Tag: Health Activist Writer’s Month

This week's #HAchat: Storytelling & Health Activism

Well, Health Activist Writer’s Month is going strong. So, in honor of this month (and our #HAWMC) we’ve got some fun Health Activist Tweetchats planned for April. If you’re participating in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge or simply want to share your two cents about what it means to be a great storyteller – you won’t want to miss tomorrow’s chat.


Join us at 3pm EST on Twitter to discuss – Storytelling. It’s an art, it’s a huge part of being a human, it’s integral to communication, and there’s always some way to improve.  Health Activists, in particular, have a very important role in the “storytelling” world – utilizing their personal health experiences (and life stories) to help others. It’s no easy task or small feat – but how exactly do you go about doing it? What’s the best way to tell your story while still being able to invite others into your world and, even more challenging – help them live better and even be able to tell their own stories.


We’ve got a lot to discuss but could really use your thoughts on this topic – especially as more “writers” take to the web. Is there a wrong way to go about storytelling online? Are there best practices you’ve found over the years? What’s something you’ll never share in your blog?


We’ll be here: at 3pm EST tomorrow and hope to see you there!



Interviewing Health Activists: Ashley Rose, Blogger & Winner of HAWMC

Today I’m honored to present an interview with our HAWMC Winner Ashley Rose, blogger at Tales of SWAGing. Though she was chosen at random from our Top Contributors, I’m really glad she was because she has a lot of fun thoughts to share with us and some pretty entertaining blog posts all HAWMC-long. Ashley is a dedicated Diabetes Health Activist and PWD blogger and also working on starting her doctorate program. It was wonderful to get to know more about the blogger behind the blog and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

Amanda: Congratulations on winning our Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (HAWMC) and being such an active contributor to the challenge all month long. I’m so excited to be chatting with you today, Ashley! Thanks so much for taking the time out to share with our community. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and why you became a blogger and advocate?  What made you get involved in the first place?

Ashley: My writing background is random at best. In high school I fancied myself a poet; I wrote for a “zine” and had my own website. I’ve also kept a journal since the summer before college but I never thought I’d be a blogger. SWAG was a class assignment and I planned to delete it after the semester was over. However, the end of the semester coincided with the first annual Diabetes Blog Week and I decided to give it a shot. I knew blogging that week would either help me take ownership of SWAG or realize that blogging wasn’t for me. That week really opened my eyes to my own feelings about having diabetes and I learned so much about everyone who took part in it. It wasn’t until months later when I got a tweet from someone in response to a post that said “thank you for saying what I couldn’t” that I realized what I was doing could be considered advocating. I knew then that even if it felt as though I was talking to myself most of the time, my words could have meaning to someone else.

A: Your blog, Tales of SWAGing encompasses the phrase “Scientific Wild Ass Guessing” (SWAG) – tell us a bit about that and how it drives your blog.

Ashley: I can’t take credit for the title; it was Ashley’s (uhm, a different Ashley than yours truly) idea. It comes from the Diabetes Term of Endearment “SWAG Bolus.” There’s a lot of science involved but at the end of the day, diabetes management still utilizes a lot of instinct. I think the title speaks to the fact that I don’t take myself too seriously, and I certainly don’t pretend to have all of this diabetes stuff figured out.

A:  What is your favorite thing to write about?

Ashley: I always enjoy writing about good news or reasons for celebration but I like writing the most when it’s part of something like HAWMC. I learn so much about fellow bloggers when we’re discussing the same topic or writing within the same parameters. Just the tone that someone chooses when writing about a topic says so much about them and their approach to their health (side note: Psych major in the house).

A: What is the toughest thing to write about and how do you decide whether or not to write about it anyway?

Ashley: My general rule is that the posts that are the hardest for me to write are the ones that most need to be written. It’s always hard to write about problems I’m having with my diabetes management. It’s hard to admit when I’m having a difficult time and feel as though I’m suffocating under the weight of it all. That’s when the support of the community is the most crucial and the Diabetes Online Community never disappoints. It may take me longer to actually write the posts that are the most difficult but in the end I’m always glad and relieved that I did.

A:  What do you wish the general public knew about your condition?

Ashley: I think my biggest wish is that TV doctors and some publications would just stop talking about diabetes altogether because most of the information they give does more harm than good and I really wish they would stop using diabetes as a threat. I wish the general public realized that the word “cure” is thrown around haphazardly when it comes to diabetes. There is no biological cure and every time that word is thrown around I feel it negatively impacts the support of diabetes research by the general public. I also wish that the public realized just how serious all forms of diabetes are despite their invisibility and just how many of them either know someone with diabetes or will themselves become a PWD.

A: What do you do when you’re not blogging?

Ashley: When I’m not blogging, I’m a student getting ready to start my doctorate program. I’m also a gym rat and a lover of all things shiny.

A: It’s a brand new month, do you have any ideas for what you’re going to blog about in the future? How do you decide what to write about?

Ashley: This month I’m taking part in Diabetes Blog Week. I also plan to tackle the HAWMC wrap-up post and the DSMA Blog Carnival topic. I have my 3rd Diaversary and my quarterly endocrinologist appointment this month so I’ll be writing about those, too. Generally speaking, if there’s something to celebrate, own up to, or something in the world of diabetes that’s making me angry (ie: diabetes myths), I blog about it.

A: What upcoming projects or links would you like to share with our community so more folks can connect with you and check out your work?

Ashley: Aside from Diabetes Blog Week and other posts that I have planned, you can always find me taking part in Diabetes Social Media Advocacy (DSMA) on twitter Wednesday nights at 9pm EST.

Thanks Ashley! It was great to get to know you during HAWMC and to have connected over blogging! We hope you’ll continue to share your work with our community and keep doing what you do!

If you haven’t yet, be sure to:

Check out Ashley’s Blog “Tales of SWAGing”

And Follow Ashley on Twitter!


HAWMC Superlatives

Everyone’s favorite (and sometimes most awkward) yearbook feature has made its way to the WEGO Health Blog! After a year of spending time with your class, it was interesting to see how the titles were divvied and we decided to commemorate the end of HAWMC in the same fashion! Lovely WEGO Health Intern Emily K compiled our very own Superlatives for HAWMC! Consider this the HAWMC Hall of Fame – let’s see who has been inducted and what superlative they are taking home…


So I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out these wonderful posts and the amazing Health Activist HAWMCers that wrote them – their passion keeps me going and will inspire you too!

Top HAWMC Contributors!

Congrats to everyone who participated in our Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge! Lots of people joined us for a prompt or two and some really went the extra mile to contribute tirelessly to their blogs, keeping up with our prompts and proving their dedication to the art of blogging!

Let’s meet these HAWMC Top Contributors and see an epic post I’ve hand-picked from each shall we?







Julia is a Sjogren’s Syndrome Health Activist and blogs over at Reasonably Well!

Julia wrote a handful of pretty amazing narrative posts inspired by HAWMC prompts – but you should definitely check out her Day 22 post “Take This And Don’t Call Me In The Morning.”



Melissa is a Diabetes Health Activist blogging at Sweetly Voiced and tweeting @sweetlyvoiced!

Melissa wrote a rhyme-tastic [there’s a new word for us!] poem for our Dr. Seuss Day that you must read called “Oh, the Places You’re Low.”



Jess is a Diabetes Health Activist over at Me and D and tweeting @jessofmeandd!

Jess was inspired by our 13th challenge and wrote a beautiful post prompted by the sentence she found in a book, “And I turned around” check out how she turned that into a whole blog post.



Joanna  Chronic Headache (NDPH) Activist blogging about her experiences at Her Life, In a Nutshell and tweeting @joannab!

On Health Activist Choice Day 2, Joanna borrowed a prompt from February’s First Friday Prompts (bonus points from me for that, Joanna!)  and write about “How do you manage your own personal health and the “health” of your relationship?” Check out her post here!



Diana is a Migraine and Chronic Pain Activist blogging over at Somebody Heal Me and tweeting @somebodyhealme!

Check out Diana’s Spirit Animal – the unique Armadillo – and how that relates well to her experience living with migraine disease.



Crystal is a Diabetes Health Activist who blogs over at Randomly CapitalizeD and tweets @CALpumper!

I like how Crystal wrote about her writing room and shared the colorful items she has on her desk in her HAWMC Day 20 post here!



Rachel is a Diabetes Activist who blogs over at Tales of Rachel and tweets at @tailsofrachel!

Be sure to check out Rachel’s HAWMC Day 27 post when she tackles an infamous Eleanor Roosevelt quote and how, over time, it became a really great reminder of how she has overcome negativity.


Nessie is a Chronic Disease Activist writing about psoriatic arthritis blogging over at Lipstick, Perfume and Too Many Pills and she tweets @nessiehasPSA!

I learned a lot from Nessie’s post on Misconception Day. Check out “Truth or Dare” and see what you learn about autoimmune arthritis or psoriasis.



Jamie is a Migraine Health Activist blogging at Chronic Migraine Warrior!

How great is Jamie’s portmanteau from Gobbledygook Day, “Chrain” – short for, of course, “chronic pain.” Check out her whole post here.



And of all these top contributors we selected a winner of our HAWMC Amazon Gift Card! Congratulations to Ashley! (Stay tuned for an exclusive blog feature with her later this week)

Ashley is a Diabetes Health Activist blogging at Tales of SWAGing and tweeting @dream4muse!

Ashley wrote a great post on our Choice Day that doubled as a DSMA Blog Carnival Post. See how other relationships inspired her to take care of herself in her post “Relations**t.”


And now that you’ve seen our Top HAWMC Contributors (and hopefully read their work and added them to your Folks To Follow list) why not congratulate yourself by adding this banner to your blog for joining HAWMC. You can link your April 2011 posts to it and show off the awesome writing you did last month!

(Click to enlarge)

Ok HAWMCers, One More Prompt

Though our Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge has officially ended because of the beginning of the beautiful new month of May, I’ve got one more prompt for you to consider! Look back upon April and write about your HAWMC experience en masse. Now, don’t worry – you don’t have to write this post today or even tomorrow – but I think it would be a good way to put the proverbial bow on the whole HAWMC endeavor.

Whether you did every daily challenge or cherry-picked a few favorite prompts – your blogger-abilities were put to the test and, more importantly, put on display! I had the opportunity to “meet” new bloggers with individual blog-voices and enjoy the unique stories you all tell. I know your passionate blogsploration will only continue to grow from here and, I hope you had a lot of fun trying to write a little differently than you might normally.

Some of you affirmed your distaste for writing poetry (but I’m so glad you went there anyway!) and others eagerly took advantage of a time given to rhyme.

What’s awesome? You have a whole archive in your blog of your April 2011! Now you can revisit these posts for ideas when you might feel writer’s block or Blogger Burnout – and you also have proof that, hey, you’re great at what you do! (If you haven’t yet, make sure to go back and tag all of your HAWMC posts so you can find them again (or link to them) in your blog.)

When you feel ready to recap your HAWMC experience, I hope you’ll share it with us here. We’d love to see what you really connected with and what part of the challenge was, well, a challenge. We’re planning to do this sort of activity again (perhaps late in 2011) so your feedback is a) super-important to me and b) can be implemented to make the next blog challenge even better! A few things to consider: What was it like to write creatively about your condition? What did you learn about writing and blogging through HAWMC? Which prompt really inspired with you? Which prompt(s) were your least favorite? What do you wish you’d had the chance to write about? Whose post(s) did you love? How can we get even more bloggers involved next time?

In fact, if you have a minute – I made a quick survey with a couple of these questions and would love your thoughts! You can take it here and share as much or as little as you like about your HAWMC experience.

As I mentioned in our 30th prompt post – stay tuned because we’ve got a lot of HAWMC to recap here on the blog and over in the WEGO Health Community – so even if your resting your writing-brain, come back and check out what we loved most.

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