I’m Finding My Creative Energy Again

Last month, I was fortunate to take 1.5 weeks of paid vacation. This is the first time in my career where I’ve been in a position to do so. Having just bought a car for the first time in eight years, I couldn’t justify the funds to make an epic journey across the globe.

Instead, I went to visit my family for the Kentucky Derby, taking one of my good friends with me. It was her first visit to Louisville, and one of the best times to be in the city. When we returned to Maryland, I took the rest of the week off to rest and recharge.

My first ever stay-cation.

What Would It Be Like to Write Full Time?

I decided I would take those five days and focus solely on my writing – whether that be content for this blog, my book or additions to my fictional “spy” story. And it was wonderful. I wrote about 3,000 words per day. I realized early on in the week that I can’t sit for very long. So, I took walks during the day. Sometimes, I had bourbon in the afternoon. Because I could. Continue reading

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Contemplating My Own Mortality

I spent the majority of my 20’s contemplating my own mortality. This is no surprise. As a child, I often thought about dying (I was apparently a very self-aware child). Growing up Catholic, I imagined I would end up in the haunted realm of purgatory atoning for my sins. But when I reached adolescence, I grew attached to the idea of reincarnation. And then during a major depressive episode in college, I imagined ending up among the meadows of my happy place.

But as an adult diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I stopped imagining what it would be like to die. I suddenly had a very good reason to value life. In my early 20’s, I experienced two life-threatening seizures as a result of Type 1 diabetes, and while I have written about those experiences, both on this blog and in my book, I had never written about that moment when I realized I might die, and there was nothing I could do.

So, appropriately, a few months before I turned 30, I sat down and wrote about this experience. This takes place at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport in late 2011, two years after I was diagnosed with diabetes and during my second year of graduate school. I’ve never shared this publicly until now. Continue reading

What am I doing with my life? Oh right, I’m human

I’m staring at a wrist band on my bed — a red band I received last year for running a 5K for a colleague’s son, who has already spent too many hours of his life in the hospital.

And I wonder, am I making the most of my life? Did I follow the right path? Does my time seem to have value?

I remove the ice pack from my left arm — the latest in a line of bodily conundrums. Last week at this time, I was in immense pain. My arm felt like it was on fire, and no matter what I did, I could not sleep through the pain. It turns out I have distal bicep tendinitis (more on that in another post), and I am now taking anti-inflammatory medication and hoping my stomach doesn’t turn itself inside out.

Do I regret overworking that muscle and tendon? I regret experiencing the pain, but that pain has also forced me to take a step back from certain activities in my life and relax. When I try to relax, I usually overthink. And right now, I am overthinking. Continue reading

Throwback to Day One

Nine years ago, this month, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. What exactly was going through my head that fateful day? I didn’t write much in those first few months getting to know my incurable chronic condition, but I did take the time to document my experience in the hospital post-diagnosis. The following excerpt would eventually inspire my book, Sugarcoated. I’ve trimmed some of the content for this blog.

Me writing in Paris a year before I found out I had Type 1 diabetes

I hear the drum of the metal cart on the tile floor, its rusted wheel curved backwards towards the slanted door. Its heavy frame makes a swishing sound when the nurse appears, and I cuddle beneath the thin scraps of my blanket. She checks my IV with a smile, and I no longer try to conceal my runaway tears. She says if I need anything to call, and she will be back in an hour to administer my long-lasting insulin injection. I hardly know what she’s saying, let alone believe that I need insulin to live. The door’s shadow disappears behind her, and once again, I’m left alone to the static television and a view of the parking lot.

I see the lights from a golf course in the distance and think of my boyfriend’s family on Easter, enamored with the flat screen television and shouting with each successful hole. I think of my boyfriend now sitting around the campfire at his aunt and uncle’s house with a good meal in his body – a meal I will potentially never feel again. He boasted about his aunt’s cooking all week, and I looked forward to a weekend with the family and then an afternoon at the Great American Ball Park with my co-worker and her boyfriend. They offered free tickets, four rows up from the dugout, and I even bought an outfit for the event (seeing as I never wore red). I packed my clothes on the way to the hospital in the hopes the doctor would discharge me by early morning.

I look at my flip phone with scratches on the screen, and I wish to see a blinking light, a sign of life, but the battery died from excessive texting. My roommate left me before I realized I had forgotten my charger. The University health center doctor set me up near his practice in Northern Kentucky so he could oversee things, but I feel so disconnected from everyone in Cincinnati. Even my boyfriend’s car could not make the drive across the river, and when my roommate left around dinnertime, I wished for morning. Continue reading

A Year of Forgiving Myself

On a hike along Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, my best friend and I reminisced over past relationships and our current single states. We evinced pride for putting ourselves first and focusing on our health and well-being. But then my friend mentioned something about forgiving herself – that even as we heal, we sometimes forget the blame we put on ourselves, even when we’re not to blame.

A month ago, I took a leap of professional development faith and attended a Bossed Up Bootcamp in DC. I had heard about the organization and its founder from a friend of mine, and I came to respect the organization and its mission even more when I listened to Emilie Aries on the podcast, Stuff Mom Never Told You. I didn’t really know what I wanted out of my career anymore, but as a woman, I wanted to feel empowered. I wanted to find the strength and stamina to continue to fight for the issues I believed in.

And while this may come as a surprise to many who know me, I actually do well in strange social situations. There is something about no one knowing who I am and where I’m from that gives me the freedom to play different roles and practice different personas. I love being in a room full of strangers. But it does take a lot of energy out of me.

Except I didn’t feel so free and excited at this Bossed Up Bootcamp. I had trouble connecting with folks. I felt excluded even though no one was excluding me. I couldn’t find the energy to “play pretend.” I couldn’t even find the energy to be myself. So, I just let myself be. I did get to know some amazing women, and I connected on an individual level with a few members of my cohort.

When I left that weekend, I felt exhausted and depleted. Why had that been such a struggle? These women all seemed so sure of themselves, and so sure that they were going to make it in the world. There is nothing wrong with that, but for some reason, I couldn’t emulate their excitement. I could only envy them for their energy.

At the end of Bootcamp, we were introduced to the Life Tracker. We chose a vision for four areas of our professional and personal lives: Work, Love, Wellness and Other. Then, we created three action steps for each vision. We gave ourselves motivations for achieving those action steps. And then, most importantly, we chose one vision to prioritize for the month, above all else.

It didn’t mean we couldn’t continue to work on all visions, but that we acknowledged doing everything at once is not always achievable (hear, hear, Type A persona). So, as much as I wanted to focus on my writing and my work for the month of February, I acknowledged that what I really needed was love. And my vision for love was “feeling supported.” Continue reading

Never Apologize For…

How you feel

Who you love

Who you are

Words of wisdom from a good friend of mine.

This past month, I have been struggling to keep the depression and anxiety at bay, but there is a sadness quietly overtaking me. I can’t pinpoint any one direct cause, but certain circumstances have destroyed my spirit time and time again. Just when I think I have built up enough resilience to conquer another day, another stumbling block takes me down.

I feel way too much. When I see others hurting, it hurts me, too. And I am seeing so many hurting right now (myself included). I try to focus on the small successes. Just last month, I visited my endocrinologist and learned I had decreased my A1C (average blood sugar levels over the past three months) by phenomenal measures. It’s crazy to think that when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I had an A1C of 16.0 (that’s not functional, by the way), and now I have an A1C of 5.8. Continue reading

I’ve Stopped Reading the News

Prior to leaving for my vacation more than a week ago, I wrote about how burnt out I felt, and how much I needed to unplug from the world and its ugliness. Well, I made sure of it. I visited a place where I had no service, and there was no talk of politics or world events.

But when I plugged into Twitter four days later and saw news of Puerto Rico and the Graham-Cassidy health bill, I immediately shut it off. I haven’t read the news since. That doesn’t mean I don’t care; I care too much. That’s why this past year has been tumultuous for my physical and emotional health. The constant tide of health policy warranted that vacation alone.

And that week away from the news helped me find some inner peace again. It reminded me that I could be happy with the “little” wins, that I could still physically thrive in this unsure health landscape, and that I could love among the worst of circumstances. So, when I returned to DC a week ago, I decided I wasn’t ready to handle the news just yet. Continue reading