Join the Big Blue Test movement

For the fourth year Manny Hernandez, founder of the Diabetes Hands Foundation, is making sure we experience the benefit of activity on our blood sugar – and as a result, getting diabetes supplies and insulin to children in need around the world.

The movement is called the BigBlueTest – and you can’t fail.  

Sign up here and this is what you’ll do: 

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Record your results on the sign up page above – and if you can spread the word. With 35,000 people taking the test, $35,000 will go toward life-saving supplies. And, you’ll see what a little activity can do!

Elaine Stritch, 88 years young, type 2 and going strong

A few days ago i saw the documentary film, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. I was bowled over. I first saw Elaine Stritch, singer, Broadway actress, comedian and larger than life figure, in the original production of Steven Sondheim’sCompany on Broadway. She stole the show.

I must have been in my twenties, I have no recollection why I was at that show, it was much too intelligent for me at the time, but anyone who saw it couldn’t help but be moved by a musical number that was Elaine’s alone, “The Ladies Who Lunch.” She commanded the stage and her deep throated voice grabbed out to the unsuspecting in the last row.

The documentary I just saw, which is more about her present life still putting on a pair of tights and while shirt, performing at 88, shows her as just as she’s always presented herself – authentically. From skipping down along Central Park in Manhattan to yelling at cab drivers, to fearing for her life having a low. She’s one bawdy broad. Elaine is just one of those people, the millions among us, who has type 2 diabetes and is on insulin and has lows and sometimes ends up in the hospital.

If you want to be moved and you have an independent film theatre in your town, maybe it’s still playing. Or netflix it soon. 

Today, it’s been raining all day and grey enough to keep me inside. and so I’m now watching her London performance from 2002 called Elaine Stritch at Liberty, a summation of her gorgeous career. This you can Youtube now. 

It has nothing to do with diabetes, it’s pure performance, but hey, living with diabetes, and being sixty, more and more I realize, life is not just about work, but also play. Enjoy.

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen talks about the art of living

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I have been a fan of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen since I first read her book,Kitchen Table Wisdom. It is a collection of stories about what she has learned from her patients. Most of whom are in the last stages of cancer.

Remen herself has lived with Crohn’s disease since she was in her twenties, yet her writing and her speaking is predominantly about the blessings in life that all too often most of us only see when we are at the end of it. The power of sharing our “stories,” living with a sense of wonder and honoring each other.

I was reminded of Remen by a recent contact I made, a woman who once we started talking, immediately asked me if I’d read Remen’s books?

So now I am taking up Remen again. Reading one of her books I had not, My Grandfather’s Blessings. Already this morning only reading the introduction, I was in tears reflecting on all the blessings I have in my own life – my husband, family, friends, work; all the kindnesses and all the heart that is webbed and woven around me. 

Remen embodies bravery, speaking to doctors about how medical training is like a disease that may be necessary for health care providers to recovery from. Here she was giving an address last year to women in medicine. 

How uncomfortable she notes doctors are made by their own professional culture taught to dishonor the things that truly provide healing, like connection, hope, awe and authenticity. Medical school Remen said, “does not train us to be fellow human beings.”

Her stories are amazing and uplifting. They will make you see your life differently. Thank you Rachel Naomi Remen.

Love blooms, quiets, grows, yells, deepens and is

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I’ve been married almost twelve and a half years. That’s significant for two reasons. My husband is Dutch and in Holland they celebrate twelve and a half year anniversaries – half of 25 years. And, I didn’t get married ’til I was 48, so this may be historic. It was my Virgo pickiness. 

Truth is, there are times I’d like to act on what my Aunt told me on my wedding day. “Just don’t be surprised, Riva, when you have a day where he’s standing in front of the window and you have to stop yourself from saying, “Just back up a little honey…” I’ve told him that story; it makes him nervous, and makes him laugh.

But most often my love, our love, brings up memories of a documentary I saw on PBS while we were engaged. I watched it alone, he was in Holland. 

It was about couples who’d been married more than 25 years. I remember at the time, even though we were engaged, I thought, ‘Really? Can you really be married more than 25 years and still be happy? Have something to say? Not be bored? How’s that possible? 

But there they sat, most couples hand in hand, grey-haired, glasses slightly askew, wrinkled, grinning, “I couldn’t live without her,” he’d say. Usually the man said it first; men are such mushes at that age. She’d poke him in the ribs. And smile.

So Happy Valentine’s day honey. We still do find something to say, most days. And when we don’t, that’s okay too. I’ve come to know that’s part of the contentment of being known and seen, accepted and loved. Amazing. 

And happy valentine’s day to everyone out there, married, engaged, partnered or single. I once read the way to get love is to give it away. So true.

So I give it away every day twelve and a half years later. Of course I also keep the window open. 

Five life lessons turning 60!



I turn 60 tomorrow. How did that happen? My mother’s probably asking herself the same question up in Connecticut. I’d say just putting one foot in front of the other every day. But the occasion does give me pause to think about what I’ve learned so far.

(By the way, this picture was two years ago me shooting up before my meal. My friend P. to my right looks a little startled, but then I’m a teacher and this was a teachable moment.) 

It hasn’t all been easy. I was a shy and quiet kid. People would tease me by saying I was talking too much. Today I speak to all kinds of groups, small and large and love it. No one who knew me then would imagine me now. But my deepest desire always was to help others believe in themselves. Today I do it around diabetes which I could have never predicted.

I couldn’t ask to be in a better place on the eve of my sixtieth birthday. I am married to my true partner in life, in love and in work. My parents are still here. I have a treasure trove of dear friends, and acquaintances who bless me with their fellowship through diabetes. I love where I live, which was a lifelong riddle to solve. And I travel voraciously. To towns large and small across the States, as an A1C Champion, which I love and across the ocean. That’s what you get for marrying a European. How lucky he, and his frequent flier miles, fit right in with my wish list. And growing up a listener serves me well in the work I do today, as a health coach, writing on The Huffington Post, writing books and speaking at conferences and as a peer-mentor.

Turning fifty was a hard one. It was the first time I realized there was more time behind me than in front of me. But even though that’s even more the case now, I’m kinda tickled to be turning sixty. I think of all I’ve accomplished and where I’m so contentedly sitting in my life right now.

So tonight, looking back on six decades – true, I don’t remember the first several years, alright let’s be honest, the first decade – I realize maybe I’ve learned a few things worth passing on to my younger friends and colleagues.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way

1. Don’t measure your success against anyone else’sIn my twenties I was jealous of how many people around me were clear about what they wanted to do, were on their path achieving so much. I felt I was floundering. Searching for what work I was meant to do, where, how. What cured me of that was when a friend I envied, got a tumor. Surprisingly, I nursed her through it. But I realized, you don’t know what’s on anyone’s road ahead, including your own, good and bad. Just be on your road.

2. Look for the silver lining. I got type 1 diabetes at 18. I’ve had it 41 and a half years. I was misdiagnosed initially as a type 2; after all only kids get type 1. The first decade I had it there were no meters to test my blood and we knew so little about food, etc. But having been there, I’m so grateful I’m here. And I see what I’ve gained from having diabetes – a commitment to my health. I’m convinced I wouldn’t eat as healthfully as I do, walk as I do or keep myself trim and fit if not for diabetes. And maybe I wouldn’t have fulfilled my need to find purposeful work. Most days I truly look at what I have, not what I don’t.

3. Be kind. If I do one thing passing this way in life I hope it’s that I’m kind. It’s selfish; I like making people feel seen, whether it’s my waiter or the girl who checks out my groceries at the supermarket. At my first job in public broadcasting a colleague taught me this lesson unknowingly. I would watch her make the guy who parked her car feel equally important to the President of the company. She talked to them both with the same regard. 

4. Savor the simple stuff. I think this is something that comes with age. When I’m cooking in the kitchen listening to Sade or Patti Austen, sipping a glass of wine, and my husband is working feet away in the living room (a tiny one bedroom city apartment) I am happy. These are the moments they tell you you will recall in the end. I believe they’re right.

5. Pat yourself on the back more. I think women especially are enormously critical of themselves. We’re not enough, we don’t measure up, if we fail, why did we even think we could do it in the first place? If we succeed, we got lucky. Fuggedaboutit! You are a gem, maybe a diamond in the rough, but a gem. Cherish daily accomplishments, and your efforts. Whoever made us think we were supposed to be perfect at everything?   

When I was 18 and diagnosed with diabetes, it was unreal. One pill a day and “don’t eat candy” kept it unreal for years. As it sunk in, I mourned the complications I would inevitably get and the 15 year shorter lifespan I was told I’d have. 

Hmmm, I haven’t got any complications, and I no longer expect my life to be any shorter than anyone else’s.  

When I was 54 years old my good friend, Deborah O’Hara, died from cancer. She was only 59, and my first good friend to die. Funny, she came from a small town in upstate New York but we met in Asia. She lived in Hong Kong and I lived in Tokyo and our work made our paths cross.  

We don’t know what’s on our path. But when my mother calls me tomorrow and says, “How can I have a 60 year old daughter?” we both know it all goes too fast. You’ll know this as you see more grey hairs. 

You may have to wait before these five lessons mean anything to you, I did. But, I just wanted to share. With that, I’m off to roast some cauliflower and broil the salmon. While listening to Josh Groban and sipping a nice bright white from Spain. 

Moments of happiness wherever you are


For the past two days I’ve tuned into the State of You/#140You conference that was held at the NYC 92nd Street Y and live-streamed. It was an interesting group of people doing interesting things in health that ran the gamy from nutrition, food and weight loss to fitness, social media, branding, humor and testimonials of health success stories.

What I learned, basically, is I already know a lot. But it’s always good to be reminded of what you know and hear it again.

One of the things I was reminded of is that happiness is not found in arriving at your destination. Whether that’s your job perfect, spouse perfect, house perfect or any other goal you’ve set for yourself. No, happiness is found in the small, simple every day moments. And, we can feel happier by creating more of those moments and pausing to take them in.   

So, yesterday after watching the conference I went to the post office. My local post office is small with only three workers. They know me because only months ago I was in there almost every other day mailing my new book out to people. 

Kelly asked me s I approached the window with a hearty greeting, “How are you?” I said, I’m find except this awful sore throat. “You know what you need to do for that..” she said, “Gargle with hot salty water.” I told her my mother always told me that and I forgot. Thank you for reminding me. She laughed and said I’d get her bill in the mail.

I walked out of the post office smiling. I was warmed by the exchange of concern, and the small joke. I felt happy. Happiness is small moments. Create them by being in the moment and connecting with whoever you’re with. Look for them by seeing every good thing that happens as a little miracle. After all, it could have gone another way. And savor them. Pause to see the beauty in such moments. 

The photo above is something I was working on 7 years ago, a calendar with joyful images and inspiration to live happier and healthier with diabetes. I think I’ll start posting some pages. Because it makes me happy.

Your history doesn’t have to be your future when managing diabetes

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Here’s my Thursday d-lesson – a little reminder that no matter what we’ve been doing, we can do a little better today if we decide to do so.

My kangaroos, by the way, were inspired by the year I lived in Sydney, Australia. Here’s today’s excerpt from my inspirational D-book,

“The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.”


Whether you’ve spent years ignoring your doctor’s advice, or even avoiding your doctor, today you can decide to be the master of your diabetes. How? Begin by shifting your thinking.

If you’ve been seeing your diabetes care as something you “have” to do, see it as something you “choose” to do. You’ll feel more in control. 

Then see the benefit of doing the task. For instance, “By testing my blood sugar, I can keep it in target range and reduce my risk of complications.” Focusing on the benefit helps remind you why the task is important.

The truth is everything we do in life is a choice. Changing your mindset from “have to” to “choose to” gives you more energy. With all there is to be gained, isn’t it time you hopped to it?

Reflection: Right now list on a post it note 3 diabetes tasks you perform and how they benefit you. Keep this somewhere you’ll see often. 

Appreciating parents of kids with diabetes, and the parent in all of us

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The excerpt below is from my book, The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes 26 life-lessons to stay strong managing diabetes. I also wrote another page for the book that I never used. It’s for those of us who have diabetes to parent ourselves. It’s below with the title: “G is for Gently Nudging Yourself Forward.” 

Excerpt: “G is for Grabbing onto Hope for You and Your Little One”

For parents, diabetes can feel like the death of your dream- a child who’s happy, healthy and has every opportunity. The theft of childhood, a new family dynamic, finding the right doctors, exhaustion and worry are now fixed aspects of your life.

You may even feel guilty or like you let your child down missing the warning signs of diabetes. Know that this is not your fault; you couldn’t have prevented it. Forgive yourself, you are the source of your child’s strength now.

Help restore a sense of normalcy for, and around, your child. And don’t neglect your other children, who are also affected. Create special days to celebrate each one of them.

Remember, children take their cue from you and every day remarkable things are happening to change the face of diabetes.

Reflection: Teach the people closest to you how to do blood sugar checks and let them take over now and then. Think who you can ask for support from and what they can do to help. Keeping yourself strong, safe  sure – and not sleep deprived – will most help your child.

NOTE: Here’s one advance on the horizon for Type 1 diabetes.

G is for Gently Nudging Yourself Forward

“It’s not where you start it’s where you finish,” If you’re over 50, you might recognize this line from a show-tune. It’s also a pretty good motto for life. If you want to accomplish something it doesn’t really matter where you start from. What matters is putting in the effort. When you first heard you had diabetes maybe, like the ostrich who buries his head in the sand, it was too much to face and you ignored it. Forgive yourself for any past mistakes. What matters is what you do now.

Decide today you will take one step to take better care of your diabetes. One step. Not five or six or ten. You can open a book about diabetes and read one chapter. Read one internet site. Take one class in your area. If you think you should be eating less or better, exercising more, checking your blood sugar more frequently, do one of these things today. 

In other words, gently nudge yourself forward; let the parent in you provide a shoulder to lean against while you’re moving forward. As you progress, pick another step to take. The finish line is the place where your diabetes is in good control and one step at a time is the best way to reach it.

“Gently” also means be kind to yourself, because changing habits takes some work at first. Don’t decide to run a mile today if you haven’t walked down the street lately. Don’t cut your calories in half, you’ll only overeat tomorrow. Don’t check your blood sugar every hour, that’s neither easy nor kind. But do decide on something realistic you can do from where you are right now.

Remember too, some days will be easier than others. Be extra kind to yourself on the hard days.

If you take small, steady steps forward, no matter where you start from, it’s pretty sure, “You’re going to finish on top!”

Reflection: Write down 1 new step you’ll take today. Be very specific: what you’ll do, when you’ll do it, how much you’ll do, how you’ll do it. Then do it!

You don’t walk alone with diabetes

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While I’ve been sharing each Thursday d-lessons to help you develop emotional strength to manage your diabetes, these are also ways to meet any challenge life may throw at you. So, here’s today’s excerpt from my inspirational D-book,

“The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.”


When you have faith that you can meet the challenge of diabetes you do not walk alone. You have a direct channel to your inner strength and wisdom; a force that can help you accomplish almost anything. 

Don’t let your faith be beaten down by someone you knew who suffered with diabetes. They may not have had faith or made the best choices or had the benefit of all that’s available today to help manage diabetes.

No matter what, know that there are gifts to be found when you walk this road in faith. So put your worries down and trust yourself. Know that you have an inner well of strengths to draw on when you need them. If you “act as if” you are successful managing your diabetes, you will be.

Reflection: Recall a time you brought your heart and passion to something so fervently you didn’t doubt you would succeed. Decide now that you will bring this same spirit to how you manage your diabetes. Then “act as if” you already do.

As you might imagine, there are 26 more extensive life lessons in the book to help you develop the emotional resilience to manage diabetes – and any life challenge.

Bringing “Can-Do-Ness” to managing your diabetes


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My third in my series of excerpts from my first book, “The ABCs Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.” Each can help you build the emotional strength to do better managing your diabetes.


A “Can-Do” attitude is a choice. Deciding we can do something energizes and inspires us. It can help you through frustrating times, and even help you make the tough choices when confronted with a brownie a la mode or strawberries a la diet whipped cream. 

Sometimes, without realizing it, we choose to take a “vicim” attitude about our diabetes, and it stops us from taking good care of ourselves. It’s natural to feel down or frustrated at times. When you do, accept your feelings. Then pick yourself up and move on again doing your best.

Keeping yourself healthy may require changing some habits you’ve had for a long time. But while bad habits and feeling sorry for yourself may be where you’ve been, they need not be where you’re going. Tomorrow is created by every action you take today.

ReflectionWrite down one thing you can do better in your diabetes management – and how you will do it. Maybe choose a few healthier foods, cook more meals at home, start walking after dinner. Then be specific how you will do it: what, when, where, for how long? The more specific you can be, the more likely you will be successful.