CWD Friends for Life 2013: My own personal take-aways (the one with fast-talking, handstands and emeralds)

If you are anywhere on the internets where the Type 1 diabetes community lives, you heard of Friends for Life this past week. If you weren’t you need to listen up. Because really, Diabetes Mom Stacey Nagle has it right when she calls it the “Woodstock of diabetes.”

The love, the excitement, the entertainment, the bonding and yeah, the tears and the hoots and the gasps and the high fives and more; it all adds up to one heck of a week.

How to put it into words? I’m still taking it all in. But I do want to share some moments in time that just stand out to me from FFL: The Woodstock of Diabetes. (Warning: these are all kind of personal and about my take. My next blog on FFL will not be so much about me. Just really want to share).

Speaking: This is not a lie. When the folks who run Friends for Life asked me – almost a year ago – to do their opening Keynote Talk at FFL 13, I said this, “What? Can’t you get someone good?” To which they replied, “That’s why you are the best choice.” (That makes it sound like they all said it at the same time. And like, in harmony. It was really a group email but I just thought it was fun to imagine them singing it like a barbershop quartet. Ummmm: Moira? Focus! Okay, I will.) So anyhoooo …. I was really kind of wickedly touched and humbled and freaked out and excited to do this talk. And I loved that they wanted a “regular mom” to do it.

I speak a lot on diabetes issues in a lot of places. But the idea of having the chance to set the tone at FFL as it began was just – incredible. So the morning came and I was ready (husband helped pick my earrings … we’re never going to cure diabetes with the wrong accessories). (My hair came out semi flat. We’re never going to improve lives with icky hair. Ha!) I walked into the room before anyone else and looked around. It was HUGE. I’m more of a “look you in the eye” speaker, but I felt ready.

Half of the room I would speak to. It's BIG!!
Half of the room I would speak to. It’s BIG!!

Okay, I wasn’t perfect. I spoke too quickly and missed a couple of points I really wanted to make. But I felt …. Connected. I mean like to every person in that room. It was an incredible gift to be given, and I will forever be thankful to Jeff, Laura and all of the FFL team for giving me that thrill.

I got lots of hugs from it too – all week long. Awesome. Thank you, FFL, for that gift.

Camp Call out: In my talk I, of course, brought up the Clara Barton Camp for Girls With Diabetes and asked if anyone in the audience was here from there. Two people stood up. I looked out and realized that while I could not recall their names, I’d seen their photos in a camp newsletter. They were campers who had met there and married! I announced that and everyone cheered. Later in the week the couple told me they were like celebrities all week, with everyone finding them to wish them the best. So cool! It is amazing how that kind of magic just happens organically – and over and over – at FFL each year. Thank you, FFL, for making their wedding year even more awesome that it already was.

Kylee and Josh Walsh: Newlywed FFL celebrities!
Kylee and Josh Walsh: Newlywed FFL celebrities!


Meri: Need I say more? She’s the bomb-diggidy, and the epitome of grace, courage, humor and just plain awesomeness. Ditto for Kelly, Sarah, Christina and so many others. I’ll be honest here: I don’t really feel like I’m an insider at FFL. Yet. But maybe some day … and these folks are worth even just getting a few moments with here and there.

When I ruined the fundraiser and then the FFL gods of all that is magic helped me fix it: Yeah, so there was this awesome fundraiser for the Diabetes Scholars Foundation on Saturday night. (And if you did not go: next year. Really. Don’t miss it). Part of the night’s fun was one of those fundraisers when they sell 100 wrapped jewelry boxes and one has some posh, expensive bling in it. In this case, they all had a glucose tab but the winner had a small note that said “winner.” They sold all but about 12 of the boxes, and had everyone open them at the same time only to find that … a winner was not found (well only two of three were but I’m editing for time here). So they decided to charge two times more for the remaining boxes, and call each person who purchased one up on the stage (knowing one of them has a winner in it – sparkling and expensive emerald earrings). One of those up there was a lovely little girl with T1D. So they all open them and … no winner. The room is confused.

Then I looked down.

Oh, criminy. Or rather, in my head: Oh #$%&^*(&*(!!!!

I had won. I just had not seen the small “winner” note.

 The MC saw my face and said into the mic “Moira! Did you win?”

I Wanted. To. Die. Not only had I ruined the raffle, I’d forced all those people to give more. Everything stopped for a moment, and then I felt something pulling me up toward the stage. I’m sure people were thinking “Oh, she’s getting her prize,” but a voice was telling me what to do.

Give the “winner” ticket to the little girl. Just do it.

 And I did. And that little girl – all of maybe 9 years old, felt like a true princess. I saw her the next morning—she had slept in the earrings. She ran over, hugged me, held her wrist up to her ear and said “See? They match my wristband.”

It was meant to be. Me – bumbling, mess-things-up and check-your-contact-prescription me was a vessel, a FFL vessel for a magical moment to happen.

I’m sorry, but I’m glad I screwed up. It was meant to be. And I’ve never felt better about bling in my life.

A beautiful young lady and her bling -- with me, the mom who messed up and make it all happen.
A beautiful young lady and her bling — with me, the mom who messed up and make it all happen.

Pool Session: FFL was wrapping up. We’d just done a giant synch swimming thing in the pool and I was bobbing around looking for people to take me on in an underwater handstand competition (one of two of my only true talents). A woman approached me and said “Can my friend and me pick your brain for a moment?” I said sure (Okay I made them watch how awesome my handstand was first. No lie.) and we started talking. About raising kids with D and about teens and D and about how to handle all of us. As we spoke, our circle got bigger and soon, we were about a dozen or so strong, there in the middle of the hotel pool, holding an impromptu FFL session. It was incredible. We were comfortable there, in our suits and in the pool. We laughed, cried, shared and debated. We came up with ideas to help one another. We bonded. We did everything FFL is supposed to do – right there in the summer sun. That’s how it works. I almost want to pitch a pool session next year. With handstands though.

So those are my takes so far. I left for home feeling blessed and honored (I won’t go into how amazing my book signing felt. Okay I will. I seriously thought maybe two people would come. There was a line all night and I got to chat with every single person. I am the luckiest gal alive).

 I headed to FFL expecting a lot. I can home with even more. The Woodstock of Diabetes rocks the world.

Oh come on: you knew I had to add this. Right?
Oh come on: you knew I had to add this. Right?

7 thoughts on “CWD Friends for Life 2013: My own personal take-aways (the one with fast-talking, handstands and emeralds)

  1. When I first learned you would be the keynote to open FFL I was sad. I was sad because I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of going and I would miss it. Then Chad said we could go and one of my first responses was ‘omg Ill get to meet Moira’ #truth. You are and have been such an inspiration. your no bullshit take on life and diabetes is so refreshing and wonderful. I love how very real you are. I will never be doing Xgame worthy ski stunts or even semi-cool pool handstands but I hope Im doing as good of a job with the Dcrap as you have. I could have listened to you for an hour (or more) – fast talking and all. Actually like I said I appreciate a good fast talker.
    This is God’s honest truth “Meri: Need I say more? She’s the bomb-diggidy, and the epitome of grace, courage, humor and just plain awesomeness”
    The earring story – damnit you made me cry. I can’t imagine a single person that purchased one of the last boxes minded one bit about the additional cost – what you did is priceless and will stay with that little princess for a lifetime.
    Feeling a bit sad I miss the pool breakout session. I saw you (even have you on instagram video) doing the synchronized swimming bit – then I got pulled away by my kid. I wasn’t swimming at the time but I think I might have come in fully clothed to be a part of the pool-time chat.
    So glad you shared. So thankful I got to meet you and hug you. Can’t wait for the next event. If you’re ever in San Fran please let me know.

  2. I <3 you Moira!

    This was probably my favorite FFL (of the 5 I've been to), but I have one regret. Missing the end of your keynote to get to the YCDT booth! I heard about the cookie, but I want to know about how to be on the YES team!!

  3. Your keynote was so, so good.

    I wish I’d seen that magical fundraiser moment, and even more than that the magical handstand moment!

    You made FFL XXL! If XXL can mean XX great.

  4. Moira, that moment at the Diabetes Scholars Fundraiser was awesome! It added all sorts of fun and humor to the event, and it was so great of you to give the earrings to that little sweetheart.

    And you totally rocked the keynote. Rocked! 🙂

  5. Loved reading your take-aways. I knew that FFL was awesome, but now I know why…Its Woodstock of D for sure!! What a beautiful thing that you did with your winnings. Hope to see you next year!

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