Raindrops on Roses

rose Some of you may have seen the title of this post and cringed. Me? I’m not ashamed to admit that I love “The Sound of Music“. I remember watching the musical on television as a kid, which very likely resulted in my seeing it at least once a year. As a young adult I purchased the movie in VHS, and saw it with closed captioning for the first time. Later, I asked for the DVD version! So now if I’m really in the mood I can slip downstairs, watch it, and sing along! (At least… if one of my teens turns the T.V. on and instructs me AGAIN about the TIVO remote!)

The Discover of Re-Discovery

You may HATE “The Sound of Music” – normally made evident by the cringe and shudder that rips through your body when you hear the name – but everyone has a list of “favorite things”. You may not even be AWARE that you have a list of “favorite things”, but you do! It’s there… tucked away in the corner of every person’s mind. Your list may not include raindrops on roses, but you have special things that make you smile with simply the thought of those “special things”.

I try to periodically look through my own special list and perhaps make updates or “tweek” it a bit! Yes (embarassed grin), my list is actually typed out and saved on my computer. But honestly! Did you expect any less from ME?

If you haven’t thought about your own list of “favorite things” in awhile, I encourage you to do so. You see? I believe it is important to re-discover the simple things that make us happy. Don’t fool yourself into thinking it is all about money either. You could win the lottery, sure… but you’d only be rich, not necessarily happy. I think you will discover like I did, that my “favorite things” list consists of relatively simple, yet heart-warming pleasures!

The Ever-Evolving “Favorite Things”

It may have been awhile since you really sat and thought about your own list of “favorite things”. In fact, it may have been so long since you indulged in this luxury of thought, that your list has changed quite a bit. I admit that at 43-years-old, my list looks different than it did when I was 23-years-old. Yup! A few things are reminiscent of my younger decades! For example I will always love “Curling up in my pajamas with a good book and a candle burning nearby”.

Obviously, my life has so dramatically changed since the activation of my cochlear implant, I have numerous new “favorite things” that make sounds. A cat’s purr, my hound dog’s longsuffering SIGH, and miracle of miracles? On a quiet afternoon on the back porch this summer, I heard the beating of a hummingbird’s wings. That was a real jaw-dropper for me, and one that I’m sure will be permanently etched in my own list of “favorite things”!

Care of the world on your shoulders? Worrying? Making mountains out of mole-hills? Just feeling blue?

“I simply remember my favorite things… and then I don’t feel… so bad!”

(If any of you ever find the video with captions, let me know?)

I’m not remiss in remembering to thank God for my “favorite things”. I’m certain the times I spy a double rainbow, He is tickled to have provided something special for me on a day I needed a glimpse of a “favorite thing”!

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

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Random Contemplations

istock_woman_thinking.70184934 I was trying to fall asleep last night and decided to brainstorm about what I could write about this week. It’s been an “uneventful” week, which is really a good thing! I don’t mind uneventful weeks.

As I tried to think of something that might interest YOU, I realized that my brain was busy with random contemplations. Some were serious. Some were… erm –

NOT.

1. Why is it that now I am over 40 I get these stray hairs on my CHIN? And why must these hairs have roots that stretch all the way to your big toe? It’s the only reason I can think of that when you pull one with the tweezers your big toe curls as you scream.

2. Why is it that I enjoy hearing with my cochlear implant so much, and yet there is a certain relief to remove it at night before bed? Perhaps it is just the knowledge that I always know I’ll sleep well (unless I’m brainstorming). Perhaps it’s because there is a difference between hearing and hearing WELL? It takes work in the form of attentiveness, concentration and perseverance to communicate in this noisy world. I’m not complaining… I’m just sayin’! Relief!

3. Why do dogs turn around three times before they lay down? Why do three of our dogs turn in “one direction” before they lay down, and one of the dogs always turns in the other? Is he “left-handed”?

4. Why is it so difficult to find plain sweettarts in a roll? Who carries those now? I can’t find them anywhere!

5. Why does my cochlear implant always give me a warning “beep” that the batteries are low when I’m driving in the car? Why can’t it happen at home before I leave? How DOES IT KNOW? Sigh.

6. Why do young adult kids in college sigh and roll their eyes if you knock on their door to bother them while they are doing homework, yet will pop into my office to bother me while I’m doing homework of my own now? Why doesn’t it matter to me? I drop everything and give them my undivided attention and sit and contemplate how special they are after they leave. I’m pretty sure they don’t do that when I leave THEIR room!

7. Why am I the only one that can close the bread properly? I don’t even eat a lot of bread! How hard is it to twist the excess plastic at the end, and twist a “twistie-tie” around it? It apparently requires a college degree.

8. Why does God always send me “something” just when I need it most? Whether it be a verse, or an email/post from a friend who cares, or a song? I had forgotten how much a song can do for the soul, and try to “tune in” now that I can hear again. Sometimes? I don’t even realize how much I need something from God until He sends something my way.

9. How did I let blackberry season come and go and not get out somewhere to pick some? What will I do this winter without blackberries to eat? I’m going to have to corner friends next year and beg them to go with me.

10. Why does it seem like we don’t have time to send someone a “real” card (not an e-card)? It isn’t until I get one in the mail myself that reminds me why it is so nice to see the real hand-writing from someone who cares.

11. Why does Chloe bark at horses if she’s in the car, causing my cochlear implant to stop (ADRO program) because her bark is too loud, but when she sees a horse face-to-face and outside the car she tries to hide behind my legs?

12. Why do people say men are from Mars and women are from Venus? Cripes, people… we are all living on EARTH. Get over it! Yeah we act different, but that makes life interesting.

13. How does Chloe know when I turn my alarm off the night before I know I can sleep in? She must have an internal alarm clock, because she gets me up at the same time regardless. If my alarm is SET and goes off, the licks my arm or hand and bumps my face. If my alarm is NOT set, she jumps on the bed and tackles me?

14. Why do I love bananas, but cannot stand banana pudding, popsicles, taffy or moon pies? Sorry… can’t add much to this one.

15. Why is that I felt like my mom was a know-it-all growing up, and now that I don’t live with her I realize she really did? I miss my mom…

16. Why can’t the Denver Broncos have a winning team? I mean… I miss the Orange Crush. I even (gulp) miss Elway. Somebody shoot me…

17. How hard can it be to find the LOTR trilogy in DVD? I can’t find it ANYWHERE because they are coming out with Blue Ray soon. What about those of us who still use regular ol’ DVD players?

18. Why is it that I have a college degree and am in grad school and can’t work a remote? I can’t even turn ON our television. There is one remote that turns it on, one that runs the TIVO, and one that runs the volume. My kids can do it, and I cannot.

19. Why are solitary walks (with perhaps just a dog by your side) one of the most peaceful things a person can do? Why don’t I deliberately and habitually make time to do something that brings me so much peace?

20. What’s not to love about Facebook? I love to look at … faces.

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

Disappointed and it’s ALL MY FAULT

This is one of my all time favorite paintings by Ron DiCianni
This is one of my all time favorite paintings by Ron DiCianni

Last night our church had a special prayer meeting. I’m always “in” for prayer meetings! I wish we could have them more often than we do. I’ve been a big fan of prayer since about 1993. That was the year I began losing my hearing. Nothing like slowly losing the ability to communicate well with other people, to drive you to your knees to learn to communicate with God. I suppose in many ways, prayer is one of the reasons I do not regret being late-deafened. I’d never want to go back and undo all that I’ve learned about prayer.

My Own Fault

I’ve learned plenty about prayer, but I must not have learned much about asking for assistance in advance! You would think I would learn to ask for help in the right way, and in time to allow folks in charge to be able to assist me! I mean? How hard is it to shoot an email to the pastor to remind him that I’ll need everyone to use the microphone if they speak from the floor?

There were around 20 people there last night. Small groups are something I look forward too. As soon as the pastor saw me he made eye contact and let me know he was going to use the microphone. Whenever possible, he asked folks to come up to the microphone. When he asked questions that required “popcorn answers”, he repeated what they said into the microphone as it would not reach to the back of the group. Sometimes, however, a person answered much longer than what may have been anticipated. The pastor was forced to “interpret” and condense what they said. At certain points, he could tell someone was going to speak longer, or perhaps someone volunteered to pray for a specific need. He asked them to come up to the microphone. (whew). Had I let him know in advance I was going to be there, I’m sure they would have had a cordless microphone ready!

As a person with hearing loss, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that the people at a meeting you are going to attend know in advance that you will need some assistance in order to hear well. People with normal hearing in a group of twenty very likely do not need a microphone at all. As a matter of fact, I don’t think our pastor had planned in advance to use one because he had to “borrow” one off the musician at the keyboard!

I love my cochlear implant! LOVE IT! It doesn’t make me a person with normal hearing, however! So when I know I’m going to attend something in which I may have trouble hearing, it is my responsibility to give someone in charge a “heads up” that I’ll be there.

Sometimes you may need to attend something in which there is no easy way to offer assistance so that you hear better. (Birthday parties, baby showers, picnics, etc.) We as late-deafened people still have a responsibility to have the right attitude about the activity. Let’s face it! There will be times you simply will not hear well. It’s not anyone’s FAULT… it’s just a fact of life for a late-deafened person. Your responding in a gracious way is the right way to go. Learn to ask people to repeat things the right way. Perhaps that means repeating for them what you DID hear, so that they only have to repeat what you did NOT. It may mean asking to step over to the side so that you are not quite so much in the middle of a lot of noise. It may mean that you are willing to bring a neck loop and/or assistive listening device. Relax, and learn to have fun even if you are not able to hear everything. Chances are the people you are with really care about you. They cannot ever fully understand what you live. Don’t punish them for that!

After prayer meeting last night, I was crying before I could even get out the door. And let me tell you Chloe was having to jog to keep up! I was just so ticked off at myself for having poorly planned, and so disappointed about not hearing very well… I hate crying in public, but gee was I mad at myself! I know better! I’ll do better! GRIN

How to Handle It?

So? What does a late-deafened person do when you’ve alerted a group that can assist in ways such as a cordless microphone being ready, and the group “forgets” or overlooks your need?

A. Continue to remind them, but don’t mention how you weren’t able to participate this time.

B. Express sincere regret at not being able to fully participate and ask if there is anything you can do to make sure assistance is available next time.

C. Knock some heads together.

D. Whine and complain and never return.

E. Pout and embarass anyone in charge with a loud verbal rebuke after the meeting.

Hmm. You know? There may be more than one right answer here and it may depend on your own personality. (Answers C, D, and E are really not great choices folks!) The key is to remember that what you say and how you react may affect how another person with hearing loss is assisted by this group in the future! Lay the groundwork for good relations! Another person with hearing loss may reap the benefits of you having handled things the right way!

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal

Thorns

What may look small, can cause BIG trouble!
What may look small, can cause BIG trouble!

About 10 days ago I decided to be industrious and trim the rosebush in the back yard. This rose bush is about 15 years old and HUGE. Our backyard is pretty much the “playground of the canines”, so I do little more to it than mow really! However, this rosebush is truly a monster! I’ll have to get a picture of it in full bloom sometime. By the end of the summer, the branches are hanging low to the ground and some pruning is necessary. I decided to do it on impulse, which is never a good start to any project.

Instead of wearing gloves and long sleeves, I simply ran inside to fetch the clippers. It shouldn’t surprise you that by the time I was finished I was covered in scratches and even a rash! (I must be allergic to multiple rosebush thorn scratches). One particular thorn ended up causing a lot of problems.

Somehow, it broke off under the skin of my right index finger. I’m not sure why I’m saying “somehow”, because we’ve already established I was doing this without gloves (sigh).

Anyway… I couldn’t get it out! Today, it had finally healed enough that I decided to try again. I found a needle, disinfected it, and found a bright sunny spot in my office to plop down and “dig”. I was amazed that I got it out after 3 or 4 minutes!

How could such a tiny thing, cause so much pain and distress for 10 days?

Thorns are nasty little things. I suppose for the rosebush, it serves a purpose. But thorns are definitely one of those things that ended up in existence after “the Fall”. What good are they really to anything other than the plant?

Thorns make great analogies, however. For example, plants that produce thorns (which includes many weeds) are easy to grow. They require very little maintenance. Within a short period of time, they can choke out plants that you sowed on purpose!

Choking out the Important

Chloe is a wonderful assistance dog. I really count on her, and I cannot imagine life without her! However, Chloe isn’t perfect. Many of her “faults” are common hound tendencies. Hounds are hunters and should Chloe spy a bunny in the front yard, the house could be burning down and she’d only sit and perseverate on that bunny. I acknowledge one time what she’s barking at, and then work hard to re-direct her. Sometimes I have to get firm, and sternly tell her to “settle”. Infrequently, I have to go a little farther. If she simply will not leave the very thought of that bunny alone, I command her to go in a “down/stay” in her bed by my desk. (This is where she usually plants herself anyway as she’s rarely far from my side sans a bunny in the front yard). When she is commanded to go there, however, to her it is punishment. To let me know how she felt, she decided to pout.

DSC03072 Chloe may decide to let all her training and every good thought to be choked out by thorns if she allows it. She can be decidedly narrow-minded once a bunny enters the picture. Thankfully, she is eager to please as well, and so her pouts are normally short-lived.

Don’t we all allow one thing to crowd out everything else sometimes?

Accentuate the Positive

There is an old song about accentuating the positive. Many times we choose to do the opposite. One or two things can be going wrong in our life, and suddenly our lives are “horrible”. I get frustrated with people who have a bad day, and then announce that they “hate their life”.

For some reason, we will let thorns choke out every good thing in our lives. The Bible is full of verses about thorns, and they often have to do with choking out good things. Another anaology the Bible uses is that of a “thorn in the side”. Ouch! We should strive to be a blessing to others, not a thorn in their side!

Is Hearing Loss a Thorn, or a Blessing

Isn’t it hard to try and be thankful for a life-changing disability? I don’t know that we ever have to quit TRYING. It doesn’t naturally “compute”, and it is a daily decision we have to make. The alternative however, is to allow our disability to be a thorn. It can grow and fester and choke out all the good things in our lives. If you have a hearing loss and it affects your communication with others, do you allow the negatives to choke out all the numerous positives in your life? It’s easy to do; easy to allow…

You may need to get out your clippers and do some pruning. Take my word for it; don’t do it on impulse. Plan, prepare, pray, and make sure you dispose of all the clippings.

I’ll leave you with the lyrics of this great old song, Accentuate the Positive:

Gather ’round me, everybody
Gather ’round me while I’m preachin’
Feel a sermon comin’ on me
The topic will be sin and that’s what I’m ag’in’
If you wanna hear my story
The settle back and just sit tight
While I start reviewin’
The attitude of doin’ right

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do just when everything looked so dark?

(Man, they said “We’d better accentuate the positive”)
(“Eliminate the negative”)
(“And latch on to the affirmative”)
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between (No!)
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

(Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum)
(Bring gloom down to the minimum)
(Have faith or pandemonium’s)
(Liable to walk upon the scene)

You got to ac (yes, yes) -cent-tchu-ate the positive
Eliminate (yes, yes) the negative
And latch (yes, yes) on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
No, don’t mess with Mister In-Between

Denise Portis

© 2009 Hearing Loss Journal