Monday, December 24, 2018

The Mountain That Was 2018...With a free excerpt from my book!

Here’s my Twitter profile, where I declared my intentions for 2018 as the new year began.

I wanted to write about my passions: type 1 diabetes, health care, mental health, and K-pop. Such a weird combination, I know. But, it’s who I found myself to be and I wished to be true to that self. I also did not wish to work in a vacuum. I craved learning from others and sharing that wacky self of mine with the world.

How did I do?

I wrote 32 entries on Verbostratis, which totals at least 8,000 words. I also published my second book, Dear Warriors, which came in at just under 35,000. In addition, I closed out the year of reflections on Dear Teachers in June with 21 blog entries on that blog, which would add another 5,000 words.

Seems like quite a bit of writing, but that is significantly less than 2017. However, there are connections I made in personal writing that aren’t reflected in these figures. I asked many people for help in developing Dear Warriors. I shared and listened, which was something I wanted to focus on this year.

I still feel pretty darn insignificant, though. I can see more clearly how incredibly tiny I am in this world and confess that my marketing efforts tanked completely in the last half of the year as my confidence sunk. I talked a lot, but do not have much to show for it. The relationships I started this year, especially those with the artists in Dear Warriors, are the real gems of my year. Professionally, however, I failed: selling 4 books total on Amazon in 2018.

So, my mental health took some blows. My writing efforts ceased after I hit the “publish” button on Dear Warriors in October. Life’s financial requirements drove me to search for and find an hourly wage once again. Part of me is incredibly grateful to have once again found a means for a steady income of sorts and a chance to learn in a new environment. Part of me is sad that my writing dreams appear to have shriveled and blown away, more than likely forever.

There are now 7.7 billion of us on Earth, most in the same boat as me. Many are in far worse straits. I remind myself that happiness can be felt by anyone at any moment right alongside the other less pleasant emotions we have. It’s not necessarily connected to wealth, health, or status, but it is linked to a sense of connection. We suffer when we feel alone.

That brings me to my overarching goal for 2018: exploring the statement “We are stronger #together”. My efforts in Dear Warriors raised my belief and understanding that we must be with one another in order to flourish. Whether we like it or not, or see it or not, we need each other. Educator @ChristieNold recently pointed out in a Twitter thread that she has struggles picking battles, as suggested by @ValeriaBrownEdu. They are immersed in cultivating social justice and a future with a better framework via the Education world. While we differ in the details of what we do, they are Warriors by my side as I am at theirs.

To me, “together” also means around the globe, thus my heart and 3-part globe emojis. My interest in Korean culture continued through the year. I didn’t make it to any Kpop concerts, unfortunately. However, I did continue studying the language, foods, music, and current events. I can’t relate to it all, but I can see things I can connect to. That gives me hope.

My 2019? I just want to witness. I want to simply be and do in love and hope. Together.

Please enjoy the following excerpt from my book, Dear Warriors. I think it does a good job of depicting my view on what we face (whether we have type 1 diabetes or not) and how we’re together. As in all my work, I’ve added a reflection at the end for you as the reader to use if you wish.


“The man who moves a mountain
begins by carrying away small stones.”
- Chinese Proverb

Of the 7.5 billion or so people on the planet today, I’d say my life registers a “5” on a 1-10 scale of success. I’m better off than many and not as well as some. I’ve done nothing of any real consequence: I have no parks or animal species named in my honor. However, when I’m grounded in confidence, I can feel good reflecting on what my story has been up to now.

This quote talks of carrying away stones, implying the mountain is an obstacle to be destroyed. I want to stretch that idea a bit. Mountains exist both before and after us. They can be impediments, monuments, or both. We Warriors can take a raw challenge (the original mountain), and through effort, we can transform it into something that is ours. Something we can point to with pride.

We make a new mountain. The mountains that exist today are the product of many Warriors’ yesterdays. As an example, consider the fight for civil rights in the United States. It’s a series of challenges and achievements over time that is still slowly progressing.

For a second example, let’s look at the world of music today. Pick an artist you enjoy. That artist may be cutting edge, but their art is built upon that of other musicians near and far. No musician is without muses or inspirations. I know of a heavy metal band out of New Dehli, India called Bloodywood. Listening to their music, one can pick out several Western metal genres, but their Indian lyrics, themes, and instruments shine through. They incorporated a group of dancers in one music video, adding an almost Korean pop vibe. Inspiration flows in all directions; songs coming out of The United States and Europe today have flavors from around the world, as well. These are mountains morphing, splitting, and merging again and again.

Sometimes we may argue that we haven’t moved anything; there are no mountains or note-worthy accomplishments in our lives. However, they are there if we look: friendships built, art created, parties hosted, transportation provided, medical milestones reached, children nurtured, and careers led.

Mountains can be moved and formed by individuals or groups. Therefore, my mountains aren’t necessarily yours (but they could be) and yours could be insurmountable by me or, on the flip side, built with the help of others, like me.

Our mountains move with day-to-day effort. For Diabetic Warriors, the small stones include regularly checking our blood sugar, eating well and exercising. Staying hydrated and finding time for things we enjoy are also stones, as is sharing our stories. When we do these things regularly, we’ll move a ton of gravel. Acknowledging those daily accomplishments allows us to wake up the next morning, revved up for another day where we can move even more.

This work we do isn’t very glamorous many times. It can be tedious or even painful. However, it’s part of every life. It’s hard. It’s valuable. It’s respectable. Our active living moves, builds, and reforms reality for ourselves and others. How can I be certain? I have seen it repeatedly in my life and those of many others, from classrooms to cubicles. Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption is an example of this, too.

Let’s not be blind to the pebbles. Let’s not forget the importance of those stones that make up our living. It’s a huge accomplishment and worthy of recognition. We don’t necessarily want to build these mountains, especially when it is based on a subject like our medical conditions or fighting for social justice. There are days we cringe at the mere idea of another day moving rock. However, these mountains are ours to claim as monuments to our efforts.

We’ve earned every stone.

REFLECTION: I’m proud of this. It’s big to me. I’ve built or I’m building…:

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