Giving Children a Healthy Shot@Life


As a former resident of Washington DC, I am used to the many tour buses that circle the city showing off the various monuments, historic sites and points of interest within the city.  It’s also quite common to walk into a hotel or office complex and see a list of various and diverse groups – local, regional, national and international – that are hosting conferences and conventions around town.  It makes sense that many groups would convene here – DC draws many people to learn, to exchange ideas, and to make those ideas known to those officials who are debating and shaping the laws that govern the Nation.

While I have studied, lived and worked in DC over many years of my life – today is a first for me. Today I arrive as one of those people who voyaged here to gather with others at a national conference to share, learn, and make some noise! This afternoon I will join dozens of other individuals from across the country for the shot@life Champions Summit.

We are a diverse group from many states and backgrounds – but we share a commitment to children and to ending the heart-breaking truth that one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine.

Over the next three days we will learn more about the power of vaccines and ways we can all take action to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths.  I am excited and grateful for the opportunity…and hope you will follow updates from the Summit and the Champions! To learn more, go to

Blind Dates and Pep-talks…

As a mother of growing toddlers, most mornings I give pep-talks to my boys on one topic or another: “Don’t worry, Felix – the dentist is super great, she even has fishies in the office!” or “Just wait and see Oliver, by the end of the day you will love your new teacher!” and ”I am sure Max won’t kick you anymore on the playground, he knows not to do that Felix.”

Sometimes I believe 100 percent in what I am telling them about the new and unknown experiences that await – but sometimes I am just as uncertain as they may be – and by encouraging them I am trying to silence my own “what if” monsters! What if the new class is not good…what if the new teacher is not patient with Oliver and his various fears…what if…what if…

To be honest, I often wish the boys could give me a similar “you can do it mama” pep talk…as I type I am about to head to another “blind date” meal – something that has been a constant of my expat adventure: meeting “friends of friends” for lunches, coffees, walks, and other events with the hope that meaningful relationships will result.  The test of the transitive power of friendship and networks!

After a year in Berlin I have ventured on dozens and dozens of such dates – whether friends of friends of former colleagues, college roommates, cousins, interns, facebook friends, high school exchange students…you name it. Sometimes the date happens and neither I nor the other person can quite figure out who connected us… but I dive into it.

I have been living the expat life for over a year now.

What’s crazy is that it’s worked – in spades. I have met some incredible people, many of whom I feel confident and grateful to call friends. Friends I will take beyond this Berlin chapter whenever and if ever it ends.

BUT – that does not mean that before each “date” – I don’t get the butterfly feelings, consider making an excuse to cancel, or start sweating profusely.  My mind swirls…am I overdressed? What if there is awkward silence? What if there’s something in my nose and he or she is too shy to tell me? What if? What if? What if?

Being a girl who likes to prepare – I always do my online research on my dates…does she like sports? Has he been to the US? Is she a Democrat? Does she have kids?  But even with a briefing, it can be scary.

I am off now to meet a friend of a friend of a friend for lunch. Lunch, not coffee – high stakes!

Wish me luck.