October 29, 2015

16 Years!

Earlier this month I wrote a post titled "Secrets to Greatness" and I mentioned that I had my right Cochlear Implant for 16 years. It is kind of hard for me to believe that it has been 16 years already. Sometimes I feel like I was born with Cochlear Implant as it feels so natural to me. I forgot about this tender picture of my mother and I, shortly after my surgery. It is amazing how far I have come since this day. It truly is a miracle.
I remember walking out of the hospital and seeing all my family there. A few weeks later, I went to the hospital and witnessed the miracle of sounds. My first memory of sound was, "Mommy & Daddy, I can hear my footsteps." - David Cluff

October 22, 2015

He Hears Me

He Hears MeJust shy of 9 months ago, I found out that I was going to be a daddy. A greater sense of responsibility also came over me along with an urge to be better in everything. The thought of being perfect in everything is rather daunting. In my graphic design class, we talked about this quote which has been on my mind a lot lately, "Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.” As much as I would like to be perfect or a "know it all" in everything, I simply need to be good right now. A million questions flooded my mind as I thought about this new role and chapter of my life.
     Over my lifetime, I have held many different roles from being a son, brother, missionary, friend and recently a husband. All seemed daunting at the beginning, but I have faith and believe that everything will be okay. Through all these roles I have come to learn over and over that He hears me, God hears me through prayer. A few years ago I was asked to speak at the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) here in St. Louis and I remember feeling really inadequate to be speaking in front of medical professionals and parents. (Read post here) Another time I had to speak in front of 100 graduates at Washington University. I remember praying during the whole drive to these events that God would help me feel calm and know what to say. After both of these events, my faith was increased. 
  Another role that changed my life was being a missionary for my church in Utah & Wyoming. Those two years proved to be some of the most challenging moments in my life. Being a missionary was not easy. In my role as a missionary, I learned more about service, love and to spend time on my knees in prayer. All the lessons I learned have helped me to be the best husband I can be. One experience in particular that comes to mind is my time in Wyoming. I had just gotten a new missionary companion and he was from "The Kingdom on Tonga" as he always said. The first day being together we got in a car accident. It was a really wet day and we ended up off the highway. We both were unharmed but can't say the same about the car. After we finally made it back to the apartment I remember kneeling in bedroom praying, feeling unsure of what to do. After I came to myself, I went to the living room and I saw my missionary companion  sitting on the steps cleaning my muddy shoes and shining them. He taught me a lot about service through that one simple act. (View my mission video here)
Since then I have tried to apply the lesson of service in all I do, especially as a husband. Let's face it, pregnancy is full of ups, downs, twists, and turns. You never really know how the weeks or months will go. I had to develop greater faith as I watched my wife go through these different phases of pregnancy for the first time. There were times where I simply wanted to relieve her from the aches and pains of the pregnancy. All I could do was offer a hug, hold her hand, and offer some comfort. I found these three things to be key in our pregnancy experience: (a) have a love for mom and baby, (b) have faith through the unknown and (c) service for mom and baby. Being a provider is a big responsibility, but being a Father & Husband is a greater calling.
My favorite moments in the day are at 5:00 in the morning when I spend 10-20 minutes doing the dishes, tidying up the living area and doing little things that will help her through the day. During this time she is sound asleep after lots of tossing and turning through the night and getting the comfort she waited so long for. This has been my way of experiencing the pregnancy.
As I continue to watch my wife progress towards the due date next week, I stand all amazed at the tender mercies and the peace that God has put in our life. It is His way of reminding me that He hears me. 

October 19, 2015

Forgot something...

Ever have one of those mornings where you are rushing out the door and you forget something? Well, I had one of those mornings. I got all ready for the day, made my lunch, and left for work. Shortly after I left, I then realized I forgot something. I forgot my *left ear! How often do you  hear someone say that?!?!
I had my right ear on and forgot  to put on my left ear. I did not want to turn around, plus I thought, “how bad can it be to only have my right ear on for a day.” Everything was okay when the office was quiet, but as everyone started to come in and talking…I became very disoriented among the many sounds. I came to realize just how much I rely on having both Cochlear Implants or ears on. Haveing two Cochlear Implants on I am able to locate sounds better, things sound much more clear and I don’t feel as lost in all the sounds.
Next time I will remember to put both ears on before heading out the door.

*I often refer my Cochlear Implants as my ears. 

October 8, 2015

You Know

The other day I was looking at some of my past writing and found this piece from last year. I realized that I never published it on this blog. I now smile when I think of the experiences I describe in this entry. Enjoy! 

Written in June 2014

   Being deaf and wearing Cochlear Implants is not a walk in the park or an easy life. It takes work and dedication to reach for the dreams and goals I have set in my life. I learned many lessons over the past few months that have taught me many things.  Through these experiences I am brought back to a thought I often wondered as a young boy and even today: “If I could see what angels see…” We all have experiences where a really good day comes and you feel someone has helped lift you up or when you have a really rough day you feel someone wipe away those tears. That’s when you know angels are all around you, which brings calm assurance letting you know that everything will be okay.
   Upon my return home from serving my mission in Salt Lake City I bought my first car. With that came a new sense of responsibility and a welcome to “adulthood”.  I was excited about this new stage of my life. A few weeks after getting my car I went to go get an oil change. The following experience has taught me many things and I hope each of you will be able to take something away from this.
   One day after work I made plans to get my car an oil change. I checked into the prices and felt confident about everything. I pulled up to the shop and told them what I wanted. My car was taken in and I walked into the noisy waiting room where there was only one other person in the waiting room. The loudness came from the TV and radio. About half way through they come up to me and asked if I would like the filters replaced and some other stuff that needed to be done. I asked how much it would all cost. The guy said, “Oh, $50 something.” I then said, “So, you mean like $50 something dollars…?” He responded with,  “Yes”. I did need the other stuff done so I had them go ahead with the work. I thought I was getting a pretty good deal. They finished my car and then they came out with the bill. I looked at the total amount and to my surprise it was not “$50 something” but rather $250.00 something. My jaw about dropped to the floor. The guy directed me to the cashier and said, “Have a nice day.” At that moment I felt like I was taken advantage of because of the fact that I am deaf. It was another one of those “Drive Through” moments. I ended up spending more money than I had planned on but I took away a valuable lesson. I was pretty hard on myself about the whole ordeal. I was mad that I did not hear clearly, and my confidence in this whole “adulthood” stage had dropped. I got home and vented to my parents about how it went. As I talked with them I learned that this would not be the last time this would happen. The question then came, “How am I going to handle it the next time this happens?” I realized that I needed to make a plan. Not everyone is perfect at Customer Service but I can practice being the best customer I can be. It may take a little more work but at least I know what I am doing. Here are some things I learned:
Situation: You walk into a loud waiting room and you struggle to hear clearly what the cashier or customer service representative is saying. What do you do?
Do’s: If you can’t hear the person very well and they are talking about money or something—ask them to write it down, even if it is a rough estimate of how much something is going to cost. This does two things: 1. Helps you better know where your money is going, what you’re getting into, and helps you plan. 2. Helps those serving you become the best customer service representative.
Don’ts: Don’t ever assume you know. Assuming you heard something right always leaves an open door to surprises. Too often I fall into this pattern where I assume I heard someone right but then I realize that I was off. Later in life I look back and laugh at those moments but it would be nice to not have that many moments to laugh at.
    You know how you hear. You know what you want. No one else knows that so you have to be willing to speak up and let people know. When people first meet me they automatically assume that I can hear everything. But…that’s wrong. I actually don’t hear everything. In some settings I hear everything. For example: When I am having one on one conversations with low background noise, I hear just about everything and follow with the conversation. On the other hand when I get into large groups and lots of background noise, I get maybe half of what is going on. That confuses people. Cochlear Implants are amazing but it is not perfect in every situation. I have learned to recognize a situation and know that sometimes I will have to work harder to know what is going, while other situations can feel like a breeze. Rather than beating myself up each time I run into a hard situation I look around to see what angels see in this situation. Last week I was in a busy airport and it was really loud. I could not hear the speakers very well so I started talking to the guy next to me and explained my situation. This guy was as nice as can be. He helped me understand what was being said on the speakers and once I got on my flight I never saw him again. He was like my own angel watching over me. When we communicate our concerns, that is when we can find solutions. If I decided not to tell anyone that I was having a hard time hearing I may have missed my flight and had a horrible travel experience.
It often takes doing something hard to become something extraordinary.

October 5, 2015

“Secrets to Greatness”

  Recently I read “Secrets to Greatness” from the Fortune Magazine for one of my classes. The article talks about what is it takes to be great. After reading this article, I gained a new perspective on greatness and talents. Though many of us are naturally gifted in one or two things, we can become great in more. From the article, these three principles stood out to me the most: (1) Hard Work, (2) Practice and (3) Feedback. I took a closer look at my life and how I have applied or am currently applying these principles.

Hard work. The first thing that came to my mind was physical hard work, like building a house. As I thought about it hard work is simply hard work mentally, physically and emotionally. When I lost my hearing at age six it was hard work to re-learn to hear with the Cochlear Implant. Sixteen years later people now comment on how remarkable my hearing is. Little did they know the countless hours I spent working on building my hearing. It was a mix of physical, mental and emotional hard work. Work meant climbing each mountain that came my way, letting the tears flow when things got hard and simply believing that it is worth it. My hearing did not come naturally, but it came the way I needed it.

In the article it talks about “practice makes perfect” and relates this to individuals who achieved great measures of greatness through practice, like many star athletes. I remember as a child I would stand by the light switch and flick it…just to hear the sound it made and make connections. I would also fall asleep by the radio at night listening to songs over and over. Each one of those moments helped me become who I am today. One of my favorite sayings is. “I am not perfect in everything, but perfect in trying.” When I get discouraged, I simply remind myself to keep being perfect in trying, again and again.

Feedback often comes across as intimidating or awkward. It takes a desire to want to accept feedback and then practice receiving feedback. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I kept saying “Lagwen” instead of “Language” and I was frustrated, as I could never say it right. One day while my mom and I were driving around, I asked her to help me learn to say it right. We spent a good amount of the drive practicing it. She would give me feedback on how I was doing and if I needed to improve in an area. After that experience I have been able to say it right. I found feedback to be another way to invest time in helping someone else improve or grow. Another one of my favorite sayings is, “There is no growth in your comfort zone and there is no comfort in your growth zone.”

To be great does not come easy. It takes time, practice and some growth pain. Working full-time and doing school part-time has displayed different growing pains in my life, but it has been worth it.