• Fresh Views

    Celebrating Labor Day Weekend!

    One of a few remaining Sunflowers in a field at the end of summer in Santa, Fe, New Mexico

    With the start of September and Fall on the horizon we @AFreshPOVforYou took a much needed break to celebrate this long weekend. Deb finally got to see her daughter walk across the stage during a very delayed 2020 college graduation ceremony. And Tami enjoyed a low-key “staycation” with her hubby…dinner outing with friends, family picnic, hanging out on the back porch in the cooler temps, appreciating the last of the sunflowers in her garden, binging Netflix, and bringing out the fall decor!

    Sunflowers in Tami’s backyard

    So we invite you to enjoy reading a past blog post from 2019 A Fresh Start in the Fall where we share 3 solution-focused fresh starts for Fall. In upcoming posts we’ll share some of our current approaches and what we’re doing to gain a fresh start. Deb recently started using the Noom app and she’ll be sharing her views on their strategies to make technology support healthy choices. Tami is renewing her focus on mindfulness, being present in the moment and practicing gratitude. 

    We hope you too took some time this long weekend with friends, family, nature or whatever makes you smile and rejuvenates you!

    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. 

    Deb is employed by Dexcom, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

    Tami is employed by the University of Kentucky HealthCare Barnstable Brown DIabetes Center, but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.

  • 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

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

    A life lived with purpose and growth is a life well-lived. – Lisa Layden

    As 2020 is drawing to a close, we find ourselves reflecting, “Was the year well-lived despite the chaos of the pandemic?” Admittedly, the first response was “no”, as it’s easy to focus on the social distancing, not spending in-person time with those we love, stay at home orders, loved ones with Covid-19, and the list goes on. BUT, upon deeper reflection actually, YES, there are many positives that have come out of these unusual, unprecedented, stressful and anxious days. 

    If you’ve followed our blog, you know that our interest and passion revolves around taking a solution-focused approach to practice (and life), which means acknowledging what has gone well, acknowledging how you achieved that success, then identifying how to do more of that and build upon that moving forward.

    TODAY’S WORD IS WELL-LIVED

    Today we’re sharing with you 4 strategies that have helped us to declare 2020 well-lived. These are strategies that we plan to continue to embrace through the pandemic and beyond so we can continue to declare that even through challenging times life has been well-lived.

    1- Be still, be present.  During weeks of stay at home orders and working remotely, we’ve spent MUCH more time being present, living in the moment, and pausing to fully appreciate our surroundings and backyard spaces. In doing so, we saw many things we otherwise would likely have missed while zipping through life: hummingbirds in both of our backyards (who knew!), a baby bunny that would sit by Tami’s feet and eat when she was in her “outdoor office”, spectacular sunsets, and then the shift to brilliant fall leaves.

    A socially-distanced hike in Bernheim Forest in Kentucky

    2- Surround yourself with things that bring you joy. This past year more than ever we’ve appreciated the importance of this concept. It doesn’t have to be something big, just something as simple as the bright flowers Tami planted outside her kitchen window that she’d see when she passes by during the day.

    3- Find laughter in some way each day. Laughter is good for your health! You can learn more about that in our blog post here . We have intentionally found something to make us laugh each day, whether a GIF, a meme, a funny YouTube video, a Facebook post from our friend Lorena, a cat in a box…you get the idea.

    Tami’s son’s kitty Starlight        
     Deb’s kitty Nike enjoys a little “bubbles”

    4- Want what you have.  As you know, we were avid travelers prior to the pandemic, always in search of a new fresh view and looking forward to what’s next. However, these last 9 months we have embraced the attitude of “want what we have”. Being grateful for exactly what we have. Deb added Christmas lights and heaters to her backyard this year so she can enjoy at home, outdoor dining this holiday season. But she is most grateful that some of her kids have spent time at home this year when they would have normally been living out of town and even out of state.

    Diana and Deb enjoying a sunny winter day in Apple Hill, Placerville, CA

    We look forward to sharing a few more learnings and reflections that the year has brought us personally in our January 13, 2021 blog. 

    EACH WEEK WE INVITE READERS TO PARTICIPATE IN A SOLUTION-FOCUSED CHALLENGE… As you close out the year with your clients with diabetes, we challenge you to spend a few minutes with them reflecting on 2020 and identifying one, two or more things big or small that have helped them live well this past year.

    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

    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

    Doing things differently: Using solution focused questions to build a therapeutic alliance

    Tami’s photos from the Chihuly glass sculptures exhibit at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. She did things differently by not only viewing the exhibit in the daylight, but also after dark, and got an entirely different perspective.

    Doing things differently leads to something exceptional. – Anonymous

    We’re just returning home from the fantastic #AADE19 Annual Meeting and look forward to sharing some new information next week. Today enjoy an encore post from this past march where we discussed the concept of a Therapeutic Alliance!

    The strength in a therapeutic alliance

    As you may know, we strongly believe in the concept of a “therapeutic alliance” (which you may also know as the “helping alliance” or the “working alliance”). This alliance refers to the relationship between a healthcare professional and the person with diabetes by which they engage with each other to bring about beneficial change for that person with diabetes. This relationship is a most important component.

    The power of language

    It’s near to impossible to create those connections and build that alliance without focusing on language. Language and word choice is one of the most powerful choices we have. Words can demonstrate respect, empowerment and support or words can shame and blame. Respecting the expertise and experience of the person living with diabetes is essential to develop a strong therapeutic alliance.

    Focusing on solutions, not problems

    You also probably know that we are using solutions focused brief therapy (SFBT) and coaching in our work. SFBT is a questioning approach with conversation focusing on the client’s vision and how he/she identifies potential solutions. The questions asked during the interaction focus on a desired future state, and on what is already working well for that individual in the present. We acknowledge that the client has all the skills necessary to achieve their goals. As we mentioned last week, our goal, through incorporating principles of SFBT and coaching in diabetes care and education, is to change the conversation, the interaction and the experience of the diabetes community to improve health.

    10 questions practitioners can use to build a therapeutic alliance

    If you are a healthcare practitioner, we want to share 10 questions that you might find useful when engaging in discussions with patients or clients to acknowledge and build the therapeutic alliance. These questions reinforce the human side of both parties. They demonstrate that you care about the person sitting with you and that the relationship between you is important. Moreso, the word choices and body language during the interaction can go a long way towards creating a relationship of mutual respect.

    1. Thank you for coming in. Tell me what’s been going on. What can I help you with today?
    2. What do you wish to achieve or learn by the end of this session so that you can say you’re glad that you were here?
    3. What is the best way for me to work with you? (For example, do you prefer talking on the phone or text messages?)
    4. So that I can learn more about you, what do you consider your assets and strengths?
    5. Is there anything else you’d like to share that I should know?
    6. When you are at your best, what does that look like? How is that different from the way things are now?
    7. How can you do more of what is making things go well?
    8. If we created a plan, what would you consider a start to your being on the right track? And what else?
    9. What can you take from this session that can help you in the coming weeks?
    10. What will you be doing differently after the visit?

    Here are 3 additional questions that can be used to glean insight and feedback on the interaction:

    1. What feedback would you like to give me about today’s session?
    2. On a scale of 0-10, to what extent did you feel heard, understood, and respected during this session? 0 being you did not feel heard, understood or respected at all.
    3. On a scale of 0-10, to what extent did we talk about and work on the things that are important to you during this session? 0 being not at all.

    If you try incorporating some of these questions, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences and if you felt differently during your client visits. We leave you with 3 things to consider:  

    • Do you feel more present and “conscious” during the visit?
    • Do you feel like a “human” first and a practitioner second?
    • Do you notice that your clients are achieving their goals, and most importantly, are they feeling more confident in their ability to live well while managing diabetes?

    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

    Finding joy: In life and through diabetes education services



    Tami and Deb “finding joy” in Glencoe, Scotland a couple of years ago

    Joy is strength. – Mother Teresa

    Today is the 1st day of spring! The sun, warmer weather, and flowers in bloom definitely sparks joy for us. On the topic of “sparking joy”, @AFreshPOVforYOU had the opportunity to moderate the #DSMA Twitter Chat last Wednesday 3/13/19. We had a great discussion that delved into finding joy in life, as well as in diabetes education. (We’d like to hear your thoughts too! If you’re willing to share, click the link to a survey here or at the end of this blog).

    This topic of sparking or finding joy, was inspired by @MarieKondo and her Netflix show about her KonMari method. Are you familiar with her and her wildly popular method of organizing, the KonMari method? Basically, it consists of gathering together one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy”. If they don’t spark joy, then you thank them, and let go of them. (The KonMari method also inspired us to get an early start on spring cleaning!)  Maybe you’re not into organizing, that’s okay. But this concept of what sparks joy…it got us thinking about how we could apply it to diabetes and explore how diabetes education may spark joy.

    During the chat, conversation began with what sparks joy for people in their own life, and then turned to when engaging with the diabetes online community (DOC). We asked participants to summarize in one word their experience with the DOC. Here are some of the words people shared: unifying, heartening,  inspiring, awesome, knowledge, enlightening, meaningful, village and yes, joyful!  

    So how can those same words be used to describe engaging diabetes education services?

    We discussed the concept of co-design and wanted to learn if people with diabetes designed a diabetes education program or service, what would they include and how would they design it?  And ideally, what would spark joy for them when participating in a service or program? We heard some really interesting ideas that resonated with the solutions focused approach we are incorporating in our services.  

    Here are some of the thoughts and suggestions:

    • Diabetes is more about the person, than the numbers and gadgets!
    • Experienced people with diabetes (PWD)  teaching newbies
    • Personalized, person centered, there is no “right way” or “one way” to do anything.  Let people choose from a variety of options.
    • Several mentioned meeting people where they are, focusing on strengths, and not worrying about getting “straight A’s”, but realizing everyone is unique
    • Use of technology
    • Self-advocacy
    • Focus on emotional health and goal setting
    • PWD telling their stories
    • Stronger connection to others with diabetes, Interacting with others who have diabetes
    • Be community-based
    • Incorporate personality questions
    • We were really inspired by the amazing @KellyRawlings who thought that “joy” should be one of the AADE7 self-care behaviors for managing diabetes!

    We observed an overwhelming commonality of people wanting or needing to connect more with other PWD as they are learning about living with diabetes. As we closed out the chat, we challenged participants to do something every day that sparks joy in life!  So today, that is our challenge to you too. Do something for yourself, or for others that sparks joy! And if it helps you, track your experiences and feelings in a gratitude journal.

    Thank you to @DiabetesSocMed and Cherise for allowing us to moderate the chat and engage in a fast and fun chat, it really sparked joy for us!

    Would you like to help us learn more about what would make an ideal diabetes education experience?

    At A Fresh POV for you, our goal is to co-design innovative diabetes education services. If you or someone you know has type 2 diabetes or prediabetes and would be interested in participating in a focus group about co-designing education, please complete this survey which will take less than 5 minutes.

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    Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @AFreshPOVforYou.


  • Fresh Views

    Going off the beaten path


    From our off the beaten path adventure to  Ireland’s rugged West Coast

    Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it. –  Amit Ray

    With St. Patrick’s Day a few days away, memories of a trip we took to Ireland 4 years ago come flooding back into our minds. We and our husbands, along with two other couples, each of us from a different part of the US, convened for what became a trip of a lifetime.

    While the trip began in Dublin, the real adventure started when we got off the beaten path. When we got away from touristy spots, outside our comfort zone, and took a cross country road trip to the Western rugged coast of Ireland. The picture you see above with the rainbow was taken from the back yard as we were “imprinting” and savoring our last view at the end of the trip. This trip truly turned out to be our proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  On this journey not only did we see magnificent castles, abbeys, history galore, sheep galore, glorious green like we’ve never seen, and breathtaking views, we laughed A LOT. We strengthened friendships, we made new lifelong friends in Ireland, but most importantly we learned that when you go off the beaten path (so to speak), good things can happen. You get a different view. You gain a different perspective. You get a different experience. (And yes these experiences are in our gratitude journals and brought us great joy! If you’ve been reading our blogs you’ll know how we embrace expressing gratitude and finding joy in life).

    The majesty of the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

    Reflecting and bringing these experiences back to our practices leads us to ask: What if you went off the beaten path so to speak, and rather than focusing on the things in life when managing diabetes that are NOT going the way you want, instead, focus on the things that ARE going well? In our experience, so often we see that healthcare professionals and those living with diabetes alike, fixate on things that are not as desired – whether its an out of range blood glucose, a high A1C, or frequent hypoglycemia. That can leave you burnt out, and frankly beat down. What if instead you get a whole different experience by taking the road less traveled? Focusing on what you are doing well and how you can achieve or do that more.

    This next week we challenge you (whether you live with diabetes or not) to identify at least 1 thing that’s gone well. Is it possible to repeat what you did to lead to more “positive” experiences and days?

    In closing, returning to the our Irish adventure. The four couples deeply bonded on this trip. We valued the time spent together. It  made us realize we wanted to spend more time together over similar shared experiences. So, we are in fact planning another “off the beaten path” adventure across the South of France this summer. Adventuring through life experiences worked for us. It brings us joy. So we are going to do it again. We are sure to have some new perspectives, new learnings and beautiful views to share with you!

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  • Fresh Views

    Doing things differently: Using solution focused questions to build a therapeutic alliance


    Tami’s photos from the Chihuly glass sculptures exhibit at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. She did things differently by not only viewing the exhibit in the daylight, but also after dark, and got an entirely different perspective.

    Doing things differently leads to something exceptional. – Anonymous

    Our blog last week focused on being a human first.  There was so much information in that one blog post that we decided to highlight and reinforce a few concepts today. So here we go!

    The strength in a therapeutic alliance

    As you may know, we strongly believe in the concept of a “therapeutic alliance” (which you may also know as the “helping alliance” or the “working alliance”). This alliance refers to the relationship between a healthcare professional and the person with diabetes by which they engage with each other to bring about beneficial change for that person with diabetes. This relationship is a most important component.

    The power of language

    It’s near to impossible to create those connections and build that alliance without focusing on language. Language and word choice is one of the most powerful choices we have. Words can demonstrate respect, empowerment and support or words can shame and blame. Respecting the expertise and experience of the person living with diabetes is essential to develop a strong therapeutic alliance.

    Focusing on solutions, not problems

    You also probably know that we are using solutions focused brief therapy (SFBT) and coaching in our work. SFBT is a questioning approach with conversation focusing on the client’s vision and how he/she identifies potential solutions. The questions asked during the interaction focus on a desired future state, and on what is already working well for that individual in the present. We acknowledge that the client has all the skills necessary to achieve their goals. As we mentioned last week, our goal, through incorporating principles of SFBT and coaching in diabetes care and education, is to change the conversation, the interaction and the experience of the diabetes community to improve health.

    10 questions practitioners can use to build a therapeutic alliance

    If you are a healthcare practitioner, we want to share 10 questions that you might find useful when engaging in discussions with patients or clients to acknowledge and build the therapeutic alliance. These questions reinforce the human side of both parties. They demonstrate that you care about the person sitting with you and that the relationship between you is important. Moreso, the word choices and body language during the interaction can go a long way towards creating a relationship of mutual respect.

    1. Thank you for coming in. Tell me what’s been going on. What can I help you with today?
    2. What do you wish to achieve or learn by the end of this session so that you can say you’re glad that you were here?
    3. What is the best way for me to work with you? (For example, do you prefer talking on the phone or text messages?)
    4. So that I can learn more about you, what do you consider your assets and strengths?
    5. Is there anything else you’d like to share that I should know?
    6. When you are at your best, what does that look like? How is that different from the way things are now?
    7. How can you do more of what is making things go well?
    8. If we created a plan, what would you consider a start to your being on the right track? And what else?
    9. What can you take from this session that can help you in the coming weeks?
    10. What will you be doing differently after this visit?

    Here are 3 additional questions that can be used to glean insight and feedback on the interaction:

    1. What feedback would you like to give me about today’s session?
    2. On a scale of 0-10, to what extent did you feel heard, understood, and respected during this session? 0 being you did not feel heard, understood or respected at all.
    3. On a scale of 0-10, to what extent did we talk about and work on the things that are important to you during this session? 0 being not at all.

    If you try incorporating some of these questions, we’d love to hear from you about your experiences and if you felt differently during your client visits. We leave you with 3 things to consider:  

    • Do you feel more present and “conscious” during the visit?
    • Do you feel like a “human” first and a practitioner second?
    • Do you notice that your clients are achieving their goals, and most importantly, are they feeling more confident in their ability to live well while managing their diabetes?

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