In brief: 2014 recap, announcements, and launch of #GetWell2015!
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WE MADE IT! GOOD BYE, GOOD RIDDANCE, 2014!
Listen. 2014 was a whole thing. So, though I’m not typically inclined to mark January 1st by starting, stopping, revamping, pledging, or resolving — it just so happens that today coincides with some long term goals and new projects. Let’s see if I can get you caught up and preview the new stuff….
Note: Go ahead and skip to the “HERE” if you just want the new stuff.
I moved to San Diego in September. (#HomeBase — News and updates!) I was given the amazing opportunity to help care for two of my nieces in exchange for a homebase — a place to live and get well that is a definitive floor beneath my feet. I’ve never had this. I’ve never stood on a floor that I knew that it wasn’t going anywhere. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my family by choice — the people I call my sisters and brother — who uncoordinatedly conspired to ensure that I survived to see 2015.
While I managed to get published for the first time in over a decade, collect some great bylines and relationships with editors while making amazing connections with other activists, media contributors/producers/hosts, 2014 was a financial and emotional mess for me. Most of you followed my excitement at getting to have sinus surgery (THANKS, Affordable Care Act and New York state!); that took about 15 doctors visits, leaving little room for addressing other issues. Also, frankly, New York state’s implementation of the ACA leaves a lot to be desired; I spent a lot of hours obtaining and maintaining benefits and researching providers, etc. I am psyched to be able to breathe, but I didn’t accomplish much else in the wellness category. In fact, there was a lot of this:
Which brings me to how California happened. I had to make a decision about who I would work for based on both money and ethics. I decided that though it jeopardized my ability to pay rent in the immediate future, I couldn’t sacrifice my reputation and new career. I had sought out an amazing contract that would have kept me supported while I wrote and stayed active, but it fell through less than 24 hours before it was to begin because of unexpected, unpreventable circumstances. With no way to eat or pay rent, a sister-by-choice (here forward I’ll just say “sister”) offered me a place with her family if I could help care for her one-year-old and the daughter on the way.
It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made.
I have gotten SO LUCKY to have landed in San Diego. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing the resources here are. I’m part of a credit union. I’ve never qualified before and I’ve lived in Chicago, NYC, DC — all the “liberal” areas that are supposed to be great for things like moving your money, etc. (Wow, was that campaigned privileged. Yowsah.) I found a gym for $30. I live near public transit in a city where the weather is always comfortable for walking and the sun is providing a massive help for my psyche. I have REALLY great insurance for less than I was paying in NYC with more choices, fewer copays and better doctor to doctor communication. I find caring for my nieces unimaginably rewarding. I am an unexpected and unplanned member of the Black Cat Club. All of these things are simply wonderful.
It is easier to write here. I’m not terrified about basic necessities. I brought my Best of the Left Podcast contract with me and now that I can take the time to pitch and write, I’m building a bigger portfolio with more on the way this year. I got the chance to publish at Buzzfeed, Bitch, Salon, Alternet, Truthout, and RH Reality Check among other outlets and look forward to expanding my platform in the coming months.
HERE is where you jump back in if you were skipping ahead:
I’m still doing plenty of media! (Though I don’t have the AriseTV gig because they don’t have a west coast studio.) I need to sound proof my room/office/studio. More on how you can help with that in a minute, should you be so inclined. In the meantime, I’m a bit of an annoying roommate who needs active toddlers to be silent here and there, but I am making it work.
I am also a board member of the newly formed 501c3 (aka non-profit) Clinic Vest Project! I’m really excited about this. It was launched by my mentor, Benita Ulisano, who started the work using her own hard-earned money. We provide clinic defense resources to groups across North America for FREE, connect new potential volunteers to existing clinic escort groups and help brand new groups get started. We have sent over SIX HUNDRED vests out already and just today began our funding drive for 2015.
CVP has worked with manufacturers to develop unique vest styles and colors that cannot be copied by anti-choice groups. That wasn’t cheap or easy, but Benita is a badass and can be very convincing on things like making order size restrictions flexible. If you would like to be a sponsor of our work, it’s super easy!
You can do two things:
1. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter; pass on our info to clinics in need of new escort groups, prospective volunteers looking for a home, and existing groups in need of new vests and resources!
2. Give to the vest drive so we can keep providing materials free of cost to the volunteers who protect patients around the country and in Canada! (Yes, we’ve exported some of our anti-choice sentiments across the northern border.) CLICK HERE: Vest Drive — your donation is tax deductible from any state. You can always become a sustaining donor at our website: ClinicVestProject.org
And…..I’ve saved the best for last! Which I hear is terrible strategy because “no one reads to the end.” Except that I have more faith in you than that, subscriber.
Tomorrow! I am launching a year-long project called #GetWell2015. This is not a heath/diet blog. I REPEAT: this is not a health/diet blog. There is a lot wrong with me. If we’re friends in real life or you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me discuss mental illness, physical illness, poverty stigma, my intense ADD, and my excitement at having healthcare for the first time in my life. We’re not supposed to talk about the intersection of poverty and health and the stigma surrounding mental illness — so imma talk about them. All of them. In all their messy glory.
I am the poster child for the Affordable Care Act, but I just completed 40 hours on the phone between the California agency that sets up ACA plans and my insurance company to fix a four digit glitch I didn’t create that nearly cancelled my insurance. I have had to research doctors, find therapists, stress about copays, flex my work time, and prepare to juggle meds — after moving to the opposite coast to access these options.
Getting well in this country is a NIGHTMARE. Even with the ACA, we make it almost impossible for people to address long-term issues. We don’t have paid time off work, medications still cost money, transportation isn’t always easy, and not everyone is an expert in how to go about accessing the care that is available.
I’m fairly certain that “healthy” is on the other side of “well.” I’ve never been well. So I’m hitting the ground running in 2015 in an attempt to get there and I’m going to be honest about what it takes while creating a (hopefully) safe space for other people to share, find community and exchange strategies for how they cope with disorders and stigma. The first #GetWell2015 post goes up tomorrow and the conversation is already happening on Twitter. If you haven’t yet, subscribe by email or add KatieSpeak to your RSS feed (buttons in the boxes on the right-hand column —> ) so you can be part of this project. I want to include other voices and make getting well as inclusive and helpful as possible.
Also! Many of you have asked how to help fund the work I do — much of which is unpaid/underpaid. (OK, all of it is underpaid.)
Mostly I have responded to that inquiry like this…
…when I should have been responding like this:
Of course, leaving comments on articles and posting them on your networks helps ensure that outlets that pay have me back! That has not been a direct enough form of support for some of you and I love you for it. Those who have wanted a more direct way to contribute are in luck for 2015!
Paypal is an imperfect system of support. I’m leaving my button on the side bar there for one time donations and for those who find that to be easiest; definitely use whatever method works for you! But not everyone is a Paypal fan, so enter Patreon! You may have seen it floating around on social media; it’s really fantastic. The fees are reasonable (you don’t pay them) and it is user-friendly for both contributors and artists.
Click on my profile: Katie Speak Patreon to become a supporter at whatever dollar amount you want! Change that amount or cancel anytime. You can see where your money goes — I post concrete goals and needs along with articles and projects. You can always message me to request that your contribution go to something specific in the project/goal.
If you don’t want to use Patreon, you can still check my profile there to see what my equipment/travel/etc needs are at any given time and then just click the PayPal button instead. Patreon is going to be my hub of monetary needs so that KatieSpeak.com can be utilized as a publishing hub.
Well, I think that’s it! It’s a “down” political year ahead of the 2016 national elections, so let’s see if we can get some work done and lay a solid foundation to effect some real change by spreading information, amplifying storytelling to break down stigma, and motivating folks to get involved while there’s less competition for their attention (at least in the news).
So….see you tomorrow at the #GetWell2015 launch!
Categories: Speaking Up