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!