Category Archives: Diabetes and your mind

Emotional Eating with Diabetes Book Review

LIP-EEWD

Emotional Eating with Diabetes is Ginger Vieira’s 2nd book.  It tackles a subject all too familiar to people with diabetes and perhaps, not acknowledged enough by everybody else.

I’ve blogged about my struggles with food but not in great detail.  So I want to share my emotional eating story.

I’m a really emotional person and someone who has lived with type 1 for over 18 years (and through childhood and teenage years) so put that together and add in some 1st world body issues and you have someone who can review this book from a very personal place of experience.

And while I think I’ve got a good grip on my emotional eating issues (they don’t resurface often), I’m like an alcoholic in the sense that I need consistent reminders to stay on the right path and out of the dark side.  I really benefited from reading this book.  And I think I’ll read it every single year from now on for support.

It started when I was 12 and had only been living with type 1 for a year.  I would beg my mom for gum at the grocery store and then sell each piece at school for 10 cents, which I’d then pool together to buy an alternate lunch at school each day-a Little Debbie oatmeal cookie or fudge round.  I hated diabetes and the rules that came from my doctors so much that I was going to spite them any way I could.  So I ate what I wasn’t supposed to for lunch.

Then I started sneaking in candy bars and granola bars when no one was looking just to eat what diabetes wouldn’t let me eat.  (Do remember, this was before fast acting and 20-some hour insulin so back then we did have to abide by some rules that we don’t have any longer.)

I would binge and then feel like the worst person in the world.  And I developed a cycle of rebellion mixed with self-hate and a neglect for self-respect (ironically something I was all for in other manifestations).  People didn’t know I had a problem because I hid it.  And that was probably the first sign of a problem for me.

My health suffered, my weight went up, I had a hard time keeping up with such a destructive way of living.

Eventually (after years of hard work), I began to enjoy eating healthy and learned how to treat myself in a respectful way when it came to food.  And because food matters so much in diabetes, my health improved dramatically-no, my life improved dramatically.

If this sounds at all like you or you want to stop feeling obsessive about food, get this book.  It’s written in a straight forward but friendly way that will acknowledge all your fears and anxieties and help you through them.  This book will give you a guided path to where you want to be and show you how to be kind to yourself along the way.

I agree that the “can’t eat that” mentality is harmful. Ginger stresses that we make our own decisions and instead of telling ourselves we can’t have something, we either choose to or choose not to. And that’s how I do now with bread, rice, and pasta and other heavy carbs. I choose not to have them but I know that if I want them, I can have them. There is a difference between enjoying chicken and veggies  and eating that same dish while staring longingly at the rice side that is “forbidden”. Our minds are very susceptible to this kind of pressure and they are bound to crack.

Every now and then I eat my favorite food-ice cream, and I eat it really slowly, savoring every bite.  And I remember how I used to eat it so fast my tongue would burn and I would ask myself “What are you doing, you’re not even enjoying this?!”  That’s when I realize I’ve come a long way.  And yes, it took baby steps, the way Ginger describes in her book, but eventually we can get where we’re meant to be.  And the journey is so worthwhile.  This book is succinct, kind, and best of all I believe it’s effective.

I strongly recommend it.

Buy it here Smile

If it Works for Oprah…

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“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
~ Epicurus

Not everyone likes Oprah but most of us agree that she has worked herself to where she is versus being handed everything.  My mom saved an article for me where she talks about gratitude.  I was amazed to read what Oprah considers the most life changing thing she has done.  For many years she has kept a journal and each morning she has written down 5 things she is grateful for.  It forces a person into a habit of looking at what they do have versus what they don’t.  She goes on to talk about gratitude and the unique power it can have on our lives.

I’ve read in many places that gratitude is the single most transformative thing we can use in life.  It begs positivity, streamlines focus away from feelings of inadequacy, and brings with it a healthy rush of feelings to the body that support positive decisions.

I believe that those of us with diabetes who practice gratitude on a consistent basis really benefit.  Not only does having a chronic illness usually cause us to be more aware and sensitive towards the plights of others but couple that with gratitude and you have an amazing potential for a life filled with meaning and depth beyond many people’s reach.

So while I’m not grateful for having diabetes, I am grateful for what I’ve learned and who I am because of it.  And when my blood sugar is 102 and I feel perfectly healthy, I feel like I’m in heaven while others don’t even recognize the beauty and freedom of feeling great.  I could feel jealous of non diabetics but I choose to feel grateful for the advantage of my perspective.  It makes life better.  But it is a choice and a habit.  I think writing down things we’re grateful for is an excellent idea.  Thanks, Oprah.

A Diabetes Art Showing

My sister and fellow type 1 diabetic, Ana, had her first art showing recently on campus of her school, James Madison University.

The theme she chose was diabetes so I really wanted to share pictures of it with you all.

One of Ana’s professors expressed worry that this theme of diabetes somehow limited Ana’s potential to perhaps show her range. I would like to respectfully disagree. Diabetes is a 24/7 condition that affects every single cell in our bodies, has no cure, and has mental, social, emotional repercussions. Diabetes has no limits and neither does art.  Art is expressed in many forms and has the potential to teach, inspire, and move us deeply.  I have diabetes and know my sister but was still very surprised and moved from this collection and I know that many people without diabetes were really impacted and informed by this art work.

Ana was extraordinarily brave to open herself up in this way and allow us a chance to learn from and relate to her as a person living with diabetes. What is it they say?  That in showing our vulnerabilities we reveal our strength and courage?  Well, I agree and I’m really proud to call her my sister.

Enjoy :)

 

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Her showing starts with a setting for visitors including her business cards and a jar of strips which gives a visual for just how many of these things we go through and how many finger pricks we endure.

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This one is called “ketoacidosis”. Ana has only visited the hospital once in almost 19 years with type 1 diabetes and it was for ketoacidosis as a teenager. It came up fast and seemingly out of nowhere and scared the heck out of us. She recalls that she didn’t really know what ketoacidosis was nor did she realize how dangerous it could be.

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Here, Ana says this represents the time between her hospital visit for ketoacidosis and the time she began these paintings.  So activities and events are shown below and collectively demonstrate what is her very “Normal Life”, as the painting is called.

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This one stumped me until Ana explained it.  It’s the third in this series of four paintings and is called “Attack”.  During the time of Ana’s “normal life” she read up on ketoacidosis to understand it better.  She read about how serious it was and then went days waking up in the middle of the night with what sounds like anxiety attacks.  She says she felt her heart beating strongly (which is why it’s enlarged in the painting) and felt she was being choked and sick to her stomach with fear at the realization of what diabetes could cause to happen.

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Ana ends with a piece called “Thank You” which represents the support and love from family and friends.

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“Insulin is Not a Cure”

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This one is called “I Can See It Happening” and represents Ana’s fear of diabetes complications, namely, blindness.  This is a strong fear for her because of how she loves to paint and make art and is a generally visually oriented person.  But the squeezing out tears is also indicative of the many frustrations from living with diabetes.

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I don’t remember this but days after Ana’s type 1 diabetes diagnosis at age 3, she caught the flu!  Here are two framed sheets of notebook paper where our dad charted out Ana’s blood sugars trying to understand  type 1 diabetes and help take care of a young daughter with the flu all at the same time.  She was still in the honeymoon period at this point.

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A wall of thoughts and feelings about diabetes…

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Ana asked people with and without diabetes a few questions and framed the questions and the responses she received.  Here are a few:

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Ana’s answers to those questions:

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Our friend Jennifer Brannock’s response:

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Our mom’s response:

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Our Dad’s:

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Our 12 year old brother:

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From Ana’s boyfriend (ironically, also my husband’s youngest brother):

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Here is one girl’s heartbreaking response (let’s leave her some encouraging comments!)

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From Patty Keller:

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More people from the DOC responded:

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Don’t we know about ketones and strips…

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The beta cell is quite lovely:

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and in color:

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I remember taking this picture one summer. Ana and our other sister Sara were in the basement roller blading to music. Our mom called down the stairs, “Ana! Check!” Ana dutifully shoved off her skates and ran upstairs to check. I thought about how our reality was so strange, yet so normal and I took a picture of her while checking her blood sugar. I didn’t tell her to “say cheese”, she did that all on her own. After this photo she went back to roller blading and I was secretly inspired by her ability to carry diabetes so gracefully.  Even though the hardship of diabetes is present, I think this picture reflects the potential we all have as people with or without diabetes.

In other words, we do what we need to do, smile…and carry on with life.

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Thank you so much for viewing/reading this post.  It’s the next best thing to having had you all over to the art show in person.

We’re eager to hear what you think in the comments :)

 

XOXO, Sysy and Ana Morales

The Way Kids See It

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For many of us with diabetes, our children will grow up watching us check our blood sugars, inject insulin or be connected to a pump, desperately shove sugar into our mouths, and not find any bit of it strange.

And the only time it becomes something they stop and ponder may be when a friend or someone from the outside asks questions about it.  “What’s your mom doing?”  “What’s wrong with her-is she sick?”

They will explain we have diabetes and that we have to check our blood sugars and take medicine for it.  It won’t even be a big deal.

Their reality of our having diabetes should be ours.

Focusing on wishing we didn’t have diabetes only hinders us and distracts us from all the diabetes related decisions we need to make every day.  We need all our energy for managing this thing.

For our children, it just “is” this way.  And for us to gain full acceptance of our diabetes we can try looking at it the same way, it just “is”.  That’s our reality.  Now what are we going to do with it?

Or better yet, what example are we going to give our kids about facing our reality and living life to the fullest?

10 Random Things from the Author of The Girl’s Guide to Diabetes

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Hi!  I’ve been away from the blog longer than ever since it started 3.5 years ago.  That ends today.  But, here is what has been consuming my thoughts and making writing about diabetes a lower priority:

1.  Travelling with diabetes is challenging.  I’ve really been working at getting the knack of it.  I don’t want it to be bad for my health you know?  The other day, I tried my best to check my blood sugar in line at the airport where you put your things in cubbies to get scanned and just as I put the blood in the strip the scanner sucked my cubby with my meter in it inside to be scanned and I had to ask the lady at the scanner, “Excuse me, what number do you see on my meter?”  She lifted the scanner flap and peeked inside and said, “911 I think?”  Huh?!  It came out a few seconds later and I saw a 116, phew!  People behind me looked a little nervous and I don’t blame them.  One TSA agent said, “We need to do a pat down, do you mind?”  I said, “Of course you need to now, go ahead.”  What was I doing checking at the most inappropriate time?  I felt really off like I might be very low and ready to pass out and didn’t want to hesitate with checking because I had to run to the next gate so I felt I needed to just do it then.  I get sick to my stomach with flying so I take dramamine and that makes me kind of loopy…but I still love it.  Flying that is, not the dramamine.

2.  My favorite number is two.  I know that’s random but-My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It’s really scary because even though surgery removed the tumor, the likelihood of return is very high.  I’m making him vegetable juices and hoping that does something to help.  This has made me have a heart to heart with myself about my diabetes because I can do so much to make my outcome a good one-I really need to remember that and be grateful for it.

3.  My kids being 3.5 and still at home with me all day is driving me nuts.  I hate feeling nagged because I really am very happy to have them with me, to read books and play games all day, mold their minds into caring, open, patient people, watch them impressed as they have expert command of the computer, but at the same time, I know I’m not enough.  And I’m not sure how to solve this which leads me to:

4.  My husband Alex and I are having a hard time deciding where to live.  We can’t decide whether to rent or buy, to get a house or condo or loft.  And its because what we want doesn’t exist where we live.  We want to buy a really small place (so that the cost is low and the space is just for basic needs) and then we want to use our extra money to eat well (for health’s sake) and to travel (for our kid’s mind’s sake).  And I don’t mean travel abroad, I mean anywhere.  Right now just driving to a neighboring town to visit isn’t doable because rent is so high (since we want a nice and safe area-gee are we just asking for too much?).  When we walk out of our front door we want to be around people, a community.  I live in a place that is too large to be a town and too small to be a city and so we don’t have any of the best of either world.  Others would disagree but I must be ambitious because I want more.  Alex does, too.  We’re lonely.  There, I said it.  My kids are lonely.  School is coming for them and I’m sure they will love it.  Maybe that’s all we have to wait for.  In the meantime daycare/preschool is too expensive here and we make too much to get federal aid for it-nor do I want it.  Stubborn Sysy strikes again.

5.  I’ve noticed there is a back lash online towards people who are health coaches or something similar.  Usually, the most upset are those who studied for years to get an accreditation of some kind.  I can understand.  However, what someone like myself does as a health coach is in no way a threat to what a dietitian or a nurse or a diabetes educator does.  Think of what a coach does?  Supports, cheers, listens, encourages.  I’ll write more about this soon.  And I’d like for people out there to know that vocation has a lot to do with how good one will be at their job.  Just think, we all took math in high school but how many of us could teach others that math?  I couldn’t to save my life.  My health coaching training took one intense year but I’ve been reading and training on the subject my whole life as if I grew up knowing what I wanted to do only not knowing it actually existed until recently.  And I think that goes for many people of all types of professions and work.  I may write more about this later in detail but for now, I just want to say that health coaches don’t take the place of the other health care professions, they just want to help alongside of them.  And there is a need for them otherwise so many people wouldn’t be calling us for help and leaving happy and satisfied.  And we deserve to make a living off of it because we’re working hard, helping people (isn’t that the point?), and can’t do our work as homeless people.  We don’t have huge loans to pay back but that’s not our fault.  We do have to struggle more to find work since so many are still skeptical however.

6.  I’d like to remind you all of the website Guerilla Goodness.  It’s awesome and inspiring and really cheers me up this time of year.  Great ideas here for spreading around secret acts of kindness-which I agree with the author-do change everything.

7.  I’ve been thinking about how to reconcile my love of fashion and quality clothing while not spending much and while buying from small businesses and while keeping my closet simple.  A friend from France emailed me explaining what most girls there do:  They buy a few pieces a year that they carefully select while walking around town, making sure they fit perfectly and they get shoes that are comfortable but exactly what they are looking for.  Then, they wear the same few outfits over and over and over.  It keeps things minimal, lets them wear what they love, and keeps costs down.  And at the end of the year, they have completely worn out their shoes and clothes and can start anew the next year.  I read the same thing in a book recently, too.  Just thought I’d share because I think too many of us have too much clothes and we don’t even love most of it and then our closets are overwhelming, we’ve spent too much, and for what?

8.  There is a website I want to share.  My type 1 friend Cynthia Zuber is on a holistic health journey.  She is doing great and it’s been very inspiring to get to know her and see what all she does to regain her health and maximize it.  She shares the most delicious recipes I’ve seen and just want to let you all know to check out Diabetes Light.

9.  Did you get the flu shot this year?  I didn’t though I can understand why some do.  I haven’t in many years.  So far, so good.  Things have been great since getting my Vitamin D levels up with Vitamin D3 supplements.  Oh and frequent hand washing.  Just wanted to share.

10.  My most popular post is about nerve damage reversal.  I am submitting an update here that as of December 2012, I have less foot pain than I have ever had.  In fact, I have had none this year.  I don’t know why.  I wonder if running bothers me (I’ve been doing more yoga and walking and less running).  For years I had tons of foot pain, tons!  Then as I regained control of my blood sugars the pain increased (which doctors told me could be due to healing of nerves)  Then the pain went away for 99% of the time.  I credit this lack of pain now to well managed blood sugars.  I thought I would halt damage by improving my sugars but it seems I’ve reversed some because of the lack of pain?  Pretty fantastic what great blood sugars can do.  Makes the discipline and healthy lifestyle so worth it.  Even if I just do it most of the time Winking smile  Anyway, I share because the possibility of less pain is a big motivator.

Take care, all.

xoxo,

Sysy

Free eBook Shares Diabetes Diagnosis Stories

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The online diabetes magazine A Sweet Life has put together two great eBooks you can download for free.  They are each a compilation of inspirational diabetes diagnosis stories but one shares stories from people with type 1 diabetes and the other, type 2 diabetes.

My story is one of the stories in the type 1 diabetes eBook.

It was an honor to share it and I thank A Sweet Life for doing this and offering it to the DOC for free.

If you haven’t checked out A Sweet Life, do so today-it’s full of seriously handy information and a source for excellent opinion articles by a number of people with diabetes.  In fact, I’d say the site is one of the DOC’s best kept secrets.  Check it out and have a great one!

XOXO

Being Bad

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Some people are perfectionists.  I have a little of that.  As a result, I beat myself in the head with thoughts having to do with self improvement and practice makes perfect and try again until it’s right and so on.

Because of this tendency I find that I can easily go to extremes.  About losing weight, I have a hard time keeping reasonable thinking like, “I want to lose 5 pounds.”  Instead it’s “I want to be thin like I was at age 10”.  Or instead of thinking “I need to eat more vegetables” I may think, “I’m going to eat nothing but vegetables from now on until the end of time”.

I don’t actually stick to those extremes thank goodness, but it’s a nagging tendency that isn’t healthy and certainly not comfortable.

Something I learned at IIN, where I graduated recently, was to sometimes “be bad”.  Not go-to-jail bad, but stop-striving-for-unobtainable-perfection bad.

So I’ve found that when I get wrapped up in thinking that I will never eat another bite of anything unhealthy again, I plan for a night with a little ice cream.

Or recently, I got myself some clove cigars that I really like and have one when I’m feeling like all the “right” choices are kind of stifling me with boredom.

It’s hard to try to be “good” or “compliant” all the time and with pretty well managed diabetes, that’s what it feels like.  I mean, I give insulin to bring down a 130.  To me, that kind of control is worth it, I truly believe so, but to balance all that I sometimes sleep in my makeup, smoke the occasional cigar, skip a shower, or read the Fifty Shades Trilogy (yes, I read that marvelous piece of literary crap.  In three days.  My world stopped for a week.  Don’t worry about me I’ve recovered.  Team Matt Bomer!).

Being “bad” reminds me to chill.  It also makes me realize that if my idea of being bad is sleeping in my makeup, then I think I’m going to be ok.

What about you?  What do you do to be bad?

Denial

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We’re so good at it.  All of us.  Or most of us, anyway.

I just read an article in Oprah’s magazine about a woman who has worked as a teacher and a life coach.  She mentioned that she witnessed art students being instructed to draw straight lines and circles for the longest time.  And even though they felt frustrated about such a beginner task, she noticed they rarely saw the imperfection of their circles and straight lines.

Now that she works as a life coach, she helps clients accept the flaws in their life.

I was reminded how denial is our way of procrastinating on the fear and discomfort and shame we feel when we confront the truth about ourselves and our situations in life.

The thing is, those unpleasant feelings dissipate really quickly once we see truth, accept it, and act on it.

The most healing thing I’ve ever experienced is acting on the truth.  Only, the first thing to do before acting on truth is realizing it and accepting it.  Doing that made the right actions possible in the first place.

And the right actions bring the right results.

I have always noticed how people will genuinely believe in a false truth and will act on that and then wonder why they aren’t getting the results or outcome they want.  And the trust is we can put 110% of effort into the wrong actions and get nowhere.  This feels unfair but it’s just the way the world works.

It’s absolutely crucial to be brutally honest with ourselves about why we’ve gained weight, about why we’re lonely, about why we are financially tight, and about why our blood sugars aren’t where we want them.

Only then can we take the correct steps towards improving our situation.  And only then do we experienced the sense of peace that brings a full acceptance of our reality.  Our reality really isn’t that bad when we look at it.  It’s more the thought of it that’s scary.

Look at an area of your life you want to improve and sit by yourself for a few minutes.  Be really honest with yourself about why things are the way they are.  Cry, scream, let out your feelings.  And then meet them with a plan that’s full of clarity and hope.  Be really specific about your plan and layout steps for the next month, week, and day.  You’ll feel better when you’ve done this, I promise.

This is something I help clients with in my health coaching.  Because sometimes we just need some support.  Nothing wrong with that.

Whatever You Think About You Attract

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I’ve written along this subject line before but wanted to do it again because it’s so powerful.  So again, “whatever you think about you attract”.  Does that make sense?  Math is a weakness of mine and so I can fully respect that for some people abstract thinking is not a strong point.  To understand that statement, one needs to think a little deeply for a moment.  This has nothing to do with intelligence because we all have preferences in the way we think about things.

I just wanted to make sure I didn’t poke or sting anyone’s feelings.

Now, let’s get into the meaning of this statement, for those who are interested.  Basically, our thoughts are powerful.  They influence our feelings.  We act very heavily upon our feelings and so our thoughts influence our actions.

Let’s say someone is having some cash flow issues and they hear that “whatever you think about you attract” bit.  They might spend much of the day thinking about how they don’t want to be broke or how they don’t want to have a money problem anymore.  Interestingly though, because these thoughts imply the mind is focusing on being broke and that there IS a money problem, one’s feelings can’t help but be affected negatively because the focus is still ON the problem.  And our feelings are so majorly influential that we will struggle to withhold our negative feelings from leading to negative actions.  For example, how many of us have quit a workout or diet goal because something in our life made us upset and we justified quitting because of said upsetting thing?  It happens all the time.

Feelings are important.  That’s why it’s recommended that people learn to manage stress.  Being emotionally upset messes up the equilibrium in the body.  It shoves you right out of your groove.

So what should a broke person do?  First of all, logic is not thrown out the window.  A person should absolutely make good decisions about how they are spending their money if their money is tight.  Now that’s out of the way, this person could keep positive thoughts in his head and think about what he does have.  Focusing on being grateful for the things he does have will give his body some positive feelings which will combat any negative ones and help support this person to have the strength required for the right decisions.  Relentlessly making the right decisions carries a person to their goal much faster than if they are so weighed down by being upset and depressed that half of their decisions do not lead to their ultimate goal.  Something is always going well in our lives, so that needs to be drawn out and made a top thought priority.

If you struggle thinking of something that’s going well, pick a body part of yours that works and be thankful it’s there and serving you.  Imagine what you’d do without it.  Yikes, right?

So there.  “Whatever you think about you attract” isn’t magic, it’s real.  It’s much like karma, which is also not magic.  People all over the world find their own way to describe things that don’t have a name and so the “law of attraction” and “karma” are just that.

I encourage you to try this in your life in some way or other.  Try it with your self esteem, your diabetes, your financial situation, your relationships, etc.  Just try it.

It’s completely changed my life for the better.  I mean it.  And I want awesome things for all of you.  You deserve it.  If you want some support with this and other health issues consider checking out my website, sysymorales.com.

Do share your thoughts in the comments!  I really appreciate the feedback.

Do Something You’re Afraid Of

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It’s Fabulous Friday where we celebrate ourselves or at least remember to.

When we’re afraid of doing something because of the possibility of failure, we don’t honor the incredible people that we are-capable of just about anything.

So today, I ask you to consider doing something you’re afraid of.  And diabetes will seem a little easier.  At least that’s what I have experienced this summer.

You know that movie with Jim Carrey where he says “yes” to everything and it changes his life?  Well, I kind of did that this summer.  I responded affirmative to everything that came up.  Did I overschedule myself a few times?  Yeah.  Did I freak out over some of what I was attempting?  Oh yeah.

But, it was so worth it.

Of course, I don’t mean trying something dangerous.  For me, it meant public speaking, doing more health coaching, participating in as many diabetes related projects as were offered to me even if they made me uncomfortable or seemed difficult.

Part of my fear was not having much downtime and having to multi-task.  But I learned I could mentally get myself to accomplish routines that would have killed my non-housewifey self a year ago.  I did treat myself to ice cream during times of panic, I’ll admit.  I did watch all 11 seasons of Frasier on Netflix (this was therapy because the incessant laughter the show gave me relaxed me and kept me sane-I swear!)  Yet, I realized by working almost every hour of every day that I had only been afraid of a little discomfort and no more.

Something I’ve also been doing that I’ve been afraid of is getting rid of a lot of my possessions.  The funny thing about that is the thought of doing it is what hurts.  Actually doing it feels totally liberating!

For the first time since I can remember, I’m looking forward to Fall and Winter.  This is a big deal for me because I struggle with cold weather and the emotional and traditional Holidays.  But, now I’m all sunshiny about it and I don’t recognize myself.

Doing something we’re afraid of sparks something really great in our minds.  It gives us a feeling of immense relief, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad!” and a major sense of accomplishment “OMG I did it!” and my favorite part, it gives us a feeling of wanting to push further and raise our personal bars to a new level.  Essentially, doing things that scare us help us dream big.  And if dreaming big turns into actionable steps…well, monumental joys await.

So I encourage you all to try something you’re afraid of.  Even if it seems insignificant.  If you’re afraid of it, it matters.  Try it.  It eases anxiety and paranoia that we people with diabetes tend to have extra amounts of.  And the confidence boost and feeling that anything is possible will lift your spirits.  And maybe you’ll get a renewed strength and motivation about your diabetes management.  I know I did.

What have you done lately that you’re afraid of?  Share in comments!

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