Have you ever thought about the qualities in your close friends that you most know them for and rely on them for? The things that make you want to keep them close?
I’ve known my dear friend Marie Bernegger for more than 25 years. She’s steadied me through some difficult times. We’ve shared many happy experiences and laughed a lot. I know her character and personal attributes better than most.
Marie (@MarieBe on Twitter) is a multiple award-winning quilter who’s been at it for more than 30 years, and has struggled daily for more than 40 years with Type 1 diabetes.
Several years ago she joined the new TuDiabetes online community — now 20,000 strong — and immediately stepped in to welcome and comfort new people, many of whom had just received their diagnoses and often were paralyzed with uncertainty and fear. Members come together on the site to share strategies to better manage their diabetes and raise awareness for the disease.
Marie became a member of the TuDiabetes administrative team and has earned the reputation across the community for being compassionate, supportive, ethical, and genuine. These are personal attributes I’ve also come to rely on Marie for.
I think the folks at TuDiabetes would agree with me about her greatest strengths – creating, collaborating, seeing the details, and being precise.
She and I both love cooking and gardening, among other shared interests. I can always count on her to recall a recipe, from one of the many cookbooks we own in common, to make use of an array of ingredients I don’t know how to use up.
At this time of year, we have discussions about what’s in our gardens, how to keep everything healthy, and, of course, what recipes will best suit the bounty of herbs and vegetables.
Both of us are word nuts. If a word comes up in conversation that we’re unsure of, Marie is anxious to hit the dictionary to get the precise definition. We complain about the lack of good grammar these days, although we both must admit that we fall short ourselves sometimes.
Marie believes in following the rules for whatever pursuit she’s engaged in. She knows about and respects proper etiquette and protocols.
Her personal brand foundation, as I see it, is no more evident than in the way she led a recent project for TuDiabetes. This project allowed her to bring together two of her passions – quilting and TuDiabetes (she’s on a mission to elevate diabetes awareness).
She was asked by the Diabetes Hands Foundation, which runs TuDiabetes, to design and create a “Quilt for Life” to represent them at the annual Children with Diabetes conference in Orlando in July.
The quilt is a reflection of the Tudiabetes community, representing people with all types of diabetes, all ages, from all over the world. Marie’s idea was to bring back TuDiabetes’ “Word in your Hand” Program. In the quilt, 45 active members of the community are portrayed, each by an appliqued hand containing a word that expresses how they feel about diabetes, their type of diabetes, and their diagnosis date.
One of the people spotlighted in the quilt summed up the value of Marie’s work:
“Each one of those hands tells a life’s story that we can all understand in our own way. It makes you feel so much less alone in these daily tasks. This quilt should make us all feel good about our victories and not take the missteps so negatively. The quilt is a true thing of beauty and power.”
If you or someone you know needs help navigating a life impacted by diabetes, become a TuDiabetes member and feel better right away. And say hello to Marie!
Take a moment and think about your best friend. What is it about them that you admire? What is their personal brand all about?