Diabetes Blogs

Reflections of 27 Years with Type 1 Diabetes: Part 1 - The Mindset of Thriving

February 13, 2014 marked 27 years of living with Type 1 diabetes for me. That is a long, long time. Sure, not as many years as some of the veterans out there but this is not a competition about who has lived with diabetes longer! It's tough for all of us and we all deserve a pat on the back whether it's been 2 years or 20! Of course things can get more difficult the longer you live with it, but that is for another post.

This week's post is the first in a short series that will share some reflections on what life is like for me after living with diabetes so many years---more than 2/3 of my life (crazy thought!). This week I plan to focus on how I have gotten by and continue to get by with this super challenging and demanding chronic health condition. Well not only how I get by but live in wellness, with peace and joy at my side.

Next week I will share what I did on my anniversary to honor myself in this crazy life with diabetes and celebrate me! And finally in week 3, I will share some things I've learned along the way over the past year. Heads up: these are not all easy or positive realizations... Yet, I know from last week's post that this is exactly the kind of stuff you want to hear about to know you are not alone. I assure you, you are not! :)

Diabetes can mean different things to us based on where we are in our journey and what else is going on in our lives at the time. Or even what is going on with our health in general---what other health conditions we live with that might be rearing their ugly head or just taking their place at diabetes' side. This series is just my personal reflection of where I've been the last year. Thanks for coming along!

Many of you who have been following my blog for a while know that my diabetes anniversary is an important day for me. I am not celebrating living with diabetes as diabetes is NOT fun or enjoyable in any way. Sure, there are good things that have come from it, but that is not what I'm talking about here. What I am celebrating is 27 years that I have survived. Kicked diabetes in the butt. And not let it win or get the best of me.

Sure, on some days or moments of days this has been the case. Diabetes wins and I am in a sour mood. I pout and am downright blue. I can even feel depressed, angry or extremely frustrated. Fortunately, these "blue" moments seem to last shorter the longer I live - not just the amount of time I live with diabetes but the amount of years I've taken breaths on this planet.

I am so thankful that the hard moments do not stick around as long and believe this to be connected to the rigorous and extensive self-care I do daily and healing work I do emotionally, mentally and physically. Although extremely painful at times to do this healing work, I do not want to be held back or limited by diabetes or any of my other health conditions or anything else, whether it be emotional or physical. Sure, it is not always entirely possible to be free and clear of the muck, but by giving it my best shot, I am a whole lot further than I'd be otherwise. And it feels amazing to be working through obstacles that used to hold me back or cause upset.

For the most part I do my best to live positively. Really, I would define myself as a realistic optimist---a term and way of being I read about in an enlightening article last year.

I do not ignore the hardships and what is so incredibly difficult for me to endure. Or what is

so frustrating! No, I allow myself to feel all of these feelings. By letting them out---maybe talking with a friend, someone on my healthcare team, my awesome blog community on Facebook, a family member or just hugging one of my pets---I allow myself to really be upset and feel the intensity and abrasion of the emotions to my body, mind and spirit. They can at times feel all-encompassing and too hard to overcome. I lose hope, wondering if I will rise above or be able to work through it. I feel discouraged and my heart weighs heavy with burden and sadness. 

Some days these dark feelings last all day and I feel quite down and depressed. Sometimes they last just a few hours or until my blood sugar gets back in range allowing my brain and body to work optimally.

One thing that does help me not just stay in a stuck or negative place despite my multiple diagnoses is focusing on the positive (there are many!) and beauty despite. Despite this life-changing and difficult condition. Despite all of the fear and worry that sometimes feels like it pops up a little too often. Despite the tears and anger and times of "Why me?"

I make a conscious decision to choose life. And love. Peace and joy. Smiles and laughter. Times of bliss and utter contentment. I choose to focus on all of the big and little blessings that surround me.

I make it my mission to not be held back but triumph over the chronic health conditions I live with.

Yet when wallowing in emotional, mental and/or physical pain, my gaze averted downward, feeling so stuck, unable to proceed ahead in the physical or even emotional realm, maybe not being mindful or present (whether I'm conscious of this or not)---the beauty of life and blessings all around me are more difficult to recognize or be aware of.

The following is a list of 16 positive things I choose to focus on in my life. These are some of the things that help me overcome darkness and what makes my heart heavy and sad at times. The items on this list not only make me happy but help create wholeness, peace and a gentle acceptance for my health that challenges me on some level every single day. We all have bad days but it is important that those moments do not take over our lives or keep us from accomplishing our goals or life purpose. I hope this list provides inspiration for you and new ways to embrace life.

1. Cooking healthy meals---I eat an organic mostly whole foods diet, limiting processed food, refined sugar, dairy, artificial ingredients and preservatives while avoiding (due to sensitivities) gluten, corn and most nuts.

Curried Chicken Salad  2. Baking healthy treats (free of gluten, refined sugar & often loaded with nutrients!)

Gluten & grain free brownie with fresh organic strawberries.

3. Finding new recipes to prepare that are just knock your socks off good and healthy + blood sugar stabilizing! Almost nothing better than spending time in the kitchen either by myself or next to my sweetie's side cutting fresh vegetables and herbs, prepping and cooking culinary delights.

4. Continuing my healing journey with a healthcare team that is so wonderfully supportive, understanding and wise---always doing their part to not only provide healing but help me see the progress I am making while challenging me in the areas that still need growth and refining.

5. Allowing time each day for rest and down time.

6. Lots of cuddles, hugs and nurturing, snuggly time with my three pets.

Snuggles with my dog Jonah.

7. Engaging with those who lift me up, are fun, caring, supportive and really see me---this includes my husband, close friends and family.

8. Learning! Attending lectures, conferences and workshops, reading lots and talking with others. My brain feels happy when it is soaking up knowledge. And I love sharing what I learn to help those I love live healthier and happier lives.

9. Making time each day to be outside. The fresh air, sunlight and wind that blows on my face and through my hair are deeply restorative and grounding for me. Of course this is more challenging during winter in Minnesota (it's currently -2 out there right now!) so I really make sure to take advantage of and enjoy the other 3 seasons of the year!

10. Solitude---time in prayer, meditation or silence when I am not pushing myself to do anything or be anywhere. As a highly sensitive person, this is as critical for me as the air I breathe.

11. Exercise! Yoga, long walks, bike rides, tennis, swimming, frisbee or running around with my dog. I love being active. It is truly the elixir of life for me---energizing, stabilizing to both mood and blood sugars and helping to quell anything that's not going well in my body, heart or mind.

Practicing yoga at a cabin we rented on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

12. Consciously choosing joy and making my best effort to think positive, maintain hope, believe and have faith in myself and my life and what is in store for me in the future.

13. Saying positive affirmations daily. I believe these not only help me live with greater peace but provide an overall helpful and positive energy and flow in my life.

14. Doing things I love. Going to concerts, on dates with my husband to Twins games and quaint organic cafes, listening to music and whether in person or by email, spending quality time connecting with those who are dear to me.

One of my favorite cafe's in St. Paul, Minnesota - Trotter's Cafe.

15. Helping others and volunteering. Helping others transforms my struggles. There is almost no greater feeling than bringing light, comfort and smiles to someone.

16. Connecting with others who live with diabetes. I realize in the past year that good or bad, a large majority of my friends also live with diabetes! I was just chatting with a Type 1 friend in England this morning, messaged another in Canada & Oregon last night and am meeting a local friend with Type 1 for dinner tonight. My life has never felt richer nor have I ever felt as understood or loved. Find other d-peeps, whether online or in person. Both, if possible and watch the quality of your life expand. My friends with diabetes are both cheerleaders and patient listeners while always ready to help me celebrate any victory or success. I am grateful every single day that my life is overflowing with so many courageous, loving and beautiful people I get to call friends.

Having fun on World Diabetes Day with two dear Type 1 friends.

What brings you peace, endless happiness and smiles? These things that bring us life are invaluable tools to help us not only survive life with diabetes but live with full purpose, determination and joy--- while inspiring others to do the same, regardless of their diagnosis or life challenges.

Go live. Be. Explore. Diabetes does not have to hold you back.

In Peace & Wellness,



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