4 Reasons Why I Started a Diabetes Blog

At the end of June, I was notified that someone nominated me for the 9th Annual WEGO Health Awards!

This is my second time being nominated for the “best in blog” category. And words can’t describe how much it means to me – in the two and a half years since I started Hugging the Cactus, I’ve questioned countless times (truly, at least once a week) whether it’s worth all the effort it takes me to run this blog. Knowing that there’s at least one person out there who sees value in what I have to say is simultaneously humbling and motivating and makes me want to continue writing this blog for years to come.

Of course, I certainly didn’t start this blog to receive nominations or awards! While the recognition is incredibly lovely, there are actually a few different reasons why I started a diabetes blog…

Pink and Orange Abstract Quote Instagram Post
I wish I had a cute little blogger’s corner like this, but in reality, my current desk is actually a dining room table. Maybe one day…
  1. To express my diabetes story in a creative format that works for me. Some people are gifted photographers and can curate amazing Instagram feeds through which they share their diabetes stories. Others might be video wizards and choose YouTube as their diabetes-storytelling platform. But me? I choose writing a blog because, well, I’m a writer. I’ve always loved words – reading, writing, and speaking them, so this is what makes sense for me.
  2. As a form of therapy. Diabetes evokes a lot of intense thoughts and feelings. It can be hard to voice every single one of them to a family member or a friend. So that’s what I use this blog for: an outlet through which I can sort through my more complicated diabetes emotions by writing about the experiences that create them. And let’s be real, it can feel amazing to just vent and let it all out in a blog post.
  3. To connect with other members of the diabetes online community (DOC). This is probably the best-known reason why I started this blog – social media is great, but sometimes it can be highly impersonal. On some platforms, we’re showing the filtered versions of our lives and perhaps choosing to only hit the highlights instead of including the lows along with them. I feel like on this blog, I can write about the good, bad, and the ugly, and all of it has the potential to resonate with different audience segments. To me, that’s really powerful and it’s resulted in some of my stronger DOC friendships.
  4. To be an advocate. I’ve always wanted to be a diabetes advocate, but I was never really sure how I could be an effective one. I know that advocacy comes in many forms, and I knew that the best type for me would be one that involved my writing. So sharing my diabetes experiences on my blog is one way that I’m an advocate, but I’ve amped up my efforts recently by becoming a digital advocate for T1International. Blending my blog with their resources has only enhanced my ability to advocate for diabetes and educate others in addition to myself (because even after 22 years of diabetes, I still learn new things about it all the time), so I’m really grateful for my partnership with their organization.

When I’m dealing with blogger burnout, I think it’ll help me to look back on this little list to remind myself of my “why”. These are the reasons why I started and continue upkeep of Hugging the Cactus. And you’re a reason why. For that, I thank you.

 

A Shout-Out to Fathers of Children with Diabetes

Yesterday was Father’s Day, but today I’d like to take the opportunity to give a shout-out to my dad – and all fathers – who care for children, young, fully grown, or any stage in between, with diabetes.

All dads, generally speaking, don’t get enough credit for all that they do for their families. I know that I am fortunate enough to say that growing up, and to this day, my dad (and mom) provided me with everything a child could ask for: a loving home, plenty of food to eat, and endless support, to name a few.

But on top of that, my dad took care (and continues to take care) of both his child and his wife with diabetes. He does everything in his power to make sure that we want for nothing and has dealt with alllllll the highs and lows – and everything in between – over the years.

Thanks for everything!

My dad has always been the “fixer” in the family. When a problem pops up, he just wants a solution to it. So it’s no wonder that he’s felt helpless on the occasions that there’s literally nothing he can do to help with diabetes except wait for the insulin or sugar to kick in (depending on whatever the case may be).

But the other thing you should know about my dad is that he gives everything in his life 110%. Professionally and personally, he never half-asses anything. And I’ve always found that extremely inspiring. He’s a role model for me in that his give-it-your-all attitude and work ethic has taught me to give my diabetes my all. For that, and so much more, I’m thankful.

My dad – just like my mom – is the real MVP. He has done so much for the both of us during this stay-at-home situation, between picking up groceries each week and running all of our errands for us in order to limit our time out of the house. My dad deserves credit, and so do all other T1D dads: You’re doing great. As you help us navigate this new normal, we realize that there’s already so much you do for us. You’re doing your best in these weird times and your loved ones see that and appreciate it more than you could ever know.

Thank you to all the dads out there, but particularly mine: Thank you for helping to keep me grounded during this “challenging time”, and for, well, everything else you’ve done for me in my 27 years (both the non-diabetes things and the diabetes-related things).

My Thoughts on Returning to Work (and this “New Normal”)

We all know that 2020 hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far, largely thanks to COVID-19.

In a word, the last 8-10 weeks or so have been…weird. Collectively, the world experienced a lot of things: shock, rapid-fire adjustments, loss, and more than anything else, change.

It goes without saying that I’ve been very fortunate given the circumstances. I’ve had my job throughout this whole ordeal, and I’ve had experience working from home before which arguably made my transition to full-time remote work a little easier. While each week has come with its own unique set of challenges and emotions, there’s no denying that I’ve had it pretty good, overall, these last couple of months.

But now, along with everyone else, I’m about to enter a “new normal” (gosh I hate that term) as states begin to re-open. And with this “new normal” comes the possibility of returning to a physical office building each workweek.

I’ll admit that the sheer thought of it simultaneously excites and terrifies me.

My Thoughts on Returning to Work (and this _New Normal_)
My thoughts on re-entering the workplace are…complicated.

On the one hand, I’m yearning to go back to work in an office space. I miss my little cubicle, office camaraderie, and meetings that are held in-person, in conference rooms, as opposed to virtually.

On the other hand, I’ve never felt more anxious about returning to a space that is shared by people other than my family members.

There are a LOT of people that enter and exit my company’s building throughout the typical workday. There are at least a dozen other companies besides mine that occupy the other floors in the building. Tons of deliveries are made to these office suites each day. While there are custodial staff who do their best to keep the building clean, it can be…a challenge, as anyone who has seen our bathrooms can attest to.

Basically, I suppose that I’m feeling incredibly nervous about the exposure to germs that is bound to happen upon my return to the office.

Even if I didn’t have diabetes and wasn’t considered at a higher risk for COVID, I’m sure I’d still feel worried because it’s not just about me: It’s also about the people I live with. I’d never want to bring anything harmful into my family’s home, period, bottom line, end of story. And while the odds are pretty damn high that PPE (personal protective equipment) will become standard when re-entering the workplace, it does little to placate me because I’ve seen firsthand how sloppy people can be when it comes to wearing it or disposing of it properly.

And so, with much still unknown about COVID, it just seems like a giant gamble to resume working in an office environment when I can’t be sure that I won’t be exposed to anything.

As it stands right now, I don’t have a concrete “return to work” date. And I don’t know what exactly it will take in order for me to feel totally comfortable about returning to the office. But I do know that I’m cautiously optimistic for a smooth transition to a “new normal” that is safe for all.

5 Questions (and Answers) About the Dexcom G6

This post was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on November 19, 2018. I decided to update it, since some of my thoughts and observations on the Dexcom G6 have changed over time due to more experience with it. Updated answers will be in parentheses and/or italics just below (and in some cases, next to) the original answers…

I’ve been lucky enough to have the Dexcom G6 CGM in my life for just over six months now. (It’s actually been about 2 years at this point!) In that time, many people in my life – both T1Ds and non-T1Ds – have asked me countless questions about my experience with the device. I thought it’d make sense to address some of the most commonly asked questions here, in the hopes that I can provide some insight to those who are curious about the Dexcom G6.

Question: Can the Dexcom G6 be restarted?

Answer: In my experience, no. I cannot get the G6 to restart like I could get my G5 to restart. But take my “no” with a grain of salt, here, because I know of other people who HAVE had success restarting their G6 sensor, making its life extend much longer than the 10 days guaranteed by Dexcom. I have only tried to restart the G6 once, with absolutely zero success, following the process outlined here. My advice to those who want to try to restart their G6 is to do so cautiously, and make sure you’re not trying to do so with the last sensor in your stockpile.

Since I initially wrote this, I WAS able to restart the G6 and did so “successfully” a handful of times. But in my opinion, it wasn’t worth it because 1) the sensor would stop reading blood sugars 2-3 days after restarting and 2) I can’t be sure that restarting doesn’t wear out my transmitter faster, which wouldn’t work to my benefit since I don’t know how to reactivate transmitters. My two cents is that while reactivating old Dexcom models like the G4 or G5 often worked well, the technology within the G6 simply isn’t meant for accurate restarting.

Question: Is it actually safe to take acetaminophen (Tylenol) on the Dexcom G6?

Answer: Yes! I’ve noticed that acetaminophen can be taken safely on the G6. I did not anticipate for it to be unsafe, seeing as it was advertised as one of the big improvements Dexcom made from the G5 to the G6. I’ve taken Tylenol a handful of times without noticing any issues with my CGM readings, but as always, be sure to monitor your blood sugar carefully and perform a manual finger stick check if your symptoms don’t match up with your CGM.

This is still absolutely true! I’ve yet to observe Tylenol, or any other drug really, having an impact on my CGM’s readings.

Question: I can’t get my Dexcom G6 sensor to stay put for the full ten days. How do you make it last?

Answer: There’s tons of ways you can help ensure your G6 sensor stays stuck on for the entire ten-day duration. I always make sure that my skin is completely dry before the sensor makes any contact with the site. Avoiding any excess moisture is key in helping it stay put. If I notice the sensor starting to peel around the edges after a few days of wear, then I use a Pump Peelz CGM adhesive to keep it in place. Those tend to work really well for me. In times of serious adhesive doubt, I also use Skin Tac wipes, which basically glue that sucker down. One last tip I recommend is to avoid sites that come into contact with a wide variety of surfaces. In other words, a sensor that’s placed on the abdomen may fare better than a sensor on the leg, because the odds of the sensor getting accidentally knocked off due to contact with clothing or other objects are lesser. You know your own body better than anyone, though, so trust your own judgment when it comes to CGM placement.

So at the time of publication, I hadn’t tried my leg as a site for the CGM. Now that I have, my answer changes a little regarding the “usability” of this site: I’ve had great success keeping the CGM sensor on my leg for the full 10 days without a single peel in the adhesive. Another tip I’ve picked up along the way is to contact Dexcom and ask for their free “overlay patches”, which they produce and that work just like any medical adhesive that Pump Peelz or GrifGrips manufacture especially for Dexcom products.

I just want you to know...
Oh hey, it’s me! In my purple cast showing off the G6. Fun fact: I don’t own an Apple watch – the one I’m wearing here was provided to me to wear just for the G6 promotional materials.

 

Question: Is sensor insertion truly painless?

Answer: For me, G6 insertion has been pain-free approximately 85% of the time. It’s stung slightly a handful of times, but I’ve found that it only hurts when I choose a site that’s not particularly fatty. That’s why I generally stick with my abdomen – either side of my navel – or the back of my arms for G6 insertion.

I stand by this estimate – once in a while, I get a site that’s a little more sensitive and there’s a slight sting, but nothing like it used to be for the G4 or G5. And now that I’ve added my thighs as sites into the mix, I’ve got more site rotation going on, which can help.

Question: Is the G6 really that much more accurate compared to the G5, or any other CGM on the market?

Answer: Yes and no. That may not be a very satisfactory answer, but I’ll explain why that’s my belief. Overall, the G6 seems to be more accurate for me than the previous Dexcom CGM models I’ve worn. Are the number always on point compared to what appears on my meter? No. Do I wear the Dexcom CGM to have an accurate picture of what my exact number is at a given moment in time? Kind of, but I also know that this isn’t totally realistic. After all, users of the Dexcom CGMs know that it measures blood sugar levels in five-minute intervals. It can’t give me a clearer picture of what my blood sugar changes are minute-to-minute. So with that in mind, I find that the G6 is really excellent for monitoring trends – seeing how rapidly my blood sugar is falling or rising, or seeing how it changes gradually over time. The patterns are more important to me than the precise numbers; at least, that’s how I feel in my current stage of diabetes management.

I can’t really speak to other CGMs on the market, such as the Freestyle Libre or Medtronic’s CGM. But what I can say is that I’ve heard less-than-stellar reviews about both. It’s important to remember, though, that they’re not meant to be the exact same as the Dexcom CGM. The Libre itself isn’t really continuous and can’t provide users with information until they chose to wave the receiver over the sensor. And as far as I’m aware, the Medtronic CGM communicates directly with Medtronic pumps, and I’m not sure how seamlessly the systems work together.

Bear in mind that when it all comes down to it, I’m answering these questions with my experience, and my experience alone, in mind. Dexcom is and will always be the number one resource to go to with any questions regarding their CGM devices. But hopefully, the information I’ve shared here will at least help someone who is curious about the G6 feel more motivated to seek additional information. I stand by the fact that it has revolutionized my own diabetes care and management, and though it’s far from being flawless, it’s still an invaluable tool to have incorporated into my daily routine.

I still have not tried any CGM model out on the market except for Dexcom CGMs. To this day, it’s what I know and what I’m most comfortable with, so I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon (though it’d be kind of cool to try another and compare it to my G6). The one thing that has changed is that I rely on my G6 readings a lot more heavily these days. I use a blood sugar meter to check my blood sugar only once or twice a day now, whereas a year and a half ago, I was using it at least four times a day. I’ve put greater trust into my G6, but I do remain cautious against the technology and always check with my meter when I’m not fully believing my G6’s readings.

A Shout-Out to Mothers of Children with Diabetes

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, but today I’d like to take the opportunity to give a shout-out to my mom – and all mothers – who care for children, young, fully grown, or any stage in between, with diabetes.

All moms, generally speaking, don’t get enough credit for all that they do for their families. I know that I am fortunate enough to say that growing up, and to this day, my mom (and dad) provided me with everything a child could ask for: a loving home, plenty of food to eat, and endless support, to name a few.

But on top of that, my mom also acted as my pancreas (and her own) throughout my childhood. She counted carbs for me, injected me with insulin, scheduled and took me to doctor’s appointments, and offered her guidance whenever I was dealing with a difficult diabetes issue.

A Shout-Out to Mothers of Children with Diabetes
Mom, please consider the pretty cherry blossoms in this picture my belated Mother’s Day bouquet to you.

Even in my adulthood, though I’ve taken over all of my day-to-day diabetes responsibilities, my mom is still one of the first people I turn to when I have a diabetes question.

She’s the real MVP and she’s helped me a lot during this stay-at-home situation. So I want to give her credit, and credit to all T1D moms: You’re doing great. I know that it can’t be easy, especially for those T1D moms with little ones at home who are dependent on you for everything, but you’re doing your best and your loved ones see that and appreciate that more than you could ever know.

Thank you to all the moms out there, but particularly mine: Thank you for helping to keep me grounded during this “challenging time”, and for, well, everything else you’ve done for me in my 27 years (both the non-diabetes things and the diabetes-related things).

Dealing with Loneliness and Diabetes During a Global Pandemic

If I was an old-timey sailor keeping a log on my voyage across the ocean right now, I imagine that my entry for today would look a little something like this:

Quarantine, Day #55: It’s been almost two full months since I’ve set foot outside of the confines of my home. I’m so appreciative of the little things, like good weather days and food to sustain me, but I never realized how much I would miss face-to-face interaction with human beings. I miss everyone: my extended family, my friends, my coworkers. I miss people who are physically close by and far away from me. I miss strangers. No wonder all the rum is gone, me hearties!

Okay, so that last line is a bit of a stretch, but you get the gist of it.

The times and the circumstances are making me (and many others) feel a unique sense of loneliness.

Yes, I’m lucky enough to be quarantined with people and a dog who love me. I don’t take that granted for a second, nor do I want to forget how fortunate I am to have so many things that others do not (ample food, clothing, Internet access, entertainment options, etc.).

Still, I’ve felt deep, dark pangs of loneliness and sadness a handful of times since my quarantine began.

Dealing with Loneliness and Diabetes During a Global Pandemic
This whole situation has made me rather introspective.

I’ve felt profound sadness for others: My heart aches for anyone who has lost a loved one due to this wretched thing. I constantly worry about the physical and mental health of those on the front lines of it all and wish there was more I could do.

I’ve felt isolated from my loved ones: Sure, I have video chat and texting and those are excellent ways of keeping in touch with people. But it doesn’t compare to the in-person connection that I have with my extended family, friends, coworkers, and others in general.

In my most melancholy moments, I’ve cried ugly tears that I couldn’t control because I can’t find the words and I can’t even fully understand my own feelings in those fleeting periods.

Is it disgust at myself for crying in the first place when I don’t really have anything to cry over because I am a gainfully employed individual who has access to her medication and other living essentials?

Is it frustration at myself for allowing myself to be dragged down by my conflicting emotions?

Is it anger over taking the little things for granted or for this whole situation, in general?

Is it grief over the many life changes I’ve faced in the last year? A longing for the way things were before?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that the waves of loneliness I’ve ridden in the last six weeks (and are bound to continue to ride occasionally) have directly impacted my diabetes.

I’m going to be real with myself (and you) for a hot second here: I haven’t taken particularly excellent care of myself in all this. My eating habits have changed. I’ve spent more time knocking down my body and its appearance than appreciating it for what it is. And I’ve berated myself over and over again, asking myself why I can’t just get my shit together and produce better blood sugars, dammit.

So…how exactly am I going to change this? How can I make my thoughts and feelings about myself and my diabetes healthier when I’m already struggling with loneliness during a global pandemic?

I think the answer, for now, is simple but effective: I’m going to work harder at keeping a routine that incorporates setting and achieving small but meaningful goals each week. I’m going to follow the tried-and-true SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) goal-setting formula and more importantly, I’ll take the time to actually write them down. I may share them here sometimes, but I think I should also be consistent and capture them in some sort of journal that is only for my eyes. Writing in a journal may seem silly to some, but after seeing some posts on Instagram about the benefits of doing so and talking with a few friends who actively maintain journals…I think it’s just what I need right now, in tandem with leaning a little harder into my various support networks during those particularly blue moments.

Plus, gentle reminders to myself that even though I may feel on my own when it comes to my diabetes and other roller coaster emotions during this global pandemic, I’m never truly alone. And neither are you.

 

27 Acts of Kindness: Days 25, 26, and 27!!!

The 27 acts of kindness challenge is…COMPLETE!

Wow…this was truly such a special way to celebrate the weeks leading up to my 27th birthday.

I’ve spent time this weekend reflecting on how my thoughts and feelings about this challenge have changed over the last four-ish weeks. Some days were easier than others. I grappled with doing my best to make a true difference while also staying safe and maintaining social distance guidelines.

That was probably the hardest part – not being able to interact with more people throughout this whole process. It was really hard to feel like anything I was doing had any sort of impact. But given the limitations of the circumstances, I can end this challenge knowing that I tried my hardest to do something unique each day…and like I said at the beginning, if a single act made someone feel good or inspired someone else to commit an act of kindness, then I feel as though my mission was accomplished.

With that said, here is what I was up to this weekend:

Friday, 5/1 – Act of Kindness #25: I wanted to make sure I made another effort to support small, local businesses as the week drew to a close, so I purchased a gift card for future use as well as ordered takeout from two separate places. Yes, I’ve done that a couple of times since my challenge began, but I feel strongly about supporting my community as much as possible these days.

Saturday, 5/2 – Act of Kindness #26 and Sunday, 5/3 – Act of Kindness #27: Lumping these together may seem like a copout, but I swear, that’s not what I tried to do with the last couple days of the challenge! Instead of focusing on very specific/deliberate acts, I decided to just…be. I wanted to be there for family and friends, whether it was in-person or virtually. I had conversations with loved ones. I helped out my parents as much as I could. I started to learn more about my new role advocating for T1International (more to come on that). I enjoyed the outdoors and tried to reduce my overall screen time. I soaked up the sun and appreciated a beautiful birthday celebration for what it was, not what I wished or thought it should have been.

I just…wanted the people and things that I care about to feel some of that in a more pronounced way. I admit that I wasn’t perfect the entire time – I said some things without thinking and could have done more – but I’m now reflecting on it and trying to learn from it so I can be the kind of person who doesn’t have to think long and hard about certain acts of kindness that I can do each day: I want it to come naturally.

So even though the formal “27 acts of kindness” thing is done, the meaning behind it is far from over for me. I want to continue to do things that make people smile or that have some sort of impact going forward.

The only difference between the start and the end of the challenge is that I now have greater insights on how I can do little things on “ordinary” occasions that mean something, to someone, somewhere.

And I think that realization is a great gift to receive for my 27th birthday.

27 Acts of Kindness_ Days 25, 26, and 27!!!
One last fun GIF-image hybrid to round off the challenge.

Thanks for following along with the challenge, Cactus Huggers. There’s a recap of the last 27 days below, and I’ll be publishing new blog posts again starting Wednesday this week.

The 27 Acts of Kindness Round-Up

  1. Sent some money to a loved one as a special treat
  2. Wrote and mailed a card to a hospitalized child
  3. Emailed a hardworking coworker to let her know she’s appreciated
  4. Donated to a fundraiser that was delivering pints of ice cream to essential workers
  5. Gave a large tip when ordering takeaway from a restaurant
  6. Sent a thank you message to my church’s priest
  7. Invited friends to join me for a virtual yoga session with an instructor
  8. Posted Instagram shout-outs to some of my favorite accounts
  9. Donated to my community’s food pantry and got a double match from my employer
  10. Reconnected with old friends virtually
  11. Made coworkers smile and laugh by dressing up as Dwight Schrute for meetings
  12. Gave half of my CWD FFL 2020 registration fee back to CWD after it was canceled
  13. Spent the day helping my parents
  14. Reached out to a friend who is struggling
  15. Visited fellow diabetes bloggers’ sites and left comments on posts
  16. Filmed a video to spread some cheer to those living in nursing homes
  17. Volunteered virtually and talked to high school students about my career
  18. Wrote a special thank you card to my father, who is an essential employee
  19. Made a sign for the yard thanking ALL essential employees
  20. Made digital greeting cards and expressed words of encouragement and appreciation to essential employees
  21. Virtually adopted a red panda
  22. Purchased and sent requested supplies to a local animal shelter
  23. Signed up to become a digital advocate for T1International
  24. Donated in my mother’s name to a cause that she supports
  25. Bought a gift card to use at a local business at a future date
  26. Tried to live in the moment and be more mindful…
  27. …and reflect on what this challenge taught me!

27 Acts of Kindness: Days 24 and 25

It is officially the month of May! Say what?!

This means that I’m rapidly approaching the last few days of my acts of kindness challenge…though I certainly do have some ideas on how to keep the positive vibes going in the near future.

Speaking of, I think that Wednesday’s act of kindness will definitely help me make that happen…

Wednesday, 4/29 – Act of Kindness #24: So this one’s really special to me. For months now, I’ve expressed to many people how I want to become a better diabetes advocate. Sure, I have this blog and it’s one form of raising diabetes awareness, but I want to do more. I started looking into some options on Wednesday and it brought me to the T1International website. I’ve had a vague awareness of T1International and their work for some time now – that website is where I purchased my awesome #Insulin4All sweatshirt – but I wanted to understand what they do to a greater extent.

Turns out, they have a pretty awesome mission: T1International works to support local communities by giving them the tools they need to stand up for their rights so that access to insulin and diabetes supplies becomes a reality for all.

After clicking around their website some more, I found out that they are seeking digital advocates who can help spread the word about their organization and its goals…so I decided to sign up to become a digital advocate for T1International and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

I’m learning more about what I will specifically be doing this weekend, but as for now, I’m just excited about the chance to advocate for a cause that I’m very passionate about, which is access to insulin for all. Because like it says on the T1International website, life with diabetes is complicated enough…nobody should have to worry about access to vital insulin, diabetes supplies, or medical care on top of it.

Travel Buddies
Water and insulin are two very important liquids that not all people have access to…and that’s not okay.

Thursday, 4/30 – Act of Kindness #25: You know what else everyone should have access to, but unfortunately, many people in the world do not? Clean water.

Access to clean drinking water is absolutely something that I take for granted…and it’s simply unfathomable to me that 785 million people – which is to say, 1 in 9 – lack access to safe water. How wild is that? Water is crucial to so many aspects of life, and there isn’t one single human on this planet that can survive without it.

So after a conversation with my mom yesterday about causes that are near and dear to our hearts, in which she reminded me that for years now she’s been hoping to build a water well in a place that it’s greatly needed, I donated to water.org. Talking with my mom and hearing the dedication in her voice made me want to do what I could to help her support a cause that means a lot to her, so I happily made the donation in her name and even got to send her an eCard notifying her of it. Hopefully, it makes her smile and reminds her that she does have the ability to get that well built one day because those closest to her will support her every step of the way.

Whether it’s insulin, water, food, shelter…there are simple basic needs that all human beings deserve to have access to, and its an injustice that they don’t. Fortunately, there are amazing organizations out there like T1International and Water.org that work tirelessly to change this, and it’s humbling to be able to support them in any capacity. I linked to their websites in this post – hover over their names above – I encourage you to check them out and consider the ways you might be able to help them, too.

 

27 Acts of Kindness: Days 22 and 23

I love animals.

I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t. In fact, as a child, I was convinced that my future profession would be a veterinarian (a marine biologist was also in the mix at one point). I went as far as shadowing a real-life veterinarian during my 8th grade career day, and I took an Introduction to Animal Science class in college when my major was still undeclared.

Alas, I decided that a career with animals wasn’t in the cards for me when I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to handle the emotional and physical challenges associated with caring for them. Interacting with animals is all fun and adorable until one gets sick and may need to euthanized (I witnessed such a thing on shadow day in 8th grade…it was so sad). Or when a large, strong billy goat charges you because you have his food and he’s hungry (true story, it’s a miracle I got out of his pen uninjured). But just because I don’t deal with animals professionally, it doesn’t mean that my love for them is any less.

So I focused on how I could help them to kick off this week’s acts of kindness.

Monday, 4/27 – Act of Kindness #22: I adopted a RED PANDA on Monday!!!

…I wish I could say it was a REAL panda who was going to come and live with me and frolic around the backyard with me and my dog, but that’s just too good to be true – this adoption is just virtual. But I’m excited about it nonetheless. I love red pandas because 1) they’re adorable 2) they’re hilarious and 3) they’re seriously photogenic – really, I’ve never seen a bad picture of one. Sadly, they’re also an endangered species: According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, there may be fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas living in the wild today.

So as I thought of how I could combine my love for animals with an act of kindness, the idea came to me that I might be able to support one of my favorite exotic species via virtual adoption. I chose to make my donation to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. because I was lucky enough to spend a handful of treasured days there last year. The zoo is incredibly gorgeous and home to countless fascinating animals, including two sweet red pandas. During my last visit to the zoo, I was able to see one of them very up-close through a window. I was so charmed by the little one that I practically had to be ripped away so other people could take a look, too. It’s really neat that I’m able to support them, in some way, now through my virtual adoption (and I get a red panda plush sent to me as a thank you…I’m not gonna lie, I can’t wait to receive that in the mail).

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Just look at it how cute and funny they are!!!

Tuesday, 4/28 – Act of Kindness #23: Of course, I was looking for a way to help out furry friends a little closer to home yesterday. Specifically, I wanted to do something to help out dogs.

Dogs have always been and will always be part of my life (even though I am allergic, LOL). I grew up with two Shetland Sheepdogs and my parents have their third, Clarence, now. My aunts and uncles always had dogs, too (Labradors, Dachshunds, and some mixes are among them). Life is just…better with a dog. The more dogs, the merrier, in my opinion.

The second Sheltie that my family had was from a shelter. We never knew too much about her history, other than she must’ve suffered some sort of trauma before she was rescued. Even though she had major challenges to overcome behaviorally, my family cherished the time she was with us and we were always grateful that we’d connected with the shelter that we rescued her from.

So she was on my mind yesterday when I decided to visit a local animal shelter’s website to see if they were requesting any special support during this time. That’s when I found their Amazon wish list – literally a list of items that the shelter needs that can be purchased on Amazon.com – and went about purchasing some items that could be shipped directly to them. I bought some collars, leashes, and harnesses that they will be able to provide to new pet owners as animals are adopted. I wanted to do more, but I’m hopeful that when it’s safe to do so and when the shelter begins accepting new volunteers, I can maybe continue my support in that fashion.

Animals are awesome. I know that my pets and any that I’ve seen over the years at zoo have taught me so much. Giving back to them in any way, shape, or form is humbling and almost as nice as getting to hug a smooshy fluffy pupper or red panda…almost.

27 Acts of Kindness: Days 19, 20, and 21

Is anyone else remotely stunned, like I am, about the fact that the month of April is almost over?

Time certainly doesn’t seem to be passing in a normal way these days…and let’s face it, “normal” isn’t easily defined at the moment.

Rather than dwell on what’s normal and abnormal, though, I’ve had this challenge to focus on, and it’s helped immensely. In keeping with the “time is flying by” theme, I’ve already completed three weeks of it! I’m thankful that this is keeping me grounded and making me feel slightly more useful lately, and that’s what inspired this weekend’s acts of kindness…gratitude.

Friday, 4/24 – Act of Kindness #19: My dad is an essential employee. Ever since this whole thing started, he’s gone above and beyond to not only fulfill the duties of his job, but also to take care of me and my mother. He has made every trip to the grocery store for us for weeks now in order to keep us safe at home. He also runs any errands for us that would otherwise require us to go into a store. So I wanted to acknowledge him and express my gratitude for his extra efforts by writing him a card. While that can’t amount to everything he’s done for us lately by any stretch of the imagination, it was the best way I knew how to say thank you, and I think that the small gesture meant a lot to him.

Saturday, 4/25 – Act of Kindness #20: I’ve thought about essential employees a lot lately…they don’t have the luxury of working from home like I do. Medical workers, delivery drivers, grocery store clerks, and everyone in between deserve to be recognized for the hard work they’re doing (and not just during this time – they don’t receive enough thanks under normal circumstances).

That’s why I decided to recycle a cardboard box into a thank you sign for the front yard. As essential employees drive to and from work, I hope that they notice it and realize that there are so many people who appreciate them and want them to know that what they’re doing is meaningful.

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It took me a full hour to do the lettering for this sign, but it was the least that I could do.

Sunday, 4/26 – Act of Kindness #21: I admit that I’m definitely running out of acts of kindness ideas…so thank goodness for Google. I spent time yesterday afternoon researching more ways I can help, well, anyone while I’m stuck at home.

I got a handful of great ideas from my detective work, but the one that resonated with me yesterday is an opportunity to show gratitude for essential workers – how fitting! The volunteer effort involves making virtual cards and/or greetings for essential employees. It’s a safe way to send messages of thanks to these hardworking individuals. I volunteered and I’m waiting for notification as to how I will be conveying my words of encouragement and appreciation, but in the meantime, I figured I’d share the link to the project here so that others will hopefully see it and will want to participate, too.

There is less than a week left to my challenge…and I’ve saved some special acts of kindness for the end. Stay tuned!