Mary Tyler Moore leaves us this week

I met Mary twice. Although one time was really more of a sighting. I was walking down the street in Manhattan when all of a sudden she appeared walking past me. I remember because, after all, it was Mary Tyler Moore.

The same Mary Tyler Moore I spent my high school and college years with along with Rhoda on the groundbreaking TV sitcom, The Mary Tyler Moore show. TV Mary was loved for her come-back-up-from-being-knocked-down, can-do spirit. The real Mary showed much of the same spirit as an advocate for type 1 diabetes (T1D) for decades. At times people said, “Isn’t she too old?” But she widened the circle; she showed the world T1D wasn’t just a disease of children.

Moore got T1D in her thirties. She lived with it for almost 50 years, and had complications like vision loss. Yet, I never heard her grumble.

The first time I met Mary was at a book signing she was doing at Barnes & Noble. I went. When I reached her to sign her book, I was awful cheeky. I handed her my own book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes, “Please,” I said, “allow me to share a gift with you. I hope you like it.” She was gracious. It was a moment.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.42.13 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.43.23 AM.png

Life is moments. As you get older you realize how quickly they go. This week, after just returning from 18 days in Israel, I have a funeral to go to tomorrow after a friend just lost her mother. Last night the husband and I attended a memorial service for another friend’s mother who passed.

I heard a long time ago, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” Israelis know this. Maybe because of the precarious place they occupy in the world, both geographic and political. Things happen quickly there. You mention something and someone gets on their cell phone immediately, a meeting is called and it takes place within days. There’s something to be learned from that. Let’s not waste these moments.

Among the many articles I’ve been reading about Moore’s death, this was an interesting tidbit. The original theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore show (Love is all around) opened with these lyrics – “How will you make it on your own?/This world is awfully big, and girl, this time you’re all alone” They were changed to enhance Mary’s and the show’s optimism – “Who can turn the world on with her smile?/Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?”

Since I’m sharing ‘flourishing with diabetes’ it spoke to me. Part of what we create is based on how we see our circumstances. Mary had her demons – two alcoholic parents, alcohol abuse herself, a son die young due to either an accident or suicide when handling a gun, two failed marriages, and a series of failed TV programs after she, Rhoda, Phyllis, Lou, Ted, Murray, Georgette and Sue Ann huddled for their tearful goodbye as the lights went out at WJM Minneapolis. But she was resilient and a fighter.

With love, Mary. Thanks for making us laugh and thanks for fighting for us. You’ll be missed.

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.38.36 AM.png


Presenting the Flourishing Treatment Approach in Zikhron, Israel

In 2015 the International Diabetes Federation honored me with the distinguished IDF Lecture Award. That honor came with the opportunity to give a lecture on the topic of my choice. I shared the Flourishing Treatment Approach (FTA), a different way for health professionals to work with people who have diabetes (or another chronic illness). A way that helps people flourish not merely cope.

At the end of that lecture, Dr. Ilana Herman-Baham, Director of Internal Medicine and a diabetes clinic in Israel, came up to me and asked, “Would you come to Israel and share this with our diabetes nurses? They need to hear this.”

That’s exactly what I did in Zikhron three days ago at the ALUMA Israeli diabetes educators conference. It was a joy to work with them and to experience once again, as I had educators practice listening, communication, connection, strengths-discovery and inquiry skills, that the FTA works everywhere in the world regardless of culture, economics or health specialty. We are stitched together by our humanity and it is humanity that we must put back into medical training.

As much as being taught what to do, people living with a chronic illness need providers who can hear where they are and skillfully inspire them forward. I am grateful and appreciative to all who have and continue to invite me to do this work.


Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 10.05.31 AM.png

Screen Shot 2017-01-14 at 10.06.04 AM.png