Finding Gratitude for Diabetes

On the surface, “gratitude” and “diabetes” don’t exactly go together like peanut butter and jelly…but for me, they are natural companions.

Every year since I’ve been a diabetes blogger, I’ve done some sort of post that explains why I’m grateful for diabetes around the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a nice opportunity for me to take time to reflect and express appreciation for some obvious and not-so-obvious people and things.

Of course, there are a number of repeats year after year, including my family, friends, and partner; my dog, the roof over my head, the food on my plate, and so forth.

But as changes take place over time, additions are made to my list. Here are some new ones for this year:

New opportunities. Yesterday marked my final day working at a diabetes nonprofit. This Monday, I’ll begin a new job and continue my writing/editing career at a company that I’m thrilled to join. I’ve got mixed emotions about leaving diabetes behind professionally, but one thing is for certain – as a member of the diabetes community, I’m excited to continue being an active advocate and supporter of the people and programs that I’ve encountered in the last year and a half.

Access to diabetes supplies. I’ve always taken my diabetes supplies accessibility for granted. I don’t struggle to afford the medications and technologies I use (though it would certainly make my life easier if it was cheaper) and I am fortunate enough to have a solid supply on hand at all times. I know that other people with diabetes can’t say the same: an awful reality, but one that opens my eyes to something I should never take for granted.

Another thing I was grateful to do this past year? Travel to New Orleans for the ADA’s Sci Sessions and be surrounded by literally thousands of incredible people working to make a difference in the lives of people living with diabetes.

Exploring hobbies. I’ve had the wonderful chance in the last year to explore hobbies both old and new. I’ve recently picked up my knitting needles again and have made solid progress on my first sweater in a couple of years. I’ve been borrowing more books digitally from the public library so I can rekindle my love for reading. And I’ve been able to try tons of unfamiliar pastimes that I’ve grown to really embrace, such as volleyball, tabletop games, and even video gaming. It’s been a goal of mine to refamiliarize myself with the concept of down time and using it as a chance to do things that make me happy, and I’m so glad that I’ve leaned into this.

Diabetes itself. Yes, I am thankful for diabetes. Here’s why: I could spend all my time resenting it for (occasionally) making my life miserable. A long time ago, though, I chose to embrace diabetes for what it is. In turn, I’ve learned to be grateful for diabetes because of all it has brought and taught me…friendship, independence, discipline, and so much more. After all, this December 24th will mark my 25th anniversary with it – how could I not choose to find gratitude in something that’s been a part of me for nearly as long as I’ve been alive?

It seems especially significant that my departure from my role at a diabetes non-profit is just before the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a perfect time to express gratitude. So it is with zero exaggeration when I convey how grateful I am for this community, and in turn, for diabetes itself.

Happy Halloween from Hugging the Cactus

This blog post was originally published on Hugging the Cactus on October 27, 2021. I’m sharing it again today because it’s all too appropriate for the haunted happenings of today! Read on for my perspective on enjoying Halloween with diabetes…

Now that I’m in my late 20s, Halloween is less about the candy – though I still very much enjoy that part – and more about having fun dressing up, even if it’s just for my own entertainment. But this is also my first Halloween at my condo, so I hope that I get to see a decent number of trick-or-treaters and cool costumes.

Diabetes can’t steal my joy on a day like Halloween!

Thinking about Halloween as an adult got me thinking of Halloween and haunted happenings from my childhood, and I’ve got to say, T1D never once got in the way of my enjoyment of the spooktacular holiday. Sure, there were plenty of other things to do besides trick-or-treat – I watched the Charlie Brown Halloween special (and still do) every year and I almost always make a point of carving a pumpkin or two each October – but collecting (and feasting) on candy was still a key component of Halloween for me that diabetes couldn’t take away. In fact, I think that it helped me feel a little more “normal”, like I had something in common with my peers without diabetes.

I’ve seen posts over the years about treats that T1D kids can be given in lieu of candy – things like pencils, sugar-free sweets, fruits or vegetables, and stickers – and that’s perfectly okay. But I think it’s also totally okay for T1D kids to have a break from worrying about diabetes and how it makes them different from everyone else every now and then, especially on a night like Halloween. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m really grateful that I always had super positive experiences around Halloween throughout my childhood that were never tainted by memories of anyone telling me I can’t eat a piece of candy or that I shouldn’t partake in the holiday because of my chronic condition.

So that’s why I’m excited to celebrate it just as I always have this Halloween weekend…though maybe with the added trip to the store the day after to see how much of a discounted low blood sugar/emergency candy stash I can accumulate.

Happy haunted happenings, Cactus Huggers!

Happy New Year from Hugging the Cactus!

2022 will be here in a few short days and the prospect makes my head spin. Where did 2021 go?!

Me, looking comfy as I casually ponder where the eff 2021 went.

As we approach the new year, I’m feeling several different emotions – the most prevalent one being gratitude.

Amid all the chaos of the past year that was filled with so many literal and figurative highs and lows, I can’t help but feel grateful for the many people and experiences that kept me calm in the storm. My family, my boyfriend, my friends, my dogs. The roof over my head. The opportunity to start a new job at a diabetes organization, which in turn reunited me with old friends and helped me make new ones. The chance to travel across the country and go on several weekend trips to closer-by destinations. And as often as I gripe about having so little time to myself, I’m also grateful to have such a jam-packed schedule that keeps my both my mind and body active and well.

With everything in the world feeling uncertain lately (oh, how unnervingly familiar it feels to merely say that), it’s helpful to remind myself of these things that make life so rich for me. I’m looking forward to carrying this reminder into 2022 with me and likewise, I can’t wait to continue connecting with the greater diabetes community in the coming year.

Happy New Year, Cactus Huggers – may you be healthy, well, and happy in 2022 and beyond!

Happy New Year!

It is officially January 1, 2021.

When I think of January, the color gray comes to mind. This time of year is notorious for being a bit of a dull lull – a period in which everything abruptly slows down. The cold weather feels even colder and it can feel a bit like being trapped inside sometimes.

But we’re all pretty familiar with how that feels by now…

Anyways, that’s what I used to think of January. Now, I’m trying to shift my thinking and find the color and vibrancy in this month. After all, a new mindset – sort of like the one I touched on in Wednesday’s blog post but am still struggling to identify clearly – seems like it should just go together with a new year. If I keep the old mindset, I’ll get old results, and I don’t think I necessarily want old results (unless they pertain to the stretches of time in which my blood sugar levels have been spot-on, then I definitely want those results).

I’m rambling, I know. But this is my way of encouraging myself – and you – to do something that makes you happy today. Need some inspiration? I’ll share my plans: I’ll have a lovely homemade lasagna made by my mother, hang out at my parents’ house with our dogs, and text all of my loved ones to wish them a happy new year. If the weather cooperates, I’ll take a walk at some point to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Maybe I’ll even get to totally veg out for a few hours and shirk the responsibilities of adulthood, pretending that a new workweek isn’t just around the corner.

All that sounds like a pretty great way to ring in a new year, don’t you think?

Here’s to a new year, your good health, hope, and of course, fabulous blood sugar levels.