I remember how much I coveted this bag. It was given out by Novo Nordisk at a diabetes conference. I don’t remember what conference, what year, whether I was presenting, but I remember how crestfallen I was after seeing so many people toting it over their shoulder and when I located the Novo Nordisk booth, after much sleuthing, being told they had run out.
I was told if I put my name on a list, they would be handing out more bags the next day. Guess what? They weren’t. But a tall, kind woman at their booth took my name and address down and said, “I have one left in my office (in Copenhagen, Denmark)! When I get back I’ll mail it to you.” Yea, right.
Well, I did hope, just a little…who wouldn’t? But then the first week passed and no bag. Then the second week passed and no bag, and I thought, yea, right you’ll mail it to me. But a week later, I walked back to my apartment and okay, you know what happens now. A giant FedEx box was in front of my door. Bless that woman, she was true to her word. True to her word, not even knowing how much that bag had burrowed into my head.
It’s not really the burgundy color, a favorite, that said you belong in riva’s apartment. It’s not the bag itself which isn’t much different than any cloth shoulder briefcase-like bag. It’s not entirely that it has lots of zipper compartments. Nor the fact that it was free and a momento of the conference. No, it’s the tag text, “I am traveling to change diabetes.” It totally represented my identity. It said everything I was and was doing.
That story is a long way to say, here we go again. The husband and I leave Thursday for Japan where I’m presenting the Flourishing Approach to health professionals and medical students at a diabetes clinic in Sendai. A 13 hour flight to Tokyo, 4 hour layover and 90 minute flight to Sendai. All because we love sharing this learning.
We’ll be met at the airport by Dr. Kenichi Yamada, the force behind the Education Center of Kenichi Yamada Internal Medicine Clinic. His wife, Itsuko, who works at the center and heard me present the Flourishing Approach in 2015 at the IDF World Congress, has been diligently translating my presentation into Japanese and seeing to all our needs, including meals and bullet trains.
Afterward, we fly to Seoul, where I’ve never been, and am only slightly nervous having looked at the map and seeing how close it is to the border of North Korea. After all, I just heard Laura Ling share her 140 days in captivity in North Korea as keynote speaker at the Renfrew conference.
Then we train to Busan for our sixth IDF World Congress (they happen every two years and we’ve attended them since 2009 in Montreal, Dubai, Melbourne, Vancouver and Abu Dhabi. It’s a very nice way to see the world and meet diabetes people from all corners).
I’ll be presenting the Flourishing Approach in a stream on improvements in diabetes education and care. Of course in addition to the learning, and entertaining, like watching someone make extraordinary sand paintings as we did in Dubai, the conferences are a wonderful few days to catch up with the diabetes friends I’ve made around the world, and truly, there’s nothing like that.
Then we fly back to Japan for a day in beautiful temple-laden and geisha-strewn Kyoto and train up to Tokyo to visit friends and fountain pen stores. I lived in Tokyo for six years in the 1980’s (that’s where I met the husband) and japan is both in my heart and the Mecca of writing instruments.
Then we fly down to Sydney and stay with friends. I am expecting their house in the Blue Mountains will make the perfect writer’s retreat due to natural beauty and lack of distractions.
So is the traveling bag coming with me? Sadly not. With luggage limitations I’m going to do my darndest to only bring two roller boards and a backpack. I wish that I could bring it, but the sentiment has never left me since I first set eyes on the bag, and three weeks later removed it from its carefully packed Fedex box.
During our absence the husband’s sister and brother in law get to enjoy our tiny apt so we are all changing time zones. I may not be posting much while traveling, but I will be posting photos on Facebook. In the meanwhile happy holidays to all and to all a good night.