Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary (11 years!), so I am finishing up my WeGo Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) today! I am thrilled that I was able to participate and so grateful for a big ‘ol wild internet, full of people, like me, who want to make a difference in this life by writing and speaking up in support of a cause, condition, disease, or in support of a better way of journeying towards personal health and a more caring, empathetic, knowledgable and healthy world for all of us.
#HatsOff to my fellow writers for a meaningful month of writing and for crossing the finish line!
For my last entry, I am going to recap by writing an omnibus blog including the prompts I missed. I am proud of my commitment to stick it out for the long haul, but I did miss some days of writing!
Here’s my way of making up my homework! 🙂
April 10th Prompt – Comfort Food
We’re not all 5 star chefs, but we all need to eat! Tell your readers how to make your favorite dish. Does the recipe hold a good memory for you? Is it the act of cooking itself that brings you joy, or the people that come together to eat it? #HAWMC
My family loves to cook. My father’s side of the family has taught me how to cook and the joys of sharing a kitchen and table with those I love. My grandmother taught me that every single meal is a celebration. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – finger sandwiches or foie gras, she’d set the table with the entire inventory of proper utensils, beautiful placemats, beautiful dishes, cloth napkins, serving dishes and their attendant details – serving utensils, trivets, and decorative displays. I lost my Grandma Honey my senior year of high school. I miss her often and know she would have adored mine and my sister’s families. I imagine her cooking for the hoard of us and loving every minute of it. My dad picked up her love of and talent for cooking, and between both of them, I learned all I’d ever need to know to be a home chef. Since my dad ended up owning restaurants as his career (That’s how much the Johnson family loves food!), I learned classical styles of cooking and restaurant-quality fundamentals of cleanliness and kitchen protocol. I am so grateful for my grandmother and my father’s teachings. I did not know until middle age that I had skills that many people pay to learn – knife skills; order of operations; which pans to use for what; basic techniques like how to sautèe; how to make a roux; how to tell when a steak is cooked to medium, medium-rare or well-done; how to caramelize onions; and the difference between a fine chop, dice and a julienne. I knew these terms in elementary school. Amazing actually now that I think about it.
In my family we have a funny way of talking about our all-time favorite comfort foods. We call it the “death row meal.” I know it’s kind of morbid, but morbid things are sometimes pretty funny. Anyway, we ask one another frequently, “If you were on death row, and you had to choose your very last meal, what would it be?” Some of my family members say extravagant things like steak or lobster, accompanied by a fine, red wine.
Nope, not me.
I’m pretty down home. My death row meal is my dad’s breakfast. Like any good Texan, one of the first “complex” dishes I learned to make was cream gravy for biscuits. Yep, seems pretty trite, but that’s my death row meal. My dad’s homemade biscuits with cream gravy, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs topped with cheddar cheese (or Migas – a Mexican dish with eggs) and bacon, yes, bacon. That is how red this neck is. 🙂
April 14/ “I feel best when…”
Write about moments you feel like you can take on the world. Where, when, and how often does this happen? #HAWMC
Wow. The last year has been learning about how to manage that “taking on the World” thing. We all have limits. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis has taught me to ask for help in taking on the world! 🙂 I feel we can take on the world when we’re surrounded with those who love us and want us to succeed. I feel I can take on the world when I’m in a cooperative environment of good folks who have the same goals. I feel like I can take on the world when people put aside their own egos in order to help others and be part of a successful team that helps others. I feel I can take on the world when I get a phone call from someone in our community who has benefitted from the work of the foundation I built, The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured, www.tmwfoundation.org. I feel I can take on the world when people “get it,” when someone understands the work I’m doing and why I am trying to help at such a feverish pace. I feel I can take on the world when someone says, “Thank you.” All that said, I’ve learned that it’s wise to ask for others to help, for no one can take on the world alone!
April 15/Get Excited!
What revs up your internal engine? When you see, hear, feel this it gets you excited and ready to face what comes next. Tell us what it is! #HAWMC
When I see, hear or feel AT ALL, I get excited and ready to face what comes next. I’ve learned that the trick to being a good Health Activist is growing Alligator Skin but keeping a Lion’s Heart. This world is brutal sometimes, and as we all know, it doesn’t stop for anyone – sick or healthy. I’ve had to learn to take the hits (that keep on coming) by growing a thick skin, knowing who I am, and retaining a tender heart that will take on anguish in order to continue to bravely press forward without fear of doing good. When I feel that I’ve hit the mark, keeping a tough skin, but remaining tender despite a brutal emotional beating by life, that’s when I’m most invigorated!
April 16/Life Goal
What’s one thing that your 10-year-old self thought you would do? Can you still do it? How would you approach it to make it happen? #HAWMC
My life goal is pretty simple. It took me a while to learn how to articulate it, but at 10 years old, 20, and 30, it’s always been the same, and it’s fairly simple at its root.
In my 20s, I was terrified that I would waste my life on meaningless things – activities, passing the time with indulgences, forgetting what is important in life. I wanted to find a way to do good with my life, and I wasn’t sure how to go about the task.
As a child, my life was very dynamic, and I always felt a sense of purpose. I started working at my father’s business when I was 14, and I had a rich life of work and play. I held leadership positions on my sports teams; I had plenty of friends; I excelled in school and enjoyed learning; I became a Christian when I was 13. All of that gave me a sense of purpose. College was a time of great personal gains – discovering the joys of life; meeting different types of people; living in a different city; and, of course, a rich inner world of constant learning. Some classes were exhilarating; some were crazy hard; some were dull, but I finished with good grades and a diploma! Whoop! I cherish my college education.
In my 20s, I thought my vocation would define me. I had a hard time breaking out of the monotony of my job. After the intensity of my senior-year college classes, I had a hard time with a “corporate” or “9 to five” type job, which, surprisingly, required little thinking. I had a hard time NOT identifying my entire being with what I did for a living. This, coupled together with some hard life lessons, ensured my 20s were a difficult time of soul searching; trial and error; mistakes and missteps. As I matured, I realized that a vocation is simply a way to EXPRESS life goals, a means to use my skills to earn money, not something to define my whole being. With that realization, I became involved in volunteering in many capacities, and by my late 20s, I had learned to lead small groups of women; I had mentored young adults; my husband and I had mentored newlyweds and folks who’d been married longer than us but needed counseling. I thrived in this environment. I felt useful. I learned what made me tick, how I’m wired. I am Myers Briggs ENFP; I’m the quintessential Aquarian; I’m more of a right brainer than a lefty. Now in my 40s, I’m hitting my stride. I know myself. I know my life goals, and I know I am not wasting my life, and that I am useful – useful to my husband, my family, to those in need, to my mesh-injured community and family of chance, to myself and to my God. That is my life’s goal and really all I’ve ever wanted.
April 17/Health Tagline
Give yourself, or your patient experience a tagline. Grab attention with your slogan. Make sure it’s catchy!
Oh holy moly. . . taglines. I have lived my life with taglines, deadlines, cutlines, ad lines and bylines. A career of almost twenty years in the disciplines of marketing and advertising has taught me about all sorts of lines. I actually always loved writing lines of copy, when I could. Though I was most often in a management role, managing others who wrote copy, it is still one of my very favorite parts of the creative process. Creating a tagline is not just about a pithy statement; it is one of the most important ways to develop the voice of a community or in the business world, a brand. When I created The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured, I knew that our community needed a voice – a singular message. There are so many people helping and fighting for those who are mesh injured, but when I began to learn about my mother’s injury and about the community that I was becoming a part of, I sensed a lack of voice. None of us had yet figured out how to explain mesh injury with simplicity and humanity, for it’s a complex injury, illness and it’s also a political injury. It’s controversial by nature because the injury is due to a failed medical device called #transvaginal polypropylene mesh. Many of the profoundly injured are involved in litigation, which makes EVERYTHING so much more difficult.
With Twitter’s advent of the hashtag phrase, taglines have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life on the internet, whether people know it or not. Phrases not already in use are hard to come by, and sometimes, it’s best to use an already-in-use tagline (if not copyright protected) because it can draw people from any walk of life, even those, maybe even especially those, not familiar with #polypropylene mesh injury. This injury can happen to anyone and has. The wider net we cast, the better.
The phrases, in the form of a tagline, I’ve most often used to define our community’s plight is #NotOneMore, because the harm caused by transvaginal mesh is 100% preventable. It is medical error, greed and arrogance at its worst. Educating those who’ve not YET been injured is just as important as aiding those already injured. This grass-roots video that our community made is a good example of our tagline and hashtag phrase, #NotOneMore.