• 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

    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

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