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.
This is my focus after a dozen years working in diabetes. After seeing how many of us actually do well living with diabetes. 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.
Also, to help health professionals transform their interaction and communication with people with diabetes. To work collaboratively, identify and build on what people are already doing well, to help people with diabetes identify their strengths and build resilience – and their confidence.
Toward these ends, I am sharing a new and positive approach to diabetes, what 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. For people with diabetes, it’s a practice that improves our management and outcomes and increases our confidence and abilities.
I have had type 1 diabetes for 45 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 written my provocative ideas regarding diabetes on the HuffPost for seven years.
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.
My 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 in flourishing 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.
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.
The turning point I referred to earlier when I was 48 included three events: I lost my job, was getting married 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 being a main stage speaker at many – in San Antonio, San Diego, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Tucson, Rhode Island, Melbourne, Sydney, Bangalore and Singapore.
I’ve penned hundreds of articles, written three books, given webinars and presentations, 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.Toward the end of 2016 I was invited to be an Ambassador for the non-profit, Insulin for Life. For 35 years this organization has been getting insulin and test strips around the world to those who would otherwise die without them.
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 last year I applied for mine even though I am still seven years away. Yet, visioning standing at the medal ceremony, amongst 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.