No to resolutions, yes to more laughter

I never make new years resolutions. What I want to do I’ll do, what I don’t I won’t. Why set yourself up for failure. Although I did tell my husband let’s resolve to laugh more this year. And that appeals to both of us.

So, in keeping with my non-resolution, here’s all you need to have a good laugh. You may have heard of the marshmallow experiment. Researchers took a number of four year olds and gave them each 1 marshmallow. They were told if they waited until the researcher returned to eat it, they would get a second marshmallow.

Next time you’re dying for that cookie or piece of cake and wresting with yourself whether or not to have it, remember the look on these kids’ faces and the stalwart winner at the end!

Six spiritual qualities to de-stress

Celebrate the gift you are

Nan Huaijin, a Chinese spiritual teacher, died last month at the age of 94. He had many followers and popularized complicated spiritual ideas on living. 

Someone sent me this list this morning. It was titled, “Six qualities for being a person,” and just reading it makes me less stressed. Less stressed about my unending workload, too many emails, my temporary residence in my boot cast and the 24/7 news cycle. 

1. Be calm; speak less, listen more.

2. Be slow; do things unhurriedly, neither impatiently nor impetuously. 

3. Be patient; faced with injustice, don’t become angry or give vent to pent-up feelings.

4. Yield; step back, be as boundless as the sea and sky. 

5. Be light. View everything lightly, for many things will become smoke with the passing of time. 

6. Be even, which is being ordinary, being balanced.

I have to say I particularly like number 5 for its visual image that whatever I’m worried about right now will be nothing more than vapor a week from now. 

Works for me. Have a great weekend.

What I learned from Alice Sommer Herz


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Last April at just about this time I was the dinner speaker at Diabetes Sisters’“Weekend for Women.” One hundred women with diabetes gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina for a weekend of bonding and learning. The weekend’s theme was ‘Celebrating Our Strengths’ and that was the theme of my talk.

I began with the life story of Alice Sommer Herz, the oldest living survivor, now 108 years old, of the Holocaust. You are probably wondering, as were the women gathered in front of me, why I would talk about a Holocaust survivor? This is why: Alice is a perfect example of using our strengths to get through troubling – for her harrowing – times, and thrive. 

Alice, her husband, Leopold, and their six year old son, Stephan were rounded up and sent to the Nazi concentration camp Theresienstaadt. Alice’s mother had been sent there three months earlier. Her mother would die in the camp. Her husband would die in an extermination camp and Alice and her son would two years later be freed. 

When Alice entered the camp she was already a budding concert pianist and she was ordered to play in Theresienstaadt’s orchestra. She knew she had a choice: refuse or resent the request or let music be her salvation and release her from the day to day suffering. Forty-four thousand people lived in the camp barracks that were built for three thousand. A piece of bread and bowl of broth was all they got to eat for the day. But Alice let go of anger, which could have destroyed her strength and spirit, and chose to play music with an open heart.

Alice survived, one might say thrived, under such austere, horrid conditions because she did not succumb to anger, resistance and hatred. Do you see a connection now with diabetes? She spent as much time as she could doing what she loved, playing music. She found a personal reason to stay as healthy as she could, which was to protect her son. And she remained hopeful for a better future. Throughout, Alice did not hate but maintained her optimism.

Reading Alice’s autobiography, A Garden of Eden in Hell, I found so many lessons for us living with diabetes:

1) Find a reason why it’s important to you to stay healthy

2) Grieve and move on, always looking forward

3) Rely on your strengths to get you through

4) Do more of what you love

5) Have a network of support

6) Be hopeful and expect things to get better

As Alice wrote in her book, “I have never learned to give up hope.” And neither should we.

The power of positive being

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I happen to believe that positive psychology can be a force for good – good for one’s self, and like the rings in a pond that ripple out, good for others. Whether it’s writing down at the end of each day three positive things that happened – many call this keeping a Gratitude Journal – or painting a picture in your mind of yourself at your best, which then generates actions on your part to make that picture real, positivity is a powerful force.

By positivity I don’t mean wishy-washy positive thinking, affirmations and telling yourself everything will be O.K. when you don’t really think it will. I mean focusing more on positive things that happen around you and to you as well as using more of your positive emotions: kindness, forgiveness, patience, curiosity, wonder.

As social scientist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson’s research reveals, the more positives we associate with in our lives the more robust we are: more creative, more open to possibilities, flexible, emotionally strong, physically healthy and socially connected. As Dr. Boyatzis’s, organizational psychologist at Case Western Reserve University, research reveals the more positively-focused we are, the more we stimulate neurons in the brain that open us up cognitively, perceptually and emotionally. In other words, it pays to be hopeful, to dream and to look on the bright side.

Yesterday my friend Miriam Tucker was in New York and we had an interesting discussion over lunch about this topic. She had recently written about it. You might like to read her article

While we tend to shy away from being hopeful and positive for fear it will brand us Pollyanna-ish or we’ll end up with egg on our face if we fail, why not conduct an experiment? 

It was found that people who kept a Gratitude Journal for 2 months reported feeling happier, with fewer physical problems and increased their physical activity. They also benefited from sleeping longer and feeling more refreshed. 

I keep a gratitude tally in my head most days, noting at some point three positive things that have happened. While I can’t tell you what it may set off in my brain, I can tell you it rewards me in the moment with a warm glow.

Above a page from my book, “The ABC’s Of Loving Yourself With Diabetes.”

The role you were born to play may just be a heartbeat away

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Comedian Stephen Colbert 

Whether you know who Stephen Colbert is or not – by the way he’s the comedian who hosts his own late night TV show, “The Colbert Report,” I recently read an article in the New York Sunday Times magazine about him where one line made my skin tingle.

The author says, “The role he (Colbert) was born for…hadn’t yet come his way.” It references the fact that Colbert wasn’t very successful when he began his comedic career because he looked too bland, too sane and too conventionally good-looking. That the role he was born to play, the character he currently plays on his nightime parody show, is the one he unknowingly was waiting for. And by virtue of not giving up, for years, but persisting, he eventually got to play his role.

The take-away for me is if we haven’t known great success in the past, and/or are trying to find our way now, perhaps the role we were born to play – whether that’s in our work, love life, family etc, just hasn’t yet come our way. It may still be waiting for us if we just persist.

It inspires me to think that one day all of what I’m doing now may come together to fruition in a new way and be my penultimate role. 

Well, it’s a nice thought isn’t it? 

The power to tame disease

A simple yet powerful talk

I came across this video while reading psychologist Arloski’s blog on wellness coaching. 

It’s about Dr. David Servan-Schreiber who succumbed to brain cancer almost twenty years after he got it. 

During Dr. Servan-Schreiber’s years with cancer he inspired people who have cancer to fight for themselves through diet, being present and hope. 

I found the video moving and a confirmation of how much our bodies are the result of what we do. As Servan-Schreiber says, “Food is something you do to your body three times a day.” The idea of food being something we do to our body was a different way of looking at what we choose to put into our mouths. 

You can substitute “diabetes” for “cancer” throughout this short video and I guarantee you will get something out of it. Even if just a reminder about how you’re caring for yourself and your diabetes.

Thank you Dr. Servan-Schreiber. 

How brave are you with your life?

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“Be brave with your life, so that others can be brave with theirs.” That’s a quote I read recently. Unfortunately I can’t remember where, but I do remember it, because I love it.

It means stick your neck out, follow your dream, sing your song and know that you’re not being pushy, but a role model inspiring others to do the same. 

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I did assume a mantra last year, “Be bold.” And it moved me to do things, and risk rejection, I wouldn’t have otherwise. And that stretched me and brought me wonderful new things, and projects, like writing for the Huffington Post and speaking at numerous conferences to both patients and providers.

This year my mantra is, “Be bolder.” And, I now find myself repeating often in my head, “Be brave with your life, so that others can be brave with theirs.” Being brave with your life is not about ego, it is about dropping your ego; it is about putting yourself out there, and as an example leading others to follow. It is a selfless act not a selfish one.

Hold onto your center

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Katie Couric was on the morning news Today show last week and said something that stuck in my head. “Some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.” It’s a quote from a book by news woman Linda Ellerbee.


Couric raised it talking about how when she first moved from the anchor desk of the ever-popular Today Show to host the CBS Evening news, she seemed to have immediately morphed from a pigeon into a statue: Every critic (shit on) found fault with her.   


It’s such a simple, freeing statement, “some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.” It reminds me that there will be days I’ll be doing great and other days, for whatever reason, someone may want to find fault. So be it. What’s true is, when other’s find fault it usually has nothing to do with you – it’s their stuff.  Hold onto your center.


It’s comforting I think to be reminded that’s just how life is – for all of us. And it’s a great visual to remind yourself of when things seem dark. So, when you are the statue, just hold tight. One day you will look around and realize you, my friend, are once again a mighty pigeon. 

How do you want to be remembered?

In my youth…


but you wondered, didn’t you?


I watched Piers Morgan last night on CNN covering the death of Elizabeth Taylor. Yes, she was gorgeous. Yes, she was an icon. Yes, she had 8 husbands, was bold and bawdy and may well be our last “movie star.”

What I also noticed, beside the talkingcelebrity tributes, was at each commercial break they showed tweets from Elizabeth’s celebrity friends memorializing her. 

Elton John, James Earl Jones, Liza Minelli, Angela Lansbury, Dick Cavett, Larry King, Kirstie Alley, Michael Caine, Steve Martin. They were all tweeting what you might call tiny little obituaries. Really, what you’d want your friends to say about you when you die. Like, “She taught me a lot about suffering and joy.” “She had a wicked sense of humor I loved.” “She was passionate about everything and did so much good for the world.”

It’s long been a life-coach exercise to have people write their own obituary to think what they’d like to be remembered for, and then create that life. Somehow seeing it as 140 or less word tweets makes it seem so much more doable. 

So I’m thinking maybe we should all write a few tweets about ourselves that we’d like people to use after we’re gone – and then go about creating that life now. 

When I die I’d like people to tweet (of course I realize by then tweeting will have been replaced by something else, but I’ll use it for now):

“She made me think about my life and helped me make it better. And god she was funny!!!.”

Your turn. 

Diabetes transforms Katie Decker

Katie Decker shares her wisdom 


Transforming management through recreation


 I just listened to a great podcast on “Transforming Diabetes” where type 1 patient and health counselor Katie Decker has some great stuff to say. 

Mature beyond her years, Katie’s been living with diabetes and celiac disease for 7 years. She’s made several changes in her life since her diagnosis: she went back to school for health counseling, while still working as an architect, she moved from Los Angeles to Portland, she has grown closer to her family, and diabetes has changed her, her values and how she lives. 

Katie is calm, clear, centered and shares her thoughts about living with diabetes from a productive, constructive, energizing place; a place where we also have a responsibility to strive for our best, maintain balance and ask for support.  

Katie also made me aware of an intriguing organization,InsulinDependence (ID), that is attempting to revolutionize diabetes management by building self-confidence and adaptive management strategies in young people through adventure travel and recreation. The organization also offers leadership training, community and more. ID has an interesting history, an outgrowth of  an experiential diabetes education expedition Peter Nerothin took type 1 youths on in the mountains of Peru in 2005.  

I also like Katie’s idea that we all live on what she calls “primary” and “secondary foods.” Primary foods are those that nourish our spirit like: friends, family, mindfulness, work and hobbies we love. For Katie it’s her love of art. Secondary foods are those we put on our plate. What’s key is when our primary foods aren’t nourishing us we tend to make poor choices in our secondary foods. No doubt in my book.

Tune in to Katie’s interview. So much good information from this young old soul.