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 1 and 2

Hey Cactus huggers! Here’s my first update on how my 27 acts of kindness are going. I’ll continue to publish blog posts on my usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule, and each post will cover the retroactive acts of kindness. You’ll see how it works as each post rolls out…so without further ado…

My 27 acts of kindness challenge has officially kicked off! (Not familiar with what I’m referring to? Here’s my introductory post to the how and why of my challenge.) Here are the two acts I’ve done so far:

Monday, 4/6 – Act of Kindness #1: Fittingly, this challenge began on a Monday. I was excited to complete my first act of kindness, but had no idea what it should be. So I waited until the late afternoon, when I had a thought…why not help out someone near and dear to me?

To maintain this person’s privacy, I won’t be sharing any of their personal information or explain my connection to them. But this person lives far away from me. And I miss this individual. I think of them often and it’s important to me that this person knows that I care. Since my person is going through some job difficulties at the moment, I decided to send them a little money. It’s not much, but it was a gesture intended to let the person know that they are not far from my thoughts. Hopefully, they are able to use it to treat themselves a little.

Add a heading
Writing the card transported me right back to my childhood days of corresponding with pen pals.

Tuesday, 4/7 – Act of Kindness #2: Over the weekend, I spent some time researching acts of kindness ideas online. And I came across one website that suggested making a card for a hospitalized child. I loved this idea for so many reasons. For starters, all throughout my childhood, I was obsessed with drawing and writing cards and letters to family, friends, and pen pals. And when I received something in the mail in return, I was always over-the-moon excited. My appreciation for letter-writing and receiving is probably what fostered my passion for writing, period. And since I was a hospitalized child when I was diagnosed with diabetes at age 4, something about writing a card for a hospitalized child now felt natural to me…like a full-circle moment or something. So I busted out my old magic marker kit and wrote a heartfelt message in a card that I mailed off to an organization called Cards for Hospitalized Kids. I hope that my card lands in the hands of a child who could really use a reminder that they’re not alone.

And with that…two acts of kindness down, 25 more to go! I’m looking forward to seeing how the challenge evolves over time. And if you decide to take part in it, please do and let me know! I’d love to give shout-outs to any fellow participants.

 

27 Acts of Kindness

I didn’t publish a new blog post on Friday.

This wasn’t accidental. I deliberately neglected my blog because…my heart just wasn’t in it. Contrary to my blog a few weeks ago, I felt…I don’t know…kind of dumb about maintaining my blog through all this? Like, what’s the point of my silly little blog when the world is fighting a massive battle right now?

Maybe it’s foolish to feel that way, maybe it’s not. I don’t know. I moped about it for most of last week, and then spent some time seriously thinking about how and why I was feeling mightily blue about my blog.

And then I realized: I’m feeling a bit helpless. I want to help my loved ones and my community in any way that I can, but how can I possibly do anything productive from home?

I thought about it some more before the perfect idea came to me.

In exactly 27 days, I turn 27 years old. There’s nothing particularly special or exciting about this age, but I do have the power to make it a meaningful birthday celebration by doing 27 acts of kindness each day leading up to May 3rd.

hugging the cactus - a t1d blog
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to share a little love with the world.

I don’t know exactly what or how these acts of kindness will unfold over the next several weeks – I think that part of the beauty of the challenge is that I can go with what feels right as each day goes by – but I do know that I’ll document my experiences here. I’ll share what I do each day and I’ll do my best to make sure that each act is unique. And I’ll continue to publish posts regularly (my 3x per week schedule). Daily posts would be ideal, but I know myself and I know my real-world workload wouldn’t exactly accommodate that.

The only other thing you might be wondering about my challenge is…what the heck does it have to do with diabetes? That’s a valid question, considering this IS a blog about my life with type 1 diabetes. And my answer to it is that I will do as many diabetes-specific acts of kindness as possible. I imagine that in the next month or so, plenty of diabetes-related anecdotes will sneak their way into my posts, as they always do.

And finally, a clarification…I hope my challenge isn’t misconstrued as me trying to do something “noble” or “noteworthy”. I want to emphasize that this challenge was born out of pure frustration that I’ve felt over feeling like I’m unable to contribute to society right now when it so desperately needs all of the help that it can get. My heart and my head have been with ALL of the essential employees – my dad and my best friend are just two people in my life who can be counted among them – who are showing up to work each day and dealing with a number of hurdles during this unprecedented time.

All of that combined has really motivated me to take this on and make this upcoming birthday truly meaningful.

Hugging the Cactus Turns Two!

It feels like just 365 days ago that I was celebrating the first birthday of this blog…

Oh, wait. It feels like that because it WAS like that.

So here I am, 365 days later, on the second birthday of Hugging the Cactus.

HTC Birthday (1)
Is my blog’s second birthday a good excuse to eat a cupcake today? (The answer is YES.)

Wow!

The second year of this blog hasn’t been without its challenges. To name a few:

  • Technical difficulties. I’m still learning a lot about how to successfully run a blog. It seems like the blogging world changes on the daily, so it’s tough to keep up with such a fast-paced environment. It’s far from easy – so let me give a shout-out to all the bloggers out there. Whether you have a small following or legions of fans, kudos to you for keeping at it because it’s a lot of work.
  • Time trouble. This year has been jam-packed for me – a move to another state, several weddings, and a whole bunch of personal shit – so, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t been able to devote as much time as I’d like to this blog.
  • Diabetes drama. Of course a girl who runs a diabetes blog has a life filled with diabetes drama. Between navigating the intimidating world of health insurance and coping with diabetes that is constantly keeping me on my toes, sometimes I straight-up just don’t want to write about it because I’ve already spent too much time merely trying to handle it. I struggle with finding the balance between oversharing and holding too much back.

Through it all, though, I keep finding myself returning to this blog time after time. As I’ve shared before, I’ve definitely questioned why I bother with it, especially when it feels like blogging is a semi-irrelevant medium in this day and age of micro-blogging on Instagram.

But I’ve started to answer those questions of self-doubt that I’ve posed to myself.

I think, at the heart of the answer, that the reasons why I keep doing this blog is because it both pushes me to take better care of myself, as well as it forces me to seriously examine how I live my life with diabetes. (And it also brings me closer to other people with diabetes, but that’s a reason that I’ve placed on a pedestal of utmost importance many times before – my desire to connect with other people with diabetes will never not be there.)

It pushes me to take better care of myself because it provides an active record of my thoughts, feelings, and struggles with diabetes that I can consult.

It forces me to look at those records and see how I can address the issues I’m experiencing, or prevent old problems from happening again.

This blog serves as the ultimate T1D diary for me – by documenting my life with diabetes, I believe that I can improve my quality of life with it…which makes it incredibly worth doing, IMHO. And if I can connect with and help others along the way? Well, that makes it even more precious and special to me.

So, happy 2nd birthday, Hugging the Cactus. Here’s to another year of thriving with diabetes.

Hello, 26…and Goodbye, Health Insurance

Well, today is my 26th birthday. As I alluded to a few months ago in another blog post, I’ve pretty much been dreading this particular birthday.

Love always wins.

Today’s the day I’ve got to switch health insurance carriers. I’m going off my parents’ plan and signing up for the employee plan offered by my company.

Am I nervous? Yes. Am I scared? Hell yes. But am I alone? Hell, no. I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I’ve got so many resources in my life – family, friends, the DOC –  who will help me navigate the confusing world of health insurance.

I’m also well aware that many, many other T1Ds have been in this position before me. While it’s impossible to forget the horror stories about people who have been unable to afford their medication due to a lack of insurance coverage, or who have a hard time paying for insulin and other diabetes supplies in spite of having health insurance, there’s so many more people who have found ways to make it work without having to sacrifice their health or general well-being.

So I’m going to focus on how blessed I am to have resources all around me, as well as a job that offers decent health insurance (or just a job, period…there’s plenty of jobless people out there who have double the hurdles to jump over compared to someone like me). Today, I won’t dwell on my fears and anxieties about health insurance. Instead, I’ll celebrate another year of life and enjoy the day.

Why I’m Afraid to Turn 26

I’ve never been afraid of my birthday. In fact, I’ve looked forward to it every single year because of all the fun things that distinguish the occasion. I’m lucky to be able to say that each third of May of my life has been filled with celebration, gratitude, and cake – what’s not to like about that?

But this year is different for me. I’m turning 26, which means I’ll no longer be eligible for dependent coverage under my parents’ health plan. I’ll need to enroll in my employer’s plan and figure things out from there.

to my best buddy,
I don’t want a cake or presents for my birthday this year. I’d rather affordable health insurance.

This is terrifying to me. Why?

I’ve heard the stories.

Alec Raeshawn Smith’s story sticks out to me the most. He researched his insurance options and when he realized that the out-of-pocket costs for insulin were exorbitantly high, he decided to forgo insurance because it seemed more manageable to him.

He passed away just one month after going off his mother’s health insurance plan.

His family believes he was rationing insulin in order to survive until he could afford to buy some more.

There’s nothing about Alec’s story that isn’t tragic. It’s especially sad and frightening to someone who is about to begin navigating the confusing, expensive, and ruthless world of health insurance.

I’m hoping that I never get to a point where I need to pursue the dangerous “solution” of rationing insulin. But I’m also hoping that the biggies of insulin manufacturing – Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly, and Sanofi – wake up and realize that they’re doing more harm than good. In 1996, just one year before I was diagnosed with diabetes, one vial of Humalog insulin (which I’ve used and continue to use since diagnosis) cost $21. Fast-forward 20 years, and Humalog costs skyrocketed to twelve times the cost at $255 per vial. Why? What could possibly justify this? How could anyone say that it is right for someone with diabetes who needs insulin to survive, and who didn’t ask for diabetes or do something to cause it, to pay that much on a regular basis to stay alive?

One thing is for sure: Insulin prices CANNOT stay as high as they are. There’s simply no reason for it, other than shameless, disgraceful greed.

And that is the simple truth of why I’m afraid to turn 26 this year.