Archive for June, 2011

I often wonder what it would be like to sit down with Maya Angelou for a cup of tea and a conversation. I find her an inspiration and there is a wisdom, that comes with experience, in her words. This morning I found myself turning to Maya’s wise words yet again when I told my sister that I love her.

“Give it everything you’ve got. I’ve told you many times, ‘Can’t do is like Don’t Care.’ Neither of them have a home.” ~ Maya Angelou.

This quote and mindset has been a mantra of sorts for me over the past few years. It has brought me great successes both personally and professionally.

The subject at hand is health. I’m diabetic. I work hard at being a very healthy diabetic. I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight in just over a decade; I’ve reversed my need for any medications to control my blood glucose and I did this in less than 2 years. I’ve reversed the severe third stage diabetic retinopathy that threatened to take my sight and I did it without surgical intervention. I eat healthy and lead a fairly healthy lifestyle. I’m not perfect but the stakes are high so I don’t take my health lightly. I am careful because I love myself and I love my children. I want them to have their Mom, not just my presence, but I want them to have me as an active role model. I remember when I first started being uber-particular about what I ate and my sister saying that I needed to lighten up about it.  This was when I was first diagnosed in 2009.  She even made reference to a diabetic friend who isn’t so careful with her diet—a friend who, sadly, has had a lot of complications. I love myself too much to not take this disease seriously and do everything I can to keep on this path of well-being.

Fast forward to this morning and the phone rings. It was a long distance call about my brother, Danny, who is in the hospital. My sister, Margaret, was calling me to update me as to what is going on and the news wasn’t good. Dan and I haven’t had a very close relationship in the past decade but I do care about what happens to him. He is my brother after all. I’m sad and very scared for him—he must be terrified. It bothers me that I don’t feel a bit of sympathy for him—it’s hard when you have watched someone abuse their health for so long. I am angry and bewildered that he would let it get this far after watching our Dad die of heart disease. We have but one body and we need to take the best care of it that we can. You see, both my siblings have heart disease too. Both of them are smokers. Both of them know that it’s bad for them but they keep on smoking. Or at least they did. I’ve been told that Danny has quit. He had to because he needs a heart transplant. He has no choice.

Margaret still smokes. I told her that it worries me that she won’t quit. She told me not to “go there” as it would just make her stressed and push her the other way. I feel it is an excuse for not wanting to hear the truth. I’ve mentioned my concerns before. I get the “it’s too hard” or “I’ll gain weight” or “the medicines to help it are too expensive” or “stop nagging”. Before that it was “impossible with two smokers in the house” but she had to find a new reason because they both quit.  Excuses, excuses. When it is bitter cold outside she even smokes under the hood fan that is above the gas stove so that her daughter won’t know she was smoking in the house.

I don’t understand people who don’t take care of themselves especially when they have a disease such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. I don’t get the comment “it’s too hard”. Nothing is too hard if you put your mind to it. “I’ll try” seems hollow to me as well. I realize that there is an addictive side to a cigarette but that can be overcome with willpower. After all, my Mom smoked for 60 years and managed to quit without medical intervention. The “I’ll try” is simply a way to silence the person who is expressing their concern.

One thing I have learned is that changing the mindset goes a long way. Instead of thinking of reasons why the task is too monumental, I look at how each step in this journey makes me stronger and makes my life more positive. If I can take control of my health and lifestyle then anyone can. Love yourself enough to fight for your well-being.

You can overcome obstacles too. If you start with one small change a day you can do so much more than you realize. Change the habit and shake up the routine. Set small milestones instead of one big one. A hike starts with one step… well-being starts with one change. The more you take care of your body the better you’ll feel and you’ll soon find yourself striving to make other positive changes.

In the words of Yoda… “Do or do not… there is no try!”


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