Friday, July 31, 2015

When the 11th Stitch Fix arrived...

So, my 11th Stitch Fix arrived in mid-July and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it. I think the main reason I kept putting it off is because I had a week with a lot of diabetes related posts. I wanted to give those attention as well as not let the fun Stitch Fix post get lost among the diabetes posts. 

So, here we are, fix number 11. My 11th box was just as exciting as the first box. I didn't have any specific requests but did place photos of a pair of yellow shoes and a statement necklace to my Pinterest board to see if she could come up with something to pair with them. 


So, what did they send me? 

The first item was the Remmie Printed Maxi Skirt by Papermoon. I love how Kim sent the following note with it "I know you have a very petite frame, but I thought I'd take a risk and send you the Remmie maxi! Pair with a plain tee and your necklace for a fun, casual look!" I think it is awesome she took a risk and sent me something I'd never contemplate purchasing, much less trying on. At only five feet tall, maxi skirts tend not to work on me. I loved the material this one was made out of and the colors/pattern. However, when I tried it on, it was more than a foot too long. At the suggestion of a Twitter friend, I tried it as a dress but that made me look about 20 sizes bigger. I managed to keep perspective and not cry from the experience. I took my time deciding on this skirt because I really liked it and really wanted to keep it. Ultimately, the price to pay someone to alter it in addition to the price of the skirt, I just couldn't justify it. Particularly because I figured I'd probably only wear it on the Caribbean vacations in December and even then, I love to be dressy for them. Verdict: Send back. (Even now as I type all of this a small part of me wishes I kept it). 






Item two: Keno Scoop Neck Blouse by Sweet Rain

Time has passed since I returned my fix so I don't remember exactly what my comments were. While the colors were nice when you combined them with the print and style of the shirt, I just wasn't feeling it. The fit was okay but just left me feeling pretty eh and blah. It looked great with my statement necklace though. Verdict: Send back. 







Item three: Ackley Houndstooth Print Blouse by 41Hawthorn 

I was pretty apprehensive about this shirt. I think because it has longer sleeves and it is summer. I truthfully have no idea why I was apprehensive. When I pulled it out of the box, I assumed it would be a return. (Honestly, nothing gave me an immediate gut feeling of being a keeper this time...this is why you should always try everything on). I tried it on and loved it. Because of the sleeves and how I'm always cold, I think it could work year round. On the style card, it is shown with a red jacket. I'm going to have to see how it looks with my black moto jacket that I am still obsessed with. Verdict: Keep! 




Item four: Loreto Crew Neck Blouse by Bash 

At first glance, it is cute...but so not my style. Perhaps it is because I've been reading the "Dorothy Must Die" series about Dorothy, Glinda and Oz and the gingham pattern reminds me of it. I liked the colors. Again, like the Sweet Rain shirt, it was sheer and required a cami underneath. I'm over the sheer tops and mentioned that in my comments at check out. While it fit, it didn't leave me feeling amazing. I think others could absolutely rock this shirt, but not me. Verdict: Send back. 




Item five: Bastille Tulip Sleeve Blouse by Papermoon

Obviously at first look this one has potential as it is black and not sheer. I like tulip style to the sleeves. It is different from all the other black shirts you see people wearing. I wasn't sure I'd want to keep it prior to trying it on. Once I tried it on, I knew there was no way I'd send it back. In fact, as I prepared to check out and send things back, I started thinking if there was a way I could wear it to a meeting later in the week. This shirt works for casual but could also work for business casual. I have a red blazer from The Limited I think it'd look great with as I try to expand my fashion choices and include jackets. Verdict: Keep! 

So, two out of the five items are keepers. Not bad considering they tend to aim for you to keep two or three and rarely expect you to keep all five. Again, I'm happy with the fix and really love how Kim took a risk. I'm definitely open to risks as long as they aren't too far out there. I sometimes need to be pushed and prodded to try something new. 

If you want to try Stitch Fix, I'd greatly appreciate you using my referral code: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3392664. Also, make sure you look at my past posts to see what I've received in my 10 prior fixes. There has been some good stuff. My next fix is scheduled for September. I've requested to return back to skirts and dresses because those are the clothes I love. It will also be fall so it will be fun to see what fall has in store fashion wise. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

The MasterLab Experience, Part Three

Okay, by now you've read part one and part two. If you haven't, go back and read them so you don't miss out on any awesome information. Part one was the extended version of what Medtronic posted to their blog. Part two was about the fun I had with my new friends outside of the sessions. What does part three have in store for you? More tidbits of what I learned while at MasterLab. Each time I review my notes and tweets, something different stands out to me. 

If you haven't gathered by now, MasterLab is an incredible event focused on diabetes advocacy...how to advocate, how to make your advocacy impactful, why you should advocate, etc. The day and a half of MasterLab was jam packed with sessions. Take a look at agenda here. There were participants from five countries at MasterLab. Impressive. 


Tom Boyer mentioned we need to find more of our passion to be effective. We also need to work all together as one diabetic community to be the most effective. In the weeks before MasterLab, this was a common occurring thought in my mind, particularly because of Crossfit's stupidity. I witness on social media people with diabetes shaming/attacking others with a type of diabetes different from their own. This really needs to stop. When everything boils down to the simplest thought, it is the fact we all have diabetes, no matter the type. No one wants to be shamed/blamed and no one should. 

I was fascinated to hear Boyer speak about working with Clinton and Gingrich to make changes. (***Sidenote...I kind of want to be Tom Boyer and do what he does. That is PR in a way, yes? Someone make this happen por favor). There were two things he shared that gave me a moment of realistic fear:
  1. The average cost for a person with diabetes, no matter the type of diabetes, is $15,000 per year. Following MasterLab, Boyer shared the link to the study with me. I find it interesting the study was from 2013 which means the cost has probably only gone up rather than down; and 
  2. Boyer is also a person with type 1 diabetes and he shared a personal story. After he used his insulin pump for 15 years, his health insurance decided he no longer needed the insulin pump. It took him five appeals to get the insurance company to cover his pump again. My pump has been instrumental in me finally achieving success with my health. I haven't felt so healthy in so many years, decades really. I'm terrified of what happened to Boyer happening to me. 
Listening to Stacey Simms speak about working on the media reminded me of being a college student. I enjoyed listening to her because she is a Twitter friend. One thing she said I must share: 
As advocates, you may not always have success. It is okay. Do not stop. Do not give up! 
Marina Tsaplina reminded us there is no *just* our story. All of our stories are connected to the stories of others. Also, advocacy cannot happen if we aren't present. If we just hangout on the sidelines, nothing is going to happen. 

Amy O'Connor hit home how once people understand the way, they will behind us. Once people understand the battle of diabetes, even just once aspect, they will be more likely to be behind us and support us in our efforts. She said "By doing something, there is an element of hope." As long as we are doing something, even the smallest of things, there is the hope that something will change, and change for the better. 

My nerdy heart was thrilled with Thomas Lee's presentation about analytics. To summarize, I'm a social media rockstar in the world of diabetes but I can be better and do more. Obviously. 

Emily Coles was fantastic and I was so mesmerized, I neglected to take notes. My one note was how if we don't take care of ourselves, we can't advocate to the best of our ability.
I fell asleep during Melissa Schooley's session. JUST KIDDING. She is from Medtronic. If I hadn't paid attention, I think a lecture would have been in my near future. And they probably would have deprived me of Diet Coke. Melissa spoke about advocacy on the national level with Congress. MasterLab really hit home what a problem it is that Medicaid/Medicare does not cover continuous glucose monitors. A lot of advocates are working hard to change this but we all need to jump in and help. It is a battle we must fight and get CGMs covered. 

Like Melissa, Andrew Zebrak spoke about advocacy but focused on the state levels. If you saw my tweets, I called out Nebraska because Nebraska's unicameral is doing nothing in regards to creating a Diabetes Action Plan. I'm not pleased at all with my beloved home state. 

Kim Vlasnik, another Twitter friend who hails from Nebraska, shared about the project she started. It is You Can Do This Project. Go check it out. It is powerful. 

Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu closed out day one by lighting a fire underneath all of our behinds. No longer can we play spectator. This goes with my thinking of if I don't advocate or fight for things which impact me, who will? In a way, I can't depend on others because really, only I am responsible for myself. Dr. Moritsugu spoke of how it is imperative we find our voices, both individually and collectively. Again, this goes back to the question of just how darn powerful can the diabetes community be if we all fight together instead of as separate entities. 

Day two was all about focus groups. The first was about sustaining your advocacy. I attended thinking it would be about making sure you don't get worn out because as Melissa said, advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. Rather the focus group discussed sustaining advocacy through creating your own nonprofits and organizations. It was interesting but not quite relatable to me although I was impressed with all the hands raised when they asked who there had a nonprofit/organization. 

The second focus group was about the Diabetes PAC (Patient Advocacy Coalition). Wow! I left the focus group energized and believing in my ability to be a better advocate. They asked us to share why we advocate in five words. My reason? Make diabetes voices louder/stronger. The louder and stronger we are, the more likely change will happen. Diabetes PAC makes it extremely easy for you to contact your elected  officials. Our officials want to hear from us. The more they hear, the more likely they are to act. At times during MasterLab, I was saddened to hear how much of a struggle people have to get the basic supplies they need such as test strips and insulin to care for their diabetes and stay alive. I'm not naive. I know people struggle but somehow it is easier to ignore it when I just read it on social media compared to hearing it in a room I'm sitting in. 

MasterLab was such an incredible, empowering experience. I arrived not realizing what passion I had inside me to change the world in regards to diabetes. MasterLab truly lit the match. I'm excited to see where this takes me.

The Diabetes Hands Foundation, you know the brilliant people responsible for MasterLab, have posted the presentations online. I encourage you to take some time and watch them or at least play them in the background and listen to them. (And yes, I was sitting up front so you'll probably see my amazing curly hair). All of the speakers and sessions were amazing but I'd really encourage you to listen to Tom Boyer and Moritsugu. Also, if you want to read all of the amazing tweets that were being sent out during the event, search for #MasterLab. 


***Disclaimer: Medtronic paid for our airfare, lodging, food and MasterLab registration. All thoughts though are completely mine and Medtronic did not influence my thoughts in any way. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The MasterLab Experience, part two

If you've read part one, which was an extended version of what Medtronic posted on their blog, then you might be feeling a little overwhelmed from all of the information shared in it. To be honest, I'm still somewhat overwhelmed by the entire experience. Not in a bad way though. I'm already trying to figure out a way to be able to attend not only MasterLab next year but also the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life event. 

To give you a break from all of the amazing information gathered at MasterLab (and yes, there is a lot more coming, I promise), this part will focus on the fun I had outside of the sessions. 

To remind you, Medtronic held a contest to pay for a person to attend MasterLab in Orlando. They couldn't decide on one person and ultimately chose three of us -- Charli, Phyllis and myself. Charli is from the Kansas City area and Phyllis is from the Boston metro. Prior to Medtronic's announcement, the three of us had never interacted before. I was a little worried about if we would all get along or not. Silly me. I should not have wasted a single moment worrying.  

Charli and I met in Atlanta as we shared a flight from Atlanta to Orlando. I would say within five second of meeting face-to-face, we were hooked on each other. We hadn't even boarded the plane before the laughs began. There was confusion at check-in at the resort so we called Phyllis to gain her input and were finally able to meet her face-to-face. Again, hooked within seconds. We broke away to get settled in our rooms before meeting back up in the gift shop and making our way to the bar on the lake's edge.


Billy!
The bar is where we met the alligator who swam up behind us (don't worry, he couldn't get to us). We decided to name him Billy. From there, the story grew to how he would be the perfect new mascot for Medtronic but they would need to develop a completely waterproof pump for him. We debated who would win between Billy and Lenny (Medtronic's official mascot). 


Pint sized sink for pint sized me
From the bar we went on to finally meet Naomi, our Medtronic representative, for dinner. Laughter continued through dinner and we entertained Naomi as best we could. At the conclusion of dinner is when we found the first "pint sized" sink in the bathroom. Perfect for yours truly who lacks height. 

Since Naomi had flown in from LA, she excused herself for the night and the three of us headed to Downtown Disney. Thankfully I was able to see some fireworks while on the bus. Our main goal while at Downtown Disney was to find a souvenir spoon for Charli to take home. Of course one of the first stores we saw was Goofy's Candy Company. Three type one diabetics. Yes, we absolutely went inside. Quite the selection of Disney themed candy. We visited numerous other shops and stands but could not find a spoon. In fact, no one knew where to find one. The most important stand we visited though, at least to us, was the bar where we purchased some margaritas to walk around downtown with. Apparently, you can walk around as you please with alcohol. No complaints. The ride back to the resort was after Downtown Disney closed so the bus was packed and their sound system was a little off. The ad for Disney's Bibbidi Bobbed Boutique played over and over and over. 

All three of us have the Medtronic pump and it was quite humorous when someone's pump would start beeping. You'd often hear the three of us saying things like "someone's beeping," and "not me" and "hey, you are beeping." 

Day two included many more laughs during the MasterLab sessions. Mainly because the Diet Coke cans truly spoke to us about each other...Better Half, Soulmate, BFF, VIP, Superstar. They all properly described our trio. During the happy hour/networking event, the three of us took turns recording podcasts with Stacey Simms (They will be posted the week of July 19, I think). 

While all of that was going on, my camp counselor/nurse Amy from diabetes stopped by the resort so we could spend time. Amy is one of the most influential people I met at Camp Floyd Rogers, my diabetes camp. I admire her so much, especially because she had a goal (to be a nurse at Disney World) and she made it happen. The lesson I learned from that? No matter what your goal is, it isn't impossible. She joined the three of us as well as Naomi and Karrie from Medtronic for dinner. Karrie, if you are wondering, was our other Medtronic rep on the trip. We didn't believe she actually existed because she didn't have dinner with us on Monday or breakfast on Tuesday. When she showed up for the sessions, we finally believed she existed. 

We decided to dine at a brewery on the Disney Boardwalk. Thankfully by the time we left our resort to go there it had stopped raining. We were able to capture some wonderful pictures and have more laughs. Spending time with Amy (I haven't seen her in over a decade) was icing on the cake and nearly made my heart burst with happiness. 

Our Medtronic crew


To no surprise, the three of us visited the bar by the lake at the resort again once we returned from dinner. Billy was a no-show for our nightcap if you were wondering. While drinking we learned much more about each other, shared our thoughts on the day and agreed we were all sad to have it end the next day. 

Wednesday was the final day of MasterLab. Although nearly all of my time was spent with Charli, Phyllis, Naomi and Karrie, I was able to meet some of my Twitter friends from #DSMA. Every Wednesday from 8-9 p.m. CST, there is a diabetes themed chat with the hashtag DSMA. It is one of the best hours each week. I've made some amazing friends through DSMA so it was fun and exciting to put real faces to the names. And yes, they are just as awesome in real life as they are on Twitter. 

We were all sad to part ways as Phyllis boarded the Magical Express back to the airport and Charli and I shared a taxi. Charli and I were leaving from different terminals and may have been a tad over dramatic as we parted ways. It was sad. I felt like I lost part of me. Or as Diet Coke would say, I lost my better half. Tweets and texts continued while we all waited for our flights to leave Orlando. 

My head is honestly filled with so many fun memories I created with these ladies. I could probably write a novel about all of the memories created but it really is one of those things you just had to be there for, especially since I'm struggling to describe them in words. 

The takeaway from our adventure though is how amazing it is to meet complete strangers who instantly feel like besties. All because of one silly illness. People tend to focus on the negatives of diabetes but being able to meet Phyllis and Charli (and others) is an obvious positive of the disease. It has been nearly two weeks and I still miss them. Charli may be driving through my city later this summer so YAY for that. Meanwhile, planning a reunion is in the very early stages. Because you know it has to happen. 


Charli, yours truly, Phyllis...before we really got into trouble
***Disclaimer: Medtronic paid for our airfare, lodging, food and MasterLab registration. All thoughts though are completely mine and Medtronic did not influence my thoughts in any way. 

***Side note: I think this is the first time I've ever posted pictures of who I am on this blog. I suppose I can't stay completely anonymous forever. A little sad about it but the pictures add to the story. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The MasterLab experience, part one

If you read Medtronic's awesome blog, you'll see some of what my cohorts Charli, Phyllis and I submitted. Obviously, they couldn't include every single word we provided. So, for the first installment of my MasterLab experience series, here is all of the words I sent to Medtronic. And yes, I could totally rewrite them as a fresh new post but this is easier and in summer, easier is better. :) 
With one unexpected phone call from Naomi at Medtronic, I was suddenly making plans to attend the 2015 MasterLab in Orlando. Despite devouring everything I could find about MasterLab online and asking people on Twitter, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. I had no expectations of what I’d learn during the sessions. I also had no idea what it would be like to spend so much time with the two other ladies attending on behalf of Medtronic – Charli Guerin and Phyllis Kaplan – who I had never met before. The obvious fear was what if we didn’t get along at all. That concern flew out the window within seconds of meeting both of them. The fun we all had together, both in the sessions and in our spare time, was icing on the cake to this experience. 
Despite only being a day and a half, I’m still finding all of the information I walked away with to be slightly overwhelming.  Since returning home I often find myself reflecting on everything I learned and experienced. Each time it is a different memory and I find myself wanting to share it all with you. Unfortunately, posting a thousands and thousands of words for a blog post won’t quite work, so I’ve had to narrow it down to few things that stuck out the most to me. 
One of the speakers who stood out the most to me was Tom Boyer, director of government affairs at Novo Nordisk. The gist of his speech was about finding our voice in order to speak up for the diabetes community. This man has been heavily involved in diabetes advocacy efforts for decades. He shared how of the 1,800 advocates he trained in the 1980s, only three are still involved. As Mr. Boyer said, we’ve gone from setting the temperature to reading the temperature.  If we speak up and make our voices heard, we’ll go back to setting the temperature. 
Mr. Boyer shared a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote – “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Sure, MLK wasn’t speaking about diabetes but it is appropriate. It truly doesn’t matter how much or how loud we advocate, any advocacy effort will make a difference because we aren’t being silent. Going off of that, something the next speaker (Stacey Simms) said is important to remember as well. To paraphrase, as advocates we may not always have success and that is okay as long we do not give up. And Melissa Schooley of Medtronic reminded us advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. 
Nearly every speaker mentioned how it truly doesn’t matter which type of diabetes we have, we’re all impacted by it and need to fight for better lives for all. It doesn’t matter which type because we all need access to the supplies needed to stay healthy. It makes me wonder how powerful could the diabetes community be if we raised our voices as one large, all-inclusive group instead of having friction between the types. 
Dr. Kenneth Moritsugu, former VP of global professional education & strategic relations at Johnson & Johnson’s Diabetes Solutions Companies, provided Tuesday’s closing keynote. He was such a dynamic speaker that I found myself not wanting his speech to end.  He reminded us to have a sense of clarity regarding our purpose and what we want to achieve as we go forward as advocates. Dr. Moritsugu urged us how we must get involved because we can no longer play spectator. What he said that stuck out the most to me though was how each of us is the human face of diabetes. Well, duh, obviously we are but how often do we forget that we are the face of diabetes? As a friend and I discussed diabetes and everything I had learned at MasterLab, they mentioned when they hear about diabetes, theur first thought is of me. As we advocate for diabetes, we need to make our faces seen. It makes diabetes so much more real to others who are not connected to diabetes. 
There are many more things I want to share from MasterLab. I know the videos will be posted eventually on YouTube (http://YouTube.com/diabeteshands) so make sure to watch them. I hope you’ll be as moved by the speakers and discussions as I was. Participating in MasterLab was an incredible experience. I was able to meet people who I’ve interacted with countless times on Twitter in person and people who are just as passionate, if not more so, about being diabetes advocates at this event. As I left MasterLab, I found myself thinking about how I could be a better advocate, how I could be more like those I met. I also left with a renewed spirit and belief that I can, even as one person, make a difference in regards to diabetes.
 And, for full disclosure, Medtronic paid for my airfare, lodging, meals and registration to participate in MasterLab. All the words written are my own and were not influenced by Medtronic.