We review a lot of books here at the 'Mine, but rarely do we have the opportunity to review one that we're actually featured in! That's why it's a special honor to share the news about the release of My Sweet Life, by Beverly S. Adler, PhD, CDE, a new anthology of essays written by 24 dynamic women living with diabetes. And our fearless leader, Amy Tenderich, is one of them! ... along with other great D-bloggers, like Kerri Sparling and Kelly Kunik; other D-personalities, like Riva Greenberg, Brandy Barnes and Cherise Shockley; and accomplished artists and athletes like Zippora Karz and Kelly Kuehne.
The book features autobiographical essays on how these accomplished women have succeeded in life, either because or in spite of their diabetes. These women vary in age, from thirty-somethings to a woman in her 90's who has lived with diabetes for over 70 years! They write about their diabetes diagnosis and how diabetes has shaped their life — for worse and better. Diabetes has such an overwhelming impact on a person's self-identity, and it's really empowering to see so many women who are persevering and overcoming obstacles to pursue their dreams. Or some cases, like Amy and Kelly and Kerri and Riva, using their diabetes as a catalyst to try to help others live their best possible life.
In the introduction to the book, Beverly writes, "Who better to share our ups and downs (with blood sugar or mood) than another woman who walks the same walk as us? Sometimes it helps just to know that other women have overcome the same challenges as we are going through."
The stories are touching and empowering, like when Cherise Shockley describes finding people she could relate to and get support from. She writes, "I was comfortable with this community of strangers; they understood what life is like with diabetes. I didn't feel like I was the only person living with diabetes. I realized I wasn't alone."
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And they're funny, like Kyrra Richards, a professional dancer, who was sure that she had "broken her bladder dancing in Afghanistan," and Birgitta Rice, who drank water out of a garden hose while helping her mother do laundry.
And they are a full of life's turning points and momentous moments. Two of the contributors, Mari Ruddy and Heartha Whitlow, also struggled with cancer diagnoses after being diagnosed with diabetes. Mari's experiences in both the cancer community and diabetes community inspired her to create the Red Riders, the ADA's program for cyclists with diabetes. Mari writes, "[Cancer survivors] are the ones who've made pink ribbons so prevalent. And they don't feel sorry for themselves. No — they evoke empathy and empowerment in themselves and others. That's what I wanted to bring to the world of diabetes." And that she did!
I think Brandy Barnes sums up the book best when she writes, "Rather than focusing on the numerous illnesses, surgeries and challenges, I choose to be thankful for all I have and focus on the many blessings I have received. Thinking about it any other way would make life less enjoyable — and I want all the joy I can possible have in this life." Amen, Sister!
Riva Greenberg posted an interview with author Beverly Adler last week, in which Beverly explains why she felt a book like this could fill an essential need, from what she's seen in her own private practice as a clinical psychologist and certified diabetes educator (and type 1 PWD for 36 years herself):
"Many women feel so hopeless and overwhelmed by their diabetes that they give up before they even try. Many women, for instance, need to make healthier food choices, but they've already experienced failure dieting and their past negative experiences paralyze them from making positive changes. Usually it takes a scare like the start of retinopathy in their eyes or neuropathy in their feet to shake them up enough to redouble their efforts...
"I noticed most of the women (contributors) had a 'pivotal' moment when they were able to change their attitude about diabetes from negative to positive. That then changed their actions in the direction of achieving better health. The women were able to recognize that diabetes is just a part of who they are like having green eyes or being left-handed. And many realized, while it may have felt like they were alone, they actually had the support of their family and friends."
The essays they've contributed are all well-written and poignant, and I definitely recommend this book for any woman with diabetes. But more importantly, I think this book is also perfect for men with diabetes, or even family members, friends or health care professionals. Sure, all the contributors are women. But the stories share issues of diagnosis, acceptance, technology and tools, and family life. The book also captures the diversity in life with diabetes, which many people not intimately familiar with diabetes might not understand. It's a perfect companion to Amy Stockwell Mercer's book, The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes, but unlike that book which also delves into specific issues like pregnancy and hormones, this book is more inspirational than instructional.
btw, Beverly is just beginning work on her next book, which will be an anthology of stories from successful men with diabetes!
The only downside to The Sweet Life book is the price. At $24.95 on Amazon, it's quite expensive for a paperback. But for anyone going through a rough patch in their diabetes — and honestly, who isn't? — I think it's a really good read and an excellent gift idea this holiday season.
The DMBooks Giveaway
We're still committed to sharing our book finds with you, our Dear Readers! Please follow the instructions below for your chance to win a free copy of The Sweet Life. Entering our giveaway is as easy as leaving a comment.
Here's what to do:
1. Post your comment below and include the codeword "DMBooks" somewhere in the comment (beginning, end, in parenthesis, in bold, whatever). That will let us know that you would like to be entered in the giveaway. You can still leave a comment without entering, but if you want to be considered to win the book, please remember to include "DMBooks."
2. You have until Friday, Dec. 16, at noon PST to enter. A valid email address is required to win.
3. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.
The contest is open to anyone, anywhere. Good luck to all!