How do you define time well spent?

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

As the year comes to a close, we often become introspective about life and the year ahead.  As I grow older, one truth is for sure.  Time is the most important gift we can give others or ourselves.  Time well spent on wellness, friendship, family, being productive and sometimes just being still with nature, — it’s all good.

One thing experiencing deafness has taught me is that there is a value to sitting still in the quiet and coming to terms with problems both large and small.  Sometimes we need to pause before we can move on to the next dimension in our lives.  It is in those moments that we find solutions.

In this hurried world, it is hard to believe stopping to refresh our thoughts is a productive state.  But it is sometimes necessary especially as we grow older.

Babies are born.  We see people we love struggle with illness and pain.  People die.  We must always keep the torch burning and share some light with others, especially in their time of need.

How do we measure time?  We are all here for just a brief nanosecond.  More and more, I want every second to count.  I don’t think most of us realize early on how quickly life passes or that life can change in a second.

Sometimes life happens in the simplest of moments.

I for one love to go out in the woods to just listen to the language of the tiny animals, watch diffused sunlight move through the trees, smell the autumn air or feel the crunch of snow under my feet.  Somehow, that’s where everything comes into focus.  Just me, the forest and the tiny critters.

The ocean seems to be the place most people will go for solitude or reinvention.  I’ve always felt that may be because it may take us back to the safety of our first journey in amniotic fluid before taking our first breath.  When my hearing loss accelerated and I no longer could hear the waves crashing, I felt like the Earth had lost its rhythm or heartbeat.  I felt disconnected for a long time until I could hear those sounds again.

We are far more connected to nature than we realize.  Just a day off from the office and into the woods will remind us that there is so much more going on in this world than the frenzied pace we are used to. We are only part of the equation.

I remember a few years ago, one of the professors I worked with decided to retire.  When everyone asked him what he wanted to do in retirement his answer was simple.  He wanted to spend more time sitting under his favorite tree.  That’s all.  But he didn’t get to do that very much when he was working.

Whenever the year comes to a close, like many people, I ask myself where am I going?  How can I be a better person? What matters?  But this year I am challenging myself to the question, “How will I spend my time in the coming year?”

Maybe it’s good to live our lives like every day is our only day.  We spend so much time on trivia.  Here’s to the coming year and time well spent.

Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Have you sentenced yourself to a life of solitary confinement?

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Source:  Unsplash Christopher-Windus

I remember back in 1989 when I received my first closed captioning machine.  My family and I sat in front of the television waiting for the machine to shoot out words by newscasters, TV sitcoms or documentaries.  The machines were slow and sometimes they produced garbled or incorrect stories that made no sense.  But I was grateful to have the opportunity to watch television again.  Of course since 1990 all TVs 13″ or larger are required to include a closed-caption option and this soon made the devices obsolete. In the decade that preceded my closed-captioning experience I watched little television.  Many shows were not captioned, and I had difficulty following the words even with assistive devices.

I also had trouble hearing on the telephone,  so that created struggles both in the workplace and with staying connected with friends and family.  Few people understood about the relay and TTYS.  Today, there are several companies that offer captioning for both landline and cell phones.  Smartphones have helped to keep Deaf and hard-of-hearing people connected.  Some doctors now allow notifications by text or email.

I stopped going to the movies back then too.  Today, you can go to www.captionfish.com and find places around the country that have captioned movies.  Recently, the New York City Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association http://www.hearinglossnyc.org/ has announced that by summer of 2018 all Broadway theaters will offer captioning options.  For more information on this click here https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/semel/15f9449396bb80a4?projector=1.  Until now, only certain theaters offered captioning.

Forget music.  I just couldn’t make it out before I received my cochlear implants.  It was like I was living in a silent movie.

When I think back to times when my children were growing up, with every year that my hearing loss accelerated, I was inclined to tune out more and more.  That was not fair to my family and counterproductive to effectively communicating.

I did my best to “pretend” I was a person who could hear well in the workplace.  Some of my work experience includes being an executive assistant who took dictation over the phone from anywhere in the country, event planning that required I function and communicate well at social events in well-known NY City hotels, being the world’s worst real estate agent, working in the time-sensitive corporate world and finally being a college professor with over 30 students in each classroom.  By the time I came home from work I was exhausted. There is tremendous energy required for a person with hearing loss to function in a hearing world.  At the end of the day, as ironic as it sounds, many people just want to go into a silent world.  But that’s no excuse!

One of the hardest things in my opinion is socialization with hearing loss.  Hearing loss is often misunderstood, and people don’t know how to react.  Some shout at us, others over-annunciate their words.  Some say “Never mind” when we don’t hear what is said.  Frankly, there are some who find it too much work to communicate with us, but let that be their problem.  There are plenty of good people in the world, and we must pick ourselves up and keep moving forward.

We now know that isolating ourselves can cause depression, cognition issues and affect our interpersonal relationships.  It does get hard,  but hearing loss is a sink-or-swim issue.  Stay connected or you will likely suffer repercussions in every area of your life.

After reflecting on all this I have concluded that I am guilty of what so many of us are guilty of.  Without realizing it, we resort to a world of solitary confinement.  If we truly want to stay connected with our interpersonal connections, in the workplace and with friends, we must reach out, take chances, and be a self advocate.  Are you self-imposing a life of solitary confinement because it is easier?

Today, there are so many solutions to improve the quality of life of persons who struggle with hearing loss.  In a future blog, I will talk about some of those products and solutions.  In the meantime, stay connected and keep listening to all the sounds of life.

 

 

 

Happy International Cochlear Implant Day!

Things I Will Never Take For Granted

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Ocean Waves Crashing at Block Island 2015
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A Seagull at Montauk 2015

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Conch Shell Simulating the Sound of the Ocean

 

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My Kanso Processor that turns me into a hearing person.  Poof!!!!!

A trip down to the shore just to listen to the waves crashing

Seagulls gliding through a blue sky, singing in their own unique language

Being able to hear the words, “I love you”

Walking through the woods and hearing the chatter of all the tiny critters and nature at its best

Celebrating a birthday and being able to hear the people I love sing the birthday song

Crickets singing their slumber song after a weary day

The heartbeat of the people and puppies I love

The intonation and emotion in someone’s voice and words

That clinking sound of two glasses and the words “cheers”

Doing my happy dance around the kitchen table to the tunes of my youth

Being able to hear the words “everything will be alright”

Hearing Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight and knowing the world is rejoicing in the birth of a new year with me

Being able to talk on the phone and laugh and cry about life with friends and family

Being able to talk to my three-year-old grandson, and each of us being able to know and love each other through words

Just being part of the world around me and using all of my senses

How could the day go by without acknowledging the work of Graeme Clark who developed the “Bionic Ear”  and Chief Scientist,  Jim Patrick of Cochlear Corporation www.cochlear.com?  All these wonderful sounds would never be possible for me without their hard work and dedication to our cause.