It was small - we are a busy group so many couldn't make it but I got to meet T, Mommabee, Juliaink, m, and KC.
KC sandwiched us between two conferences - one in New Hampshire on education and another in Chicago on blogging. She coached soccer Saturday morning for her son then met us at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It's her I want to write about here.
Although I hadn't yet met KC in person, she is an incredibly supportive ringleader for our unruly bunch. If I e-mail her a question at midnight I have an answer waiting on my phone at 6 am. She has guided me in the perils of people trying to pull you in to advertising a seemingly worthy cause just to promote a marketable item. She has listened to e-mail rants I would like to make online about working situations or frustrations, knowing that it would be inappropriate because they were too fresh in my head. It's better to turn that anger into thoughtful pieces once the mood has passed. And she probably does that and more for all the other MiM's here - that's a big responsibility. She protects us like a guardian angel - she saw too many negative comments a few years back and made the commenting process less anonymous, not only for the writers and guest posters but to keep the community supportive and the commenters accountable. When I write on MiM I'm writing to an audience, but I also feel like I am writing to KC since she invited me here in the first place.
Mentors are people that you encounter in your life that create a space for you to grow and flourish and learn. I've been lucky to have many, and I definitely count KC as one of them. I had seen her picture in our Big Tent discussion group, but I wasn't prepared for her huge presence. I say huge, but she is a petite beautiful woman whose Chinese roots are evident in her features; dark hair, tea-colored skin. She has a bright smile that made me feel instantly welcome in DC, a city I was becoming acquainted with for the first time. Her fashion sense is impeccable. I learned she grew up in a New Jersey town not far from where my boyfriend, who accompanied me on the trip, attended high school.
Dinner with KC and m Saturday night was incredible - we chatted about posts and long time followers whose comments we loved and future directions and personal goals. KC seemed to take the back stage - she did all weekend - I convinced myself it was by design to let us shine. When drawn out in conversation her words were sparse but invaluable. More substance than fluff. M asked her, "What is your favorite outcome of starting the blog?" Her answer was immediate. "The readers. Whether encountering them face to face, or through e-mail. When they tell me how much it means to them to have found it. How it helped them." It was almost 11 pm when I met my boyfriend at the Metro to head back to our hotel.
I reflected on some of KC's words at dinner on the Metro. "I am invested in creating a space for our contributors and guest posters to write about what they want, when they want to say it. I don't want to control the content, I want to support creativity. A space for people to just be themselves." I must admit, I've been angry at KC. Misplaced anger, derived from guilt over not writing for months when I have had trouble writing. Anger that she didn't hold me to my pledge to post once a month. Then intense gratitude when she welcomed me back into the fold when I was ready to write again.
After some fun spa time on Sunday morning I learned a little more about KC. She has blogged in the past about her husband's year long deployment to Afghanistan when her youngest was two weeks old and her older two were toddlers, but I learned more about the challenges and fears surrounding that time. Another mentor-worthy feat - the insurmountable becomes existence and manageable day to day. Because if you look at it from a distance, how could you handle it? I asked her, "So is it done? Is he home for good?" She replied, "No, he could be called out any time."
When T showed up for brunch Sunday morning with us, she was full of regret. "I wanted to stop by a florist. But it was closed. I wanted to bring you flowers in appreciation for all you've done for us." T lives close to KC - they have published many articles about social media and medicine together since they have met. Juliaink was a pleasure to meet - I got to tell her in person how much I loved a poem she wrote years ago. I couldn't help thinking during the brunch, what a perfect idea for a gift for KC. A flower. A mirror image of her - something that packs a powerful punch with its image and color and strength, all the time belying a fragility that lies within it - within us all.
She is more than a flower, though - she is the gardener here. She planted the seeds. She waters us and helps us grow and find our own voices and learn from all the amazing voices in this community. I have had many mentors in my life, fabulous in their different ways, but none shares the quiet but unyielding support of KC. Now that I've met her maybe I can get her off of this pedestal and be her friend.
Happy birthday KC. You deserve much appreciation. My emotion didn't come out in waterworks this weekend, but hopefully it can be conveyed in this post. You are an inspiration.
Wish I could have met you ladies!ReplyDelete
I'm sorry I missed the trip, but I agree with your sentiments about KC. She is a superwoman and I am immensely grateful to her for starting the site. You rock, KC!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Fizzy! You better be at the next meet-up.Delete
A beautiful post about a beautiful person inside and out.ReplyDelete
A post written by a new friend who I feel honored to have officially met in person... and met as if meeting a dear old friend.
I'm moved to read and write and grow (like a flower within a community garden, that needs gardening) with you all. Thanks Gizabeth and KC and all of you!
We are all wildflowers that's what is so cool about us ha ha. I loved meeting you with and without kids! Your kids are fantastic I wish C and J could have met them so much. I too loved the experience of meeting old blogging but new in person mom/docs - definitely consider it big time highlight of my year. Look forward to more online fun and hopefully future meet ups:)Delete
Super sweet post! After a whirlwind interview day, I had to head home. I'm sad I missed dinner and the spa time. It was such a pleasure meeting you!!! Your boyfriend was soo nice too!ReplyDelete
This is wonderful. I'm grateful to all of you that write here. Your stories have been a support through my own mother in medicine journey. All of you are impressive.ReplyDelete
Could not agree more! KC is an inspiration to so many, including me!ReplyDelete
I'm so touched by this post, Giz. It was wonderful meeting you and I loved every minute of the weekend. Thank you for making this birthday so special. (And no more pedastals!)ReplyDelete
Beautifully written Gizabeth!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this forum KC and that you to all the MiMs who write and reply. This truly is a "safe space", for all of us.
Oh, I so wish I'd been able to make it. Too many obstacles this time around. Someday, though. I am also very grateful to be allowed and even welcomed as a member of this group. Thanks, all! -GenmedmomReplyDelete
SO beautifully written. I am so sad I missed this meet up but I continue to feel so close to all of you. You have all been my inspiration in different ways during this amazing journey of motherhood and medicine!ReplyDelete
Wonderful post. :)ReplyDelete