• Fresh Views

    Top 10 Things 2020 Taught Us

    We were happy to see the sun set on 2020! 

    Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce. – Vivian Komori

    It’s been said that “Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.” That pretty much sums up 2020! We’ve all learned to “bounce” through the multitude of challenges before us this past year. Yet, through it all there were many positives that we @AFreshPOVforYou personally realized during those unprecedented days. And one of those positives was celebrating the second birthday of this blog!

    WHO ARE WE? 

    If you are new to our blog, we are solution-focused diabetes care and education specialists. We are passionate about doing diabetes care and education differently. Too much of life is spent focusing on problems. Instead, we believe in turning attention to possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future. We see the benefit in stepping alongside our clients as “think partners” to focus on what’s important to them, what’s already going well, and build upon that to reach their goals so that they may live life to the fullest. We invite you to join us in doing the same if this is a new paradigm for you. We are advocates for person-centered, strengths-based language, and believe that self-compassion is essential when living with a chronic condition. 

    OUR MISSION

    As we welcome the new year, our Mission continues to be that We guide healthcare professionals in taking a solution-focused approach to practice to enable clients with diabetes to embrace possibilities, opportunities, and a fresh vision for the future.

    Our interest and passion around taking a solution-focused approach to practice (and life), means acknowledging what has gone well, acknowledging how that success was achieved, then identifying how to do more of that and build upon that moving forward.

    TOP 10 THINGS THAT 2020 TAUGHT US (in no particular order)

    1. Importance of connection with others and having support. We don’t take the human touch for granted after living through 2020. We learned that connection and support comes in many different forms. We found creative easy ways to Keep Friends Close, as well as family, through Zoom virtual happy hours, virtual graduations, virtual birthday celebrations; hugs through windows; and drive by celebrations. Find 5 ways to guide your clients to engage in ongoing diabetes support here.
    1. Do hard things early in the day to feel accomplished. We both work the best in the morning. While we’ve known this, it was never quite so clear as it was in 2020. We did the “hard” work early in the day when our minds were freshest, so that we felt accomplished. The stressful days left us tired and spent by days end, and after dinner to help us relax and “escape” we could often be found indulging in Netflix, Prime, and others (who knew you needed so many streaming channels?). We identified a time when things were working well (in the morning) and tried to do more of it. When working with clients, try to identify when they think the clearest and encourage them to focus on their diabetes at that time. Help them identify their “Exceptions”, those times when things are going well. If your client wears a CGM, help them identify a quiet time to retrospectively review their CGM reports to identify patterns and trends and develop 1-2 small behavior changes to move then towards their goals by “doing more of what is working well.”
    1. We CAN be healthy. While many have gained the “COVID 19 pounds”, and may have been over indulging during the past several months, we learned that we could continue to adopt healthy habits, even during a stay at home order. Deb likes and has been focusing on the Mediterranean eating plan that includes lots of healthy fruits and vegetables with less red meat. She also decided to go back to using her WW (formerly Weight Watchers) app to help her track her food, activity and sleep. Tami purchased an under desk elliptical machine to help keep her active during the week, and spent time enjoying great outdoor walking trails on the weekends while social distancing. While in ways it has been challenging being home so much, we learned that it can also be healthy. When eating at home there’s more control over the ingredients added to recipes. There also may be a little more time to prepare meals, or do “meal prep” for the week. Read more tips here.
    1. There are many possibilities, we just have to identify them. With restaurants closed and outside entertainment challenging, we quickly began to think of out of the box possibilities. Deb and her husband decided to have a “car picnic” after they picked up wine at a local winery. From the front seat of their car they could see the peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains while enjoying a picnic lunch and a cool glass of Rose. On the work front, taking a solution-focused approach to diabetes care and education can be a fresh new start and bring possibilities to light. Gather some tips from our blog here.
    1. Keep a mindset focused on finding solutions (rather than focusing on problems). We learned that in matters big and small, diabetes-related or not, by embracing a mindset that focuses on solutions, and channeling energy into leveraging strengths and possibilities, we can cultivate a solution-focused mindset. One that envisions success. One which helps manage stress. In our blog you’ll find 7 strategies you can use to step alongside your clients and support them in embracing a solution-focused mindset and managing stress.
    1. Acceptance and gratitude. While social distancing and stay at home orders in 2020 kept us from living out our plans for the year, we eventually came to accept that, and focus on what we could do and find gratitude and happiness in that. Read our tips on developing acceptance as a personal strength and helping cultivate it in others in our blog here, and tips to get started with daily gratitude practice here.
    1. The joy in giving. With life moving at a little slower pace, Tami found joy in giving to others. Small surprise “porch drops” on family and friends’ porches to brighten their day. Dropping by bags of food to be distributed to those in need in the community. She even took up baking bread as surprise drop-offs to those who would enjoy it. With the news coverage of families without food, Deb’s family and her workplace donated to www.feedingamerica.org on multiple occasions to support those in need. Sparking Joy in life and in diabetes education is an important element of our mission.
    1. Active listening is critical. With our daily Zoom meetings and family gatherings we learned that listening is crucial. It can be challenging to not “talk over” people when the virtual conversation includes many individuals. We couldn’t have “side bar” conversations unless they were by text or personal chat. We couldn’t read body language easily. Read more about how listening in a solution-focused practice can support the process of becoming a “think partner” with your clients.
    1. Resilience can be developed. How many virtual conferences or meetings have you attended in 2020? We attended more than we can count, and who knew just how successful they could be! While we missed the ability to be face-to-face with our friends and colleagues, we appreciated the opportunity to continue to learn and conduct business. We just kept going! That is what resilience is all about! Learn how you can build resilience in our blog here.
    1. Power of humor. How could we have survived the past year without humor! Laughing with friends online, reading silly memes on social media, and trying not to take ourselves too seriously. One of our dear colleagues and friends always provides us with comical relief and was no exception in 2020. You can sample our thoughts on humor in our blog here.
    Virtual happy hour laughs!

    2020 was a good teacher! Let’s embrace 2021 with New Year’s “solutions”, rather than “resolutions”

    Our challenge to you as we embark on this new year still facing struggles and uncertainty, is what if, instead of making New Year’s Resolutions this year (which require change and “fixing problems”), you instead guide your clients (and yourself) in making New Year’s Solutions? Who doesn’t like a solution after all? One way to identify solutions is to focus on things that have gone well in the past, and pinpoint how you can do more of that (rather than trying to change). One of the benefits of focusing on what went well, is that you can do it every day. Instead of dwelling on what you didn’t accomplish today, identify what was successful and try to do that “one thing” again tomorrow.

    WHAT’S TO COME? 

    Throughout 2020 we launched a series of posts, each revolving around a “word of the week” to inspire solution-focused thinking and practice. We embrace those words in practice and hope that you’ve found them impactful in your conversations too. What will we write about in 2021? Here are some of our ideas that we may write more about in the months to come: practical coaching tips; building your solution-focused question library; solution-focused behavior change; and incorporating solution-focused principles in a technology-enabled world. We’d love to hear from you, and learn about what you are interested in learning regarding incorporating a solution-focused approach in  your practice!

    We hope that  2021 will be kind to all of us and that together we can learn how to help people with diabetes live their best life!

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

  • Fresh Views

    GRATITUDE: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Gratitude turns what we have into enough. – Aesop

    Heart-shaped fall leaves in Tami’s yard that she acknowledged in gratitude

    In this season of Thanksgiving in the midst of the pandemic surge, we are being intentional in practicing gratitude – reminding ourselves of all that we have to be grateful for…including YOU, our readers and followers! The timing seemed perfect to focus on gratitude practices as part of taking a solution-focused approach to interactions with clients, leveraging things that they’re already doing well to build upon to generate solutions to realize future success.

    Do you think about gratitude during your daily routine? Is it a habit you practice? Is it a practice you encourage with your clients?

    TODAY’S WORD IS GRATITUDE

    The simple definition of gratitude is “a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; thankfulness.”  But the practice of gratitude means so much more.

    Gratitude is good for health

    Practicing gratitude is powerful. While the relationship is not fully understood, positive emotions such as expressing gratitude, are linked to healthier lifestyle choices. And healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating and being active are in turn linked to overall health. According to the American Heart Association, several clinical trials show that engaging in a practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure and help the immune system. It’s also been noted that grateful people have healthier eating habits, are more physically active, have improved sleep, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of taking medications as prescribed. Several studies suggest that gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that release feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. It’s difficult to feel sorry for yourself or feel down if you’re practicing gratitude.

    Beautiful mountain scenery near Mt. Charleston, Nevada

    Here are 8 ways to help develop daily gratitude habits in this season of Thanksgiving: 

    1. Have gratitude reminders. These are simple cues to remind you to focus on gratitude daily. Maybe it’s an alarm on your phone, a bracelet or wristband, a photo, or a magnet. And with that reminder, pause, take a breath and focus on being grateful in that moment.
    2. Keep a gratitude journal. We both have found this to be a good personal practice to express gratitude more readily and find things to be more grateful for. Some log entries in their journal weekly, and others daily. Our personal goal is to identify at least 3 things daily for which we’re grateful. While the goal is to write in the journal daily, sometimes life happens and weeks may go by without an entry, but we pick right back up with our entries. Even if we don’t write it down, we still try to practice mindfulness and pause and be grateful when we see or experience something that brings us joy. 
    3. Notice the beauty in nature each day. When taking a recharge break sitting in her back yard a few days ago, Tami noticed stunning heart-shaped redbud leaves falling. She looked around her and realized she was surrounded by “hearts”, prompting her to practice gratitude. Deb was visiting her son recently and enjoyed a beautiful hike out in nature near Mt. Charleston, Nevada and was not only grateful to be in nature but also to be spending time with her family.
    4. Start a gratitude box. Keeping a box (jar, album, folder, or whatever works for you) filled with notes, pictures, and moments you are grateful for can bring a boost when needed. 
    5. Voice or write down one (two, or three) good things that happened in your day. This is a practice Tami uses routinely with her clients to turn the focus to what’s going well.  She uses this as well on the home front with her family. In these stressful days it’s so easy to focus on all the chaos in the world. This mindful gratitude practice helps to refocus on the good things rather than the challenges of the day.
    6. Use gratitude apps. There are a number of apps with a range of capabilities including sending reminders, sharing uplifting thoughts, and organizing memories for which you are grateful.
    7. Reach out to a family member or friend via call, text, video chat, email, or an old-fashioned hand written note to let them know how much you appreciate them or to compliment them. 
    8. Post  quotes, thoughts, and images that remind you to be grateful. Tami’s desk has an array of colorful post-it notes with such on them. On her home refrigerator can be found pictures with family and friends that bring her joy, along with positive affirmations. Deb has a wall of picture tiles in her entry-way that remind her of happy experiences with family and friends that she’s grateful for.

    EACH WEEK WE INVITE READERS TO PARTICIPATE IN A SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE… This week, we challenge you to support your clients in developing their own gratitude practices. In addition to the ideas above, here are 3 guidelines you can challenge them with:

    1. Find a daily time to practice gratitude and try to be consistent. Maybe it’s when you get up in the morning. Maybe it’s before you go to bed at night. Maybe it’s when you’re exercising.
    2. Write what you feel. Don’t censor it.  
    3. Refrain from making the list repetitive. Be specific, finding new ways to approach gratitude.

    We wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! Even though you may not be with the family and friends you typically celebrate with, let’s all be grateful for what we have today.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

  • Fresh Views

    HUMOR: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Laughter is an instant vacation. – Milton Berle

    Given the stress, anxiety, and chaos that COVID-19 is still raining upon the world, we’ve been looking for opportunities to laugh and find humor in our everyday world. Earlier this week, that came in the form of a virtual happy hour (pictured above) with dear colleagues at the close of the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) virtual meeting. A special shout out to Lorena Drago for being the “hostess with the mostest” and donning a blonde wig and festive party attire for the celebration! 

    You may be super busy these days and have many things on your mind, so we’re hoping today’s blog can help you take a short stress break, identify personal opportunities to laugh, and consider how you can look for moments to incorporate humor in encounters with your clients and diffuse stressful conversations.

    Today’s word is HUMOR: 

    Finding humor and laughter in the everyday world is a key opportunity to reduce stress. Personally, we often feel rejuvenated and ready to face the world again after a good belly laugh or a few silly moments. Suddenly the weight of the world is lifted off our shoulders. 

    Research has shown that not only can humor reduce stress, it can decrease anxiety and fear, and help people cope with challenging situations. Humor can instill a more lighthearted perspective and make challenges seem less threatening. Laughter increases hormones in the body that reduce stress, decrease pain, and can even improve the immune system by supporting T-cell development. Humor can instill a sense of power, especially during times when feeling powerless. In fact, we have documented through our research that humor increases resilience in diabetes management and is a key factor to living well with diabetes. You can read more about the research findings in our recently published research paper, Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Life With Diabetes: Insights Gleaned via Twitter published in July in The Diabetes Educator journal (). In the study, laughter and humor were described by all participants as essential for overcoming the burden associated with living with a serious chronic condition.Strength and resilience were often equated with a sense of humor when faced with challenging situations

    Here are 5 ways that we have been finding opportunities for humor which we hope may spur some ideas for you and that you can suggest to your clients:

    1 – Get together and laugh with friends: Whether this is via Zoom or in a social-distanced driveway happy hour. Fun virtual backgrounds can add laughter for virtual gatherings.

    2 – Social Media cartoons, memes and videos: We have a couple of friends that also help us start each day with a funny cartoon or meme posted on Facebook. We look forward to that chuckle as we head off to our home office for work. Taking a mid-day break and searching for a good laugh is also good medicine. 

    3 – Binge watch comedy shows: Like Deb, you may have older kids home again with many schools and colleges being virtual. Deb’s found that watching old shows with her daughter has been a great bonding experience and opportunity to laugh. The current binge is Gilmore Girls (now up to Season 3).  Any suggestions for the next show?

    4 – Smile every day,  even when it’s hard: Starting the day off with a smile can help impact your mood.  You’ve heard the old saying “Fake it until you make it.” Well, saying that you’re going to have a good day and find humor in your day can really make a difference.

    5 – Laugh at yourself: If you tend to take everything very serious, especially these days, finding ways to relax a little and laugh at mistakes, misfortunes and circumstances can make life easier. Laughter connects us with others and most people find that laughter is contagious. The picture below candidly caught us sharing contagious laughter a few years back. This photo still makes us smile and is a gratitude reminder everytime we look at it. You can learn more about gratitude reminders in our post here and about Finding Joy in our post here.

    Each week we invite readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. We encourage you to ask your clients this week what they have been doing in their life to find opportunities to laugh! Discuss with them that finding humor in the everyday world is healthy for them both physically and mentally.  If you are doing telehealth meetings and you see something that makes a person unique in their home, maybe you can ask them to tell you about its significance, maybe there is a light hearted story to tell. 

    Try out one or more of the strategies we shared today, and reach back to  let us know how you’re doing! We’d love to help you de-stress and focus on a positive mindset.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    GRATITUDE: Today’s word to jump-start a solution-focused practice

    Andrea Bocelli performing Amazing Grace during Music For Hope – Live From Duomo di Milano on YouTube

    Through many dangers, toils and snares We have already come. T’was grace that brought us safe thus far And grace will lead us home – lyrics from “Amazing Grace”

    As April and this most stressful National Stress Awareness Month come to a close, it seems fitting to try to maintain mindfulness of the people, feelings and things big and small that we are grateful for. 

    Today’s word is GRATITUDE

    In solution-focused practice, emphasis is on the present and the future (rather than dwelling on past problems). We know there is a direct link between thoughts one thinks and the feelings they feel. Several studies suggest that expressing gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that release the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. When practiced over time, healthy and productive thoughts can produce effective long-term benefit. A few months back we published a blog on developing gratitude practices, including keeping a gratitude journal. Read more about it here.

    On April 12, one entry in both of our gratitude journals was renowned Italian singer, Andrea Bocelli’s, live stream solo performance on YouTube of Amazing Grace (pictured above). Another gratitude entry this month is that our article, A Paradigm Shift: Taking a Solution-Focused Approach to Practice  was published in the journal ADCES In Practice! While it’s exciting to be published, we are most thrilled for the opportunity to share with other diabetes care and education specialists how to embrace a solution-focused approach in practice, shifting from focusing on trying to “fix problems”.

    Another thing we are both grateful for are friendships, far and near, and the video conferencing platforms that allow us to gather together on Friday nights for a “virtual happy hour”. We have fun catching up and sharing our weekly challenges and successes. Here we are hanging out last week! 

    Tami & Mike, Deb & Mark, Joan & David and Terry & Karen

    Through these “stay at home” orders, even though we live in four different states, we’ve had the epiphany, “Why didn’t we think about doing this before?” We can still connect and spend time with each other! We plan to keep doing this even after we no longer have to social distance. 

    How to get started with gratitude practices?

    In addition to the ideas shared in our previous blog on gratitude, here are 2 more strategies to help develop daily gratitude habits:

    1. Start a gratitude jar. A colleague of Deb’s shared this daily gratitude practice her family (children included) is using. When something is going well and they realize they are happy and excited, they write down what’s happening on a small piece of paper and drop it in a gratitude jar. Then during times when they are not feeling as happy and feel struggles, they go to the gratitude jar and read one of those slips of paper, bringing back those happy feelings. 
    2. Say a kind word. The quickest, simplest and easiest way to demonstrate gratitude is to say thanks to another. Let someone know exactly why you are grateful to have them in your life, sharing specific things they have done or said on your behalf.

    THIS WEEK’S SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE

    We often close with inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. This week we challenge you to incorporate at least one gratitude practice into your conversations with clients. Encourage finding a daily time to practice gratitude and try to be consistent. Maybe it’s when they get up in the morning. Maybe it’s before they go to bed at night. Maybe it’s when they’re exercising. 

    We @AFreshPOVforYou are grateful for pets and the smiles they bring! These last few weeks we’ve been spending so much extra time on screens big and small, that our cats are even joining in!

    Tami’s “grand-kitty” Starry (Who knew she loved Andrea Bocelli and classical music??)

    We are grateful for you all and appreciate the opportunity to share our passion for expanding the use of solution-focused principles into diabetes care and education.  We thank you for reading!

    Deb’s “office cat” Puma watching Hulu!

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    MINDSET: Today’s word to jump-start solution-focused practice

    Deb’s “office kitty” has a mindset that is always focused on envisioning how to get outside and climb those trees!

    Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

    Given the chaos, worry, hurry, and stress that COVID-19 has rained upon the world, it’s timely that April is national Stress Awareness month. And who could have guessed several months ago when we slotted the word “Mindset”  as the focus for today’s blog that it would in fact be so relevant. We know you’re all busy and have many things on your mind, so we’re hoping this blog can help everyone take a short stress break and identify opportunities to reduce stress today.

    Today’s word is MINDSET: So what exactly is a Solution-Focused Mindset? 

    In a general sense, “mindset” is the way you think about your world, what you focus on, and how you relate to the world day-to-day. Change, like we’re all  experiencing now, means the emergence of new and challenging problems requiring new solutions. In matters big and small, diabetes-related or not, by embracing a mindset that focuses on solutions, and channeling energy into leveraging strengths and possibilities, you can cultivate a solution-focused mindset. One that envisions success. One which helps manage stress. Focusing on solutions and getting a plan in place helps reduce stress.

    Mindset has a more positive connotation than does stress, and implies that one has some control over the way they interpret and interact with their world during times of increased stress. Today we share with you 7 strategies you can use to help you as you function in your new environment, and also can help you step alongside your clients and support them in embracing a solution-focused mindset and managing stress:

    1. Create a morning mindset routine. We find that starting the day by making a list of each thing you’re looking forward to in that day (or even in the future) creates a feeling of anticipation and excitement that creates momentum for the entire day. Aim for at least 3 things. While you can note them mentally, in your phone’s Notes sections, or in a journal, if you write it them on a post-it note, you can easily post it somewhere that you’ll see it throughout the day (such as on your blood glucose monitoring supplies, on the car dash, on the refrigerator, you get the idea…) By focusing on the positive at the beginning of the day, it’s much easier to be happy, be focused, get work done more quickly. And often,  getting work done seems easier too.
    2. Live your Miracle Day. You may be familiar with the book by Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In his book, Habit 2 is called Begin with the end in mind. In thinking about this process, the solution-focused tool The Miracle Question can be employed to change mindset. It guides in envisioning how life would be different tomorrow if a miracle occurred tonight and your challenges were gone. It helps know what you want.You can read more about it and how to use it here. 
    3. Build on your past success(es). While we  might not have any specific past successes that directly relate to our world today, we can apply successes in similar areas. What has worked well for you in the past when you’ve been under stress? Or maybe you can learn from others and what has worked for them. On social media we saw a post about how people are outside taking walks more often while staying and working at home. In one neighborhood someone started writing messages in chalk to give people passing by some hope and strength. We thought this was a great idea and so started doing this too. We now have neighbors writing back to us!
    4. Move your body. It might be simply taking a walk. Physical activity lowers stress hormones and triggers the brain to release chemicals that make you feel better. (We’re finding that taking short walks to clear our minds is helping us to feel less stress and think more clearly). During this time of crisis, many physical activity outlets are offering free online opportunities for those staying at home.
    5. Use positive affirmations. We wrote about using positive affirmations in a blog last December on Healthy Coping here. When life is feeling especially challenging, we’ve found that practicing “daily affirmations” greatly helps us. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that you say to yourself to build yourself up: I can do this. I am strong. Each moment brings choice. I will not hold onto bitterness.I can live an overflowing life. Have you ever tried affirmations? The reality is that we believe what we tell ourselves and what we hear others say about us. Using affirmations can help to “rebuild” negative thinking and strengthen positive thoughts. When working with clients in a solution-focused way, we can  help them to create their own affirmations as one Healthy Coping mechanism.
    6. Surround yourself with positive mindset people. Stress can cause some to turn inward and isolate themselves.Talking to others about your stressors and seeking their support is one way to de-stress. A positive social circle can act as an echo chamber for positive ideas, focusing on a great future and supporting your dreams. Maybe it’s taking a walk outside with a friend (practicing social distancing, of course) or chatting via Google Hangout or Facetime. Whenever the two of us are together we have lots of fun and laughter. That is one way we cope with stress. Find your tribe.
    7. Close out the day with a “wins”checklist. These may be linked to some of the things you were looking forward to, or different things. They don’t have to be monumental. The point is to keep your focus on your day’s best experiences and recognizing how you were able to leverage strengths and doing more of what’s worked well in the past. Finding ways to practice gratitude may be helpful.  You can read more on gratitude here.

    Each week we’ve been inviting readers to participate in a solution-focused challenge. Given all of the real world challenges we are all facing…..we didn’t think you needed another this week! So, we encourage you to try out one or more of the strategies we shared today, and please reach out and let us know how you’re doing! We’d love to help you de-stress and focus on a positive mindset.

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    In All Things We Give Thanks

    Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow – Melody Beattie

    We are always grateful for the sunshine and beautiful outdoors

    On this Thanksgiving eve, we are reminded of ALL that we are grateful for…including YOU, our readers and followers!

    Gratitude is good for health

    According to the American Heart Association several clinical trials show that engaging in a practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure and help the immune system. “Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of medication (taking)”. Several studies suggest that gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that the release feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. 

    Research discussed in the Jan/Feb, 2019 issue of Diabetes Self-Management also shows that positive psychological states such as gratitude are associated with improved physical health in people with diabetes, improved sleep, and increased self esteem. While the relationship is not fully understood, positive emotions such as expressing gratitude, are linked to healthier lifestyle choices. And healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating and being active are in turn linked to overall health.

    How to get started with gratitude in this season of Thanksgiving? 

    Here are 5 strategies to help develop daily gratitude habits: 

    1. Have gratitude reminders. These are simple cues to remind you to focus on gratitude daily. Maybe it’s an alarm on your phone, a bracelet or wristband, a photo, a magnet, or a post it note. And with that reminder, pause, take a breath and focus on being grateful in that moment.
    2. Keep a gratitude journal. We both have found this to be a good personal practice to express gratitude more readily and maintain focus on finding things to be grateful for. Some log entries in their journal weekly, and others daily. Our personal goal is to identify at least 3 things daily for which we’re grateful.While the goal is to write in the journal daily, sometimes life happens and weeks may go by without an entry, but we pick right back up with our entries. 
    3. Start a gratitude box. Keeping a box (jar, album, folder, or whatever works for you) filled with notes, pictures, and moments you are grateful for can bring a boost when needed. 
    4. Voice or write down one (two, or three) good things that happened in your day. On the homefront, this is a gratitude practice Tami has used with her son over the years. In the days when she would take and pick him up from school, she found that the drive time was a good time to learn about his day. That conversation always began with these words, “Tell me something good that happened today.” He knew he needed to answer that, acknowledging something good, before talking about the challenges of the day. 
    5. Use gratitude apps. There are a number of apps with a range of capabilities including sending reminders, sharing uplifting thoughts, and organizing memories for which you are grateful. 

    You can glean other insight in this post we wrote on Gratitude here.  

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

  • Fresh Views

    Flipping the Paradigm: Applying a Solution-Focused Approach to Healthy Coping

    In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers. ~ Fred Rogers

    Getting some “beach therapy”

    Today we greet you from our first @AFreshPOVforYou writing retreat! “Writing Retreat”…those are BIG words that have been more than a year in our minds, and are now a reality as we sit across the table from each other drafting the content for our first book!  No small feat, but one we are excited about! We are passionate about taking a solution-focused approach to life with diabetes…so let your mind imagine just what this book may be about. We’ll share some sneak peeks as things move along.  

    Now back to our to our blog…

    Welcome to week 3 of our 7-week series on applying a solution-focused approach to the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors for managing diabetes. This series is focusing on “flipping” the conversation from a “problem focused” (traditional medical) approach to a solution-focused conversation. Have you tried any “flips” in the past 2 weeks? Please let us know if you have, and what your experience was. 

    Last week we shared about taking a solution-focused approach to Being Active – you can read it here. And the week prior we focused on Healthy Eating here. Today we’re concentrating on Healthy Coping

    AADE7 Self Care Behavior #3: Healthy Coping

    It goes without saying that stress is a part of life…family stressors, work stressors, financial stressors, health-related stressors…at times it might seem like stress is all there is. Add to that the relentless demands of diabetes. The combination can bring a variety of coping challenges and ultimately impact self-care. On the flip side, there are many positive ways to deal with stress and cope with life with diabetes in a healthy manner. It’s all about having a tool-box of resources or tactics to pull out or call upon needed. Here are 6 ways that resonate with us to give you ideas:

    1. Move your body. It might be simply taking a walk. Physical activity lowers stress hormones and triggers the brain to release chemicals that make you feel better. (We’re finding that taking short walks to clear our minds is helping us to feel less stress and think more clearly during our writing effort).
    2. Take a break. It might be taking a walk on the beach or simply having a cup of coffee and listening to the waves hit the sand (as we were in the photo above…wishing we were there now!). Or you might enjoy curling up in a comfy chair and reading a book. Or standing and stretching, taking deep breaths inhaling and exhaling slowly.
    3. Use positive affirmations. When life is feeling especially challenging, we’ve found that practicing “daily affirmations” greatly helps us: I can do this. I am strong. Each moment brings choice. I will not hold onto bitterness.I can live an overflowing life. An affirmation is a short, positive statement that you say to yourself to build yourself up. Have you ever tried affirmations? The reality is that we believe what we tell ourselves and what we hear others say about us. Using affirmations can help to “rebuild” negative thinking and strengthen positive thoughts.When working with clients in a solution-focused way, we can  help them to create their own affirmations as one Healthy Coping mechanism.
    4. Get enough sleep. In our experience, many people discount the value of sleep. When chronically sleep deprived the stress response can be even greater. (yep, we’re getting our zzz’s this week!)
    5. Spend time with people that make you happy. Stress can cause some to turn inward and isolate themselves. Talking to others about your stressors and seeking their support is one way to de-stress. Maybe it’s getting together with a friend for lunch. Whenever we are together we have lots of fun and laughter. That is one way we cope with stress.  
    6. Practice gratitude. You can read more about this in a blog we wrote on gratitude here.  

    When working with clients instead of focusing on what is not working well or what is “wrong”, here are 3 illustrations of how to flip the conversation:

    Try this: How do you manage on the most challenging days with diabetes to keep moving forward?

    Instead of this:  Managing diabetes requires a lot of time and effort. It’s something you just have to do.

    Try this: On the nights you’ve been able to get to bed earlier and get more sleep, how were you able to do that? How did you feel the following morning?

     Instead of this: You mentioned you’re only getting 5 hours of sleep each night. You need to get to bed earlier. 

    Try this: Where is your stress level around ____ on a scale of 1-10? What would it take to reduce it 1 point? What do you need to accomplish that? How can I support you?

    Instead of this: You just need to stop thinking about this issue and move forward.

    Focus most of the time and energy on thinking about and discussing what is already good, effective, and successful then leverage that to identify solutions.

    When you meet again, here is a 3-step follow-up approach to try:

    Try to incorporate this approach with clients to reframe conversations and see if you can help them to focus on the exceptions (those times when the “problem” could have occurred but somehow did not) and their desired future state, rather than ruminating on what is not working.

    • Step 1 – Have you seen any improvements since we last met? (if yes, ask about it. If not, go to step 2)
    • Step 2 – Have you noticed times when the problem (defined using the clients own words) did not occur or happened less? (here you are identifying exceptions. If yes, ask about it. If no, go to step 3)
    • Step 3 – Describe for me what would be different if the problem had been solved? (this is the Miracle Question approach we’ve written about many times. Here and here are two of them)

    The solution-focused decision tree is adapted from Fredrike Bannik’s 1001 Solution-Focused Questions.

    We challenge you each week to try incorporating some flips into your conversations and let us know what impact they have.

    Join us next week as we discuss a solution focused-approach to Monitoring

    We welcome anyone interested in our approach to Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, when you subscribe to our blog, we’ll send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

    Disclaimer: A Fresh POV for You is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

  • Fresh Views

    Fresh Start in the Fall

    All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time. – Mitch Albom

    Autumn on the Saint Lawrence river in Quebec

    Monday September 23rd heralded in the official start to Fall! For many, Fall signals an ending…the end of carefree summer break for kids, and depending on where you live, the end of warm weather, the end of long sunny days, and the end of leisurely weekend afternoons on the lake or by the pool. 

    But with that “ending” comes striking new “beginnings”. The air takes on a crispness. The trees magnificently change colors and leaves begin to fall. And we enter a season of waiting. All necessary to make way for the new. 

    With the start of Fall, today we share 3 solution-focused fresh starts for Fall: 

    1 – Spend time in reflection. Fall is a great opportunity to take a look back at the past months and summarize your accomplishments in all aspects of life. And to remind yourself what’s gone well. This can help bring fresh perspectives, set priorities and inspire you to consider new possibilities. Life in general brings constant challenges, not even to mention life with diabetes. We encourage you to focus on what has worked. How can you make that happen more often?

    2 – Practice gratitude. Fall is a time of gratitude with Thanksgiving around the corner. Reflect on what you are grateful for and what brings  you joy, especially if life is seeming challenging and burdensome. Feeling thankful for the experiences and emotions they brought you. Read our gratitude blog to get some ideas on some gratitude practices

    3 – Sum up the results and start something new. Building on fresh starts 1 and 2, that “something new” may be self-improvement activities, setting new goals, or devoting more time to the things in life that bring you joy and contentment. Read our past blog on finding joy in life and diabetes education services.  Many programs, workshops and events start in September and October, so it’s the perfect time to enroll. Or it maybe time to take up reading a new book to nourish your soul and help you know yourself better. If you live with diabetes and have not read Adam Brown’s book, Bright Spots and Land Mines, we encourage you to put this on your reading list. The bright spots discussed in his book are very similar to “exceptions” in a solution focused approach. You can read our interview with Adam here.

    Rather than think of Fall as ending, think of it as a beginning of something fresh and new.

    If you are a health care professional and interested in learning more about our solution-focused practice and approach, we invite you to subscribe to our blog, and we will send you in return a FREE resource of 10 Solution-Focused Questions to start a solution-focused discussion with your clients. 

    Subscribe to our blog and we’ll email you when a new post is published!

    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou

    Disclaimer: A Fresh POV for You is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. 

  • Fresh Views

    November 27, 1996, 7:10 AM

    While our A Fresh POV for You blog only began in November of 2018, Deb has been blogging about travel adventures and experiences for some time. She wanted to share a story, along with some special travel blog posts from the past, today, on this special day for their family.

    Adoption Day, June 19, 1997 Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China

    Today, June 19th, is the adoption day of Deb’s amazing and talented daughter, Diana. Diana was adopted when she was 6 months old from Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China and for the first 21 years, they celebrated adoption day with a small gift, one from today along with a cherished gift they bought in China.  They brought home 21 gifts, one for each year. Some were simple, like a stuffed panda, and some were more meaningful, including pearls for her 16th birthday (matching pears like the ones Deb is wearing in the photo above). Now that Diana is 22 and there are no more gifts from China, Deb remembered the biggest gift of all, and wanted to share the story today on this very special day.

    Here’s a little bit of Deb’s story and links to 2 previous travel blog posts.

    As with many children adopted from China we don’t have any information about Diana’s life before she entered the orphanage, and simple things we all take for granted, like knowing the time and date of your birth are not always known.  We knew the date of Diana’s birthday, but were never certain it was accurate, but it really didn’t matter, it was her birthday. (And interestingly the same birthday as my dad and step mother, but my dad passed away before we adopted Diana).

    When Diana was in grade school she had a project that required her to enter the time of the day she was born.  It was hard to tell her that I didn’t know. So we looked at the clock (We lived in Chicago on Central time) and it was 9:10 am, so I said, “Let’s just say you were born at 9:10 in the morning. No one else needs to know anything different.”  So, life went on. We moved to California (now Pacific time, so two hours earlier) and we were fortunate to take a special trip back to the orphanage in China in 2009 with a group of moms and daughters that we originally traveled with to adopt Diana in 1997.  

    Four of the mom’s and daughters, from our original 1997 trip, who returned to Yangzhou as part of a larger group trip.

    If you are interested in the whole, amazing, incredible trip you can read all of the blogging I did that week here.  I titled this particular blog, on Wednesday March 18, 2009, November 27, 1996, 7:10 am  because we found a miracle and a most amazing gift. You can read all of the details of that special day if you are interested, but the short story is this.  We found a “red note” while looking through Diana’s medical records. A mythical and elusive thing we heard other families talking about, often written by birth families, and attached to babies before being taken to the orphanage, since the Chinese Zodiac is an important concept in China and birth information is needed.

    We never knew Diana had a note. We were not told it came with her.  I immediately started crying, unsure of what it said and secretly hoping that November 27th was her real birthday.  And when they read to us that it indeed said November 27, 1996 AND 7:10 AM we were stunned, amazed and now really crying.  On that day in Chicago, when we looked at the clock it was 9:10 am BUT it was 7:10 am in California, where we live now. Surreal!

    Discovering the “Red Note” and learning Diana was born at 7:10 AM

    Unfortunately they would not let us take the note home. We were crushed, …..we cried, …..we begged, …..we pleaded and I think to get us to stop talking, they told us she could come back when she was 18 and get it.  So when she turned 18 I emailed and asked if she could have the note and they said no. When she turned 19, I asked again, and they said no. And Finally when she was 20 I asked again, and I told them how happy she was and how she was living her dreams at UCLA and marching in the band and loving life, and the only gift she really wanted was to have that one small piece of her past that connected her to her birth family in China and I didn’t understand why she couldn’t have it.  Finally, they relented, and said, “Okay, you can come and get it!” That was one of the happiest emails of my life. We were already planning a holiday trip to Asia that December, so Mark, Diana and I left a few days earlier and went back to her orphanage to meet everyone there, and most importantly to get the note. You can read about our whole trip here.

    We also decided to retrace our trip that we made 20 years ago, remaking photos and having so much fun sharing that special time with Diana.

    All of our photo remakes. My favorite is Mark carrying Diana up the steps of Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Mausoleum in Nanjing.

    How do I tie any of this to using solution focused methods?  Well we had a vision for the future that would not let us stop working towards our goal (getting that red note). We kept trying and used all the strengths we had and told a story, full of possibilities and opportunities, that finally moved someone enough to make things happen.  Sometimes life is messy and sometimes it’s hard and then, one day it happens to be really, really beautiful.

    The red note, still in the medical record
    Diana, Deb and Mark touring Yangzhou

    On this very special day, a day that changed our family’s life forever, I want to tell our daughter how much we love her and how proud we are of her and most importantly that our lives would be so less without her in it. Happy Adoption Day, Diana!

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  • Fresh Views

    What are you grateful for today? 5 strategies to develop daily gratitude habits

    We are grateful that we are taking some time off and seeing some fresh views! We’ll be back next week with some new perspectives to share! Enjoy this re-posting of an earlier blog that seemed to resonate with many!

    Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow – Melody Beattie

    Do you think about gratitude during your daily routine? Is it a habit you practice? Deb was recently on vacation and needed some self-care so decided to get a massage.  When she was checking into the spa they showed her three smooth stones, each with one of these words on it: Hope, Love and Gratitude.When asked to choose one emotion that she wanted to focus on during the massage, she chose Gratitude. While laying face down during the massage, a smaller stone was placed below her face so she could see and reflect on the word “Gratitude” during the massage, and to help her think about being grateful. (You see that stone in the photo above) This fresh view and experience created a new desire to be more thoughtful and intentional about being grateful for what is and what she has.

    What do you think about when you see or hear the word ‘gratitude”? The simple definition is “a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits received; thankfulness.”  But the practice of gratitude means so much more.

    According to the American Heart Association several clinical trials show that engaging in a practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure and help the immune system. “Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of medication (taking)”. Several studies suggest that gratitude can decrease stress and anxiety by activating the areas in the brain that the release feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.

    Research discussed in the Jan/Feb, 2019 issue of Diabetes Self-Management also shows that positive psychological states such as gratitude are associated with improved physical health in people with diabetes, improved sleep, and increased self esteem. While the relationship is not fully understood, positive emotions such as expressing gratitude, are linked to healthier lifestyle choices. And healthy lifestyle choices including healthy eating and being active are in turn linked to overall health.

    How can you get started with gratitude?

    Here are 5 strategies to help develop daily gratitude habits:

    1. Have gratitude reminders. These are simple cues to remind you to focus on gratitude daily. Maybe it’s an alarm on your phone, a bracelet or wristband, a photo, a magnet even a post it note. And with that reminder, pause, take a breath and focus on being grateful in that moment.
    2. Keep a gratitude journal. We both have found this to be a good personal practice to express gratitude more readily and find things to be more grateful for. Some log entries in their journal weekly, and others daily. Our personal goal is to identify at least 3 things daily for which we’re grateful. Tami numbers her entries and is working toward 1000 things for which she’s grateful. Some things are big (Entry #622 – Protection through a tornadic storm). Some things are small (Entry #1- Sun and warmth on my shoulders). While the goal is to write in the journal daily, sometimes life happens and weeks may go by without an entry, but we pick right back up with our entries.
    3. Start a gratitude box. Keeping a box (jar, album, folder, or whatever works for you) filled with notes, pictures, and moments you are grateful for can bring a boost when needed. Tami keeps a folder on her desk and a file on her computer filled with nice notes and photos, as well as  an album on her phone of messages and moments she’s grateful for to refer back to when she needs a reminder. Deb has a bulletin board in her office that displays happy memories in photos, ticket stubs, quotes, flyers etc. that she can look at during working at any time.
    4. Voice or write down one (two, or three) good things that happened in your day. On the homefront, this is a gratitude practice Tami has used with her son over the years. In the days when she would take and pick him up from school, she found that the drive time was a good time to learn about his day. That conversation always began with these words, “Tell me something good that happened today.” He knew he needed to answer that, acknowledging something good, before talking about the challenges of the day.
    5. Use gratitude apps. There are a number of apps with a range of capabilities including sending reminders, sharing uplifting thoughts, and organizing memories for which you are grateful. Deb has been struggling with back pain from a chronic disc problem and was at a place where no position brought relief, not sitting, standing or lying down. It was getting challenging to think clearly and work. She began using the Calm app, decided to take the Calm masterclass in gratitude, and use their 7 days of gratitude meditation. The process has helped her to find daily items to be grateful for during a time when it was challenging to not be engrossed in the pain.

    Here are 3 other things Deb has learned  through this experience:

    Learning #1 – When you have a chronic condition that is challenging you, think about ways to appreciate and focus on what you do have and what is working for you.

    Learning #2 – Try not to compare yourself and what you may be dealing with to others. While the grass might look greener on the other side of the fence, we never truly know what others are going through.  

    Learning #3 – Trying to simply look at what is right in front of you and be present in the moment.

    Maybe you employ one of these strategies. Or several.

    Here are 3 tips to help maintain your gratitude practice once you get started:

    • Find a daily time to practice gratitude and try to be consistent. Maybe it’s when you get up in the morning. Maybe it’s before you go to bed at night. Maybe it’s when you’re exercising.
    • Write what you feel. Don’t censor it.  
    • Refrain from making the list repetitive. Be specific finding new ways to approach gratitude.

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