It was an honor to be presented the 2015 Lecture Award for diabetes education and advocacy by the International Diabetes Federation World Congress. The Award entitled me to give a one hour lecture, which I did, on flourishing with diabetes. Specifically, using a Flourishing Treatment Approach to work with people who have diabetes. I start here because this is where my work has culminated – helping health professionals work with people with diabetes in a way that helps them flourish.
This is my focus after more than fifteen years working in diabetes. After seeing how many of us actually do well living with diabetes and studying the research on how people create health. And to enable all people who live with diabetes to 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 sharing a new and positive approach to diabetes that I call the Flourishing Approach. The Flourishing Approach expands health professionals’ treatment repertoire from how they work today to be more inclusive and in partnership with patients. It is about transforming our interactions and communication to work more collaboratively, identify and build on what people are already doing well. To create an environment of safety and help people with diabetes identify their strengths and build resilience and confidence.
I have had type 1 diabetes for 48 years. I got it at 18. 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. I’ve also studied and researched how we create health. I’ve also written my provocative ideas regarding diabetes on the HuffPost.
In truth, I had no idea I’d be doing this work until three events occurred in my life when I was 48 years old.
I began by 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 influences 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 create a new positive identity going forward with diabetes and a narrative; one that gives diabetes its place and where in the living with it you find strength, resourcefulness, self-respect, power and pride.
Ad Copywriter & Illustrator
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 I felt educated and served people. A thread from there to here.
At 28 years old I left my job spurred by a series of 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 Japanese company’s “secret weapon,” – a Western woman in a very traditional Japanese advertising agency – I traveled widely and developed a deeper appreciation for different cultures and peoples. After six expansive years I returned home.
When I was 48 I lost my job, was getting married and went to a certified diabetes educator for the first time. I chose to dedicate my life to helping people with diabetes and the health professionals who help us.
Attending diabetes conferences led to being a main stage speaker around the world including the U.S., Canada, Israel, Singapore, Sydney, Bangalore and the Netherlands.
Work at a Glance
I’ve written hundreds of articles and three books, given webinars, lectures and presentations at professional conferences – IDF World Congress, American Diabetes Association, American Association of Diabetes Educators, JDRF, DAWN 2 conference, all with the intent to educate and inspire others.
I’ve spoken at the United Nations on behalf of the IDF and Lions Club International. My book, The ABCs of Loving Yourself has been used at diabetes camps in Costa Rica and Panama, as a tool for sharing the feelings and fears of living with type 1 diabetes. I worked for three weeks pro bono with the medical staff of Jnana Sanjeevini Diabetes Centre in Bangalore, India, sharing the Flourishing Approach.
I do not believe we can motivate anyone, but we can inspire and uplift others to find their own motivation. I work as a corporate advisor and lecturer sharing the Flourishing Approach with health professionals and people with diabetes. I am an Ambassador for the non-profit, Insulin for Life, an IDF Blue Circle Voice member and I’ve spent ten years being an A1C Champion peer mentor.
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 seven years ago I applied for mine although I was still seven years away. Yet, envisioning standing at the medal ceremony, among so many other medalists, inspires me to keep doing and sharing my best.
As for following my dreams, many have already come true. Now I just have to find an amazing restaurant where the husband and I will celebrate my forthcoming medal.