The Long Goodbye

Today marks the 901st blog post at Happy Medium.

And it’s the last.

Probably. I mean, never say never, right?

I’ve been working up to this for over a year. I had always wanted to end this blog officially, rather than letting it just fade away. Not that there’s anything wrong with that… but I wanted to have a definite beginning and end to everything here.

A couple of years ago, I decided to publish 1,000 blog posts and call it a day. Then, a few months later, I checked to see how many I had churned out, thinking I was sitting at around 900 or so. I was only at 788. That’s when I decided that 900 would be enough. When the action group I was working with decided to roll out #IHearYou on August 1, I was perfectly happy extending to 901.

But this is it. This is part of the reorganization of my life that’s been going on for a while now. My service on Maryland’s Advisory Council on Health and Wellness will end on September 30, and at that point, I will be completely free of ongoing commitments.

I guess the best way to explain it is to remind you first that I do not work in diabetes. The diabetes community is not where I make my living. I already have a (right now) more than full-time job.

A little less than seven and a half years ago, I started a blog. Then I started attending workshops and symposia and participating in clinical trials and going to blogger summits and #DSMA Live events. I facilitated at the Diabetes UnConference, started a podcast, was a speaker before groups a few times, and I sat on the state Advisory Council on Health and Wellness these past two years. Add in HealtheVoices and HIMSS and the other one-off things that have come up now and then, and it makes for a pretty busy life outside the office.

Over the past two years, I’ve spent more than half of my paid time off from work doing everything I just mentioned above. Add in additional meetings, phone calls, inteviews, and more, and it’s a lot. Again, diabetes is not my job. But increasingly, I’ve been treating it like a job.

What that also means is that it’s been about two years since I’ve spent even a full weekend one-on-one with Maureen, let alone a full vacation. Until this winter, it had been a few years since I had been back to Ohio to see my parents, who are in their 80s. I’m fortunate enough to have good friends locally, who I haven’t spent one-on-one time with for I don’t know how long. None of that is healthy.

This is not the end of my advocacy. It’s just the end of this platform for my advocacy. I’m not looking to do nothing in diabetes… but goodness knows, I need more work/life balance.

To say that this blog has exceeded all of my wildest expectations is to damn with faint praise. I never wound up on anyone’s “best blogs” lists, but I wasn’t really shooting for that anyway. I’ve always looked at writing, and really everything I’ve been involved with here, as a gift, as an honor, as a learning experience, even if it was testing a crummy device during a clinical trial or having to take time off from my job to go to work volunteering.

What’s next? I have absolutely no idea. And for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid of that.

I’m not going away. I’ll be involved in various things here and there, advocating with DPAC and moderating #DSMA and such. You can still write in to get your Champion Athlete With Diabetes medal. After all this time, I still love to write, and I plan to continue doing so. I also loved podcasting, and it would be fun to do that again. But not here, and not as often. But then again… who knows what the future will bring?

I’d also like to look into participating in clinical trials again, if I’m not too old by now. I’d like to sign up to do another long bike ride next spring or summer. I’d like to start going back to the gym again, something I also gave up in the last year as my schedule filled up. I think it would be fun to take an acting or a cooking class, even though I have no ambitions to be an actor or a chef.

I just need time to clear my head a bit, and give myself the opportunity to choose the one or two things I’d really like to do, instead of always saying Yes to everything.

I can tell you what I won’t be doing. I won’t be racing through airports or to train stations to catch flights or trains that were scheduled too close to the beginning or end of what I was attending. I won’t be filling out forms, answering the same questions designed to show commitment to my advocacy (i.e., begging) so I can attend something I want to get into. It’s not that I’ll never do those things again. But the situation has to be right, it has to feel right for me to go there.

To those of you who have read along with me, through thick and thin, through these 901 posts, and through this long, last goodbye, Thank You. I hope we can stay in touch.

To those who have served with me on projects and on committees, and at conferences and advocacy events and everything in between… I’m afraid I can’t fully express my gratitude for accepting me as an equal, and in some cases, providing opportunities that I will never forget. I hope I’ve been able to pay it forward, and I will continue to try to do so.

To the entire diabetes community: I will never be able to thank you enough for pulling me out of my despair eight years ago and making me feel like I had worth in this world. I truly hope I can continue to compound your kindness in the future, helping others who are today in the place I was then.

After attending Kim Hislop’s memorial service in June, a few of us had dinner at her favorite restaurant in New Hampshire. I never order off of the drink menu, but after seeing this one, I had to order it, for both of the farewells I was going through and didn’t want to let go of:

It’s called The Long Goodbye.

It’s been a long time coming, and it’s certainly not easy, but it is finally time to say Goodbye.

Thank You.

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  • Molly Schreiber  On August 8, 2019 at 10:21 am

    Ahh Stephen, I 100% understand. I took more of a sudden step back last fall. I look forward to seeing you thrive in new ways!

    Liked by 2 people

  • sstrumello  On August 8, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Steven, I empathize with you and where you plan to “go” next. I had a similar revelation a few years ago. I was less concerned with having an official end to my blog (I said, if there’s something I want to say, I would say it there), but a number of years ago, I’d had it with diabetes everything 24/7 aside from my real job. So I ghosted myself a little. I decided I needed to spend less time on diabetes and more time on the rest of my life. Then there were unConferences and I had to participate in at least a few. But because I’m now age 50 and my spouse is 56, I also wanted to focus on things outside of diabetes to the extent possible. I do not regret doing that; I’m still around (mostly on Twitter, and to a much lesser extent, Facebook), and I occasionally write blog posts on topics of interest, such as how I’d switched to Sanofi’s Humalog biosimilar known as Admelog because I could buy that for $99/vial with a coupon vs. $325 or some other ghastly “fake” price that patients actually pay. That was successful; my ratios stayed the same although the time to peak and duration is slightly different which I attribute to different preservatives used. But my desire to distance my personal life somewhat from diabetes meant I could focus on other areas that brought me joy. In the end, your decision is a logical one and you’re not the first one to do so. We can still be involved in topics related to diabetes that are of interest, but no longer need to make it everything we do. Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Colleen  On August 8, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Oh… gee… really??? We need to keep in touch. You and Maureen need to do a mini vacation and come to Richmond. I always, always smile when I recall walking down the hall in LV and hearing someone greet me! It was you. It was awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Mike Lawson  On August 8, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Love you, man. I’m grateful for all the work you’ve done that has or will personally benefit me and the community. You’re a saint. I hope I’m able to stay in touch. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  • Laddie  On August 8, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Stephen, I’ll miss your writing and optimistically hope that I don’t lose touch with you.

    Now that you’re quitting blogging, you’ll probably make some of the Best Blogs lists. Because most of the blogs on those lists aren’t active anymore! That’s one reason I have never paid much attention to those lists. And believe me, you should have been on all of those lists!

    Me, I’m choosing the “fade away” strategy….

    Thank you, Stephen, for all you have done for the diabetes community and thank you for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Lucia Maya  On August 8, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Thank you for all you’ve done, and for modeling how to take care of our whole selves!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Scott K. Johnson  On August 9, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Stephen, your contributions to living well with diabetes are remarkable and appreciated. Thank you for the countless and often invisible sacrifices. I look forward to continuing together wherever and on whatever platform comes next for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Cindy  On August 9, 2019 at 10:01 am

    You have been an inspiration to me. Thank you so much. Although I never commented much. I loved reading your stuff and the blogs. You will be missed.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Meri  On August 9, 2019 at 10:03 am

    i’m so thankful for you, Stephen. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  • FatCatAnna  On August 9, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Hey Stephen ❤ ! I totally get you. I've taken a backstep lately with how my own personal life (and not related to diabetes) has been. Like you, I'll still be putting my toe in various advocacy projects, but for now, taking a step back and enjoying life. Psst, if you ever want to crew for Mike and me either on our sailboat or on a charter … let me know! Life on the water can be so rewarding!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Rick Phillips  On August 10, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Stephen, You will certainly be missed. You have been a rock in our blogging community and I am certain what ever path you take it will being many blessings. Take care !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Karen  On August 14, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Sigh. Although I completely understand, this makes me a little sad. But thank you for all you have done – and all you will continue to do!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • kelly2k  On August 16, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Apologies for being a bit late on this due to travel – but I bookmarked and here I am!
    I get the exhaustion and needing to clear your head – and I am grateful for your friendship and advocacy. YOU ROCK.
    Whatever platform or platforms you choose to advocate on – I will be there = cheering you on. Until then – hoping we can catch up for a drink with you and your “girls” soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Gráinne  On August 17, 2019 at 10:33 am

    I really will miss your posts Stephen but #IHearYou 😃 As a diabetes advocate you have been nothing less than professional, dedicated, passionate and supportive to others – this is really difficult to sustain when you are employed full time outside of diabetes. As they saying goes, we thank you for your service and I’m comforted that you will still be around ❤️


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