When I see rain and hear thunder, it brings me back two specific memories.
During my childhood, I only had hearing aids and thunder was probably one of only few sounds I heard without hearing aids as sounds of deep thunder claps and vibration were connected. In Vermont, my mother was driving us to KFC to pick up fried chicken dinner. I was four years old sitting in the front seat (before car seat laws changed drastically due to safety regulations). I see my beautiful mother, the thick green trees and scenery outside of her window. It is pouring. She is laughing. I am not. I was scared and shy a little girl. “Mommy, I am scared”. I heard the thunder. “Did you hear the thunder!?” Said my mama. I gulped and nodded. She said, “The Angels are having so much fun up in heaven! They are bowling!” “Really?” And it comforted me in some ways.
My second memory was when I was about four years old again, I knew I was different already. My brother wasn’t wearing hearing aids. My parents, grandma, aunts and uncles would ask me often, “Can you hear me?” Or “Can you hear that?”My grandmother was babysitting me, my parents gave me kisses as they were heading out to dinner and movie. I cried. I told them the sky doesn’t look good and asked them not to go because I was afraid for their safety. They decided not to go. Then down the street, the light pole fell down and electrocuted a person. The ambulance and fire truck sirens went off. I sat down by the window, held onto my cross necklace praying that I wouldn’t be deaf anymore. Thunder clapped. Rain poured. Lightning flickered.
And I’m still deaf. I wouldn’t be who I am today if God healed me at that moment. His plans are always better than mine. I learned so much from my deafness and both sides of experiences - wonderful and painful kinds. I get stronger day by day by accepting things I can’t change and the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. The rain storms brings me a friendly reminder to accept myself, deafness and my storms.
Dance in the rain throughout all storms!
My! My! I am back! I had two weeks spring break from my work. I have been busy planning spring collection on the deaf awareness apparel. It is very exciting! Also, a slight nerve wrecking. But like Christy Wright’s famous saying, “do it scared”, there is no perfect timing on everything. Again, when things work out, it evidently shows the perfect timing.
Four more new designs are coming to the shop on April 4th. It is really fun and inspiring! I love the joy I give to the community and it is humbling to receive messages and positive reviews on the shirts. I am trying to fit everyone in- hearing aids, one to two cochlear implants, ASL, SLP, audiologists and teachers of the deaf as well as families who is part of a hearing loss journey.
One of new shirts, “My Voice... My life.. My story...” I feel this applies to everyone in all communities. We all have something, we all are unique and made to be different to teach others, to learn from others and to help others.
To me, the shirt means ... “My voice” it is.. my accent. Over the years, I would not want to talk because someone would say “why do you talk like that?” To now these days, “ Where are you from? England? Australia?” I don’t mind at all as I accepted myself and my voice. “my life” is my daily deaf life since birth to now it continues to unravel and it’s a beautiful life. It is up to us to enjoy or not. I choose to enjoy. “my story” is single motherhood as deaf mom and hearing daughter- it’s not perfect but it is perfect to me! I love watching my daughter learning and educating her peers how to communicate with me.
This is my voice..This is my life.. This is my story.. What’s yours?
I love connecting with my clients. I do not call them customers. I just feel “customers” is a one time relationship, you just say “thank you” and “bye” when they check out. Right? When I worked at a high end hair salon for a few years, the term “clients”was used. Our clients would come in every 4 to 12 weeks. We would build relationships with them. I saw the difference in “customers” vs “clients”. I am feeling a strong connection with my clients, I love writing thank you cards to them and sharing our personal stories on hearing loss.
One day, a lady asked me on the social media if I was open to trade our items. She has a hard of hearing toddler, so she wanted deaf awareness t shirts for herself and her daughter. She makes candles. Yes! I love candles! I even love connecting with other people and support their businesses and journeys! I have been falling in love with candles more lately than ever. My uncle would give me candles at Christmas time. Lately, on Saturdays and Sundays, I light my candles during cleaning and productivity hours. I was thrilled that she makes candles! She picked out the shirts and I told her what kind of scents my daughter and I enjoy. We shipped our packages. She even made a donation to Deaf Education. We are alike, we love doing something we are passionate about and we both wrote each other beautiful cards.
When the package arrived, you should have seen the look on my daughter’s face. Her look of complete joy when she saw Lavender candle! We both spray lavender on ourselves every night. Well, I have to spray on her blanket, her stuff animals- every single one of them, her pillow and on her chest. It was my Grandmother Rose’s favorite color and scent. She also gave us Dryer Sheets and Mabel’s Garden candles. They all smelled so good! I even used them during the week not just the weekends! She and her daughter wore their shirts to their audiology appointment for ear molds. What a perfect place to wear them! It warms my heart that my clients are happy with the shirts and expressing their journeys out there. My hope is to open the door for more public awareness in the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Candles are from http://lusterandlore.com/
Motherhood is more than I imagined! When my daughter was a toddler, it was so much fun and chaos at the same time! We did a lot of crafts together, read books together, baking together and adventures like hiking, vacations with my family, and local events.
Yes, one time she threw her brand new sparkle silver shoe out the car window “So my prince can find me and bring me back the slipper”(age 2.5)
Yes, she peed at the library on a sofa chair like a waterfall and smiling. (Age 3)
Yes, she broke my willow tree doll and found super glue, she tried to fix it herself without me knowing. Then rubbed her eye and screamed bloody murder, (not that I would know). It took my dad, my brother and I to hold her down and open her eye with warm washcloth and emergency room( I did the work, they didn’t need to do anything..It was a precaution and we learned that superglue does not damage eye sight). (Age 4.5)
As she got older, less activities and less reading time together. She is more interested in making her own slime, YouTube DIY, and social time with friends. Today, we had a conference with her favorite teacher. She is doing well but needs to improve more on reading. She was the reading queen and the bookworm girl. A few weeks ago, I asked if we could read " Wonder" book together. She wasn’t interested to read it with me, I told her teacher that I offered to read the book with her. We all shook hands together to work on reading.
My! It’s heaven! We read the book together out loud in bed. She pointed her finger word by word, so I would stay on track with her. She explained they read aloud in class by reading a paragraph and pass on to the next classmate. I sighed. “I know, that was a stressful time in my school years. Fourth grade and fifth grade, especially. So embarrassing to read with my speech but mostly, I was nervous the entire time trying to figure out which paragraph would be mine. I would count the students then count the paragraphs to mine and then practice in my head. Or daydream and didn’t know which was my paragraph to read- a classmate would nudge my elbow and point.”
Meanwhile, Auggie introduced himself. He described himself as ordinary but others may not see him as ordinary except his parents, of course, found him extraordinary. That was exactly me. I felt ordinary, only by me. But I did not feel ordinary by others. I did feel extraordinary by my parents and family. It hit home. My daughter sensed the struggles with Auggie and I. She knew.
Luckily, it was just my daughter and I. I never thought I would do this method with my daughter! She was understanding and helpful. It was a flow. My heart with love for her and our special time together overflowed.
Valentine’s Day is my daughter’s and my favorite day of the year. We absolutely love Christmas and Easter to celebrate for personal reasons. But Valentine’s Day is different to us, it is a day for the world to be loved and appreciated by others. It is perpetuates kindness. During school years, on this day, there is no bullying and everyone is equal. My daughter absolutely loves to shower the world with her love. This year, she had 3 different sets of cards/activities for each classmate. Maybe a slight overboard? I did not want to discourage her to do less for others.
“Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind” - Dodinsky
During the ride on act of kindness and love, I always do things for others. I always help my family and friends when in need. I was my grandmother’s caregiver for few years, she had alzheimer's and she was absolutely my best friend. I am a full time single mother and full time teacher’s aide caring for the toddlers. I don’t want less, I want to do more. Meanwhile, if you know me well, you know I am not selfish and known for not setting boundaries or take time to myself to taking care for myself.
“Be there for others, but never leave yourself behind” - Dodinsky
“You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first”
I chose to stay at home all weekend to take care of my business and catch up on things.I organized and cleaned,caught up on business projects, and the worst nightmare- my daughter’s toy room, the endless torture! But I rested along the way, it felt SO good for my soul to be on top of everything and to be rested.Unfortunately, I got a bad cold yesterday. It’s the worse with my nasal accent, my plummet failing brain focusing on auditory and communication, and motherhood when too exhausted to fix dinner. Luckily, my daughter sat by me in bed and snuggled closer after the tissue war with my nose. Silently, I slept all morning and gave myself a lavender bath. Rested all afternoon. I’m ready to return the world to give and help.
Reminder for us ladies-
“Be the best version of you” and “Make yourself a priority”!
After a long week at work, my work team and I met for a delicious dinner on Friday night before our evening class. It was so much fun chatting with the ladies while eating a delicious meal. We all went to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to attend an audiology seminar. I saw so many familiar faces, current and former families from our school. It was interesting learning the latest developments on an audiology process, comparisons with hearing aids, Cochlear and both (one hearing aid/1 Cochlear), and oral and sign language comparisons. When we got to the comparisons, I thought “Why am I here? I should not be here” because I have one cochlear implant and it was a strange feeling to be part of their statistics. It is not like I don't want my other ear to hear, I have health insurance issues. It is very common with other patients as we discussed health care issues. An interesting fact that was presenset was“ If a child is using technology for only 4 hours/day, it will take 6 hours for the child to hear what a typically hearing child hears in one year”.
Towards to end, we watched a documentary, a film that interviewed several Deaf people. They were just like me!! They all wore their body hearing aids back in late 1970s-1980s before cool hearing aids came out. Then getting a cochlear implant later on, I started to have tears. We all have nasal speech or some kind of accent due to later implanted life compared to toddlers having cochlear implant or auditory training. Minutes went by, more tears because it was exactly what I went through- social life growing up, me discovering my deafness more by other people asking me or learning about my deafness, personal life at home, school life advocating for my needs in High school and College years, parenting: my daughter and I learning how to communicate with each other while she was learning about my deafness, and work experiences by getting discriminated at interviews and communication experiences. It was emotionally exhausting to have flashback of memories and exciting at the same time to be able to relate these people. Life will always be hard. For hearing and non hearing, no matter what. I choose joy at times like this.
I told my daughter that I was crying at class (quietly) because my life was and is hard with my deafness and the children who have the latest technology and more resources are doing so much more amazing and will have less struggles. We were out the following night talking, when I blurted out “beauty school” as “booty school” pronunciation. Someone dear to us corrected me and she immediately started crying and was protecting me by saying “My mommy is deaf, she works hard, don't make fun of her!” I assured everyone that it’s okay because my mother and family still correct me sometimes, it comes from love. It shows how protective she is of me and how she’s aware of my deafness and my struggles. (That...melts… my heart.)
Recently, I got an email from an editor at www.Hearinglike.com (Phonak) wanting to interview me for an article about my business. I have been working so hard on this business while maintaining my day job and single motherhood life.I felt honored to be interviewed by them. I started following their website when I started my business. Hearing Like Me has great resources and stories for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and families. I was shocked to see how many visitors came to my website over the weekend! Again, I felt blessed with orders coming in! I’ll be having more new designs and colors coming to the shop over the next two months!
As my life continues to evolve, I am excited what the future holds for my daughter and I. Nine years ago, I became a single mother. When my daughter was born, I published a book about my life with deafness. Due to single parenting, I was not able to continue my college education. I became a Cosmetologist. I learned so much about customer service while working at a high end salon in Scottsdale. I also did hair and makeup at photoshoots for Windsor fashion company headquartered in Los Angeles. What a ride! Long hours at the salon prevented me from spending needed time with my daughter. A new door opened, I became a Teacher’s Aide to work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. It gave me the flexibility that allowed me to be a full time mother and a passion for working with our students and accomplishing their goals. Now, I am running a business on Deaf Awareness and love getting to know more Deaf and Hard of Hearing families from Social Media that have been following me and ordering shirts.
My point is: life is always keeps evolving and I enjoy being open to new doors. Do it scared! Don’t doubt yourself. My father once said to me “ Get out of the hallway and go to new door”. He meant move forward from the past and try new things. I am blessed. So I hope you will try something new or gain more confidence in that you can do whatever you're mind is set on to do. I hope you don’t feel discouraged. I am not here for a competition, I am here for the community. I tell my daughter before I leave for work “ Shine bright, my dear” as a reminder to stay strong, to be fearless and to give it a try- whether she’ll have struggles with math, friendships drama, or new things.
On a Saturday, I received a message asking if my shirt “I can and I WILL” is available in Kelly Green shirt. After emails back and forth, I looked at the calendar and thought to myself there is no way I can get this Kelly Green shirt to her in less than two weeks! I felt discouraged. I wanted it to happen for this wonderful mother and her hearing impaired daughter. They were committed to attend West Virginia State Capitol and represent their Listening and Spoken Language program, the Luke Lee program. Her daughter went through listening and oral approach language from Luke Lee, and now is being mainstreamed.
I felt bad that I had to say no and explained the process of getting the shirt, shop printing process and shipping process, she went ahead and ordered the gray heart hearing aid shirt for her daughter to wear at the ceremony. We continued to email each other sharing stories of a hearing loss journey and deaf education. It was inspiring. After two nights wrestling with thought, I was encouraged to try to ask the shop if they can throw in the Kelly Green shirt with the order that was already in production. I emailed and they responded “yes” right away. I contacted the mother and I switched the shirts out as soon as I picked the shirts up. It was shipped and arrived few days before the ceremony! I did it! I can and I WILL!
When I went to Christy Wright’s Business Boutique convention last November, in Nashville with my mother, she once said “People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it” - Simon Sinek. My mother and I elbowed each other, this quote instantly connected to us! Seriously, this is 100% of why I do it! I do it for the hearing impaired community, their deaf education, the deaf students and their families! I always wanted the hearing impaired children to feel loved and awesome wearing something that shows part of their journey. A portion of sales goes to Deaf Education because there are programs nationwide that are not funded completely by the Government, we are constantly trying to get funds from grants, fundraisers, charities and more to keep the schools running and to help the students who do not get funded from their school districts.
After the Kelly Green shirt experience, it reminded me WHY I do it and they inspired me to launch the Kelly Green shirts for March! It will be named after their daughter, “Cailyn: I can and I WILL” Here are the pictures below.
Dont give up.
Do it for cause.
Shop for Deaf Education.
My mother handed me a newspaper article about CVS to ban fake makeup photographs. It explained how thousands of make up companies have images of beautiful women but have been photo-shopped dramatically. Pictures before and after- you can see differences with arms, cheek bones and other areas. The main effect from social media and photography is eating disorders and insecurities.
I grew up with big hearing aids, glasses with eye patch, braces, night headgear, and struggled with my weight images throughout adolescence. Mainly, my insecurities were my weight and hearing loss. I covered my hearing aids by wearing my hair down during junior high and high school years. I used to wear a lot of makeup now I just wear natural makeup look and welcome my beginning wrinkles as well as wear mommy buns often and am grateful for my cochlear implant!
Now, I’m raising my daughter who will be ten years old in a few months. I tell her stories about how I felt growing up with my hearing loss and looks. We have deep talks about the beauty of people in this world- the flaws, the inside and outside, and their strengths. She is sensitive and aware that we all are different. She loves everyone and sees the best in everyone. She knows what I go through on daily basis facing challenges. She loves me for who I am and she’s my protector. I feel, because of me, she accept others greatly!
The other night she wanted to show me YouTube videos of Disney stars and their transformations. I didn’t react initially, I was curious what she thought and her vote on then or now on each star. She was disappointed with their extreme transformations She felt they were already beautiful with natural looks and their bodies before. It was interesting and eased my heart because social media exposure has more influence on her generation then our previous generations.
What makes us beautiful? It is our confidence and accepting who we are. So be true to yourself, let the world know you, and smile. Have courage! Bravery is beautiful.
“Let your smile change the world, but don’t let the world change your smile”
“A smile is the best makeup a girl can wear!”
Last Friday evening, we saw The Greatest Showman film. It was an amazing film. It was one of those films that has important message- we all are different! It was very deep along with catchy tunes and dance moves. In fact, when we were walking to the theater; we saw all sorts of people that were different. For example, there were people that were over 6’6 feet tall, different shapes of bodies, and many people that were physically disabled. After seeing this film, I explained to my daughter that we all are different and unique in our own ways. Meanwhile, I was different at the movies. People who walked by me did not know that I am deaf since my hair was down and covered my cochlear implant. I loved the song, “This Is Me” by Keala Settle from the The Greatest Showman Soundtrack when the group of unique people were mistreated awfully by the public and felt unloved. But they did not give up and continued to face their fears by showing their unique selves.
I am different. My daughter is different even though she does not have physical disability. She is tall for her age. She has braces. People do not know she struggles on focusing in class due to high energy. Recently, we saw the movie, Wonder. Auggie has Treacher Callins Syndrome. His mother told him that she loves him for who he is. He shouted back at her angrily that she loves him because she is his mother. She corrected him and said that not only is she his mother, she knows his best qualities because he showed it and let her be part of his journey. She was encouraging him to make friends and face his fears by letting them get to know him. The Wonder film brought us memories of my childhood years of frustrations with my deafness and my peers. We all cried throughout the movie.
When my daughter was a few years old, I was working at the hair salon and my hours were long. There were times I got off at 8 PM that we were not able to spend much time together. One night, she was upset with me for me being tired and wanted my attention. It was time for her to take a bath. She looked at me and boldly told me she did not like my voice.( I have a nasal accent due to my profound hearing loss, and I was cochlear implanted at age fifteen). She did not know. She did not understand. At that moment, I cried. My mother cried. My father was upset for me. My daughter bawled. She felt horrible that she hurted her mama. But the reality was she was only three and half years old and learning that this is who I am. My mother was wearing a neatly starched white button up shirt, and it was getting soaked with Makayla’s tears and mine. My mother explained to her about my deafness (how it will not get better), I cannot change my voice and the stories of my struggles while I was growing up. Ever since, Makayla tells me I have a beautiful voice and she is protective of me and my deafness.
Overall, we all are beautifully different and have our own story to tell. We are the authors of our own stories. We do not give up by showing others what we are capable of and who we are! That is bravery. Do it scared! Be YOU!