In 2007 I published my first book, “The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.” The picture above is in the book. This 64 page book contains my illustrations and inspirational, resilience-building essays/exercises on how to live happier, healthier, and with more regard for yourself and your diabetes. Below I’ve reprinted the Forward from the book and plan to post some more pages here throughout the month.
The book is dedicated to my father. He was pretty much emotionally absent during my childhood. He came back into my life when in my late twenties I spurred my parents to do a series of self-growth trainings I had just completed. As a result of the trainings, I quit my advertising job and began drawing and writing inspirational cards. He couldn’t do enough to pack them into the trunk of our old car and drive around Long Island selling them to every greeting card store he walked into. Which were many by the way. By this time in his life, he was getting treatment for his depression that we never knew he had.
My father is now 93. My mother put him in the nursing home a month ago. After two years of being his sole caretaker she could no longer physically do it. I love my father, I wrote about it here in July. This new years weekend I began looking back over my book. These whimsical, colorful drawings were something my father loved, and we bonded over.
Life is so fleeting; of course you only learn this when you’re older. And while a day still takes its stubborn time to pass, years go by as quickly as water being poured out of a glass.
Priorities change. Things you appreciate become closer to home and more personal. And proving yourself to others is something you remember you used to be concerned about. But very little these days. My work now is bringing to health providers a different way of looking at, and working with, people who have diabetes – a treatment approach that helps us flourish with diabetes, to go beyond coping. And my life is about being appreciative and being kind.
So I hope these essays will help you on the journey to loving yourself. A journey I believe we’re all on. And that the pictures offer you a smile along the way.
Happy new year and happy new day, each and every one.
At 18, I developed type 1 diabetes. Looking back, it was an odd time. I was not quite an adult, no longer a child. I have now lived with diabetes for more than 35 years (today 43), in the beginning not so well, over the years better and better, and now perhaps brilliantly–or fairly close, aware that this chronic condition requires both my medical and emotional attention.
Like so many, I have been through the typical stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. On some days I go back ’round again. I’ve enjoyed additional stages like outright disgust, “You don’t understand!” and a perfectionist’s frustration. However, as I learned more I reached out more, and shifted my focus from hefting the burden of diabetes to seeking ways to ensure my best health. As a result, my A1cs, my attitude and my responsibility all improved.
Getting married for the first time at 48 was also a driving force to do my best. With added motivation and support, I got behind the wheel of my health and haven’t looked back–except to make sure my husband isn’t covered in my dust.
I believe all of us with diabetes, and our loved ones, can benefit from the emotional nurturing, spiritual principles, understanding and support you’ll find here. It is my hope that this little book will put a tiny “I love me” patch on the hearts of all who read it.
Personally, I view diabetes as a blessing, for I am quite certain without it I would not stick to my daily walking program (particularly on cold, windy days). Nor would I have learned to like vegetables so much, or mastered waving bye-bye to my beloved muffins and scones. Diabetes has also given me my work, wonderful friends who share membership in this club, and the opportunity to contribute to the world and those who live with this disease.
I hope in your journey with diabetes you will arrive at that place, if you haven’t already, where diabetes is a “comma” in your life, as in…”I love my life, and I have diabetes.” Someone once said this to me and I don’t expect to ever forget it.
Learn everything you can, put the pedal to the metal–with your personal mettle on each pedal–and make life as full, rich and exuberant as you deserve. And should some dark clouds pass overhead, give a shout or have a cry, reread a few pages here, and then get on with it.