When I meet people and some of them would say “I have never talked to a deaf person before” or “What does that mean?” while they are learning how to interact with a deaf person. It is not something you are supposed to be a professional at. It may mean taking the time to learn and to be flexible to meet a deaf person on a bridge between deaf and hearing worlds. It does take a lot of patience. We do appreciate the effort and consideration from others who are willing to do so.
It is not just you that have to learn to communicate and interact with us, we also learn to communicate with you and interact with you. It works both ways. The best example is my daughter. She was born to a deaf mother. She was not equipped with every power and knowledge right away . Over the years, she continues to learn to communicate with me, what I am capable of and not capable of, and when I cannot hear (device off, in water, in dark, and the whispers). I noticed recently she has been whispering to me in conversations knowing I can lip read and I’ll whisper back to her “Why are you whispering?”. Did you know I continue to learn to communicate with her because she keeps growing, her speech keeps changing and her teeth position keeps changing?Did you know when I get new mapping sounds in my processor or new processor, it is like learning all over again..For my daughter, she studies me grasping the sounds and it requires patience every time
My daughter is in fifth grade, lots of fast things going on that her peers are experiencing like when we were in high school. For example, gossiping, say things they do or do not mean.I educate her that all children are extraordinary not just certain ones. ALL. They all are amazing, unique in their own ways, and there is something we can learn from each individual. Even as adults! I educate her that everyone has their own journey, a few miles to a million miles of pain, struggles, strength,and trials. What if they are going through a transition such as death, divorce, income changes, moving, drugs, alcoholism, disabilities and other personal issues.
Life is not easy. It is their chapter. It’s their pace how they want to perceive it and how to grow from it. Do not judge. We do not know.I tell her to choose words carefully and think about them. Protect your words if you do not want others to know and if you do not want to hurt them. Spread the words by saying the words to change the world, to show kindness and love, to educate others and to learn from others. Protect or spread the words. Choose.
As a parent, my main focus on parenting is guiding her on choices, actions, morals and values. Share thoughts, show her outside of her painting what we see as she’s not always aware. Coping skills when she gets frustrated or boredom I guide her to express her frustrations by saying “ I am feeling anxious because I am bored or hurt” and figure out how to get through it. Stop and breathe. Slow down and learn. Time is precious. We have to learn to understand others and ourselves.
“She cannot hear. She is deaf” said my daughter.
Humidity creeps in. Rain sprinkles softly. The flowers stand still. The mountains are thick and green. The grass is definitely better on the other side of America- I am in my hometown, Vermont.
I am listening to my favorite music clip- NO ONE absolutely knows my secret power. (My secret power is I can listen to music secretly. It is a Bluetooth clip that connects to my IMusic playlist. You can make phone calls on it as well). Waves of memories rolls in. When I was twelve, my father had this old beautiful gold convertible Cadillac and at nights, he had the top down. I laid down in back seat looking at stars and played my first favorite song “Dreaming of You” by Selena. So loud blasting. I knew it would not destroy my hearing since I was already profoundly deaf! My father was running a huge carpet warehouse that was connected to our house. My brother, his friends and I blasted the music speakers and danced or played hide and seek in the dark. Every night during the summer, we played basketball for hours. I thought I heard the sounds but I did not.
While visiting my aunt, I showered every night and had my processor off for rest of the evening due to wet hair and quiet time, the town was already quiet. Except one night, I delayed my shower and sitting on my bed. The fire truck sirens were going off forever! It sounded like it was next to me. I wondered if there was a fire? I said to Makayla, “what’s going on?!” I was absolutely amazed I was able to hear it miles away! There wasn’t a fire after all, they had fire trucks driving a baseball team after a successful game.
The first week has flown by, my mother flew out to join us for another week. We packed up and went to check into the house we rented for a week. I heard this unusual sound. I ignored it. The next day, walking around the pond in the backyard, I heard this same sound I ignored before. It puzzled me. I said to Makayla, “What is that sound? It sounds like this.” While I tried to imitate the sound and pointed to the sound when it appeared again. It’s a frog! I can’t possibly imitate this croak and ribbet sounds correctly. Of course, the preschool song came in my head “Frog Went A Courting”! I teased the teacher I aide for, my mother and daughter the song and part of lyrics “M-hm. M-hm”!
My vacation reflection:
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.
Hearing Impaired single mother and teacher aide at a hearing impaired oral preschool program. An author of "Turn The Lights On, I Cant Hear You".