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#13, Counter Intuitive, Paradoxes
Can you guide something, anything at all to be better by sheer will power alone? Maybe looking at the tiny, microscopic details can help a little bit at a time. I am not referring to anything big like solving any disease or large scale suffering within our world. What though if even our moments, days, weeks, months, lives can improve even a little. If you agree that better is better than perhaps we are on to something small, simple, not easy yet helpful. One thing is as certain as daylight coming each morning & darkness at night & that is that there are going to be struggles for every single human being. That is the bad news or reality check. The good news is that you can handle it like a boss. We are at our very core a hell of a lot stronger than we realize.
Over the past couple of months I have tried to change up my routine, thinking, activities & most importantly clarify what it is that is truly important. That was the start of a workout for the mind because crappy thinking can creep in even when you have been trained to know about these things. We each have specific values, principles & beliefs that if we adhere to will help us to look ourselves in the mirror. My experience though is that when I let too much garbage into my mind that I can certainly expect garbage thinking to result. It is easy to let less than stellar stuff into our lives. Maybe for some people it is a habit that does not serve his or her health well. Or maybe you share this thing called “people pleasing.” That I find can really get in the way of many moments, days, weeks, months & can come in between what I want my day, week, life to look like & what it turns into. It is still a work in progress. It is bad news for me I get intellectually to have a phobia (hyperbole) of the word “no.” There were primarily 3 things kind of crappily percolating in my mind. Type 1 has been robbing me of sleep, peace of mind and making me feel especially vulnerable as I have had 9 defective sensors since the beginning of August. So doing the math, it has been months of exasperation. Secondly, I realized that I was not really reading much let alone anything that would feed my starving brain. And finally, the sick feeling at the pit of my stomach was there yet again thinking about the holidays while juggling diabetes roller coasters, having to manage while feeling like I was being hit by a tank. In order to participate in things fully I would like to say that I have learned that I have to voice those moments when I need 15 minutes to recover from a low blood sugar. At the core though, I revert to being a people pleaser to the point where I can be really sick but at the front of my mind I am thinking, “don’t inconvenience anyone or bum anyone out.” Recently, though I started getting feisty with myself about that because I know that is bad advice denying physiological & emotional realities. Sometimes in life you just have to get so sick & tired of the current paradigm that you decide that you have to make changes. That is a start I have found.
To combat the 3 pet peeves to put it mildly, a game plan was formulated in my brain. In relation to diabetes I gave myself some credit for being a strong and capable individual. There have been several things that I have not sat back & waited for anyone to solve as far as making my days with diabetes the best that they can be. Technology has been embraced & I have a commitment to always keeping current on what is available to help make days the best that they can be. When there are problems with our technology we don’t have the luxury of hoping someone will look after us. If we were standing in a crowded room chances are that few people would know much or anything at all about type 1. The sensor difficulties I could hazard a guess were either a bad batch or problems with overheating during delivery from the lab to my home via courier since it was hot beyond usual last summer. My responsibility though is to make full use of technology yet remain the brains in my diabetes management. That for me means I am still having to do finger stick tests. I have seen the danger of not double checking with glucose tests. I would prefer to blissfully insert a sensor and then trust it but that would have been a dangerous decision for me over the past several months. Let’s hope this was a one off bad batch. The answer at least for me to stay on top of diabetes management meant getting stronger. While the quote by Dallin H. Oaks is so true that “you really can’t get enough of what you really don’t need”, there could be an addition to the thought. Counter intuitively, my thought is that “and you really can’t get enough of what you really do need.” I mean this specifically in relation to positives in life like love, strength, wisdom, truth, conscience, discernment, humility & all the virtues. That brings me to the second thing that had been troubling me. I have been a committed, lifelong learner because I don’t know what I don’t know. I love reading. That brought me to the realization that I needed to take personal responsibility for developing a habit of reading every single day for at least 15 minutes a day. As a funny aside, one of the things that I have tried to tone down is my swearing. The ironic part is that one of the books that I gleaned a ton of wisdom from was basting in profanity. It was not difficult to look beyond it though. Far be it for me to judge the author’s style in writing as I myself have been an owner of a swear jar over the years. Don’t you find that as you are reading, there are some thoughts that feel like they are coming to you at the perfect time? Even if there is only 1 sentence in a whole book that provides a learning gem, I feel fed. I always read nonfiction. I think I read about 4 or 5 books over 6 weeks yet I will admit that I am fortunate to be a speed reader. I really enjoy those moments while reading something that makes you stand on your head. (This is a reference to a quote by GK Chesterson of “if you want to make sense of the world, you need to stand on your head.”) A philosophy book that I enjoyed by Peter Kreeft had many stand on your head moments for me yet the biggest one was that although in our culture we are taught that “knowledge is power” that actually it was historically “truth is power.” From an author that swore like a sailor to a philosophy professor to several social science books my mind feels fed but not full. I am excited to keep reading & getting my stack of books looking well loved by turning the pages even 15 minutes at a time some days. As I read, I felt stronger. I really cannot get enough strength in all the ways that it comes into my life since let’s face it, the struggles will come so the paradox is that one needs acknowledgement of the struggle &then the action required to build strength reserves. When life’s battles come at us hard, we have to have a reservoir of strength. I have come to learn (often enough the hard way) that I need to keep filling my reservoir of strengths just to combat the extra brutal type 1 diabetes days.
It was not a comfortable feeling to have that awareness that I had traded my free time for things that were not of any value to me. I stopped watching stuff that was flakey on tv like a zombie who could not think or move for 30 minutes and traded that in on the pile of remarkable books that I already have that have been knocking my socks off. In the past 5 weeks, I have been feeding my brain big time. How about screen time? There is some outstanding content both online and elsewhere but it takes restraint to watch the best material for a better state of mind I find. It is worth it though in my experience to make that choice. Humour is a real gift. T.S. Elliott said, “man cannot handle too much reality.” That is the awesome power of comedy. For 60 or so minutes you get to laugh at what is often reality with a funny spin & let yourself just be entertained. There is such a range of comedy out there & I have always been grateful to take a break from my ultra-sensitive me at least once or twice a week. It reminds me to laugh at myself. As an aside, one of the telephone calls to the sensor company was met with quite the belly laugh when I let the rep know that according to my graph from my sensor readings I had been likely clinically dead for 18 hours. My delivery must have been well received because the rep really laughed & so did I. Sometimes a graph tells a story & once in a while my graph is complete nonsense. That’s okay, I have ability to think and not leave that to my gadgets. It has served me well to be more discerning about what I watch either on tv or online. To add to that, I found it helpful to leverage my time in the kitchen (which I love) with auditory listening. I have been listening to a series of lectures from a professor in my little corner of the world. They are off the charts brilliantly articulated, interesting, informative, fascinating and down to earth. I look forward to my mini lessons while cooking dinner. I have noticed by husband listening from time to time & commenting on how interesting even to him the content is. (He is a mathie so social scientist professor lectures are not usually his bliss). This professor (Dr. J. Peterson) delivered content on struggle/suffering that really hit home with me. Please feel free to email me if you would like the names of the books that I have recently read. The struggle /suffering content though seems pretty freaking universal since that is the human condition. He brings a real no nonsense approach to the content yet beautifully provides the antidote. I was hit with the thought that it just made sense. One of the things that this professor has stated in a number of his lectures is that we are stronger than we could ever imagine yet he does not deliver this with a rah rah sense and leave you with a “now what cheerleader” feeling. He is practical & relatable yet absolutely an outstanding academic mind.
Okay, how about the in the valley thinking about the tricky mix of the holidays and diabetes? It seems that way because I have felt dread about the holidays for the past 11 years. Today is my diaversary or 11 year anniversary with type 1 diabetes. Sometimes when you have 3 problems & you work on 2, sometimes 3 nearly gets solved as a result of working on the first 2. Somehow through working on challenges 1 & 2 it hit me that type 1 diabetes itself must never be a reason to get into a mindset that the holidays are going to be the pits. I am reminded that we get to live life in real time so some moments with the holidays and type 1 will indeed be brutal yet other moments will be absolutely a beautiful mess. And I smile to realize that all my favourite moments happen in the beautiful mess. There is no perfection, just a beautiful, personal messy beautiful. That is more than fortunate to be reminded of this. Nothing good comes to me I find when my thoughts are that “I am not looking forward to…because…diabetes.” So one moment at a time I am not accepting that thought anymore.
When you hear the number 13, what comes to your mind? Okay, now stand on your head (thought wise not literally unless you can and want to ha ha). 13 to me is a number that brings a smile to my face & great memories & more to look forward to. #13 was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the same year that I was although we are almost a generation apart. Last summer I felt elated about #13 being traded to our favourite hockey team, aka a person that our youngest son & myself have nicknamed “the little scrapper.” That’s right, the Montreal Canadiens aka “The Habs” welcomed Max Domi who had played as #16 (in honour of Bobby Clarke an NHL player who also played hockey with type 1 diabetes) & Max became our celebrated #13 (as 16 is a retired number for Montreal). If you have followed Max Domi’s goal scoring you will agree that #13 is far from an unlucky number. I have enjoyed the way that Max Domi advocates for type 1 diabetes. The fun facts that I learned about our “little scrapper” include that although he has a lot of tattoos, one of his arms has family related tattoos representing each member of his family & his faith. And on the other arm he has a medic alert type 1 diabetes tattoo. He is wise far beyond his years & I found his attitude of he is a professional hockey player with diabetes versus a diabetic who plays hockey powerful. That is standing right side up. Another fun fact is that he has a therapy dog that has a 99% success rate of determining & warning him when he is going to go into low blood sugar. Of course he has the gadgets as well that many of us have yet how cool to hear that his dog gets to go to the Bell Centre & is really part of his “team.” Go Habs!
Life can be tough, confusing, even brutal yet we have a limitless supply of strength. We have to do some difficult things to build reservoirs of strength and make the effort granted. It is worth it though I find to do the difficult things because the challenges will come & strength means it does not need to break us. Strength means we can even find that standing on our head or not we can grab those messy, beautiful moments despite diabetes.
My heart’s hope for you is that rather than one more rah rah you get what you need to grab your messy beautiful moments no matter what. We are all strong beyond imagination. Build strength reservoirs. Blessings for a beautiful Christmas season.
And as a quick aside, on this 11th anniversary (many fellow friends with type 1 refer to this as a diaversary) I have decided to enjoy a small divaversary by getting up and having a cupcake for breakfast from my favourite super girly local bakery. For every vice there is a virtue & for every dark there is light & for every cupcake there is a bolus (that I hope is right on) to allow for a lightness to the day. Having a good mindset on purpose requires at least for me to kind of celebrate the fact that a part of getting stronger means creating celebrations along the way. November 29th I get to be here for the 11th year rocking a very fancy cupcake & that is pretty much just right in my little corner of the world.
My next sharing will be in January, the New Year!!
Strong smiles , Saundie