February 27, 2017

It's Important. Be You!

Over the last few weeks, I have been able to collaborate with Renee, Founder & CEO at Olive Devices as a guest writer. It has been fun to work with Renee and learn about what they are trying to accomplish. A theme I noticed about her is that she is not afraid to be who she is. Below is the article I wrote titled, "It's Important. Be You!" You can learn more about Renee and the goals she is trying to achieve here.

Shortly after losing my hearing, I was told many things. I was told I would have speech
problems, that I would not excel in school, and that life would be harder for me. My parents were
also told many things about how my life would turn out because I was deaf. At an early age, I
began to learn that it is important to be me, not anyone else. It was not always easy and I
realized that I needed to find people who believed in me, I needed to surround myself with the
right tools to help aim for success, and I needed to personally believe that I can do anything.

In order to be you, you need to find people who believe in you. It can be family, friends or a
religious group -- some place where you can feel okay being you. For me, it was with my family.
I grew up with two younger brothers and one sister. I also have a big extended family, with over
20 aunts and uncles, and I am the oldest grandchild of 70+ grandkids. This big family of mine
helped shape me into who I am today. They all believed in me. When life gets hard, I remember
my family who have always been the foundation for my success.
Surround yourself with the right tools for success. In a world that offers many choices of
technology or services, are we picking the right ones for our success? Shortly after losing my
hearing, my parents invested lots of time and energy into finding the right tools for me. My father
is a contractor and loves his tool belt. Each tool is designed for a specific job, but they don't all
work for everything. He has tools that are best for building a roof and others for laying tile. I was
given the tool of a Cochlear Implant to help me hear. The Cochlear Implant is not always the
right tool for everyone and it is important to remember that. Olive Devices is working to create a
way to help someone who can't hear. One project, called FreeBell, is a wearable device that will
help people know where sounds are coming from by vibrating on the side of the body where the
sound is detected. It will also turn the speech into a written text for the recipient to understand.
This is another tool that can be added to your tool belt.

Now that you are surrounded by those who are rooting for your success and have a tool belt
filled with the right tools to help you, what's next? Believe in yourself! If you don't believe in
yourself, how are you going to have the motivation to reach your dreams, run that extra mile, or
to simply be you? Throughout my life, I have developed a passion for photography. When I look
at a photo, I am reminded of my hearing loss. There is no sound, only expressions and
moments in time. Photography became a way to help me tell my story and to be who I am.
While I was learning this skill, I had to believe in myself. I had to believe that my perspective
mattered and that I had something to contribute to those around me. This made me comfortable
enough to share it with the world. Remember, it is important to be you.

February 26, 2017

Finding Clarity

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week! As a family, we attend church and it is a challenge to keep a toddler calm and entertained during services and while my wife plays the organ. I have found that it is in those simple moments where God reminds me that everything is okay and that He is aware of our stage in life. Sometimes, it does not take a huge event to find clarity and a renewed faith if God, but rather simple steps towards a goal.

A few weeks ago I realized that I needed to get new glasses as the ones I had were five years old. After visiting the eye doctor, they made a few simple changes and ordered my new glasses. Once I put the new ones on, everything was more sharp and clear. I had forgotten how clear some things are around me. Just like these glasses, if we stop doing those small things to help build our faith in God, we lose the full clarity in life. Each Sunday, I focus on keeping Lucas occupied with books, snacks and walks around the hall. While I am not able to fully pay attention, it is those weekly church meetings that help keep my vision and faith clear.

February 16, 2017

Something's Off

Ever have a moment where you know something is just off and you are not sure what it is exactly?!? That happened to me over this past weekend. The weekend started off great and I got a lot done but I began to notice that there was something's off about my hearing. Of course, I am deaf and wear cochlear implants. But, something was really off with the way I was hearing with my Cochlear Implant. This is nothing new or alarming to me and I thought it was just a weird phase. I kept thinking it would pass and things will be back to the "normal" that I know.

Sunday, things started to sound even more off and I was supposed to teach a class that day. The way I was hearing began to make it harder for me to hear and I was becoming uncomfortable holding a conversation with lots of background noise. I ended up not being able to teach and felt very out of place. Again, I kept telling myself that it will pass and to try putting my cochlear implant in a drying system and see if moisture got in.

Monday morning, things started to sound a little better but not all the way there. I went to work that day and once again I started to become uncomfortable with holding conversations and having a hard time understanding everything everyone was saying. The same thing happened the following day and thought I would have to go see my audiologist.

On Tuesday night I was working on a project and the thought came, "switch out your microphone on the implant" -- I thought, "I don't think it will do much, but I will give it a try." Sure enough, after I replaced my microphone, everything sounded back to normal! I felt so relieved and more grateful for my hearing.

Tips and reminders for future "something's off" moments:
  • Inspect the device, troubleshoot. 
  • Switch out parts (headpieces, microphones, and batteries.) 
  • Place in a drying system to help pull out any moisture. 
  • If none of the first three options helped, consult with your audiologist. 
Living with cochlear implants is a blessing but it also as holds it's unique challenges along the journey.

What are your "something's off" moments?

February 14, 2017