The Gift of Getting Older

Twinabetics with Dad, circa 1979

My sis and I recently celebrated our thirty-fifth birthdays. We’re identical twins, but our lives and personalities are quite different. She’s an artist and mom of three now living on the northern coast of California. I’m a writer and educator (and proud aunt) who has settled in the Midwest after living in Europe, SE Asia, and the East coast. She’s on her 27th year with Type 1 diabetes; I’m on my 24th. Aside from tiny traces of beginning retinopathy of the eyes (which does not affect my vision), we’re complication-free.

Which doesn’t mean diabetes doesn’t affect our lives (and the lives of those who love us).

It does.

Every. Single. Day.

Physiologically and emotionally, it’s always there.

Sometimes in the background, quietly affecting us. Sometimes all up our grill.

Like it or not, Type 1 diabetes is forever a part of our lives. We both advocate for accessible, high quality, life-sustaining care, supplies, and treatment for diabetics and others whose lives have been affected by chronic disease. Overall, we accept it for what it is, do what can be done (within reason) to minimize its effect on daily life, and keep on keepin’ on. What else can you do? Being alive sure beats the alternative!

And while I know age is just a number, it’s an important one. Not as important as other numbers I pay attention to, but noteworthy nonetheless. Turning 35 felt important. Caused me to take stock. Rethink some stuff. Change course a bit. Consider things.

Best of all has been the warmth and growth that comes with loving and being loved by others. I love well and am well-loved. I’m scared but anxious to start a little family of my own someday soon. And I’m grateful for what I’ve learned over the years–including the importance of gratitude and finding blessings where we can.

I encourage you to read John Kralik‘s 365 Days of Thank-Yous? It’s amazing what the practice of writing simple thank-you notes, for reasons big and small, can do.  After Kralik lost his job, his girlfriend, and his joie d’virve, he needed a shake-up. It took him a year and a half to write 365 thank-you notes to everyone from his children to the barista who remembered his name and order each morning. Paying attention to all the goodness in his world (and then acting on it) profoundly changed his attitude from one primarily made up of self-pity and frustration to one of optimism and sincere gratitude. He felt happier as a result, and the world around him reflected this back to him.

As a writer, I was skeptical. But I believe Kralik when he says his thank-yous weren’t arbitrary, half-hearted attempts to check-off a to-do list, nor were they done in service to a book deal.

They were genuine.

Handwritten.

And absolutely treasured.

After finishing the book, it struck me how simple but effective this practice might be.

Little else brightens my day like a handwritten note in my mailbox. I know I’m not the only one.

So I’m trying it.

I’ve used a similar exercise in my college and high school English courses, but it’s becoming a lost art.

I don’t know about you, but the addition of personal touches make a huge difference in my life. This is true whether we’re talking about interior design, gifts, art, writing, or business and marketing. And as useful as the virtual world can be, nothing can replace face-to-face contact and real, live human touch (even for misanthropic solitary writerly folks). Although emails from the heart are nice, receiving a tangible note is much nicer.

Hold-it-in-your-hand thank yous, pictures, and love notes are invaluable to me. I still sneak a little note in lunch sacks or loved ones’ luggage whenever I get the chance. Sure, it takes a little more time, but the pay-off is worth it. Same goes for leaving comments.

Thank you for taking time to write comments and visit this site. Blogs need readers after all. Writers need an audience. Helpers need people to help. And I know you’re busy. How we each use our time, energy, resources, and talents matter. These things make a difference. All the difference in the world sometimes, as it turns out.

S0 let me put my money where my mouth is and send you a note. Just email me with your name and a postal address, and I’ll send you one.  It’d make me happy to do so. I promise to never sell or use your information for anything other than sending you a handwritten thank you note!

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Comments

  1. Greetings, my the grace of the diabetic God I have found your site. It’s the middle of 2011 and I am still struggling to get my act together. I recently had gout which has thrown my numbers over the mountains….and I don’t know how to get them back. I am a type II and on Janumet and amaryl. I exercise 4 times a week in the pool, because of arthritis, and know how to eat a low carb meal, but don’t always do that…I don’t go overboard, because I have lost over 70 lbs……but can feel that my body is slowly creeping up. Do I have diabetic depression, don’t know why not, I am permanently, clinically, severely chronically depressed anyway…..let’s add another thing to the ABC list of things. I tend to be a very positive person, but this and all the other things that I have “wrong” with me, are getting to me…and I don’t see the sunshine….I see more rain than anything else, or in t his area it’s snow. Just wanted to drop in say thank you for writing wonderful thoughts, and to say I’ll be here….oftenfor my booster shot of positivity.

  2. I saw the author on GMA and thought what a lovely thing to do, I’m going to give it a try. And for the last 11 days, starting Jan 1, 2011, I have written thank yous to people whom I just had to say thank you to for being them. It is a wonderful way to start your day, thanking someone for whatever you want to thank them for.As for your “new” life, good luck, good feelings, and check back with us….it is good to hear good, happy, upbeat things as well as the problems, woes and heart aches we all live through. Happy thoughts go with you.AND thank you for sharing.Cathy J

  3. Hey Amylia,You know I’m a forever fan of yours, and as someone who’s also fighting with unemployment and under-employment, I completely understand.Life brings us in interesting directions sometimes, but I never fail to appreciate that things always seem to work out. Always.Much love and appreciation to you Amylia!

  4. @DeanUSA: What a lovely comment–it brought tears to my eyes just now. Thank you for the kind words and the sincere well wishes. It means more to me than you know.In gratitude,Amylia

  5. Thank you, Aisling, Kelly and Dean, for your comments. Yes, a gratitude journal is really neat. I had a year where I did a bucket o’ gratitude–and I wrote each thing I was grateful for most days on a post it note or scrap paper and folded it up and silently said “thank you” as I put it in the bucket. It wasn’t money, but as I watched the bucket fill up, it made me feel rich and well cared for. I still have the bucket o’ gratitude notes and I pull it out from time to time to read them. They transport me back in time to those days and make me smile.

  6. deanusa says:

    im glad all is well with you. i love your blog. and the things you share with us. i hope you find what you are searching for. and knowing you are well and just taking care of what has to be taken care of is good enough for me. blog when you can andall us will read and respond to you as always. take care Amylia Grace and may the universe give back to you what you have given to us.

  7. Aisling says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I have always enjoyed reading your blog on DD….Haven’t been around regularly in recent times but clicked in today and saw you had posted… Reckon the power of gratitude is massive and like the idea of the ‘365 days’ thing, I must look him up and take it up myself !!Anyway good luck with 2011Thanks for bloggingAisling

  8. A gratitude journal is a great thing to do. I used to do one and should get back into the habit of doing. The handwritten thank you notes sound like something good to do also. Glad to hear that you are just slowing now and not stopping. Good luck with your new job!

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