New Ears

When I was first diagnosed with hearing loss, I cried. I knew in the back of my mind. I had been coming around cubicle walls for discussions for years, having and hearing conversations that never happened or were completely off base.  It produced many a laugh and a obsurd game of telephone at times.

But truthfully, accepting hearing loss and beginning to wear hearing was not hard once I put them in my ears. Yes, I fought a war with my vanity ( how can I hide them) and a realization of age.  Yes, initially I perceived it as a defect. But I was quick to learn it was just another adventure in life. My hearing loss was damaged cilia in the ear and not repairable. However, I could wear hearing aids and retain an acceptable level of hearing.

I moved forward and received my first pair from the  VA. They came in a few colors  and while I wanted red ( I always want red) I accepted tan. The day to get my hearing aids came and I went to Iowa City to pick them up. That first afternoon, I felt as if I was wearing a huge ear, I was like a spy. I could hear all the conversations, very clearly. I could also hear conversations, trees cracking, leaves falling  you name it I heard it.

Four years later, I got my second ones, an upgrade to a smaller version of my previous hearing aid. Again it was a gift. It was a snazzy silver hue in color (still no red) and half the size of the previous one and it works better too! I was actually excited for the day to arrive. The new pair fits perfectly behind my small ears and doesn’t fly off every time I put my glasses on. What I once viewed with great sadness is now welcomed with joy, Hearing aids are not for old people as I once perceived but simply for people who want to hear. I am one of those people.

I am lucky to receive mine from the VA, but there are many new cost-effective ones on the horizon, and some higher end ones that actually connect with your phone. Never deprive or deny yourself the sound of laughter and the music of your favorite song when help is wrapped in a stylish silver ear huggers.

Often times I explain that life without hearing aids is like listening to Charlie Browns teacher, wah wah wah wah…I prefer the crisp clear tones of nature, a favorite movie and voices of the people I love.

I never knew what I was missing until I heard it.

Until Next Time,

LJ

 

 

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Eclipse Awakening

Sometimes in life we get to do amazing things and meet wonderful people. This past 4 days I did both.

A few months ago  my guy said “there is going to be a full eclipse” not being a science lover, I responded “oh cool” .. That was the understatement of a lifetime.

I had no idea the energy awakening that was about to occur on a remote farm in Southern Illinois.

The journey to Makanda, Illinois began far in advance of the actual event. It begin late one evening when I was handed a small square white box. I opened it and inside was a  pair of goggles, copper in color, steam punk in style. I put them on  and looked up at the light in my room, it was all I could see. The sensation of complete darkness was amazing. It was the beginning.

We  journeyed to Southern Illinois on the 20th of August. I had reached out to a friend in the area and he offered up lodging so we could stay in the area for the eclipse as rooms were hard to come by and very expensive. We accepted his kind offer.

On the morning of the eclipse, we went out for coffee and drove through Carbondale, the epicenter for this event. there were people everywhere and it was only 9 am. It’s funny we had wondered the day before where all the people who were expected to descend on this college town. It seemed they had arrived while we slept. Roads were closed and the stadium was alive with activity.  News cameras and trucks were getting set up for this event. As we wove our way through town and back onto Hwy 13, we lost the buzz of excitement and found coffee in nearby Murphysboro.

When we arrived home it was decided that we would celebrate and view the eclipse from somewhere called Dancing Willow farms. It sounded enchanting.  Our friends left before us, and we were confident in our GPS. We lost our signal as we drove and  decided to turn at a sign that said “Alto Pass” we were headed in the right direction As we drove through the winding hills of Southern Illinois admiring its unsung beauty, we were treated upon every rise to people, all looking up to the sky, enjoying the excitement and waiting for the event.  It was so amazing to see.

Finally, we arrived at the farm. There was around 30-40 people milling about. The white farm-house was open and inviting. There were children jumping on a trampoline behind the barn, horses in the pasture and lots of looking skyward. My guy got busy making his camera obscura and it generated quite a buzz.  Many curious people came over and gave it a try. It was a joy to watch.  As the moment drew closer, we found ourselves laying on the green grass and staring at science.

In the moments prior to totality, people became shaded and fuzzy around the edges and the sky become dusk like. As we watched the eclipse and saw the red kissing the edges of the moon, I knew I had been changed. I removed my glasses and for the full 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality, I observed, people, animals and nature. It was eerily silent and calm.

I saw people kissing and I saw children in awe. The group let out a collective sigh of wonder and true appreciation for the miracle we were seeing. And I was glad we were there.  In a place of nature and beauty. For us it was the perfect choice.

After the eclipse we all shared a meal, contributed by all who attended, and then a small celebration of welcoming back the sun.

After we left I couldn’t stop thinking about what we had witnessed and shared. And how total strangers became friends for a moment in time. And how truly wonderful that was and isn’t that something we should strive for in our everyday life? Those occasions to join with strangers and leave as friends.

I am grateful for the experience, the people I met and the difference I feel from the inside out. I feel enlightened somehow, and infused with positive energy.

And it all started with a pair of goggles.

Until Next Time.

LJ

Beds

As I began to write this blog, I knew the subject was beds and I knew the reason why.  Read on.

I began by asking the simple question, what is a bed?

Mine is many things, a haven, a retreat, a cozy gathering place for family. It’s old and beaten down and treasured. It’s my favorite spot in my house. Laying in bed and watching TV is exquisite. That’s the noun version.

But when used as a verb it takes on an entirely different meaning.  “settle down and sleep or rest for the night, typically in an improvised place” So in essence your bed is where you make it and it’s design is what fits you. It doesn’t have to have a frame. Maybe it is a hammock, or a sectional couch or a mattress on the floor. Wherever you rest for the night and sleep well is your bed.

In the last few months, I watched a couple of young men experience bedding with a flexibility and charm that I admire greatly.  These boys 7 and 9 slept on the floor, the couch, the sectional, the chair. They were versatile and never complained. I would have complained, loudly, but I am an adult, right?

We should all have the flexibility and resilience of children. Go with the flow or the waves.. even if they seem like a tsunami at times. Ride it out, there is goodness at the end.

When they moved to their own home, one of the boys commented that it was okay that the mattresses were on the floor, but it was “our” room.

Somewhere in the middle of the giant extended sleepover, there was this older woman who kept offering these beds in her attic. I didn’t really listen and then one day I did. Money was tight and she was offering 2 free beds, the only catch was they were in her attic and needed to be retrieved.

She had no idea what condition they might be in after 20 years in an attic, they were a little dusty and white with stenciled hearts, not exactly boys beds, but solid in build and they held promise. So the transformation began from white girls beds into deep blue boys beds.

The beds were painted and distressed with love. During the process, the youngest asked me if I missed a spot in the painting and I explained they were going to be distressed.

You want it to look old on purpose? Yes.

I was there on the day the beds reached their home, and the genuine joy that those boys showed  brought tears to my eyes. They exclaimed excitedly, “tonight we can sleep in our beds” and “I am putting my secret stuff underneath”. These are the words of true gratitude and thankfulness from the mouths of boys.

As I look back now that they are snoozing each night in their own beds, I realize that it took a village to build a bed, or two in this case. Had it not been for the persistent voice of a kind woman who never forgot she had some beds, and a grandma who thinks all furniture can be saved, a man who climbed into the unknown attic to search for the beds and two small very patient boys this may not have happened.

Open your eyes to everyday miracles, and you will find them, maybe under the bed or in the attic.

Until Next Time,

Lj

Mercedes Morning

To the man in the black Mercedes, you made my morning.

Not because you looked so very hot driving your black Mercedes, I couldn’t see through the tinted windows, but because you overestimate your importance on the highway.

Let me explain. It was around 645 and I was tooling along, listening to music and sipping my early morning smoothie, enjoying my morning drive. This morning’s smoothie was pineapple, strawberry and papaya with a few chia seeds for good measure.  I could see you behind me jockeying back and forth, waiting for your moment to unleash the power of your vehicle.  A grownup game of frogger comes to mind. Yes, sometimes the frog gets the bad end of the game. The speed limit is merely a suggestion and your vehicle was meant to go fast.. real fast. Oh yeah, we are in a 45 mph zone, I was traveling 50.  But again, not fast enough for black Mercedes. So after a nano second of riding my ass ( yes, I wanted to slam on the brakes) you put the pedal to the metal and zip that race car around and cut me off. Boy you really showed me.

And then all the cosmic tumblers fell into place and you slide that shiny Mercedes right in behind a Honda Van, moving even slower than I was, probably going the actual speed limit. Now, as I laughed and relished the sweet revenge of the universe, the cosmos decided to push it up a notch…

Not only were you wedged behind a van going slower than your patience, but  it was matched on the left by a black VW convertible moving with just enough speed that you couldn’t pull out and swerve around them both. This was the cherry on top..

You were stuck, aggravated and “all revved up with no place to go” (thank you Meatloaf)

So I laughed as I watched your anxiety escalate, I watched you slam on the brakes and nearly hit the van,  and inching ever so slightly forward waiting for that little space between the back bumper of the van and the front bumper of the VW. Sizing it up in your pea sized brain, and nearly convincing yourself, “I can fit, I am a Mercedes”

As we continued down the road you were looking for a way out, I actually thought you were going to hit one of them in your hurry. Thankfully, you saw your opportunity to escape the madness and you darted to the left and nearly lost control but whew… you made it to the red light at exactly the same moment as all of us.

As the light turned green we all moved forward to our destinations, the elderly gentlemen in his VW convertible, the mom in her van full of kids and me.  You sped off like you had somewhere to go..  and we bid you adieu..

You the man in the Mercedes with zero patience. And you gave me a laugh to last me all the way to work.  And for that I thank you and the cosmic tumblers.

Sometimes we need to embrace the lateness, go with it. Maybe there is a reason, other than your need to act out behind the wheel of a Mercedes.  In the end it got you nowhere any sooner than us. It raised your blood pressure a bit, made you swear.. and definitely made me laugh.

Until Next Time,

Lj

Theater People

This last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of reconnecting with my first round of theater people. I was invited to have wine and munchies with some ladies from High School, and it was a wonderful night. To reconnect with that part of me that longs to be called ” Theater People” . What an honor that would be.

My love of theater goes back to high school (or maybe that film version of Cinderella with Leslie Anne Warren) None the less I have spent much of my life admiring those who take the stage and live out their dreams.  I briefly entered the arena in high school where I proudly played an Indian in Peter Pan. Yes, Red headed Indian. I had my ugh, ooh, waah, eee down pat!

That was the humble beginning and end of a career in the lights (maybe I will resume in retirement, you never know. ) My love of acting has never ended, I just kept it under wraps in my heart. I worship these funny , brave warriors of art from the balcony. I still do.

I remained mesmerized by talent and the fearless courage it takes to get on stage and yes I applaud it. Until my hands are raw.

About 3 years ago I met a man who took me to New York, not as a tourist as I previously was, but hanging with the natives. I went to see a musical and it allowed us on stage  (almost) during the preshow. The entire magical experience left me speechless, yes I know hard to imagine, but I think it was the sheer magic of seeing live actors on stage.

Watching them before my eyes, become the characters on the paper. It was breathtaking.

Since that time I have had the honor of meeting a few wonderful actors, actresses, and directors and I continue to live vicariously through each and every one. I try very hard to not look like a deer in the headlights when I meet people, but am not always successful. They live a life I wish I had the courage to take on. I watch as they exhaust themselves for a character and marvel at the changes in emotion they toil through scene after scene, my heart hurts when they publicly lose members of their extended family and how it tears at their souls while they are being resilient in the face of the public. Theater people band together when tragedy strikes and when victory arises. It happens at all levels, community theater, Broadway, Chicago, and more.

They constantly reinvent themselves. They are actors who become photographers,  who become dancers, who become musicians. I know my view is rose colored and success is not an easy trail. But perhaps, it is in the viewing of success that we fail.

As an outsider to the actors life, I think success is in every performance, every time someone laughs or cries is a success, sharing your creativity is a gift.  Every bit of applause is appreciation of your struggle to live the life you have chosen no matter how hard or unforgiving. You want it, you take a chance. The ones I have been honored to meet are hard working, real people. Unconventional yes, but warm, caring and welcoming.

I say thank you and bless you for having the fortitude to be an actor. As for me, I live out mine at the occasional karaoke night, acting as though I can sing and sometimes I even get applause.

Until Next Time,

LJ