Category Archives: Additional Inspiration

Revisiting 48 Questions

I need something to take my mind off of my responsibilities today, so I thought it might be fun to revisit this blog post from January 2013, titled 48 Things that make me… Me.

This had originally appeared in my Facebook feed from Cherise Shockley, a lot of others picked it up, and I thought it would be fun to do too. I can’t believe it was over six years ago.

This time, I’m going to include the original answers from 2013, and my new answers (if there are any) in blue. Feel free to play along on your own social media channel. Here we go!
 
 
Here are 48 things you may not know about me:

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
I was not.
Still true.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
When was the last time I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life”?
Probably the last time I saw my prescription co-pay for insulin.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
I have great penmanship… don’t try to decipher my note-taking, however.
I still have great penmanship, but my chances to use it are fewer and fewer every day.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
Is pit beef a lunch meat? Then YES. That’s my favorite.
I’ve become quite fond of black forest ham lately.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
No kids. Always wanted kids.
Still no kids. Will never have kids. Wish I had kids.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
Yes, of course! ‘Cause I need all the friends I can get.
I’d like to think I’m a better friend than I was six years ago. I certainly hope so.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
Oh, you want to talk politics now?
Do I use sarcasm a lot? Is the president hopelessly devoted to his wife?

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
No! Tonsils removed when I was four years old… in 1966. In those days, they had you stay in the hospital for like five days after the operation. I still remember it. Creepy.
Despite the fact that tonsils can grow back, mine haven’t, so… No.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
I am sooo afraid of heights. But I would bungee jump. I like to confront my fears. And scream my head off through the whole process. The screaming releases the fear.
This is a big change for me. I don’t really want to have anything to do with bungee jumping anymore. Ziplining, however…

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
Raisin bran. Plain enough for you?
Really, I never eat cereal. During the winter, I eat a lot of grits for breakfast. Sometimes, with black forest ham in there.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
Almost always.
Same as (almost) always.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
This requires a “body of evidence” answer. If you asked me if I feel strong right now, I would say no. If you asked me if I’ve been strong over the last 22 years with diabetes, the answer is definitely YES.
Physically, I’ve been through a lot in the last few years. The fact that I’ve survived it does not indicate that I’m weak.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
From the store: Edy’s rainbow sherbet (monster high carb effect, by the way). And Trader Joe’s pumpkin. So pumpkin-ey.
Specialty brand: Black Cherry from Graeter’s in Cincinnati.
I also recently fell in love with Graeter’s seasonal Cinnamon ice cream.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Whether they’re open or closed. Will you talk and be nice even if we seem to be different on the surface? I can usually tell within ten seconds.
It’s amazing how some things don’t really change that much.

15. RED OR PINK?
Red, Red, Red.
Other than an occasional button-down oxford dress shirt, I never much liked pink.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
That I’m getting older. Can’t do anything about it, so I don’t think about it much.
These days, I don’t like what I see when I look in the mirror. I’m wondering if I can ever get that old (short) swimmer’s body back.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
All of my nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews. Kids are still our future and worth every effort we can make for them. Even if some of them aren’t kids anymore.
Add in all Diabetes UnConference alumni.

18. WHAT IS THE TECHNIQUE THAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST?
Remembering. Everything. Everything.
Gee, I haven’t missed a meeting in years. These days, I think I need to work harder at saying No to some things.

19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
Simple black dress shoes. Honed to a bright sheen.
Sturdy brown waterproof work shoes. Pretty casual compared to 2013.

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
Grits and turkey sausage for breakfast this morning.
Oui by Yoplait black cherry yogurt. Surprised?

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
Buckwheat Zydeco Radio on Pandora. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
My listening is all over the map these days. Sinatra, Motown, jazz, opera, and yes, zydeco. I’m a musical melting pot.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
Burnt Orange. Or Indigo.
I’m leaning toward the indigo at this point.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Bacon, bacon, bacon!
Today, when I’m driving and I catch the scent of a good barbecue joint, I will almost always stop.

24. HOW IMPORTANT ARE YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS TO YOU?
Important enough that I care deeply, not important enough to hurt someone over… figuratively or literally.
This is a loaded question in 2019, isn’t it? I think the old rules still apply though.

25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
Both please.
It’s been a hard winter. Send me to the beach.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Baseball on a summer day or night. Horse racing on a spring day or night. Both offer long periods of inaction punctuated by amazing moments of thrillage. I read something like that somewhere.
Still a baseball fan.

27. HAIR COLOR?
Brown.
With increasing amounts of gray.

28. EYE COLOR?
Blue.
Plus, a skin condition has made it so my eyes are almost permanently bloodshot.
I hate it.

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
Nope. Glasses. When I can find them.
I’ve never worn contacts. Inserting pump infusion sets and CGM sensors are enough for me.

30. FAVORITE FOOD?
Steak please.
I’ve had a real fondness lately for flatbread pizza too.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Happy endings.
Every.Single.Time.

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Men in Black 3. First straight-to-video movie I’ve ever watched. Same story… different characters.
Casablanca. “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”. Though he’s so cruel and bitter in that scene, in my opinion, it’s Humphrey Bogart’s best work.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
Your average plain white dress shirt. With a sensible green tie. Sounds worse than it is.
Blue, to support everyone living with and affected by diabetes.
Happy #BlueFridays!

34. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Unquestionably summer.
I’ve been so cold this winter.

35. FAVORITE DESSERT?
Key Lime Pie. Or Cherry Pie. Or just Pie. Or Baklava.
Basically: If it’s made with dough, yes. If it’s made with cake, no.

36. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
Cardio, with just enough strength training now and then to keep me honest.
In a nutshell, that’s me at the gym.

37. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
Slowly but surely moving from the television side over to computer.
I am this close to cutting the cable.

38. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season by Chris Ballard. I need a “no-thinking” book now and then.
I haven’t read a full book in a while. Too busy reading the news every day.

39. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
That question is so 90’s. I don’t need no stinkin’ mouse pad.
Can we retire this question already?

40. FAVORITE SOUND?
Anything involving a baseball.
Add in the sound of laughter, which has been sorely lacking in America since the 2016 election.

41. FAVORITE GENRE OF MUSIC?
I love all music. When it’s played by actual instruments. And not lip-synched.
I’m coming around to some alt-rock. Don’t have much use for “today’s country”. And if you need twenty dancers on stage with you while you sing your song, you’re an entertainer, not necessarily a singer.

42. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Kilkenny, Ireland, 2004. Such wonderful, friendly people.
I visited Brussels, Belgium for three fabulous days almost four years ago. The same statement applies… wonderful, friendly people, living in a beautiful city.

43. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
Ahem… Yes. Yes I do.
You can’t erase talent, can you?

44. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
Cincinnati, Ohio USA on April 9, 1962. Reds Opening Day, and my father had to give up his ticket. They lost anyway, Dad.
Someone, somewhere, made a lot of money saying you can’t change where you were born.

45. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
Baltimore, Maryland USA since September, 1994.
Still living in Baltimore(ish).

46. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR HOUSE?
Just your average brick Cape Cod.
Lived in the same home for almost 22 years. I don’t know if we’d have ever made it here, if not for the property tax and mortgage interest tax deductions that homeowners don’t get any longer.

47. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR?
I have a bright red truck.
I miss my truck every single day. But now I have a nice green-ish Ford with a sleek interior, a sunroof, and a peppy turbo engine.

48. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 48 QUESTIONS?
These 48 questions are fun. I’m not sure I’d like 48 questions about my job.
A lot has changed in six years. And I’m okay with most of it.
 
 
Thanks again Cherise. Just like last time, this has been a good exercise to help clear my mind.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled program…

Finding Integrity.

I’m a big fan of the word integrity.

Dictionary.com defines integrity in three ways:
 
 
1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished:
to preserve the integrity of the empire.

3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition:
the integrity of a ship’s hull.

 
 
Integrity is one of those words that is easy to define, but harder to live.

Most people think about integrity in the context of that first definition. That’s also the most difficult thing to pull off every day, because it’s the one part of the definition that depends entirely on you.

I think of this in terms of diabetes advocacy. Am I doing what I do for the good of my community, or am I doing it so I can sit back and say, “look what I did”? There’s also the honesty factor: am I being truthful, completely truthful, or am I just being truthful enough to serve my own purposes? I think about this a lot.

When I say I think about this a lot, I mean I think about it in a self-examination kind of way, the way that we all should be looking at ourselves from time to time to ensure we’re being people we’d be comfortable calling a friend.

That said, I think almost all diabetes advocates do their best for the betterment of the community. There are always exceptions to the rule… but generally, there’s just not enough money in it otherwise. And recognition is fleeting. At the end of the day, you still have to look yourself in the mirror and like what you see.

The second part of the definition relies partly on the individual, but also relies on the ambiguity of whatever mission is being delegated to the individual. See also John Dean in the Nixon White House, or Paul Newman to his Newman’s Own brand of products. Big differences.

In addition to its literal translation, the third part of the definition can come into play, I think, when we think of ourselves in the context of a structure, or as the definition says, a ship’s hull. Are our thoughts and actions doing enough to keep our character, and the community’s character, intact?

When we say we need more volunteers, are we also volunteering ourselves? When we’re given a gift, of any measure, are we giving a gift as well? Are we being inclusive in the diabetes friends we choose? Are we answering the inquiries we want, and ignoring the rest?

This much I do know: the better we practice integrity every day, the better our friends and associates will be, the better our communities will be, and the better we will be.

First, let’s be as healthy as we can be. Next, let’s take what we’ve learned about integrity and define it on our own terms. Then we can be happy with the reflection in the mirror we see every day.

The Dog Days of January.

How about those dog days of… January?

In the grand American game of baseball, August is the month known as the dog days of summer. It’s when writers and broadcasters wax philosophically about needing to stay focused, stay the course, and stay on a winning trajectory. The season is long, say the pundits. In August, you’re already five months into the regular season, with still another month of the season to play in September. You can’t let down now. Bear down. This is when champions are made.

In real life, we often concentrate on May, as Mental Health Awareness Month, or on December, because we know that a lot of people feel left out or are feeling troubled during the holidays. But what about January?

In North America and Europe, January is the first full month of winter. The sun is low in the sky, and there aren’t many hours of sunlight each day. We’re going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark. The temperature dips. Even when we’re off of work, we tend to stay home, where at least it’s warm.

Where we can easily be forgotten. It’s where we can easily fall prey to inaction and eating poorly and every other factor that makes us care less for our diabetes and our overall well-being. And before we know it, we feel like crap.

It even happens to people like me, who generally have an upbeat outlook on things. I generally don’t let things get me down. I mean, what do I have to feel down about anyway?

Yet, I have to admit, when I looked in the mirror last week, my look reminded me of the dog days, winter edition.

Unlike baseball, when this happens to us the fix is more than just staying the course, bearing down, playing like a champion. It involves a number of things. If you’re not exactly feeling spectacular right now, I hope you might find a few of these helpful:
 
 
Find time for sunshine. Weatherwise, it’s been nothing but gray in my city lately. I’ve been working a lot. When I’m off, I have things to do, appointments to keep. What I needed was a chance to stop and breathe, and feel the sunshine. Change my viewpoint.

So over the weekend, I went to the local conservatory. Not exactly out in the sun, but it’s warm, and every room is a greenhouse. It is not over exaggeration to say that sometimes, just fifteen minutes in a quiet corner there can change my whole outlook on life. It’s just what I needed.

Activity activates. This is where that endorphin thing comes in. Even if you’re only taking a walk, being active can give you a sense of purpose, a sense that you’re fighting back. I don’t know if it helps cure more serious illnesses, but in my case, being more active this time of year really perks me up.

Writing and Reading. If you think of writing as self-expression, you begin to understand why the term “Get something off my chest” carries so much sway. Writing helps me do that, whether it’s here or in a forum that no one else can see.

And we’re not the only ones writing great things. If we can’t find the motivation to inspire ourselves, there’s nothing that says we can’t find inspiration elsewhere. Sometimes, it’s where we least expect to find it. But we won’t find it if we don’t look.

Help someone else. We’re likely not the only ones we know feeling a little down this time of year. Even if you don’t know someone who needs a pick me up, there are plenty of others who need mentoring… need a meal… need something warm to wear out in the cold. Often, doing something for others results in something that helps us too.
 
 
One additional thing I should mention is that it’s important to give yourself the time for all these things. Often, just the act of granting yourself time to think or explore again is just what we need.

I don’t want anyone to think that these are cure-alls for more serious forms of depression or anxiety. There are many cases where care from a professional, or even a prescription might help your day have a little more sunshine too. Like time, granting yourself permission to seek help may be the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, and however your life unfolds, I hope that you can find the happiness and peace you deserve. No matter what happens, I support you… no conditions.
 
 
We’ll be discussing the January Blues and what each of us does and can do about them on Twitter Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. ET(US). Follow @DiabetesSocMed, @StephenSType1, and the #DSMA hashtag and join the conversation!

Quotes for Life.

For some reason, I’ve been going over a lot of quotes in my head.

”Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” – Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game

Quotes often get a reaction out of me. That reaction isn’t always the same. Sometimes, as you can probably imagine, a quote will inspire me. Other times, a quote can help to focus my mind exactly where I need to focus. Many times, especially now, I view quotes through a diabetes lens.

”Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” – C.S. Lewis

After last weekend’s Diabetes UnConference, I’m reminded of that quote a lot. And it makes me feel warm inside.

I learned a while back that I don’t have awesome command of all the words in the world. I’m not the sole source of pithy phrases. On the other hand, I come up with a good one now and then. Or so I think.

Yesterday is only a benchmark. The future is unwritten.” – Stephen Shaul

I try to remember that one when I see a number or have a diabetes experience that I’d rather forget. The truth is, every day will not be perfect. Most of the time, I don’t have any idea what the next five minutes will bring, let alone the next thirty years. Remembering that the future is unwritten helps me focus on the fact that if things are bad today, they don’t always have to be bad. There’s a lot I can accomplish, even if I don’t know what that is yet. And with that in mind:

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky

Most people I know don’t think they deserve the love they would love to accept, if you know what I mean. Including me. It’s something I really want to improve on this year.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I may ignore you rather than confront you, but if you’re going to troll me, I’m not going down in the hole with you.

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” – Marilyn Monroe

Sometimes, our friends aren’t perfect. Sometimes, they make you uncomfortable because they order off the menu all the time or they vote for someone that you don’t. Other times, they’re there when you really need them. Sometimes, they give you the biggest boost at the time you’re most vulnerable. If we demand perfection of all our friends, we’re going to be pretty lonely. Actually, I think I just described my next door neighbor.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I try to tell twenty and thirty year olds that, of course, they don’t know everything yet. But they know themselves, and it’s okay to bring a part of themselves to whatever they do. It’s okay to emulate those you look up to, but remember to let your own light shine too. Don’t worry about how… you’ll find a way.

And that leads me to this final quote, which describes a lot of what I think about when I think of my interactions within the diabetes community, online and off:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Happy Friday… are there any quotes that move you? I’d love to read them!

Community.

I speak to you today in praise of the Diabetes Community.

Multi-faceted, multi-talented, multi-country, multi-cultural, it is the living embodiment of selflessness and inspiration. Its accomplishments are many, and its biggest challenges remain to be conquered. For every advancement, every success, failures of our healthcare systems and of our own endocrine systems means our efforts are not complete.

There is much to be excited about. We are connected as never before, through social media and patient-centric organizations. Blogging is still a thing (at least I hope it is), and this community can boast writers that are among the best around at telling their stories of living with a chronic condition. In the past year, podcasting about diabetes has taken off again, and that gives people a chance to hear the latest without actually having to read the latest.

And there are the athletes. Reaching the heights of their chosen sports, amateur or professional, climbing Mount Everest, winning auto races, playing in the National Hockey League. Riding 100 miles on a bicycle, for no other reason than to help raise money for research toward a cure. There are organizations that encourage and help get people moving so they can simply remain as healthy as possible, for as long as possible.

This community is full of passionate advocates, who see a need and try to fill it, or see a wrong and try to right it. Advocates who speak before Congress, who speak before regulatory bodies, who debunk long-established myth and self-serving stigma to anyone who will listen. God bless them. As we break down more barriers going forward, I hope we can find a way to turn our short-term advocacy efforts into sustained, long-term advocacy movements. In the end, a lot of advocacy is simply outlasting those who oppose us.

There are increasing numbers of healthcare professionals living with diabetes, and many who don’t live with diabetes but support us in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of a generation ago. I like how their profession allows them to have both a unique perspective on our disease, and an even bigger motivation to educate all of us about the importance of never giving up on our own self-care.

Yet, there remain difficulties. For every person running a marathon or leading a local support group or participating in a clinical trial, there is someone who lives with depression or burnout that they never counted on when they were diagnosed. There is someone who goes to a doctor once a month to get injections directly into their eyes to help reduce the ravages of diabetic macular edema. There is someone who works hard every single day to even out the roller coaster of glucose readings they see on a continuous glucose monitor. Their issues are not going away, so we should continue to show them the love and support they so richly deserve.

Being part of the Diabetes Community includes things like giving so that children living with diabetes in developing countries don’t also live with a death sentence. For many, it includes occasional happy gatherings full of laughter and hugs and bolus-worthy delights, living life to its fullest. It’s a unique language and an extra set of superpowers that none of us ever thought we would possess, but do anyway because it can literally mean the difference between life and death during tense moments for ourselves or our loved ones.

Diabetes isn’t something that happens to just us; it’s something that happens to all of us. All of us in this community are affected by the successes and frustrations that each of us experience every single day of life with a disease that is with us every single day. It is right that we commiserate in the sadness of a high A1c result or the passing of a close friend. It is equally right that we rejoice together in goals met, children raised, and new technology that makes us safer. Having to live with diabetes is the worst part about my life. Getting to live with diabetes people in my life makes me a better person.

“When I am with a group of human beings committed to hanging in there through both the agony and the joy of community, I have a dim sense that I am participating in a phenomenon for which there is only one word… glory.” – M. Scott Peck

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.” – Mother Teresa

Communities are not buildings or monuments or parks. They’re made up of people. Our shared situation and our singular desire to compassionately relieve and delay and eliminate the burden of diabetes unite us as a community in a way few other things can. As each new day dawns, I take solace in the fact that even though my pancreas is faulty, my heart is full.
 

%d bloggers like this: