Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Home From #CWDFFL15 and Homesick~

There’s so much to write about my Friends For Life Experience - And as I sit at my computer, I don’t know where to begin. 
And I’m distracted because I keep looking down at my green Children with Diabetes bracelet and I wish I was back in Florida.
The green bracelet is my talisman and touchstone to people and an organization who mean the world to me and I love my FFL family very much.  

And now That I'm back in the "real world", I wish I wasn't. 
My green bracelet is my touchstone & my talisman~
The real world is filled with me playing catch-up with work and life and has me dealing people who don’t “get” diabetes and don’t want to. 
The real world is filled with strangers who don’t look you in the eye because they’re too busy looking down at their phones -and that sucks. 

As we get older, making friends isn’t as easy as it was when we were in fresh out of the gate. At FFL, everyone introduces themselves and everyone talks with one another. 
Adults and children with green bracelets find one another and the “me too” factor kicks in with a vengeance and it’s beautiful. 
Little children see my green bracelet and immediately show me theirs - and vice versa. And then we show one another our pumps and talk about how much fun we’re having. Princesses, Batman & Spiderman tend to enter the conversation, as does “Jake & The Pirates,” and I'm totally cool with that.

 Orange bracelets seek out the green and green bracelets seek out the orange, friendships are formed and lessons are learned between the laughter and the tears. 
Those conversations start anywhere and everywhere. In line for gelato, at the sink in the ladies room, at the pool, the breakfast line - EVERYWHERE - and it’s a beautiful thing.

Both green and orange Bracelets seek out those wearing “First Timers” ribbons on their name badges and pull them into the FFL mix and help them navigate the FFL waters until they go with flow and become part of the FFL ebb and flow. 

And then there are all the hugs and understanding from people who “get it.” 
Oh how I miss those hugs and all the understanding! 
And I miss the learning and the bonding and the frenetic pace that leaves everyone breathless, smiling, and wanting more.  

FFL, makes me feel like I'm the aunt to thousands of amazing green and orange bracelet wearing children and teens and makes me feel like I have a thousand green and orange bracelet wearing brothers and sisters - and parents for that matter. 

And I kid you not, now that I'm home, I'm incredibly homesick for my green and orange bracelet wearing family. 

And now for the not so mushy (at least for the most part,) part of the post. 

This year’s FFL was jammed packed and crazy, wonderful in all dimensions. 

Before FFL officially started, I had (along with so many in the DOC who were attending FFL and some who were there for the lab,) the opportunity to attend the 2015 Master Lab, presented by the Diabetes Hands Foundation, in collaboration with Children With Diabetes.  
The Master Lab was an intense 1.5 day lab on Diabetes Advocacy, Non Profits, the Press, Social Media, getting your story out there and everything in-between, and it was incredibly informative and powerful. 

The MasterLab gave me the courage to ask for help with #IwishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes Booth. 
I’m still wrapping my head around everything I learned and going through my notes with a fine tooth comb.

I was also part of the FFL Staff. My job as a Room Captain was to introduce the session Speakers and help them anyway they needed me to during the sessions and learn a few things ( OK, boatloads of things,) in the process.

Sidebar: For a great FFL tech/other cool stuff breakdown, read THIS post by Mike Hoskins post over at Diabetesmine.

And I had the amazing opportunity to have an “official  #IwishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes Booth in the Friends For Life Exhibit Hall - which seriously ROCKED MY WORLD. 
To be honest, I was nervous about it - but as I mentioned, it ROCKED MY WORLD (in the fantastical sense of the term,) and it was truly an amazing experience! 
The booth was filled with familiar faces from the DOC, who gave their time and energy and helped to make the booth functional, fun and a success!

 I'll be posting about #IwishPeopleKnewThatDiabetes booth experience as soon as I'm finished writing about it.... Stay tuned ;) 

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