Today, having lived with diabetes 43 years, my condition drives my work – to help people live with, and see, diabetes differently. To enable those of us who live with it find something positive in the living and use diabetes as a catalyst to create a healthier, happier and more meaningful life.
This is how I live with it.
I am also helping transform the interaction and communication between health professionals and people with diabetes. To have it be collaborative and more positive, effective and rewarding for both.
Toward these ends, I am sharing a new and positive approach to diabetes, the Flourishing Approach. The Flourishing Approach expands health professionals’ treatment repertoire. For people with diabetes, it’s a practice that improves our management and outcomes and increases our confidence and abilities.
As a child I was painfully shy. I know what it is to feel alone and to struggle. Yet today I speak on stages around the world and to large audiences sharing this approach. My early shyness serves me; it has made me observant, sensitive to others, perceptive of the emotional landscapes we live in and practiced in how to change them.
In truth, I had no idea I’d be doing this work until three events occurred in my life when I was forty-eight years old.
This blog began more than seven years ago. It was a way for me to capture my thoughts and share with others both my experiences and what I was learning in the healthcare space, specifically diabetes. I named it “Diabetes Stories” as each post told a story.
At the same time I was collecting peoples’ “stories” of living with diabetes including those of loved ones and health professionals. I have gathered more than 175 stories. Each has added to my understanding of how we live with diabetes. It is also part of what informs my work and my belief that how we hold our diabetes colors our ability to manage it, and consequently, the quality of our lives.
Today my mission includes helping people craft their “flourishing story” of living with diabetes. To see a new narrative for your life with diabetes; one that gives diabetes its place and where in the living with it you find strength, resourcefulness, self-respect, power and pride.
Before I began working in diabetes I was a Madison Avenue advertising copywriter. I was good at it, yet only fulfilled when I was communicating about something that served people. Ah, a thread from there to here.
At 28 years old I left my job spurred by personal and professional self-development trainings I had done. I developed an inspirational greeting card business.
I was artist, writer, marketing and sales representative. I was successful; I had 75 national accounts, but I wanted to bring my human potential messages to a broader audience.
I left my native New York City for Tokyo. Tagged in Business Week as my company’s “secret weapon,” – a Western woman in a Japanese company – I traveled widely and developed a deeper appreciation for different cultures and peoples. After six expansive years I returned home.
The turning point I referred to earlier happened when I was 48 years old: I married, lost my job and went to a certified diabetes educator for the first time. There on the precipice of my “Second Act,” I chose to dedicate my life to helping people with diabetes and the health professionals who help us.
Attending diabetes conferences led to main stage speaker at many – in San Antonio, San Diego, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Tucson, Rhode Island, Melbourne, Sydney, Bangalore and Singapore.
It led to penning hundreds of articles, three published books and webinars, all with the intent to educate and inspire others. I do not believe we can motivate anyone, but we can inspire and uplift others to find their own motivation.
From an early age three things have never changed for me: the desire to help people believe in themselves, the feeling that I’m here to make a contribution and the need to listen to my heart and follow my dreams.
While writing a post about Joslin’s 50-year medal I applied for mine even though I am still some years away. Yet looking toward standing at the medal ceremony, amongst so many other honorees, inspires me to keep doing, and sharing, my best.
As for following my dreams, I have already told my husband where he’s taking me to dinner to celebrate.