Re: 2017 DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute and Weekend for Women conference:
It’s hard to even know where to begin. There were so many wonderful experiences and people to talk to during the weekend that I was floating the whole time.
So let me talk about the highlights, in no particular order.
One of the most memorable experiences was yoga with Rachel Zinman. She is from Australia, and came to the US to promote her new book. She is a very gentle teacher, and was very attentive to the needs of each woman in her class. I think yoga is a good exercise for people with diabetes because it’s gentle and refreshing, and I came out of the class feeling comfortable and relaxed, and ready for whatever the day might bring. While it’s possible to do strenuous yoga, I prefer the gentle kind. And there is usually no problem with my blood sugar.
There was also a getting-to-know-you session, where I happened to be paired up with Rachel. We had a lot of things in common, and it is always good to be able to talk to someone who understands where you are coming from. I could see where this would be a good activity for a group that was just getting together, and also as an activity for established groups, especially larger ones, where individuals might not know each other very well.
I also enjoyed the step in, step out activity, where we all stood in a circle and stepped into the center when certain characteristics or experiences were called. Again, this might be a good activity for new or larger groups so that they could see just how much they have in common.
I really liked the emphasis on commonalities and acceptance of everyone, with no comparisons or judgments.
There were many fine speakers. I particularly enjoyed the talks on emotional acceptance and eating disorders. I think they both spring from the same source. In my own case, the emotional acceptance of diabetes has been much, much harder than the treatment tasks. I think that medical professionals are so busy educating about treatment that they don’t have the time to work with people on their emotional adjustment to the various trials of life, and I think that is a major reason for DiabetesSisters to exist.
I enjoyed the advocacy and technology talks. The prospect of an artificial pancreas is very exciting, because we just don’t have the basic science to deal with the problem of autoantibodies, so I don’t expect to have any kind of biological cure in my own lifetime. Thus, I will happily settle for devices that improve my blood sugars and make management less of a hassle.
And last, I must mention the aspect of such conference that is nearest and dearest to my heart: the Diabetes Online Community. I have been using the computer to find and talk with other people with diabetes since 1994, and I have dear online friends that I never get to see except at conferences. These relationships, although long-distance, are the best support I ever got, especially when I was newly diagnosed and struggling with it. I have gotten so much information online and for many, it may be the only way they can talk with other adults with diabetes. To see them in person at a conference is delightful — you feel like old friends, even if you’ve never seen them before.
So for me, the Leadership Institute and Weekend for Women conference were, as Christel says, a chance to be with my tribe. And they were a chance to learn something, so it was very well worth the time.
Thank you, Sarah and Anna and all the people who made this experience possible!
~Natalie Sera, PODS Leader, DiabetesSisters of Reno NV