got to know Kristina. This woman, I’m convinced, has some serious super powers. She was so composed, patient, funny, and open-minded. We got real personal real quick, which I loved. Secrets are no fun. Truth be told, she shared, Isabella is struggling emotionally. She’s not always the happy, bubbly 4 -year-old her siblings are. Because she’s so young, she can’t always articulate why that is, and as a loving parent, that’s understandably torture. Isabella gets really pissed off when she’s high, and really goofy when she’s low. She acts out and causes trouble when she’s high, and laughs hysterically about things when she’s low. Her numbers are so unpredictable; on Thursday she woke up 51 with no explanation. She has a CGM and an Omnipod. She’s learning to test herself, and know what the numbers mean. And, though she barely can recall what she ate for lunch (she and I have that in common), she told me her least favorite part of having diabetes were “the shots” before she was on the Pod. How does she even remember? I was fascinated by this response. She also likes to decorate her Pod with “tattoos” to snazz it up. All of this, Kristina says, is growth and progress. Obviously, she and her husband look forward to her becoming more independent with her diabetes care, but there’s no denying that the learning curve and drastic swings in her blood sugar affects her happiness day in and day out.

Kristina talked about her fears: leaving Isa at birthday parties where no one knows how to care for her, reprimanding her unfairly for misbehaving because her numbers were too high, making sure her other 2 kids get as much care and support as Isa, Isa growing up and becoming a defiant teenager that resents her diabetes, and even further down the line…what’s in store when college comes around?

And, true to form, I asked her about the humor in their diabetes infused life since that’s the only way I get myself out of sticky situations in one piece.  She recalled a time when a woman was staring at Isa’s Omnipod (it’s a tubeless pump, so it literally is just a little white pod attached to the skin) and tapped Kristina on the shoulder. “Is that some sort of insect repellent?” she inquired. No, honey. But thanks for askin’!

We also talked about some of her parenting philosophies, one of which particularly stuck with me:

“Greg and I never apologize to Isa if we have to inject her with insulin. We never want her to feel like she did anything to deserve this. We want her to just accept diabetes as part of her life without feeling like it’s all negative, all the time. Causing panic and alarm would just add insult to injury. Bad blood sugar? There’s no such thing. Everything is fixable. Using guilt is not a healthy way to raise a little girl with this disease.”

I was 17 when I was diagnosed; presumably old enough to “do it by myself.” My mom and dad never had to experience the fear of laying in bed, terrified that I wouldn’t be able to help myself in the middle of the night if something happened. They never had to teach me what 300 meant vs. what 80 meant while trying to mask their anxiety. I tested when I wanted to. I tested on my own. I didn’t need nurses or caregivers at school or home. I resumed life on the lacrosse field, in the classroom, and with my friends. I was still me. I honestly cannot imagine a world where I had to learn how to be a kid, while also developing the fine motor skills advanced enough to handle the mechanics of opening a bottle of test strips.

Talk about perspective.

Kristina admitted to me that every time Isa takes a bath and the Pod and CGM are visible on her little body, she snaps back to reality — that as much as we all want to say Isa is a “normal little kid”, she only looks “normal” when her pump and CGM are hidden under her clothes. Or when there isn’t a pizza party going on at school. Doesn’t everyone know what pizza does to 4 year old diabetics? Isa is only able to be “normal” because of the incredible little devices stuck in her skin, monitored by others 24/7. These are the same incredible little devices that are stuck in my skin. Kristina expresses her appreciation for having the ability to take care of Isabella. That technology and the diabetes community have made it doable.

She wants Isa to grow up aware that though her troubles may be taxing, someone else out there is having a worse day no matter what. And to not compare problems to problems, she wants her kids to adopt the mission of seeking out others in need, so they can make them smile.

I admitted that I too, have had many moments with myself where I’ll stand in front of the mirror before a shower or before the beach, feeling an equal mix of disdain, gratitude, and pride. I’ll stare at my infusion set, trying to grasp its significance. It’s a powerful thing that I often forget to do. It’s a little white circle stuck on my back. It allows me to be me. It keeps me alive. Now Isa and I can celebrate that together in spirit.

Kristina was smiling as she shared all of this, but I could see some pain in her eyes. She knows the road ahead for their whole family will be a long one, but she is so proud of her kids and their resilience. For their ability to care for one another, and understand their inherent bond. She is so filled with gratitude for the diabetes community that they have become such an active part of. Isa actively seeks out other diabetic kids so that she can bond with them over their “Pods”. She is proud. She’s vocal. She’s extremely brave.

Isabella came back into our conversation after snack time 2.0. She wanted to know if she would ever see me again. I asked her if she’d want to come New York and eat Goldfish with me. She said we could. But we could only eat 5. I should be so lucky.

For the grand finale, Isa, in her purple leopard print jammies, danced to a song for me. It was a remix to “All About That Bass” called, All About That Cure. As the little kids in the video sang, “All about that pump, bout that pump, and testing” I totally cracked up. Kids are fucking awesome.

Spending an hour on the phone with this family was an amazing experience. There was laughing, whining, things crashing in the background, two rounds of testing and bolusing, snacking, Minnie Mouse stuffed animals flying around, and just about everything you’d expect in a busy, loving household at night. But what I got out of it was so much more than a sense of, “Good God, I need a glass of wine after witnessing these two perfectly innocent parents try to put 3 kids down for bed”.

I will think about Isa now. Always. Whenever I test I’ll think, “I hope Isa feels happy today.” Whenever my blood sugar spikes I’ll think, “I hope Isa has laughed enough today.” I hope that in the future, there is something I can do to help Isa out in some way… I tell pretty bad jokes, so I don’t think that’ll be my angle. But maybe eventually, she really can come to New York and hang out with me. Maybe getting Isa to crack up and “throw her head back like a muppet” as her mom described her laugh, could be my mission. Just knowing she feels enabled to be the fun-loving kid she’s entitled to be, will continue to motivate me.

So, now I can officially say I’ve interviewed one of my heroes. Or five, I guess. The whole family was incredible. But just knowing that Isabella is out there, seeing her face, hearing her voice, learning about her day-to-day, made diabetes feel a little more real, much bigger than myself, and yet it made the daunting task of taking this on seem much more plausible. We’re in this together now. No two diabetics are the same, but we can certainly be there for one another.

This Thanksgiving, I hope we’re all able to reach out to someone that inspires us. Someone who has gone through something in a way you found really impressive. A person in your life that you admire and respect. Thank them. Tell them what they’ve done for you. Let them know that they are very special to you for whatever reason. There’s no greater feeling in this world than being told “I appreciate you for ___________.”

Thank you so much to Greg, Kristina, Max, Mia, and Isabella for taking the time out of your busy night to talk to me and teach me about your life. I hope we can stay friends, talk again, or go play in Central Park when you come visit the Big Apple someday soon.

photo (2)
(This is Isabella telling me Katy Perry is her favorite singer. Girl’s got great taste!)

hi, diabetics.

well rounded wellness

2000px-World_Diabetes_Day_logo.svgDear every other diabetic in the world,

Yes, all ~347 million of you.

That’s a big salutation, I know. But that’s the point. This disease is a BIG DEAL and there are a lot of people in this world that identify themselves as a person with diabetes. This disease is deadly. There is no cure. It doesn’t come and go. It moves in and it stays put. Forever. So, I just wanted to take a quick second to acknowledge the silent fight that each and every one of you is putting up every day, not just today.

I don’t know a lot of you. In fact, I hardly know any of you. And that’s really too bad because I think I would be infatuated with nearly all of you. But since I don’t know your names, or anything about you, I figured I would just…

Say hi to all of you who wake up in the morning and your first thought can’t be “Good morning to me.” it’s, “What am I?”

To all of you whose finger tips are sensitive, callused, and covered with tiny dots. No one notices, trust me.

Everyone who looks at a bagel and sees the number 75. Eat it anyway. Life’s too short.

Those of you who have had to sit, talk down the panic, sweat, and weakness associated with a low. I know it’s scary. But this too shall pass.

Hi to the kid whose grades are slipping because he can’t even see the whiteboard after 2pm. Dude, you’ve gotta cover your lunch. No one can fix that but you.

To the girl who just started a job in a new city and is crying in an unfamiliar pharmacy. She was told her test strip order can’t be fulfilled until tomorrow and she has 1 left. Been there. 100 times. At least you got to buy a new bottle of shampoo while you were there?

Hi to the man that just finished his third marathon sans blood sugar scares. You’re a fucking trooper, sir. Congratulations.

To the student who just unpacked his suitcase abroad and realizes he forgot his back up meters back in the States. 2 of mine drowned in Costa Rica’s humidity, I feel your pain, bro. Every country sells meters. Also, it might be time to learn the metric system just in case.

To the middle schooler’s mom or dad who diligently cares for him and makes sure he’s safe during school and hockey practice. Eventually, those 11PM spikes will subside. He’s a growing boy. You are amazing and he will thank you soon enough.

Hi to the freshman in college who is afraid to drink at parties because she doesn’t want to tell her friends she has diabetes. Trust me, come clean, it’s so worth it to be honest. Party on, Garth! (Safely, of course.)

And hi, to the young dad who just lost his job and doesn’t have health insurance to cover the astronomical cost of test strips and insulin. There are resources for you, and just like everything else, you will get through this. You’re the strongest guy out there.

Hi to every the teenage girl who gets bullied for her weight and is too afraid to expose her ugly test kit to her friends at the lunch table – you are a beautiful warrior, girlfriend. For now, keep your head on straight and someday, you’ll show them who’s boss.

Hi to each and everyone of you who dedicates so much of your mental capacity to ensuring that your health and wellbeing is top of mind at all times.

Diabetes is scary. It’s obnoxious. It’s rude and interrupts our lives all of the time. It’s never convenient. Nothing ever goes the way it’s supposed to, and yet we have to be 10 steps ahead of it at all times. Plus, not all of us are numbers people. Hell, I can barely count to 10 (it’s after 13, right?), but our lives are entirely comprised of numbers: mg/dl, grams, percentages, units, times per day we stab ourselves, times per day we go, “Oh shit”, times per day someone looks at me when I pull my pump out of my bra (you enjoyed it, relax.). And it’s exhausting! It’s a lot of pressure! It’s a lot of work.

As if life isn’t hard enough as it is.

So, hi to each and every one of you; young and old, near and far. To all of you who keep your diabetes a secret, and those of you who blab about it on the Internet every day (sorry). Those of us who know all the facts and have the latest devices, and those of us who are totally clueless and overwhelmed.

There’s so much more to all of us than the pungent smelling vile of mystery that keeps us alive. Than carb counting and alcohol swabs. We are all amazing. We are all whole people. We have careers and boyfriends. We love music and traveling. Diabetes is just a part of us. It can’t stop us, it can’t keep us from living beautiful, adventurous lives.

You don’t have to say hi back. I get it, you’re busy! I just wanted to extend an olive branch just in case one of you needed it. Say what’s up. Congratulate you on doing everything you’re doing. I know how hard it all can be sometimes.

Keep doing you. People admire you. Your peers respect you. Your family is proud of you.

Love,

Libby

an exercise for the over-feelers and the under-thinkers

well rounded wellness

d827cb41a55820fc46b2196bad01fc1b“Delegate your work. Properly allocate resources. Trust your team. Budget your time. Ask questions. Challenge objectives. Diversify creative perspective. Communicate bandwidth honestly. Escalate conflict appropriately. Be yourself. Support others.”

These are phrases we hear, and principals we abide by on a daily basis in our professional lives as twenty-somethings. Many of us are near the bottom or middle of the totem pole in our careers, and we are eyes-open, ears perked, brains overloaded at all times. We are trying to do everything right, be impressive, and get people’s attention. It’s exhausting. It’s exciting. It upsets us, it over joys us. We are sponges; and we are bright eyed and bushy tailed, trying to navigate this murky territory that is “adulthood.”

But take a second and re-read that first paragraph. Think about it for a second. Do those key and buzzwords feel like they might be applicable elsewhere in our lives? Do they sound or feel familiar? Hmmmm? Uh, yeah, they sure do. The principals we worship and practice day in and day out at work, might just be the most basic pillars of every relationship we have in our lives, particularly the one we have with ourselves. So, my question is, how is it that we so clearly understand that that is what is expected of us professionally? Why is it that in our personal lives we are much more willing to be selfish, bite off more than we can chew, skip deadlines, sleep through alarms, and not challenge our own objectives? Are we all just too exhausted or heartbroken to expect the best from ourselves when we clock out of our cubes and clock in to our own lives?

Our twenties are fucking miserable. But they’re also fucking awesome. Everything is harder than it needs to be because we have no idea what we’re doing. Everyone wants to be in love and have a dream job and have 10 million friends all over the globe. We want to be skinny and attractive and dressed to the nines. We want to live in the best neighborhoods and be involved with the trendiest scenes. We want to brag on the Internet about how cool and adventurous our lives are. But, if we really look around, almost none of us are actually doing that. Not genuinely, anyway. Because is all of that what we even want? Whose definitions are we prescribing to to determine what is cool and brag-worthy? What is “being in love“, anyway? Also, WTF is a “dream career”? 

I don’t mean to sound like a skeptic. I also don’t want it to sound like I believe every single human between the age of 21 and 29 is a train wreck. Cheers to those of us who are not, you are wise beyond your years. I am just starting to really realize that I don’t have a lot of answers; I am at the bottom of the totem pole in my own life. I have a million questions. I am learning to form my own opinion about a million issues. I am wrong about things most of the time. Am I actively delegating, or surrounding myself with a top notch team to set myself up for success? Am I supporting people I love the way they want to be supported? Are my actions and words something that a boss would deem promotion-worthy in the grand scheme of life?

The same conversation repeats itself daily. My friends all around the world…Portland, Oregon, New York City, or the South of France, even…we all say it 100 times: “I’m  a little lost and I just wish I knew the right way to fix the unfixable.” The right way to “fix” the unfixable is time but the over-feelers don’t like time. We just like feeling good. We are all like a mini start-up company: blood, sweat, and tears goes into nearly every aspect of our lives but underneath the passion is an innate, and very powerful fear of failure. Will we survive?

We are all very hard on ourselves. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m a complete asshole to myself. I am an excessive feeler and worry wart and a historically under-thinker. And my emotions often stagger my workflow, my opportunities, and my ability to see a chance to make strategic change. We rush, in our twenties. We rush through things because who likes being uncomfortable? Maybe that’s our biggest problem, the rushing. My most consistent feedback in my professional life has been, “Slow down. Be more careful. Deadlines do not outweigh quality work.” And tada, there you have it. I do the same exact thing in my personal life because I feel too much and think too little and I don’t take the time to ensure that things are as good as they can be. If I don’t like how things are going right that very second, I scramble. My tolerance for tough times is low.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I, or we, or whoever thinks I’m on to something, needs to step back and observe our personal lives like they are a living, breathing business. Who are our clients? Why do they matter to us? What is the product or service that we offer the world and why is it the best? What is our mantra? What is our growth strategy? How do we reward our employees for good work? What are the benefits for working here, anyway?

Like I said, I always lead with my emotions, rarely do I lead with my brain. And lately, it’s been getting me in trouble. It hasn’t helped me move forward to a place I am particularly pleased with. I blow up. I overwhelm myself to a point where I freeze. My progress and passion pursuits become slabs of rock-solid concrete because of fear. Perhaps this will be a good exercise for those of us who react with fire and never with logic and patience. Maybe this will help us “diversify our creative perspective” and see things through a different lens; encourage us to stop rushing. Quality work only. Work that we’ve nurtured and crafted as our own – whether it’s healing a relationship, starting a project we’ve been avoiding, or cleaning our damn room… as long as it is something that is so uniquely ours.

At the end of the day, we all strive for personal fulfillment, in whatever form that presents itself. Maybe, just this one time, I will seek to recognize the most efficient, productive, and spiritually profitable way to manage that fulfillment instead of trying rush it, force it, or expect it to magically present itself overnight. We’ll get there. Rome, Google, and every profitable business ever weren’t built in a day. That’s the saying, right?

yo, be easy.

the secret life of, well rounded wellness

ImageThis might sound weird, but I am not very gentle with myself. I push myself to the extreme kind of all of the time. My mom gets really mad when, every time I show up on her doorstep, I have bags under my eyes and greasy hair. “You’re doing it again. You’re burning the candle at both ends.” I obviously roll my bloodshot eyes and go straight for her wine stash in the basement, “Mom, I’m fine.”

I am one of those people that looks in the mirror and sees a perpetually unfinished project. I see a pile of laundry half-folded, but mostly just a ball of wrinkledness. I see a meal that is prepped but not cooked. I feel the pressure of conversations that are awaiting initiation, or of a whopping credit card bill that is getting impatient with me. I’m opting to ignore the 10 pounds that I’d be stoked to find out have miraculously disappeared from my thighs, and I really need to go to the dentist. I’m also still missing my Patagonia vest, is it at work? I need to find that.

I get pissed at myself when reality reminds me that I am not, in fact, a magical wizard that can snap her fingers and have everything instantly figured out in her world. I bust in and out of my apartment like Kramer – frazzled and boiling over, but laughing at the irony of my exhaustion. It’s cute, but like…it’s not sustainable. Can’t all of my friendships and relationships just be in ship shape while I kill it at work, am dressed to the nine’s, am in killer shape, and, most importantly, my diabetes supplies is so organized it would make every bitch on Pinterest squirm?

I have struggled with prioritization my entire life. I am such a sucker for anything that is “fun” and “easy”…and I have a really hard time with the word “no.” I am literally like a moth when an outdoor light gets turned on. Like, “Hi, here I come! I have no control over my mind or body right now…what’s up, you hot, bright thing!” I know that I have things that need to get done, and they certainly do get done…eventually. But if any opportunity to be distracted by laughter or an engagement with a lack of seriousness arises, I have a tendency to sign-up immediately regardless of what’s on my plate.

Diabetes is the anti-everything I just described. It takes an insane amount of discipline and planning and research and discipline and … did I mention discipline? It’s so intimidating that I cower at the thought of truly “doing diabetes right.” I’ll go on the interwebs, Google something, see the results and go, “Zoinks! This is too hard, these people know a lot more than me and I don’t really know if I feel like learning right now. Also, now I  feel like I suck, because, clearly, other people are doing a better job than me.” Then guess what happens? I get sad. I get down on myself. And I get mad because I just perpetuated the cycle of this god damned unfinished project. Like, can’t I just nail this one down? I’m really trying, here! I got a new Endo like a big girl, I check my blood sugar like, 6 times a day, and I run many miles many times a week. Can’t that just be enough?

Downward spiral, engage!

Earlier today, I was reading one of my favorite diabetes blogs (I only have a few re: statement above that they all scare the shit out me so I avoid them like the T in August during a thunderstorm.) I enjoy this blog, though, because the author is hilarious. She also swears on the Internet, which is my favorite activity in the whole wide world. She is very real, and she is so forgiving of herself. She is her toughest critic, but also allows herself to acknowledge her efforts and that they, though maybe not perfect, are enough. After reading this teeny tiny, uber simple post. I went, “Oh.”

I had a moment where I said to myself what I say to people when they’re getting fiesty with me for no reason. “Yo, be easy.” I beat the crap out of myself when I fall short of where I want to be. Or when I make a mountain out of a mole hill. Or for missing an opportunity. But one thing I don’t do is appreciate the efforts that I am making. And though there is probably always going to be room for improvement, it is imperative that I take time to celebrate little victories, progress, or even just say, “God dammit, kiddo, you’re doing your best, what the hell else are you supposed to do.” And for that, Kerri from Sixuntilme, I thank you.

the journey : an inner competitive monologue

well rounded wellness

yesterdaythese two women were athletes. they thought they had everything figured out and that they would always just be…well…athletes. but change happens, opportunities expire, college ends, we get old or hurt. and  for erin and ashley, they were able to discover new challenges for themselves that pushed them the way sports did, and maybe even surprised them a little. 

erin:

I was an athlete for literally my whole life, until last year. as an elite ski racer, working out was my full-time job. during the winter, it was 4-5 hour skiing and training sessions 6 days a week and during the off-season it was every “dryland” activity you could imagine… I grew up on double sessions–olympic lifting, coordination/balance/flexibility training, endurance intervals, hiking, swimming, kettlebell training…everything.  and I thrived on it.  there was nothing more satisfying to me than finishing my interval workouts and working so hard it made me puke. as an athlete, I never worked out to look good…i worked out because it was what I had to do to be successful in my sport. in college, I was actually put on a different fitness plan than some of my teammates in an effort to GAIN weight.

then, 4 years went by, I graduated, and I didn’t have to workout anymore. so, I didn’t. I don’t know why I stopped since i always loved it, but for some reason I just did. as a nonner (what we at dartmouth called a “non-athlete”. also known as a muggle or a NARP: non-athletic regular person), I was kind of like a fish outta water.  not only did I always have some kind of trainer or coach pushing me in all my workouts, but I also had my teammates.  I’m super competitive, so missing this key element of my workouts seriously had an effect.

then I found myself living in the same city as my 2 older sisters–who are also ex-athletes.  they introduced me to the core fusion classes at exhale spa, and alas, the rest is history.  no jk. at first, I hated it. I felt like a total dweeeeeeb doing a group exercise class with a bunch of other women getting tired from using 3lb weights.  I mean, I was the girl who could beat the boys in number of consecutive chin ups.  but by working out next to my sisters I was able to channel that inner competitor.  As 1 of 5 siblings in my family, you can better believe I’ve got some competition issues…#middlechildsydnrome.  And core fusion classes are HARD. They push your body and mind in ways that I’ve never experienced.  so now I’ve gotten to know some of the instructors at exhale and I know which classes work for me and my needs.  I set little goals for myself each class and have even learned how to compete against myself in order to get the most out of each 1-hour session.

so there you have it. the life and times of an ex-college athlete trying to keep up with her athletic competitor days and not really giving a shit that I don’t have those six pack abs anymore. I have too much fun drinking and eating anyways.

erin is so trendy. she is also brilliant, and has the most perfectly hombred hair you’ll ever encounter. erin is one of the 3 founding members of boston – based fashion blog 5 days x 5 ways and if you haven’t heard of it, you live under a rock. it’s the most creativest thing ever. erin also works at Arnold, and loves her alma mater, Dartmouth oh so very much! 

ashley:

“Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance – you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet.”

- Doris Brown Heritage
First woman to run sub 5-minute indoor mile

I would have laughed in your face if you had said something like that to me pre-sophomore year of college. I had never run more than 2 miles in my life and even 2 miles was pushing it. I was an athlete, but running was never something that I felt I needed, let alone wanted to do. As a senior in high school I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I chose a degree in volleyball. Yes, that’s right, I chose my college based on where I could compete in a sport that in no way, shape or form could or would be a source of income or steady career in the future.  I chose Saint Anselm College, which also happened to be the second worst team in NCAA II (Thank you, Assumption College!).

Sophomore year came rolling around and still I had no idea where I was headed, besides the football house for a Saturday night keg party. Two days before the major deadline (pun intended) I had to make a decision. I flipped through the course pamphlet and found “Sports Psychology.” What better way to spend my time than with a bunch of jocks in a class that had to do with my real major – volleyball, that is. Of course, as luck would have it, the course was already full. Well, for those of you who know me, you know when I put my mind to something, I don’t stop until I have what I want. So I went to the source – I caught the professor and head of the Psychology department lacing up a pair of sneakers in his corner office on the third floor of the science building, about to head out for a run. I stopped him and asked to be placed into the class. We stared at each other in silence for a few brief and extremely awkward moments and then he grabbed my arm and said, “Let’s go for a run.” Oh jeeze, running with a male professor at dusk in the woods of New Hampshire, what could possibly go wrong?!

I was quick to point out that I was not a runner, nor did I have any intention to be. And he said, “I know, your intention is to enter my class, but to do so you must run.” So we ran. We talked. I explained my reasoning for wanting to be a psychologist (total bullshit and as a clinical psychologist, I’m sure he knew that). He asked me questions about what led me to Saint Anselm College, about my experiences so far, about volleyball. By the end of the two-mile run, he said I could enter the class. This was under one condition – I run. Of course there was an alternative, I could write a weekly paper, but let’s be honest, that was not a legitimate alternative. As I thought about the bacon and cheese omelet I had for breakfast with an extra large size of hash browns, I thought “what could I lose” (besides weight), but I had no idea what I was actually about to gain.

A few of my teammates and friends followed suit after sharing my story of finagling my way into class. We were in this together. Runs came and went, waking up at 5am on Thursdays preparing for the weekend of volleyball games and football parties (knowing the runs would allow us that extra beer as we mourned the loss of yet another game).

After one particularly rough Friday night loss, my teammate and I called on our professor to take a midday Saturday run, as runs started to be something that we did for… for fun. He happily obliged and took us out on a course through Manchester we had never been on. We ran, and ran, and ran. A few feet before stepping back onto campus soil our professor stopped us and asked if we knew how far we had just run. Neither of us did, the only thing we knew was that we felt good, really good, a complete 180 from the feeling of despair we started with.

“You just ran a half marathon,” he said “marathon training starts in two weeks.” And he was off.

Wait… What?!

Maybe it was the dehydration or the endorphins that you get after a long run, but we actually considered it. Family members and friends always responded the same way, “HA you’re f*^*ing kidding me.” Nope (remember what I said about me putting my mind to something). Two weeks later we were training for the Boston Marathon.

Do you know how hard it is to get up at 7am on a Sunday in college, let alone 7am on a Sunday to run 15 miles… oh, and in New Hampshire… in December and January? This is where friendship comes in. When you have friends who are relying on you to get your ass out of bed, you get your ass out of bed. And so we did. We ran.

Months of training were put in, trading in our vodka sodas for water and limes so as to not throw up on our early morning runs. Finally the time had come. It was April and we were ready. The week before the marathon I lost a friend, Chad, in a tragic car accident. The funeral was the day of the marathon. I was heartbroken and torn. I had a decision to make; And so, I did what I had started to do when any big decision needed to be made, I ran. In that short run I decided that my friend would have wanted me to run the marathon. Having researched the marathon, I knew the last six miles were the hardest; it was the start of Heartbreak Hill (ironic huh?). I decided I would run the last six miles in silence (aka no Beyonce cheering me on) for him.

Running a marathon is an incredible experience. It’s life changing. In 4 (okay 4.5 for me) hours you feel every one of life’s emotions – from the extreme highs of “Holy crap I can’t believe I am doing this!” to the absolute lowest of lows “I wish someone would kill me right now, it would be less painful than this.” At the start of Heartbreak Hill, hearing the crowd for the first time as I shut down my ipod, prepared for the silence, I looked up at the cheering crowd and that’s when I saw it – “You can do it, Chad.” Shivers went up my spine. I realized, as the shooting pain of the Charlie horses in the back of my hamstrings kicked in, that all of this pain, emotional and physical, was temporary. It would last as long as it took me to run the 26.2 miles, but the pain that Chad’s family and loved ones experienced would last a lifetime. I grabbed my friend’s hand, with tears in my eyes, and crossed the finish line.

Running is a funny thing, people run for all different reasons, many to lose weight or stay in shape. I run to feel alive. I run to feel emotions that I can’t experience in my day-to-day life, as a glorified customer service representative, ehm I mean Advertising Account Manager. I run for me. The marathon made me realize how temporary pain can be, or how long, depending on your outlook. It made me realize that there really is nothing that I put my mind to that I can’t accomplish. Cliché right? But it’s true. My journey through fitness has been one filled with self-awareness and learning both my physical and mental limitations. I wake up every morning at 5 am, without setting an alarm. I look forward to working out – not just for my physical health, but mental. I challenge you to find your inner strength, find that thing that makes you tick and makes you realize just how far you can push yourself. I guarantee you’ll be both surprised and pleased by the outcome.

….that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

ashley is really tall and smiley. like, so smiley. she’s also really warm and fuzzy and the first time i met her we were matching so i instantly liked her. she’s also dating my funniest guy friend so that means she’s a good judge of character. ashely just moved to boston from rhode island and we are very lucky to have her. what a catch.