Today's prompt is a twist on asking ourselves about the awesome things we've done DESPITE diabetes and instead asks us to consider what awesome thing we've done BECAUSE of diabetes.
In the whirlwind of real life meetups I've had, fundraising walks, my journey into d-blogging, and online sharing via twitter and forums, it's easy to tick off a list of memorable moments that coming together with other diabetics has brought me. Moments and friendships I would not have shared were it not for this common interest that brings us together.
TuDiabetes.org - as an administrator, helping to keep the community running smoothly for the last three years. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been involved were it not for the big D.
I joined the community in June of 2008, just before the 18th anniversary of my diagnosis. I was newly married, wanting desperately to be given the green light to get pregnant, and my insulin pump warranty had expired and I needed info on what else was out there. The Diabetic Online Community (DOC) was precisely the kind of pool I needed to splash around in.
I quickly jumped in with both feet, sharing experiences, talking insulin pumps and pregnancy planning with members across the globe. The first people to comment on my profile wall to welcome me I now consider some of my dearest friends. I'd never imagined that an online community could feel so warm, so easily navigable, so family-like.
Within two months, I was asked to be one of the first admins on the administrative team. Working side by side with Manny, Andreina, Kristin, Jeff, & Landi, we began to add structure to the way the site was moderated and maintained, learning as we moved forward - from our mistakes and our successes.
As a member, I shared trials and triumphs, posted photos and artwork, wrote poetry, mourned losses.
But as an admin, I was given a unique opportunity to keep my community SAFE, uphold the values that made me want to be a member there, keep threads friendly and keep content fresh.
Fast forward to 2011. I am now the lead administrator, senior member of the team (with the exception of Manny), and I'm the frazzled mommy of a toddler. Hundreds of messages fly through my inbox every week from our team of admins and discussion moderators. I don't think the community has any concept of how much we communicate behind the scenes.
My team has been amazing - past and present members included. Their perspectives, their leadership, their judgment...we've managed to strike that delicate balance of quality full-time commitment from volunteers with limited time to give because they are managing their own families, careers, and yes, their own diabetes.
And then there is our fearless leader. I admire Manny Hernandez to a degree I can't express. He is big brother, listening ear, source of information, social media guru, and ALL HEART rolled into one extremely likable person. Reading the way he consistently reflects the values of our community in the way he responds to members' concerns strengthens my resolve to give back to the community in every way I can.
And what I have done - and I won't claim to have done it alone - is to help streamline what our team does for the community everyday. I create how-to documents, answer technical questions, and handle training of new team members. I have been instrumental in creating and maintaining a message template of the many different kinds of notifications we use in contacting members in violation of our terms of service. I've helped orchestrate the hierarchy of the admin team, including how admins rotate through moderation responsibilities and how we document violations and contact members.
I'm fiercely protective of the admin team. When our decisions are challenged or our motives questioned, I make sure that our team is united and that we clearly articulate our position. Any one of us might be speaking from the anonymity of the Red Hand, but I'm always confident that it's said with one voice. Always reflecting Manny's vision. Always reflecting TuD's values.
This has been one of the first times in my life where I've really been part of a team. And it's a team with diabetes at the heart of everything we do. Our decisions aren't always well-received, but they are always well-intentioned.
I have the opportunity to draw from my strengths with the written word - be it carefully crafted diplomatic responses or snappy shutdowns - and my strengths in leadership (I'm definitely a "decider" - and a cranky one at that).
Diabetes brought me there. And it's because of how that community has improved my life with diabetes that I'll continue to serve with loyalty. It has been an awesome opportunity.
"Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, therein lies your vocation."---Aristotle