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28/03/2016 13:22

It Never Gets Old

Laughter, a smile from a loved one or even a stranger, a child sleeping peacefully, a door being held open, the first buds every Spring season, the colours of the leaves every Fall season, snuggling in with sweet Beddy (our golden retriever) in front of the fireplace on a blustery winter’s evening, a perfect cup of tea (pot of tea really).  What does this list actually speak of?  It captures briefly some of the wonders of life that I will never grow tired of.  What does your list look like?  Within the framework of living 24-7 with type 1 (plus 3 other autoimmune diseases) I will add that a cooperative day health wise is emphatically added to the list as well. 

The things that get old do not need to lead us down the path of being any older than our spirits have defined us as.  For instance my body some days gives punishing blasts of reality of the autoimmune diseases that are unwelcome “guests.”  Those are the days where blood sugars go beserkly high or low.  If you live with type 1 diabetes you know exactly what I mean.  This past winter psoriac arthritis got a hold of my joints particularly in my shoulder & both ankles & to a lesser degree to my wrists, finger joints & back.  Each day that I woke up I thought to myself, “this is getting old but I am still a young at heart rascal.”  This and anything else is not going to turn me into an instant octogenarian (no disrespect to any young octogenarians out there.)  Being a rascal has its advantages I have found.  It means that tenacity is sky high.  It catapulted me to seek out reasonable avenues for pain relief.  As an aside the pain relief industry must be one that does well since there are so many products out there that offer up the hope of alievement of pain.   Everyone is a beautiful original so what works for one person may not work for someone else.  My pain tolerance is high.  How do I know this?  I know this because I gave birth to our second born son with zero pain relievers.  Please don’t get me wrong because it really was not a decision that I made in advance.  That rascal son decided to make a speedy entrance into the world & almost was delivered by my husband on the side of the road in a construction zone.  Luckily we just barely made it to the hospital…not to the delivery room mind you.  Most moms have some sort of story surrounding the birth of a child.  The point is that I really do have a high pain tolerance.  I had no idea that psoriac arthritis would manifest itself with such brute force.  Over the shelf oral medications did nothing for this pain.  Each morning I tried something different & felt that eventually something would diminish the painful attack of the joints.  Finally after about 8 weeks of trying different combinations I struck the one that decreased the pain thankfully.  It was a combination compression product & Halsa mat that did the trick this time for me.  The pain is still there in the background yet what a difference to have it on the backburner vs in the forefront.  I am not interested in feeling like I am 40 years older than I actually am!  The last 8 weeks were getting old but not rascally me.  I will admit that I am pretty open about most things but one thing that I am reluctant to share with many people is my age.  Outside of my family, there is a tiny group of people who I have shared my age with & they are always shocked & respond with disbelief.  Okay, I kind of like that because well I am just a rascal human.  No one enjoys dealing with health challenges.  I refuse to accept that within any diagnoses I cannot be the healthiest me possible.  I will never give up.  Rascal rascal. 

Last week it was March Break for my 3 Barbaloots (sons).  I love sharing time with them.  It is exhausting fun.  Just like most of us hear so often, kids grow up fast.  Yes they do!  Sometimes I like to jokingly ask each of our boys what they remember about their own birth.  The reaction that elicits never gets old to me.  We did lots of activities together last week & generated extra muddy laundry because it rained every single day.  I could care less about getting dirty though.  The muddier we were the more fun we had is our philosophy.  And I don’t care one iota that while I played goalie (poorly) with the backdrop of our white garage door that we have ball hockey mud marks all over the garage door & my pants & coat.  Everything can be washed.  Life is far too precious to get all caught up in being vain or fixated on appearing to have a perfect home or attire.  C’est la vie.  The day that stands out from last week the most was the day we went to our local maple syrup festival.  The irony is not lost on me that for most people the highlight of the maple syrup festival is eating pancakes bathed in fresh maple syrup.  This of course was not my personal highlight since I have celiac.  Instead as always I loved the gooey, smiley faces of our sons.  And I loved watching them roll down the big hill just outside of the dining hall…mud and all.  It was cool too when other parents around me reclaimed the kids inside themselves by also saying to their kids , “go play & if you get dirty that is okay today.”  Go mom & dad I say enthusiastically.  I tip my hat as well to the dad with 4 daughters that I had the privilege of seeing skipping as he described “like a girl” & causing all 4 of his daughters to giggle with delight.  Yeah, the world needs more of that.  The line up for the pancakes was long.  Long lines have never really fazed me.  More times than not my genetic chit chat gene activates & I get to hear about someone else’s story.  That day was stellar.  The family behind us in line had driven over 4 hours to enjoy this rainy outing.  I shared some tips on some really cool things to do around town with his family as well as the parts of the park to be sure to visit.  They were a very cheerful family & it was a treat to chat.  The line seemed to move too fast in some ways because I ended up having a neat chat as well with the lady in front of me in line.  I decided to check my blood sugar since we had done a lot of exercise & that usually sends me potentially low so I wanted to catch my blood sugars before that might happen.  Our younger sons wanted to see what my number was.  Oh boy, it was a rare sighting of the 5.5!  I knew though that I would bottom out further so out came my supply of bunny gummies proactively.  Fun waits for no one & for sure I was of the mindset that a low blood sugar would slow us down & I would have none of that.  Again, rascally rascally determination to the rescue.  The lady in front of me turned around & said, “Oh I see you have an insulin pump.”  I love my pump.  I love talking about how much I love my pump.  Was this an invitation to do this?  Yes it was!  It turns out that the lady has a grown daughter with type 1 diabetes & she is also a diabetes nurse educator as well as a pump trainer.  She shared with me that her daughter does 12-20 glucose tests a day.  That literally made me feel “normal.”  I have been told too many times to count by my insurance carrier that I do not need to test as often as I do.  I shared that information with the lady & she simply stated, “That is ludicrous & you should also get the Dex.”  I agree & agree.  I am looking into this & have oodles to learn.  It is very cool though hearing from someone who gets it that my 10-12 blood tests a day are life sustaining.  I know this already but it is refreshing to hear it from someone else.  My blood sugars for the past couple of years have changed out radically & I have to accordingly keep a close eye on them for my own safety.  I have for instance had my blood sugars go from 14 to 6.2 in 20 minutes without a bolus.  Weird stuff.  I have reached the point where a Dex or CGM of some sort may be my best safety insurance.  How great would it be to know about those lows in the night every time too!  It may give my guardian angel the odd night off.  The thing that never ever gets old for me is meeting other people out there in the world that have type 1 or have a family member with T1D who bring up the topic of the insulin pump.  The pump does not solve all of my problems but for me it has made all the difference in having more good days & more good days are great!  Again, everyone is a beautiful original & some people are amazing at A1C control with multi daily injections.  Hats off to everyone who is managing type 1.  It is a beast.  Type 1 itself “gets old” but meeting new people (battle buddies) never gets old.  Hats off to every single person living with any autoimmune disease.  May you find within your community moral support, encouragement, kindness, friendship & care.

Smiles, Saundie :)

Have a gentle week.  Next Monday’s story sharing is in the usual creative ether.


14/03/2016 12:22

Then & Now

Messages, reminders & encouragement arrive in mysterious ways sometimes.  If you are familiar with the industry term “just in time delivery” maybe these gems too arrive at the right time.  Or possibly there is no bad time for them when we turn our thinking around just a bit.  All that I really know is that when I receive messages, reminders & encouragement “just in time”, I treat them as the gifts that they are with gratitude.

As you know, I am not a fan of sugar coating or fence sitting or put another way living in the land of the faker.  The truth is the truth whether it is popular or not.  This was my belief before being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes & the other 3 autoimmune diseases that I have.  Once diagnosed especially with type 1 this belief grew as if it were on steroids.  Being diagnosed with this was sobering beyond description in the way that it hit home that life is precious every single moment.  Since being diagnosed I have lost some treasured friends (until we meet again in heaven) to the cruelty of diabetes complications & there are no words that I could ever express that would capture the way I miss those Dear Hearts.  The way I like to end any given sharing time with a friend is by saying, “to be continued.”  I just don’t really believe in goodbye.  So in that way even the Dear Hearts that have left far too soon are also very much included in my “to be continued” thanks be to God.  Okay, back to the original point.  January through to now have been brutal.  They have been weeks filled with additional stressors.  Some of the additional stress has been of a physical nature with blood sugars & PA challenges beyond the ordinary.  Other stress has been external & urgent.  Thank goodness that there are the gifts of knowing that I am not alone in any of these struggles.  Where there has been a struggle there has been a solution.  It still means that there has & will continue to be much for me to do but not feeling alone in any of it makes all the difference at least for me.  Struggles with type 1 can be brutal.  Real life example is that during the last week of February & the first week of March I was hit with a flu bug that sent my blood sugars into what could have been devastating results, emergency or worse.  Thank goodness I decided years & years ago to become a diligent diabetes manager including daily doing at least 10-12 glucose tests.  Sometimes I do not feel any hints when I am sitting in a meeting for instance sporting a serious blood sugar of 18 or 20.  The low blood sugars I tend to physiologically feel but not always so having the insurance of doing so many glucose tests gives me peace of mind.  The peace of mind of my family’s is equally important.   It gives my family peace to know that I am steadfastly looking after managing type 1.  I am fiercely independent but not wonder woman either.  I know that type 1 diabetes is serious & I take it seriously & if or when I need help I seek out trusted experts.  That is my philosophy in life in general.  It would be prideful indeed to believe that I have all the answers & I don’t & never will approach knowing everything about anything at all.  That is the reason I am thankful that I have lived the life that I have even with the challenges along the way.  It means that along life’s path I have been privileged to meet people who fill in the gaps.  Often don’t you find that when you don’t have the answer to a problem that you know someone that does?  The longer I live, the more I realize this is true.  Sometimes we have the answers however we need someone who is trusted to “check our thinking.”  I know I have always been fortunate enough to have several mentors.  I respect & love each & every one of them.  It is my belief that once our “wells” are filled that it is just natural for us to give a drink to others.  The pay it forward idea is really the most natural in the world to put into action.  Have a mentor & be a mentor is something that I was taught even before I began my career.  I have had wise counsel in many areas & continue to live out my own rascally purpose.  I like to joke though that I am just a “little” rascal.  That means that although I can be a feisty yet gentle advocate especially for the vulnerable that I make sure that I don’t cave in on myself or in other words I never forget that I have a lot to learn from others around me.  I have come to learn that people that are placed on my path are there for a reason.  Ultimately in one way or another I get to learn a life lesson from each person.  Some lessons are sweet & loving & other lessons are deeply painful.  Each lesson will make me stronger though & I believe that with every fiber of my being. 

A week ago I was reminded once again that although I am a morning person perhaps my guardian angel is a night owl.  I had finally fallen asleep which was no small feat with the flu bug that had attacked my flawed immune system.  Before I went to sleep I tested my glucose level like I do every night, every single time I drive & then the other 10 or so times throughout the day & often night.  I had been met with countless 14-18 blood sugar readings over the 2 weeks that the bug knocked out my immune system. Thank goodness though I woke up from my sleep with a sweat soaked bed, the shakes & the sense to know that I was in a big time low blood sugar.  I tested & saw a scary 2.0 looking back at me on my meter.  That 2.0 was extremely unusual & shocking but that is the seriousness of type 1.  I am always profoundly grateful when I am woken up in the night with a low blood sugar.  Night lows though scare the hell out of people living with type 1 diabetes.  Many of us have lost a type 1 battle buddy or someone in a type 1 support group to a low in the night.  Also the stories of people misdiagnosed are disturbing.  I know that I was misdiagnosed initially like countless other people who have type 1 diabetes.  I was one of the lucky ones that did not meet with devastating consequences due to the initial misdiagnoses.    Since I was faced with sick day management during this recent flu bug, I readjusted my basal rate at least 8 times & increased bolus rate too & did insulin corrections.  Doing continuous math while you are fighting a mighty flu bug is just par for the course most people with type 1 diabetes will admit.  We have to fight even harder when a major stressor to our body comes about like flu or even colds because these can turn into emergency situations in a short time frame.  Even with the insulin pump I did not get my blood sugars anywhere near in range.  It was frustrating & I felt sick on top of being sick.  I had to wonder at times if the nausea that I was experiencing was from the flu or from extremely high blood sugars.  I feel nauseous as a rule once my blood sugars go up & stay up above 16 for more than a few hours.  Life goes on though & you still have to do all the things you need to do to run your life & serve your family.  Thank goodness for the many homemade meals that somehow I had made in advance of the flu.  I still had after all 3 growing sons that needed meals just like in any family.   I had hoped to catch up on some reading & maybe even some dvd’s during the flu however the whooper of a headache made those activities most undesirable.  Oddly though out of what seemed like the blue yonder I thought about a book that I had purchased in December 2007 which was the month after I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. As an aside, our oldest son was 7, second born son was 3 & youngest son was just 10 months old at time.  I remember thinking at the time that I was diagnosed that this was devastating news to find out that my life was going to change.  I wondered about my strength in facing this fact.  It is always easy to look at most significant events with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight & this is true of my experience with type 1 diabetes too.  At the time of diagnoses I did what I had to do.  I learned as much as I possibly could about type 1 & I sought out a diabetes nurse, dietician & endocrinologist & I joined our local chapter of JDRF.  My first goal after that was to qualify for an insulin pump.  As luck would have it my home province of Ontario had passed legislation allowing access to adults living with type 1 to qualify for an insulin pump.  The rule though was that as an adult you had to take multi daily injections for 1 year & demonstrate your abilities to safely manage your type 1 diabetes within several outlined areas.  My goal was to qualify for an insulin pump in 12 months plus a day!  And I did!  I love, love, love, love my insulin pump(s).  I loved my first pump & I love my second pump at 100%.  That is love though…it is always at 100% for me.  The book finally that I am referring to is the first one that I purchased (of almost a dozen) when I was diagnosed with type 1 at the end of 2007.  I tend to be a veracious reader & this was magnified I remember when I was first diagnosed with the beast of type 1.  I wanted to learn about what I was dealing with.  It was my usual approach & that is to find out about type 1, then see what I could do about it (ie. how to best manage the moving target of fluctuating blood sugars,etc), and then to determine what I would next do “with” type 1 in my life.  The “with” I found was pretty easy.  The “with” is simply reaching out & helping others with type 1, other autoimmunes or struggles.  We get to have a choice about what we do with struggles.  My choice is to become more human, more compassionate. 

This past weekend as I was putting our sons’ snow boots into the downstairs closet next to my overflowing bookcase my eyes immediately rested upon the book that I had not frankly thought about for 8 years.  I picked the book up & looked through it.  I love lending my books to others & aside from the fact that I usually write my name & telephone number inside, my other book calling card is the amount of highlighting present in most of my books.  There was a tremendous amount of highlighting in this book I noticed.  There were also several pages of questionnaires that I had filled out.  Wow, it took microseconds for me to realize how I felt about life with diabetes in 2007 vs now.  The learning curve was initially steep yet quick but the learning continues.  Technology changes, projected advancements are communicated through media as well as battle buddies living with type 1 periodically.  One piece of technology that I would love to have is a glucose watch that is non invasive.  My fingertips are a neon sign to anyone looking at them that I manage the heck out of this type 1 diabetes.  Anyhow, I decided to answer the questionnaires again.  What a difference.  The results made me realize that I am one gentle, strong, tough cookie rascal & have come a long way in not only managing the physical side of type 1 but also in the development of a healthy emotional viewpoint of life with type 1 diabetes.  “You have really come a long way you little rascal” I thought to myself.  That is a great message of encouragement to receive “just in time” (hey it’s always the right time to receive encouragement) I realized.  A big dose of perspective goes a long way when served up type 1 diabetes 24-7.  Of course I tried my rascally best to manage the blood sugars during the 2 weeks with the recent flu bug.  Had I not done what I did it is statistically likely indeed that I would have ended up in the hospital or well let’s not go there (or there).  The point is that although I felt like something the cat dragged in that I got through this & I will get through anything thrown my way because this rascal has determination & feistiness directed where it should be…at fighting for my health no matter how many autoimmune diseases come my way.  Type 1 is tough yet I my heart’s hope for you is that you are reminded often that you are a gentle, tough rascal too & that you can become stronger through the struggles.  It is not easy but it is possible…with a little (and sometimes a lot) of help from our friends, mentors and others.  Incidentally, the book that I was referring to is entitled, “The Mind-Body Diabetes Revolution.”  I found it to be the best one that I read when I was initially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  Everyone is a beautiful original so it may or may not be a favourite for other people living with type 1 diabetes.  For those of us who have been living with type 1 diabetes for years I will add that although this book tends to be one perhaps that most benefits those initially diagnosed, there may be nuggets of wisdom for us as well.  In addition to that, the author, Dr. Surwit created a meditation cd for people living with diabetes for relaxation & it is a hit out of the park.  Who could not use a refresher in stress management?  My hand is up way in the air for needing refreshers in this & this is why I keep this cd handy & always will.

How does your “then” & “now” look?  Do you feel reminded & encouraged with how much you have really learned along the way since being diagnosed?  I hope so.  And this feisty little determined rascal is still cheering for you.

Smiles, Saundie

Have a gentle couple of weeks.  To share a wee smile, here is some perspective from a 9 year old.  A family friend recently said to our youngest son, “Are you nervous about attending a new school next year that is going to be temporarily amalgamated with another school part way through next year in the other school’s facility?”  Without a seconds hesitation our wise son responded, “I am excited about next year because all of this just means that I get to meet even more new friends.”  I love, love love this.  I choose to learn from this too.  Our “Barbaloots” are off for March Break this week so I will not be writing this week.  The next story will be on Monday March 28 in 2 weeks time.


29/02/2016 10:27

Slumps, Bumps & Triumphs

The Slumps, Bumps & Triumphs

What does the end of the tunnel look like?  Does that matter if we are stuck mid way in that same tunnel?  Most of us at some point or another have heard or used the phrase, the light at the end of the tunnel.  Having that natural tendency to look for the light contains so many significant points of imagery.  Being stuck though may depict a level of darkness.  We each may try to keep at least a flicker lit within ourselves at all times & that really to me is a fancy way of steadfastly knowing with everything within us that there is always hope.  Hope may mean different things at various times to us but essentially it is the belief that whatever is trying to extinguish the flicker of light will not succeed.  It boils down very simply in my life to my daily need for love, hope & faith.  It is the recipe to not only keep the light within us flickering but also ignited in such a way that it illuminates others too.  I am always cognisant that there are little eyes upon me.  Perhaps you feel that way too if you are a parent.  Our kids learn from us about love, hope & faith.  If we have type 1 diabetes or another 365 (or several) then we live our hope by growing in strength even on the physically & physiologically challenging days.  Lets face it, we get a lot of practice when we have type 1 diabetes because we get thrown a ton of challenging days with blood sugars rollercoastering from  what seems like a bottomless list of variables causing these.


Even if you share a natural tendency like me to be an enthusiastic, tenacious, strong person struggles & challenges can sometimes put us temporarily into the stuck in the tunnel zone.  When we are in that zone it is difficult beyond words to dislodge ourselves & get to the end of the tunnel so to speak.  When might the best time be to have strategies in mind for dislodging from the stuck in the tunnel zone?  It could be a little like not maintaining our cars or even filling them up with gas, not having a cell phone to call for help & other analogies if we have not thought ahead about strategies.  For instance, what frame of mind do you find yourself in if you are stranded in your car & have to figure out a way to get your car working again but have not thought ahead about this?  When your car is not working are you frustrated, negative, and downtrodden?  Maybe you are a glass full kind of person who takes it more in stride or anywhere in between.  Attitude I believe is extremely important.  I am not talking about trying to will yourself to have a better attitude artificially.  It takes effort & exercise I have found.  Everyone is a beautiful original so you may disagree.  The point we always agree on is that we remain friends right.  The real point that I am getting at is that if we have strategies for keeping our cars well maintained that does not mean that they will never be in need of repairs unexpectedly. Life is like that too.  We get sent curve balls, challenges, struggles in life. Expect them.  If we know they are coming what are we doing while we are immersed in the mountaintop times of our lives when we are closest to the sunlight so to speak?  I will share with you that I have come to learn that when things are going great that is the time that I set aside a short timeframe to come up with ideas that future me will benefit from.  That means that if I know that l can expect struggles from time to time even with all my careful planning then I may as well prepare for challenges to not only keep love, hope & faith in place but even to build them up from the valleys of life.  This is hard to do.  Difficult is type 1s middle name though so you and I are tough gentle souls.  We do difficult 24 hours a day 7 days a week as we do all the heavy lifting of our flawed pancreases.  We do the process engineering & that is no small feat.


For weeks I have been struggling with a bombardment of challenges coming out of many different directions.  The irony is not lost on me that the harder I try to take a break & work on refueling the more fires need to be put out metaphorically speaking.  Have you experienced times in your life where you have set a goal to take better care of your health & made a plan to do this including decreasing stressors & introducing in more breaks & have all your planning go south in a big hurry?  Welcome to the months of January & February for me.  Ok it is not time for a pity party at any time though.  What do we do with & about whatever struggles come our way?  We each will answer that question for ourselves.  Specifically how do we keep our love, hope & faith strong during time of struggle?  Again, we each have our very own answers.  How about you?  Remember the thing that works for me is that when things are going especially well in my life I take a wee bit of time & come up with that idea list to help future me with struggles?  When the valleys of life hit, I go to that list of ideas & I action the ideas.  I action those ideas if I feel like it or not because I am an adult.  Being adults has given us lots of practice at doing things we don't like for the greater good.  Layer on that we are adults with type 1 diabetes & we positively have to do things constantly every single day that we don't like doing like injections, glucose tests, eating in the middle of the night when we have a low blood sugar, at times postponing activities because of significant high or low blood sugars & countless other examples.  


Just over a week ago I chose one of the more difficult actions on my list of ideas to implement.  It was going to be a 2 day commitment.  Who has time for that?  If it is important enough the not having enough time excuse melts away though don't  you find?  To make a long story short I participated in an intense 2 day retreat.  The humour within this 2 day retreat is that it ended up taking 3 days.  I ran into all kinds of obstacles & distractions & difficulties while I participated in the retreat program. You know I am by nature a feisty, determined rascal though so I jumped over those obstacles & stayed the course no pun intended.  There were times during the retreat that I felt like bailing or throwing in the towel on it but my gut just kept saying stay determined in this moment. The point is that ever since I completed the retreat I have felt stronger & more refueled for life's struggles.  And by the way the week since the retreat has been even more filled with struggles but my love, hope & faith are stronger so I know it is all going to be okay.  My life is a beautiful imperfect mess as always but I remain strong in love, gratitude, hope & faith.  

My heart's hope for you is that if you find yourself stuck in the middle of one of life's tunnels that you have that go to list that you can put into action to get yourself right back into the light at the end of the tunnel again.  Maybe a list will work for you of ideas to help future you.  Have you thought about helping future you when you have been feeling especially on top of the world?  We are each beautiful originals so maybe that will work for you too or maybe you have your own help your future self ideas.  Either way I wish you ever strengthening love, hope & faith for your journey too.

Have a gentle week.  The flu bug hit hard at our home over the past week with it beginning with our oldest son, then our youngest son & today it has hit me like a brute.  The previous 4 days of blood sugars suddenly being constantly between 14-17 even with sick day management & numerous corrections & basal resets were my first clue that the flu was coming my way too.  When we live with type 1 diabetes we often find out that we are about to get colds or flu days in advance don’t you find?  May you stay clear of this awful flu bug.  The week ahead is likely to be a tougher one with this flu bug so next story sharing will be in 2 weeks on Monday March 14th.  The flu mixed with type 1 diabetes (and additional 365’s) is tough but so are we.  Remember to keep your light shining.



22/02/2016 01:03

That which is Not Hype & Hypocrisy

Who put the hype & hypocrisy in hypoglycemia?  Maybe just maybe it all began with the late night infomercial.  I am kidding yet within humor often we find shreds of truth also.  In our home we refer to the infomercial as marketing trickery.  There are promises contained within the messages delivered to all of us via our tv, radio, and other forms of media.  We are neck deep in the messages & we get to decide what is truth & fiction.  One of the funniest late night infomercials that I can think of was about a real estate mogul who was filmed in a huge yacht with voluptuous bikini clad women smiling on either side of him.  The mogul looks in the camera & tells us that we can have it all including unlimited wealth if we simply purchase his do it yourself get rich quick book.  Night has met day since infomercials are no longer reserved for the insomnia crowd.  We get bombarded all day long too with promises galore via day time commercials.  A huge wave has hit in the form of diabetes prescription drug commercials I have noticed.  During a one hour long program I counted 3 different diabetes drug commercials.  They are some of the strangest commercials though.  On the one hand we are shown that we can get our lives back by taking the newest drug on the market to combat diabetes yet in the last few seconds of the commercial we are warned that if we decide to take the medication that the drug may cause anything from minor tummy aches to kidney failure & death.  Wow!  I get it that our society has fallen into a litigious one & most companies and agencies tell us that we will have to take on all the risk.  For sure there are countless medications being flogged for a variety of chronic illnesses yet no sign of cures for anything in this millennium so far.  The commercials that I am referencing were all for type 2 diabetes & while none of them are suitable in treatment of the type 1 that I live with my heart goes out to everyone living with any form of diabetes.  We are faced with choices about what type of risk we are willing to take on.  For me it is a little simpler I guess because I know that I have to take on the risks involved with taking insulin in micro doses 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Insulin has the capacity to treat high blood sugar in the magic dose for individuals with type 1 diabetes.  In the wrong dose, (and the dose as we all know is a dancing target pinned to a jello tree outside in 90 degree Fahrenheit weather), insulin has the potential to be deadly.  Most people not living with diabetes don’t get that at all.  They do not get that insulin is a risk reward decision.  Without insulin I will die.  It makes the decision pretty easy.  I tend to do a lot of glucose tests each day though because I know from personal experience that the myriad of factors that affect blood sugar can lead to a hypoglycemic emergency at any time of the day or night.  That is not hype.  Insulin saves lives but it is not the cure.  How many times have you tried to share that statement with others around you?  Somehow people seem to share the belief that insulin is the cure to type 1 diabetes.  That is complete balderdash.  Insulin keeps us alive & as a community we hope for a cure.  I hope for a cure too but honestly I am not counting on one in my lifetime.  I am an optimistic realist.  If we buy into the message from the drug companies that they are working on the cure we may also want to consider the profit flowchart.  Life sustaining medications, therapies and products to treat diabetes are a billion dollar industry.  Who is more likely to be committed to working on a cure for diabetes or other autoimmune diseases?  There are plenty of answers to that question.  My thought is that a scientist who either has the autoimmune disease or has a child with it.  Profit then exits the equation.  Most of us would agree that it is gut wrenching to watch a loved one suffer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a chronic illness. 

Hypocrisy gives me an allergic reaction metaphorically speaking.  It drives me up and down the wall to receive a message from anyone at all that is filled with hypocrisy.  A feisty rascal is sure to emerge in the presence of hypocrisy.  I don’t buy the layers of untruth.  Hypocrisy & cya appear to me to be twins in many cases.  What is the purpose of hypocrisy?  Is it sometimes for the sake of appearances?  Let’s face it, few companies or people or agencies wish to be seen or perceived as heartless bullies, profit focused at the cost of others’ pain & suffering or selfish.  Peeling away layers of hypocrisy may find many of these undesirable realities at the core.  I have zero respect for hypocrites.  For many years I ignored this type of behaviour & got as far away as possible from this.  Sometimes though you can be stuck dealing/interacting with this type of behaviour out of necessity.  In those cases in the past I have tried politely reasoning with the individual.  In most instances it was like banging my head against the wall.  I decided to simply say instead, “that’s not okay.”  It has not scored me any points in those situations however I am no longer willing to smile politely & appear to be okay with nonsense.  It becomes pretty clear to the party trying to sell a bag of flaming dog dew dew that I will not buy what they are selling.  There are a few things that contributed to me getting to the answer of “that’s not okay” when being presented with the flaming paper bag of dew dew.  This would include:  having some feisty family role models, getting to a point in my life where I found my advocating voice, the magnification of living with diabetes & 3 other autoimmune diseases and becoming a parent.  Each one of us are beautiful originals so we will each have our own reason to step forward & challenge behaviours, statements & messengers of hypocrisy.  I am certain that I inherited some feisty genes.  Specifically, when I think of the feistiest person that I have ever known it was my Grandma B.  What a character.  She spoke her mind.  A funny example of her giving her uncensored opinion was a time that the reporters from her local community television station went to the downtown area in which she resided.  The reporters were interested in getting opinions from locals about the performance of their town councilors.  My Grandma gave them an uncensored answer while everyone else did not wish to speak to the press about anything.  She also was not shy about challenging any level of bureaucracy.  She was respected & she was the same with everyone.  She stood up for others when they were being unfairly treated.  It took me a good long while to become an advocate for anything.  As I have shared countless times I was painfully shy as a young girl.  My voice emerged in a significant way a few months before we welcomed the birth of our first son.  It is a very good thing that happened because there has been a huge need for advocation on behalf of our sons over the years within the education system particularly surrounding the bullying epidemic permitted within some schools. Add in type 1 diabetes entering my life followed by 3 other autoimmune diseases & a bolder, braver advocate developed.  It is basically as simple as this.  When you have to fight for your life every single day there is not much room for complete nonsense in the day.  You can sweep nonsense under the carpet or identify it, pick it up & discard it.  It is a choice.  Maybe it is a feisty rascally choice.  It is a choice that demands one to get rid of the “what will others think of me if I challenge this untruth?”  It gets replaced with “does this matter enough to stand up to and for?”  If we are advocating for a loved one or a person who is vulnerable/unable to speak up for himself or herself then the decision is pretty clear.  Life is not an infomercial.  It is far from that.  My life is a beautiful mess for sure.  Some days are tough.  We are tough too.  Tough is a choice I have come to learn.  I refuse to buy into smoke & mirrors.  It was Margaret Mead who said that “a small group of people can change the world.”  That is not hype or hypocrisy.  That is something else that starts with an “h” & that is hope. 

Balance is important.  Gratitude I have found is essential to me.  While I don’t for a second buy into the infomercials promising a perfect life if I purchase a given product (especially where diabetes medications & therapies are concerned) I remain grateful.  The thankfulness is directed to a gentleman who grew up about a 45 minute drive from where I grew up.  I am referring of course to the late Sir Frederick Banting.  A small town boy grew up on a farm in a geographical area that remains a small town yet he is saving lives to this day through his co development of insulin.  He did not earn huge profits as a result of this.  I am thankful every single day that I get to take these micro doses of insulin to stay alive.  I am not waiting for a cure.  I am instead living my life with bumps along the way helping to raise 3 beautiful, noisy sons.  Some days are especially tough with the curve balls that type 1 especially serves up but I am thankful beyond measure to wake up each morning.  I am thankful that I live in a corner of the world that has accessibility to insulin & other life sustaining therapies & medications. And I am thankful that I get the choice to speak up for what is true & challenge smoke & mirrors.  Let’s call it feisty gratitude.

My heart’s hope for you is that the hype & hypocrisy that resides within the world does not get to you.  May you meet it with the question “does this matter enough to stand up to?”  May you also know that you are as tough as you decide to be.  We are also as kind & compassionate as we choose to be when we offer to stand up for others that have not yet found their feisty voice.

Smiles,  Saundie  :)

Have a gentle week.  Next Monday's story is in the usual creative ether.




15/02/2016 19:25

Got to Get a Voice

Got to Get a Voice 

How often do you hear a message that is so false that it evolves instead into the foundation for something brave, strong, right & truthful?  Perhaps the message is one that gets you feeling feisty, determined and strong beyond words.  There are some false opinions within each of our corners of the world that need to be met with a “stand back & watch me” do the thing you say is not possible for us.  

Last week I happened upon a heartwarming short story about Thomas Edison’s childhood.  It was about the day that Edison received a note addressed to his mother from his school teacher.  When asked what the note said according to this story source his mother said that Edison’s intellectual abilities were far beyond the resources available to him at his school & that he ought to be homeschooled to allow his full abilities to shine.  Then we are told that many  years later Edison came across the note from the teacher & what it actually said was that Edison was incapable of learning at school & that he was mentally ill.  I loved the hero of the mother that emerged for the genius( Edison) that left a legacy of brilliance as well as tenacity & inspiration.  In researching further another source documenting Edison’s childhood debunked the above story.  We are told instead that Edison was vividly aware of the negative assessments made by his school.  His mother however remains the heroine since she went ahead & told the school that they were absolutely incorrect about Edison’s abilities & she pulled him out of school & home schooled him.  The story revealed that although Edison was challenged by dyslexia that his mother created ways of teaching him that met him at his needs & that it brought out his abundant potential.  It can be a cross roads when a person is labeled with anything that society perceives as a lack of.  Examples could fall into academic learning styles/challenges/differences, physical challenges, emotional challenges and many more areas.  Some labels become tattooed onto us against our permission.  How does that feel?  I would think that most if not all of us would answer with a resounding, “That sucks!”  Many of us likely have had experiences in our lives where we have been labeled & treated less than or externally reduced by someone else’s definition of our shortfalls.  What a cross road that can be.  What do we do about that or with that or both?  If we were children then we had best hope that there was at least one person of strength, character and bravery to question the status quo, the self proclaimed experts & gurus.  Once we are adults we have the choice to stand up for ourselves or people who are vulnerable.  We can be a shrinking 6 foot 7 for instance or a tall, feisty 5 foot 4 person.  

It can be a mystery to us at times when we ask ourselves the question “Why did that happen?”  I have come to learn that I cannot answer that question when it comes to things that don’t make sense like losses in our lives.  The losses may include loved ones dying, the loss of what may have been perfect health when we have a chronic illness (or many) and countless other real life examples.  Do you know what makes me go from 1 to 1000 on the feisty Richter scale in a nana second?  It is these words from others who I guess think they are offering comfort, “It happened for a reason.”  How is that comforting though really to the person going through raw, gut wrenching emotions of loss?  There are other words that bother me as well but let’s just stick with this one for now.  It is my feeling  that if a person is going through something that is deeply painful or  devastating  that words like “it happened for a reason” can actually add to the sadness that the person is already feeling.  It can be very isolating when people don’t “get” what you are going through.  Thank goodness for the everyday heroes within the world that behave, believe & live in a way that shows us that they “get” it.  And how about those giants that go to bat for others or for themselves in tough situations.  Maybe you are picturing these exact people’s faces that have gone to bat for you.  Did this person or people stand up for you when you were being reduced or labeled or told that you could not achieve something?  It is easy for me to think of personal examples.  There are 2 childhood memories that impacted me in conjunction to having someone go to bat for me.  Both of the examples pertain to school hood days.  The first instance was when I was in grade 4.  My teacher contacted my parents to tell them that I simply could not read at all.  It was alarming to me that my teacher had drawn that conclusion.  It was confusing & disappointing to me since I have always loved books & reading.  How strange I thought this was that she would believe this about me.  What an awful feeling it was to be labeled albeit inaccurately as illiterate in grade 4.  I went from feeling invisible to feeling like a loser.  The invisible part was there already because I was a kid that did everything within her might to fly under the radar.  My level of shyness was off the charts.  If I was called on during class to speak I felt like I would rather have the earth open up & swallow me.  My hands became soaked, I would almost be sick to my stomach and my tiny whisper of a voice was shaky big time.  A good day for me in elementary school consisted of not being called upon during class time or even gym class to speak in front of the class.  You can imagine the portion of language arts class when the reading aloud time was occurring.  It is common for people to have a fear of speaking publically yet the wizards of the school I attended did not put two & two together.  They jumped hurdles to come to etched in stone conclusions about my literacy.  It was kind of a time in education where the teaching team & principals were placed on pedestals as self proclaimed experts on all things child related.  Thankfully & mercifully things have changed in that regard within the current education system in most cases.  When I was in elementary & high school it was not in vogue to question an assessment or recommendation from a teacher and or the principal.  In the case of my labeled illiteracy the wizards at my school told me that I would have to meet with the principal after school with a goal of learning how to read.  It turned into a stigma on top of a stigma because in record time my classmates learned that formerly invisible me was having to meet with the principal daily after school.  The kids in my class articulated many fabricated reasons for my so called after school punishment.  To their credit people are drawn to stories & when facts are not provided people have a natural tendency to fill in the story with invented facts.  Thankfully my parents were well aware that I could certainly read & excelled at it.  They told me that it would take very little time for the principal to determine that they had been incorrect in their assessment of me as illiterate.  They were correct in that the first after school session suddenly I could miraculously read.  Without a group listening to me my fluency shone through.  I ended up the very next day being bumped up to the advanced reading group.  That did not score me any “cool” points with many of my classmates so that was bittersweet.  The teacher & principal did not however check their egos by verbalizing their inaccurate initial assessment of my reading abilities.  Sometimes it is very healthy to forgive some people for the apology that you never got nor ever will receive & move on with life.  The second instance of flawed assessment occurred in my grade 8 school year.  The teachers made the emphatic recommendation that I was incapable of advanced studies in high school.  To this day I remember my parents’ reactions vividly.  They did not accept that recommendation in the slightest.  Instead they told me that I certainly was capable of advanced studies & registered me in that program.  It meant that it kept the door open for university in the future.  Sure enough it all worked out.  Thank goodness my parents did not do the doormat thing of blindly accepting the opinions offered.  As a painfully shy young person it would have been very easy for me to lower the bar & accept a reduced version of my own dreams I believe in hindsight.  Instead I learned the value of treating opinions as a buffet.  Some opinions are green peas to me.  I detest green peas so I don’t accept those.  Some opinions are carrots.  Sure, I accept that.  I accept that I have choices aka free will & a brain to figure out what makes sense & what sounds like nonsense.  And I believe that these experiences helped me to find my feisty, rascally voice.  I found within myself a voice that speaks up for what is right or wrong without the fear of intimidation.    To me that is a lasting gift that my parents provided through their examples of standing up for me when I was younger.  And now I choose to use this voice to stand up for others who are still finding their voice.  That is the most natural thing in the world.  

My heart’s hope for you is that if you have not yet found your own voice that you have a go to person who lets you borrow theirs until you find yours.  We were not meant to live an isolated life.  Each one of us has a gift…something that will make a beautiful difference.  Find yours, use it & celebrate it.

Smiles, Saundie

Have a gentle week.  And about that girl who was too shy to read in front of classmates...she has spoken in front of groups varying from a few dozen people to a few hundred.  I still feel the jitters to this day during public speaking yet if I have a passion for a cause, love someone or need to be the voice for others I find the courage.  Sometimes our voices shake & sometimes we appear to be ultra comfortable in front of a microphone.  When you need to be brave you will be.  Next Monday's story is in the usual creative ether.


08/02/2016 10:11

A Different View From One Outlier

What is the distance from total exasperation to the declaration that “we’ve got this?”  Personally I have always liked the encouraging words, “you’ve got this Saundie.”  I love that most people in my life see me as a strong, competent feisty, positive realist who refuses to give up.  And I love to point out these exact same traits  in others when they simply need someone to hold the mirror up for them so that they see the strengths they have within themselves.  It can be pretty easy to find ourselves burning the candle at both ends or wiping ourselves out completely & accordingly feeling exasperated, frustrated, fed up and so many other emotions.  While I find the character “Grumpy Cat” to be somewhat funny I certainly don’t want to be a person that is a complete downer.  The balancing act though is not going too far on the scale towards appearing to be utterly one dimensional either.  That is the domain of portraying to the world that everything is perfect & that nothing gets to us.  No thanks. 

Perhaps most of us have had someone in our life share with us that we will likely reach a time in our lives where we see nonsense like something on glass.  Or maybe we are at that point in our own lives right now.  I know that is where I have journeyed to & it is quite a relief.  Once I found my voice I made a decision to use it for truth & hopefully in a way that reaches others in friendship.  Are you familiar with the commercial that is on television advertising Snickers chocolate bars & the slogan is “you are not yourself when you are hungry?”  On a funny aside, our middle son uses those words often to describe himself when he is feeling especially grouchy.  In our house hungry boys can often equate to grumpy boys.  That is an easy grumpy to resolve though through of course simply feeding the hungry boys.  Our kitchen seems like an all day grazing place however they are growing boys so I happily keep up with restocking snacks & meals that turn into snacks.  For me, the “you are not yourself” is more in conjunction with when I am consistently grumpy or impatient.  I am not fond of “grumpy me.”  I doubt anyone enjoys being in a bad mood.  For years I have been warned about a probable inevitable thing called “diabetes burn out.”  Thankfully that has not happened to me yet however I certainly am always on the look out for it.  I do however know exactly what physical & emotional burn out look like from professional & personal experience.  For the past few weeks I have been diligently working on restoring the “controllables” in my life like making even better physical choices, health choices & using the word “no” on occasion.  (my “no” really is a “not now” rather than a “no” since I know this being wiped out will resolve with time & effort).  Lots of people are quick to share experiences of victory looking from the top of the mountain so to speak however I have found that examples of people sharing continuous getting back up while in the valley of life looking up towards the mountain are more difficult to find.  This is a perfect segue into what led me to this writing story this week. 

You are very likely to relate to the situation where you are in a group setting with total strangers & the facilitators use ice breaking exercises to encourage the participants in becoming comfortable with one another by getting to know one another.  Ice breakers I believe can be marvelous & I know that as a facilitator I have certainly used ice breakers.  There is such a variety that you can choose from or create yourself.  I am pro ice breaker.  On the flip side my husband loathes ice breakers so it is a personal personality style preference perhaps.  Recently I participated in a workshop where there was a neat ice breaker question asked of us to discuss in our smaller groups.  The question was, “name one person that you consider to be an inspiration to you.”  Each person had some challenges around that question & as usual I found myself in the outlier category.  Most people hemmed & hahhed & struggled to come up with someone that they could name right on the spot as an inspiration to them.  Meanwhile, I was writing like a mad woman a list of names of people that inspire me & I could not (or would not) narrow my answer to just one person.  Some of the people in my discussion group kind of looked at me in a friendly albeit I must have 2 heads kind of way.  From my youngest memory I realize that having others as examples or inspirations is just something that I gravitate towards naturally.  I look at it this way.  You can either hang around with people that are pretty similar in their thoughts & attitudes to yourself or you can include people as well that turn your thinking upside down in a great kind of way.  We can gravitate towards the “woe is me” pity party group or we can get ourselves into a group of realistic encouragers who don’t have it within themselves to lose hope as one example.  Another example is that if we are feeling impatient then would it be a favour to get ourselves around a person in our lives as much as possible that has mastered patience & peacefulness?  It may be super easy to find other “Grumpy Cats” but how is that going to help us out of that grouchy state?  There have been countless times that I have shared my feelings of frustration or exasperation with one of my inspirational mentors & received a response of “that stinks & use that as a pole vault to get to where you want to be & you can do this.”  Then we brain storm or my brain goes to work.  It is a little difficult to convey on paper the emotions behind the words.  The words are not ones discounting the struggle or a cheerful “you can do it.”  It is more in the eyes & what is given from the heart…that is 90% of the communication.  There was a second part to the ice breaker question & that was, “How can you become an inspiration to your own children?”  Again, I found myself in the land of the outlier as I thought about this.  While my peers seemed to effortlessly come up with lots of answers in the form of behaviours & traits that they could use to become inspirational my brain went in another direction.  The answer that came to me & that I shared with our group was that this is to me a profoundly humbling question.  I said that I don’t believe that for me at least that I could set a goal of being an inspiration to anyone including my own kids.  That is different than becoming an inspiration in the eyes of another I continued.  When I think about this, the closest that I believe that would approximate an answer is that I try with all my feisty, rascally might to live my life by the examples that I put into action each day.  Some days I miss the bar by a mile & our sons see that failing at something does not mean that you throw in the towel.  Even when we fail at something we can live our lives in a way that shows our kids that we are still filled with hope & we can build strength, tenacity and other foundations that are essential for our kids to see.  Life is full of challenges for any person.  If we can master the trait of not giving up even on the toughest of days I shared with my group that I believe that is a win.  Although I did not go on to tell them anything about my having type 1 diabetes & 3 other autoimmune diseases & how those “365’s” have helped me grow into a stronger, more determined rascal I sure thought about that throughout the week.  Whether we have children or not, there are usually eyes upon us.  They are the eyes of others watching us to see how we react to adversity & whether we give up or we fight on.  I have learned that I am a gentle, sensitive tough cookie.  No matter what our personality styles are we get to make the choice to give up or get stronger through adversity.  Living with the ups & downs of type 1 diabetes has taught my whole family that there can be some really indescribably difficult days & that diabetes like life is not always fair but as Maya Angelou so beautifully articulated in her writings & speaking engagements, “we are not reduced” by our struggles.  It turns out that we can be stronger, bolder, braver, more hope filled, more determined & so much more despite adversity or perhaps because of it.  The choice is ours. 

My heart’s hope for you is that you give yourself the gift of getting yourself around people who encourage you & hold up the mirror for you to see that you are one strong, tough but caring person. 

Smiles, Saundie :)

May bold, determined, hope filled you have a gentle week.  There are a few ideas swimming in the ether already for next Monday's writing to share :)


01/02/2016 09:50

It's All a Part of Us

Is there sometimes an inaccurate critic that resides within each one of us?  I know I have one.  It can be a wrestling match of sorts.  The critic is the one that provides performance reviews on how we are doing within any aspect of our lives.  Unsolicited advice drives me up the wall.  Perhaps we can be our own most brutal critics towards ourselves.  It can be so easy to find ourselves assessing portions of our lives.  We may be doing this in the area of health, relationships, finances, material stuff, emotions and more.  I have found myself getting very tough on myself in all these areas at one time or another.  It’s great in my opinion to keep an eye on progress & make improvements yet it is quite another thing if we find ourselves hurling negative commentary to ourselves that can chip away at us in a myriad of ways.  When does the inner critic come out most often?  We each will have our own answer.  My experience is that the critic within makes the most appearances when I am physically & emotionally wiped out.  Try as I do, there are times when I do get completely wiped out.  It is usually my body that tells me first that it is time to take my foot off the accelerator & put some activities in the slow lane.  How great to realize this yet how frustrating it can be to have to get to the point of physical & emotional saturation before it all becomes obvious.  It is what it is though. 

Recently, I read an article that indicated how pains in various areas of one’s body correlate to gaps in our lives.  For example, for the past month my left shoulder has been in excruciating pain.  It started in the shoulder & has continued to ramp up & has also travelled up to my neck & all the way down to my elbow.  I don’t want to go too far off the land of reality with this information because I have join pain in several areas of my body compliments of psoriatic arthritis.  The thing is that there are periods of time that I feel pain free & other times the monster of pain wells up to a beastly level.  Maybe there is some truth in the article that I read I have come to believe.  The article stated that pain in the shoulder usually means that a person has been carrying too heavy of a burden.  That does not sound too far out there for me to believe.  Last week I shared with you that I made a decision to slow things down & pull up the draw bridge & put the invisible crocodiles out in an effort to make improvements in my health which has declined with a neon light since mid December.  To my credit I did slow down somewhat yet one little word kept undermining me & my plan to have a gentler pace during the last couple of weeks of January.  The month is gone & I need to reset the date for my goals.  The reset is the month of February.  The goal remains the same.  I am not completely burnt out physically & emotionally but I am close so I plan to get it right for February.  Being a determined, feisty rascal means I will not give up.  My heart’s hope for you is that you have a feisty rascal all your own that keeps you moving forward & hope filled.  Since I was never a cheer leader I am not about to do the flakey “rah rah” thing.  Let’s put some substance around challenges with some real life examples.  Before we do this, I will share as well with you that I need to replace the word “just” in my vocabulary with the word “no” to see some real progress.  The word “just” equates to an answer “yes” even when I am wiped out.  But you know as I do that because we have an invisible “365” that we can look really good or well on the outside even when we are hanging on physically by our fingernails.  My “just” is the word I use when someone asks me to do something for them.  I think to myself, I will “just” do this & then take a break.  The list of “justs” though does not have a natural conclusion…the “justs” could go to infinity it seems.  I am terrible at saying no.  Why is that?  I asked myself that.  The answer is that I know I am a people pleaser (I think I was born with that) & saying no is the most unnatural thing in the world to me.  I want people to be happy & on the opposite side of that I don’t want to cause others to be disappointed.  That is really a fancy way of saying that my inner critic loves to throw guilt on my shoulders.  It is a silly kind of guilt though that makes no sense.  For sure I am far from perfect.  Guilt can be a barometer to fix something but guilt can also be an insidious little liar.  In the cases where I feel guilty for taking proper care of myself by saying no when I should & instead say “ok, I’ll just do this & then take care of myself in the leftover time” I get the same result.  The truth of the matter is that there is no leftover time if we put ourselves at the bottom of the “to do” list.  I am lucky to make it half way through a “to do” list on any given day because I tend to be an overachiever too.  We are programmed I think into believing the convincing liar that if we rest & refuel ourselves that we are being selfish & that is likely to lead to the lie that we ought to feel guilty about that.  I say no to that emphatically.  Ok, great, I have to put that no into practice.  How about you?

Let’s take a look at a couple of real life perspective builders since this is not a “woe is me” party after all ever.  Isn’t it amazing how you can have an experience like perhaps watching something in a film or on tv or someone can say something & at the time it feels pretty neutral but somehow you tuck it away & it becomes significant at a later time?  Recently, I have had 3 of these examples propel themselves from the very back of my mind right into the front centre in significance.  All 3 are sobering in a great way.  The first centers around an interview I watched on tv about 2 months ago.  It was an engaging interview at the time & after it was over I was at a bit of a loss for words.  It was absolutely a gem of an interview.  I wish I had written down the name of the gentleman who was being interviewed because the wisdom that was shared in the discussion is something that I feel so many other people would be comforted by.  The gentleman was sharing the story of his wife & her decline as she was diagnosed with dementia 3 years ago.  He described the person that he had fallen in love with & married & the heart break of seeing this highly intelligent, graceful lady fall into a state of remembering less & less about her life & her family.  He shared his experiences with such love of his wife.  He also was beautifully honest about his gut wrenching pain from going from being a couple in love to his wife not realizing that they were even married.  He did not sugar coat his pain yet did not seek pity either.  He did say that he sought help by talking to a counselor.  This counselor said something profoundly comforting.  This wise soul said that the gentleman’s wife had returned to the innocence of a very young child & that he felt that made the wife profoundly holy & close to God.  The gentleman said that he had a total shift in perspective after hearing this & he treated his wife with an even gentler love.  He found himself thinking of ways to connect with his innocent, sweet wife.  His wife had been a painter however she had forgotten how to paint but the husband brought along an adult colouring book & crayons & visited her & both of them coloured together.  He said that one day as they sat colouring together that his wife smiled at him & said “I would like to marry you one day.”  He squeezed her hand & smiled & said, “Great news, I would love to marry you too.”  How great is it to be able to share with honesty & find support & encouragement & hope even within painful experiences.  The second gem that came to the forefront of my mind this week is something that my Dad shared with me a couple of weeks ago.  At the time I read it I thought to myself, “isn’t that sweet” & that was about it.  It turns out that it emerged into a message that I believe we could all benefit from hearing.  My Mom & Dad are in the warm South right now & the lovely spot that they stay at is owned by an incredible couple from Montreal. (Yay, home of my favourite hockey team, the Habs)  Even though I have never met them I know with absolute certainty that they are gems.  My Dad shared with me that there is a plague that hangs in one of the rooms of the home away from home that they are enjoying.  It reads, “Life does not need to be perfect to be wonderful.”  It reminded me of something that I say so often to others “life is a beautiful mess.”  Then I realized that the quote that my Dad shared was really an even more perspective builder or hope filled version of what I was already saying.  Since I am a steadfast believer of giving credit to the creator of any art I went ahead & looked up the author of this quote.  It hit my heart strings with a thud when I discovered that the person who voiced this quote was Annette Funicello.  You may be aware that she suffered from multiple sclerosis.  A couple of years ago I watched a documentary that her husband shared describing their lives as the disease devastated her body.  Her husband continued to gently care for her & continued to look for treatments to help her.  It was a heartbreaking story to watch.  The part that was incredible was the husband’s vivid love for his wife.  Sometimes I ask myself if these types of situations would challenge me beyond my breaking point.  We really don’t know how strong we are though & we sure don’t know how strong pure love is.  The quote is a gift that Annette Funicello left us with as just one loving legacy.  The third focusing treasure that I happened upon this week that stayed with me is a quote by Helen Keller.  She said, “What we love deeply becomes a part of us.”  This is especially comforting I find when I work through loss.  We each face loss in our lives in one form or another.  The more people we love for example the more we may face this.  Last week another friend was lost to type 1 diabetes complications.  How do you make sense of this yet again?  I don’t make sense of it at all.  I just remind myself that her life & life in general is precious & remember that our family & friends remain with us in the love that we gave & received.  That is never lost.  Love absolutely lasts forever.  And I like to say “to be continued” instead of goodbye when I get together with loved ones & this is no different.  Life is not perfect.  There are struggles for each one of us.  The only thing that really matters though is that we have the gift of reaching out to one another in a loving gesture.  We each matter.  Our feelings matter.  Our lives matter.  We each have a purpose.  We each stumble.  We each deserve the love of at least one other person who listens with love when we need to lighten the load.  There are struggles yet there are moments of absolute near perfection.  Each one of us will have different versions of these near perfect moments.  For me these include:  laughter with family & friends,being silly before story time with our sons, the big goofy grin that our youngest son gets on his face after he completes a 1000 piece Lego creation, the happiness that our oldest son exudes when he shares one of his phenomenal writing pieces & receives genuine kudos from my husband & I & the euphoria from our middle son when he receives compliments for his polite manners & generous heart.  And like last week I remind myself that although life can be a beautiful mess the real moments that matter are indescribably beautiful & that is where I choose to direct my steadfast hope.  The mess, the beauty, it is all a part of us. 

My heart’s hope for you is that you can be real with at least one trusted dear heart.  May that person give you the gift of listening & the gentleness of the examples of the husbands mentioned earlier in this story.  And like Annette Funicello said so beautifully, “life does not need to be perfect to be wonderful.”  (Thank goodness, right.)


Saundie :)

As always have a gentle week.  Next Monday's story is in the creative ether.


25/01/2016 09:57

Don't Know What I don't know

Wow wee, it feels like five hundred years since I last wrote.  Writing is something that I love & it is a welcome pleasure to return to story sharing again.  Admittedly, I feel rusty in getting back into the groove of writing.  Truthfully I did quite a bit of procrastinating type activity this morning before I finally sat down at this keyboard.  Isn’t that a weird thing in life that we can really enjoy an activity or even something can be good for us yet somehow we put it off?  That is something that we can each experience from time to time.  An easy example of that would be changing out a habit like being pulled out of hibernation in between the couch cushions & taking a walk or some other form of exercise.  I have read & been told countless times that it takes 21 days to form or replace an old habit with a more preferable one.  That may or may not resonate for you.  We each get to decide which piece of information out there is going to become a part of our plate. (life's buffet)

If I could only choose three words to describe 2016 so far they would be” uncomfortable but okay.”  The discomfort that I am referring to is more of an in the ether type one than a physical one.  Although everything has not exactly been coming up all roses from a physical health perspective I have found ways to coexist with that & keep my perspective as positive as possible on purpose.  Also I just call it like it is too.  When a day is particularly physically grueling I just admit that to at least 1 trusted loved one.  What can feel like mini defeats activate my  inner extra feisty rascal thankfully.  December was both outstanding & brutal.  Isn’t that the story of many of our lives as far as the ups & downs go?  For me December is always exhausting & over the 9 Christmases with type 1 diabetes my glucose meter scientifically tells me that month is less than stellar for me health wise.  The roller coastering blood sugars are dramatic in December & they were more so this past Christmas season.  Part of the reason for this was worth it to me & the other part was a result of having a pathetic immune system & choosing to burn the candle at both ends.  All 4 of the autoimmune diseases that I live with flared up with a vengeance during December & continue to do so.  The second week of December my family went to Disney World & it was an exhausting blast.  Our sons are all about the parks & rides so having sit down meals where I could keep Celiac at bay did not happen.  Having a day or even a morning or afternoon to lounge by the pool was out of the question.  Staying & riding until 1am & getting up early & doing that again were the thing that electrified our sons.  By no means am I complaining about any of this for a second.  Being in kind of a perfect kid world for a week was absolutely a treat.  Our sons live with more reality some days than I would like them to so seeing them just being kids that week with no concerns in the world was heartwarming to this mom.  Once we got home though there was a week until Christmas & still lots to do.  Blood sugars soared, the psoriasis that had gone into remission for 2 glorious months came back with a vengeance, P.A. activated & my body also was still freaking out at me for all the gluten & dairy exposure during the time away.  At first I felt discouraged & then I decided that I would need to give my body time & care in order to see improvements.  Realistically I knew that the month of January would be ear marked for “being gentle with myself.”  Halfway through January though I realized that I still had not slowed down the pace & was correspondingly feeling like something that the cat dragged in still.  I made the feisty decision to raise the draw bridge & put out the crocodiles for the remainder of January in an effort to help in improving the autoimmunes that were screaming at me.  The slowing down is a work in progress since it has only been a little over a week since I started “stopping.”

Do you find that once you physically slow down that your thoughts speed up sometimes?  That is my experience.  On more than one occasion I have found myself saying to my own thoughts…”settle down.”  I like to tackle many things at once & solve everything at once.  Life is not all tidy though so that is a pipe dream.  My cool headed husband says to me all the time, “You have to slow down sometimes to speed up.”  He reads every manual for stuff that has to be put together whereas I figure putting objects together is a kinetic process.  And yes this means that he has taken many objects apart that I assembled to reassemble them properly but I love that he does that late at night when I am sleeping & never says a word about it.  He is a night hawk & I am an early bird.  The slow down to speed up advice is wise when it comes to planning or assembling objects or thinking something through or waiting to react to many heated situations.  I am an emotional animal so the slowing down to speed up process is still a work in progress & one worth getting better at in my life.

A couple of days after we got home from Florida, my Dad & I went to an NHL game.  We had a blast.  Part way through the game I could literally feel a cold setting in.  That was not about to slow me down though because the last of the preparations for Christmas had to be completed.  It was all worth it.  Every minute was worth it even with the autoimmunes flaring up in full force.  Keeping up the December pace though I knew would not be a good idea.  To know something does not always turn into an action plan though.  A decision is the thing that takes realizing something to the next step.  That is where the draw bridge & crocodile plan comes from beginning mid January.  I will need “the force” to keep my focus on not backsliding on my last half of January plan.

Once I slowed down my racing thoughts over the past week or so I reminded myself that the discomfort I was feeling thought wise needed to be redirected.  I needed to put the brakes on letting my thoughts travel back in time to the past or too far forward into the future.  I needed to stop worrying about every little thing & just be present in each & every moment no matter what the moment felt or looked like.  This is the part where I tell you that this is a huge challenge at least for me.  My biggest hurdle is my natural tendency to plan for the future…way into the future.  Planning for the future is responsible & right however I have not been present enough in the moment so I am just stirring that into my day in good measure now or at least trying to with all my might.    I have also found that being around others that are good at that helps immeasurably. 

One of the things that occurred to me once the draw bridge went up & I slowed down & started taking proper care of me was that I had not set aside much time in 2015 to read.  I love to read so that seems like a summary offense to me.  I have decided to ensure that reading is something that I schedule in this year.  No sooner had I made that choice & boom out popped a book that I just knew instantly I will read first.  If I was more practical I would have read a book from the tall stack of unread gems I already own.  If you too are a book lover though you will know that feeling of seeing yet another book & having it call your name.  The book this time that called out to me has already made quite an impact on me & I am only about 25% of the way through it.  The topic is largely about the discomfort that can be felt when you feel yourself in the valleys of life & not running away from that.  I have learned the hard way that I cannot outrun my feelings.  I don’t run away from my feelings even when they feel totally uncomfortable.  The book is written by a high profile & respected social worker.  I started out my education in social work however changed directions when things got a little too steamy with the bull crap.  There are a handful of social workers that I respect & admire I will say.  I do not however have the time or patience for nonsense so if there is steamy bull product in the room I will call it out.  That is just how the feisty rascal in me was made.  I look forward to sharing many of the gems of wisdom that I glean from this book that I am currently reading with you in the coming weeks.  In the meantime I am just slowing down & continuing to keep myself open to learning because as the popular saying goes, “I don’t know what I don’t know.”  I am certain of that.

My heart’s hope for you is that you allow yourself to be gentle with yourself & take the best possible care of you physically, emotionally & spiritually.


Saundie :)

May you have a peaceful week.  Next Monday's writing piece is in the foggy ether as usual :)



04/01/2016 13:45

Next story

Happy New Year,

The next story to share with you is in the creative ether.  The story will be delayed a wee bit as i have been feeling under the weather for quite a while.  With a handful of fiesty & the usual pinch of rascal stirred in I am determined to feel better as quickly as rascally possible :)  The next story sharing will be posted on Monday January 25th (hey that's Robbie Burns Day as a special aside & bonus).  Blessings xo


30/11/2015 08:57

The Light or the Reflection

“There are two ways of spreading the light:  to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” (Thomas Kinkade)  Does art speak to your heart in one form or another?  It could be a painting or prose, film, music or another form of creative art.  Beauty & truth so often touch our hearts.  Perhaps it is the wonder of the ultimate canvass of nature that does our hearts the most good.  What might be common to all arts that reach us at our heart’s level?  We each may have a different answer to that question.  My answer would be “light.” 

When we think of heaviness we likely liken this to darkness while levity reminds us of light.  Since it has been an especially heavy year my gratitude & pursuing light is greater than ever.  I refuse to remain sucked into the vortex of darkness no matter what happens to me in this life.  It may take a great deal of effort at times to look for people & things that can reignite our flames.  The light is however there I know without a doubt.  As we enter literally into the season of the year where we receive the least day light I find myself ensuring that there are many forms of chosen light invited into everyday life. 

For those rainy, dull days inside of us and/or outside our doors there are forms of light as the antidote.  Last year I purchased a salt light.  The jury is still out in my opinion on whether these are a mood lifter during the winter months but it sure does not seem to do any harm so why not.  On gift wish lists any time of the year I always have at the very top, beeswax votive candles.  These are a real treat I find.  I love lighting them & enjoying the gorgeous scent as well as that feeling of being drawn into the beauty of the light from the dancing flames.  I save the candles for times when I am writing or other special quiet moments from time to time.  How about that comforting feeling when we make ourselves either a cup of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or hot apple cider & grab a blankie & sit in front of a fireplace?  There is that time in the day where we may decide to dawn a  super soft scarf, bundle up in our jacket & go out for a walk in nature allowing the sunlight to touch our faces as we experience the crunch, crunch of fallen leaves under our feet.  If we walk along the shoreline we get to see the reflection of the sun’s face off of the water as it glistens & glimmers a hello to us.  Don’t you find light in one form or another to be healing?  I sure do.

In circling back to our favourite forms of art that light us up, do you have favourite painters, musicians, writers and other artists?  Light to me often feels parallel to hope.  I cannot look at something that contains light & not feel lifted or hopeful thank goodness.  I hope that is true for you too.  My favourite painter is Thomas Kinkade who was known as “the painter of light.”  I never tire of looking at that artist’s paintings especially the ones where the light reflects from a window inviting us into the home in the picture.  My musical preferences are quite eclectic.  Some of my favourites though contain a champion’s viewpoint & are strengthening.  They are the types of songs that tell the story that there are struggles in life however we will keep going & growing stronger.  Two of my favourite encouraging songs are “Tubthumping” & “The Fight Song.”  I play those very loudly on the especially difficult days.  When it comes to authors, there are some real gems out there.  I always have a stack of books that I look forward to reading.  Since I decided a long time ago that my stack was getting taller than the time I can realistically engage in reading, I have naturally leaned towards non fiction.  The books that I am attracted to contain nuggets of wisdom that I look forward to learning from & I plan on learning until my very last breath.  The list of encouraging, inspiring, light promoting authors is too long to include so I will just include a tiny percentage of my all time favourites:  Hal Urban, Thomas Kinkade, Matthew Kelly, Stephen Covey, Hyrum W. Smith, Kevin Leman, Michael Gaitley, Donald Calloway, Emilie Barnes and C.S. Lewis.  The list could go on & on because I love books big time.  There are so many forms of art & for sure you will know exactly who & which ones are your favourite artists or forms of art.  I hope that you derive as much inspiration & energy as you possibly can from whichever art form speaks to your heart.

You are likely quite familiar with the saying, “that person lights up the room.”  That is the person that many are drawn to.  We seem to just plain be drawn to light in a natural way.  We just may want to make sure that we add or keep as many of those light up the room type people in our lives.  If ever something were a great contagion it would be to catch some of that light up the room for ourselves to share with others & so on. 

Admittedly, it has been an uphill battle maintaining light in my own life over the past year in particular.  It has been a heavy year.  I am continuing to go out of my way to keep my own flame lit while doing my best to also keep flames lit for others too.  At best I am merely a reflection of light & at times not as vibrantly lit as I would like to be.  I refuse to let my flame totally extinguish though & this means that I will always keep going even when the going gets tough.  You keep your flame lit too.  We are in this life together.

On a very celebratory note I would love to share with you that one of my 4 autoimmune illnesses is going into remission.  It has taken indescribable effort, trial & error & many crocodile tears & a rascal’s determination however after almost 2 years I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It seems very fitting that the thing that has caused one of my autoimmune “365’s” to start to go into remission is literally the light.  Since mid-September I have been going to light box therapy at the hospital 3 days a week.  It is finally working!  I have been warned by others living with this same autoimmune illness that the remission tends to be short lived.  In any case today I appreciate the remission however long it lasts.   I will be celebrating.  It is the little wins that can mean so much.  Sometimes the win is on the day when somehow against the odds we have in range blood sugars for the whole day & feel like we could take on the world.  Some days the win is in just not giving up.  One way or the other we each have the heart of a champion with flames bigger or smaller on any given day yet always lit.

My heart’s hope for you is that you surround yourself on purpose with things that light your heart up & don’t ever let your flame go out.  You are a beautiful original & you never know who is watching you & lighting their candle from yours.



Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year & Blessings now & in 2016!   I will be taking a bit of a break to recharge for the New Year. My family & I are also going to have some fun in the form of some sunlight soon somewhere warmer than my wee corner of the world.  We are big time excited.   The next story sharing will be on January 11th.  Be extra gentle with yourself.  Keep lighting up your wee corner of the world with beautiful you!  Be a candle, be a reflection or be both :)




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