Archive for July 2016

A Very Special Conversation With My Nephew- Arthur Hart

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For those of you who have followed my blog, you have had a chance to come along on my journey through learning I am hard of hearing.

It has been an amazing journey.

It gets even more amazing for me.

You see my nephew, Arthur, was born with an hearing loss too! Arthur is the same age as my oldest daughter, and quite honestly has been like a brother to my kids.

I was blessed to have Arthur with me daily for the first years of his life. After he and his mom moved to a different town, and we moved various places, Arthur would come and stay with us nearly each summer for extended times.

To say that Arthur is almost like a sibling is an understatement.


Arthur has grown into a fine young man, and now plays football for the University of North Carolina 49ers football team.


Just before I found out I about my own hearing loss, I asked Arthur if I could interview him for a special guest blog post. I am now getting around to writing it. 

So with out further adieu I would like you to meet Arthur Hart! My very awesome nephew, who is more like a son to me than a nephew, and what has lead him to the opportunity to be play for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Who in your life affected where you are today? 

My dad, Jeff, played a major role in getting me the opportunities to play college football. 

My mom showed me wisdom and love. She has always influenced every choice and encourages me in what ever endeavor. 

My cousin KJ and I are like brothers. 

KJ and Arthur
You guys helped raise me. I'm so grateful for the childhood you gave me. I struggle to explain my relationship with your family to other people because they aren't just my cousins. 

Stoney is still one of my favorite places in the world because of them.

How did your disability affect you growing up?

My disability made me tough. Due to the way I was raised, I wasn't allowed to use my hearing as an excuse to not do the things I wanted to do. 

Arthur can you share with us your high school experience?

I went to an all deaf high school where I learned sign language. 

Being at that school was the first time I was around other kids who were like me. It was nice to be in a world where I was so comfortable. 

How did you maintain the drive that you needed to get where you are today? 

My coaches, Jimmy Garner and Michael Daze always told me that I could do things differently and that I could be the first kid in school history to earn a full scholarship for football. 

But they didn't treat me like I was special. They pushed me like every other kid on the team too. 


What has your college experience on a football team been like? 

It has been tough! Everyone treats me like a normal football player. I do miss things from time to time, but my teammates will back me up and repeat information to me if I miss something.



Have any of your team mates learned sign language? Do you have an interpreter? 

I have taught a lot of them some signs. 

I use an interpreter for classes but not for football. 

What are your goals after college? 

I am majoring in communications with a minor in psychology.

I hope to make it into the NFL. 

If you had one message you would like to give to others what would it be? 

If you find strength in your weakness, your weakness will become your strength. 

Thank you Arthur for sharing your story with us! We love you! 

Dreamers Gives Back!

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We are so excited to share with you our new Dreamers Gives Back program! 

All of our Dreamers will be coming together to raise money for some of our favorite organizations. 

As many of you know, Mary Grace, a favorite Dreamer of ours, happens to have Spina Bifida. 

Click on the photo to go directly to Mary Grace's Store
So we have chosen the Spina Bifida Association to be the first organization that we will raise money for, on behalf of and in honor of Mary Grace.  

You can either purchase the gift sets that are designated for SPA on any of the Dreamers store pages at www.dreamersmerchants.com or you can go to our Dreamers Gives Back store, and purchase from there. Every dollar we raise for SBA will be a great benefit to Mary Grace and her many friends who have also received so much from SBA. 

Learn more about what Mary Grace has to say about her journey:

Hi and Welcome! I am Mary Grace Williams. I am so excited to be a part of the Dreamers Coffee House. I was born in 1985 with a serious case of Spina Bifida. I have had many medical complications and surgeries and I use a wheelchair to get around –but don’t think for a minute that this slows me down! My parents were told from the beginning to challenge me and set clear expectations for me, just like they did with my three sisters. That has pushed me and prepared me for the Dreamers Coffee House experience. I graduated from Houston High School in Germantown, TN in 2004 and attended Southwest Tennessee Community College for two years. I volunteer four days a week at White Station Elementary in Memphis TN, helping students practice reading skills and helping teachers with classroom tasks. I hope I am setting an example for the students about the endless possibilities for people with disabilities. From the very beginning, the Lord has blessed me with optimism and a positive determination. When I was six and preparing for a big surgical procedure, I told my mom that I didn’t ‘feel’ like having brain surgery. She said I complained about it the way my sisters complained about homework. I know I have been blessed and I have an attitude of gratitude. During my many visits to the hospital, I made friends with doctors, nurses, other patients, cafeteria workers, housekeeping personnel and security. I just love people and tried never to let my illness or disability get in the way of living my life the way I choose. That’s why I am so excited about opening my store. So many times I have watched from the sidelines at others achieving their goals and dreams. This is something I can do independently. I am excited about getting to know my customers and networking with my contacts both local and far away.

Check out these great gift packs that give back! 

$1 of every purchase of this gift pack will go back to SBA
(Click on the photo to purchase) 

$2 of every purchase of this gift pack will go back to the SBA
(Click on the photo to purchase) 

$4 of every purchase of this gift pack will go back to the SBA
(Click on the photo to purchase) 

$5 of every purchase of this gift pack will go back to the SBA
(Click on the photo to purchase) 

$3 of every purchase of this gift pack will go back to the SBA
(Click on the photo to purchase) 

$3 of every purchase of this gift pack will go back to the SBA
(Click on the photo to purchase) 

Does ME Sound Different To You Now?

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"Does ME sound different to you now?"  is the next most asked question since I found out I have an hearing impairment.


She does. 

Had I not learned that I severely hard of hearing I would have missed out on years of my sweet girl telling me so many things. 

I am astounded how articulate MaryEllen is. I did not know this for all of these years. 

ME had so much more to say than I knew. 

Over the years I heard so much of what she was saying. We communicated beautifully.

Thankfully communication is so much more than words!

I was able to help her get what she needed, and understand much of what she was saying to me.

We were a good team! 

However, ever since I got my hearing aids, I realize how much I did not hear.

It takes my breath away!

It has been amazing.

Beyond amazing. 

So in answer to all of you who ask me if ME sounds different...

Yes, she does. 

This girl is spicy. 

She has a lot to say!

And I love it! 

Thank you hearing aids! 

I would have missed so much.  

#happyhearing




But I talked to you on the phone! How did you hear me?

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The third most common question about my hearing impairment is "But I spoke to you on the phone, how did you hear me?"

That is easy for me to answer. I have a moderate/severe hearing impairment in my right ear. A severe hearing impairment in my left.

So I heard your words with my right ear mostly. Thank you right ear!

Which for all my life I thought was what everyone else heard.

What did that sound like? It sounded like everyone was mad at me. Every person sounded upset. For real it did.

Why?

I could not hear the sing song of the beautiful sounds that high pitches or other pitches bring to a conversation.

Also, it is highly likely I thought I heard you say something differently than you really said. I believed what I heard you say. Which explains a lot of odd conversations I have had where things got mixed up. lol Oy vey!

I am moderate severe to severely hearing impaired, and I am proud!

#happyhearing


What Made Me Go Get Tested For a Hearing Loss?

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I have been blogging about my hearing experience for a couple of reasons.

One, it helps me get the information out to more people. People generally ask me the same questions, so it is much easier for me to blog about it, than to repeat the answers over and over. So thank you to those of you who have been reading my blog posts. This helps me a lot.

And two, as some know, writing has been my favorite way of communicating any experiences since I was a child. So it is likely that writing about this is helping me process it as well.

If one of the most asked questions is, "How did you learn?", then hands down, the absolutely most asked question has to be, "What made you go get your hearing checked?"

When my husband and I met, I fell in love with him for his voice. He had such a comforting voice to me, and I loved to hear him talk. Which is ironic now that we know I am hearing impaired.

I would tell him all the time, "I love your voice. It makes me feel at peace."

All along the way, we had many conversations centered around another thing that happens between men and women.

Sometimes my husband would mumble. lol

We talked about this way back when we were 18 and dating. I did not have this trouble with anyone else, so why was this so different. It had to be mumbling.

Never once did either of us suspect I heard differently than the general population.

Each time we would move on from the conversation, like the time before, with him saying, I don't think I mumble, but I will try not to.

Fast forward to 31 years later.

We were sitting outside in the back yard.

We were talking about life in general.

I said to him, "You know, for 31 years, I have wondered why sometimes you mumble." And I laughed.

I fully expected us to get into the usual conversation again about him not thinking he mumbles.

But instead, this time, my husband said, "You know, you have said that forever. I wonder if you hear differently than others."

I quickly replied, "I am happy to get tested. Who knows, maybe I do have a slight hearing loss from when I had my ear drums ruptured."

So off I went a few days later to the audiologist, fully expecting to come back with a sheet of paper that said my hearing is normal. I was going to hold that sheet of paper up, and say, "See, now please stop mumbling." lol

Four of my friends, who after learning about my experience, have done exactly that. All four have had this same conversation with their husbands over the years, and all went in to see if they had a hearing problem. All four told me they went home, held up their sheet of paper, and said to their husbands, "See, now please stop mumbling." lol

But that was not the case for John and I.

Instead, that day I learned that I am moderately to severely hearing impaired, bi laterally.

I learned that I have absolutely no damage to any part of my hearing system. Even my ear drum rupturing, loud music, and all of my constant cleaning my ears out because they felt like they needed to be cleaned did not damage my ears. (More on this in another post.)

I learned that my discrimination is 94 and 100.

I learned that I was likely born this way, and it could have been because of a benign brain tumor.

I was sent to get an MRI to rule out the tumor two days after they diagnosed me as hearing impaired.

When those test results came back clear, I was called and told, I am simply hearing impaired, and that I have never known any different.

No holding up a piece of paper. No laughing about the results and moving on.

I was fitted for hearing aids the next week.

That was the day I  heard the many noises that I have never heard before.

You don't know what you don't know.

One of the things we have figured out with my husband's speech, is that he does not always form his letters fully when he speaks. Maybe this is mumbling, but with my hearing aids I can still pretty much make out what he is saying. It has more to do with the fact that I was not able to compensate on reading his lips, which I had no idea I was doing. Matched with the fact that we also know that his voice is one of the hardest for me to hear.

The irony is not lost on us that I fell in love with his voice when I met him. (Which by the way, I love as much as the voice I fell in love with.)

We are a match made in heaven. Had I been able to read his lips all the time like I could with almost everyone else in my life, we may still not know that I hear so very, very differently than the rest of the world.

#happyhearing




Guest Post!! Please Vote!!! For The Jancso Family!!

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I have invited my friends and fellow Dreamers, Cari and Ray Jancso, to write a guest post on my blog today! Please help them win this awesome table at this awesome event by sharing and encouraging others to vote! Read on for more information! 
Mistletoe Holiday Market
We are Ray and Cari Jancso, Dreamers-The Jancso Family of Olive Branch, MS. We have two children, Madison and Tyler, and Tyler has Down syndrome. We sell Dreamers Coffee and My Cup of Tea to promote jobs for ALL ABILITIES. We are excited to be attending and exhibiting at the NDSC convention next week in Orlando. Come check out our exhibit and learn about our DREAM and sample our coffee and tea!!
 This week, we are a finalist for a complimentary booth, valued at $800, at the Mistletoe Holiday Market in Memphis, TN in October. The Market has over 150 vendors coming together to celebrate the start of the Holiday Season and this will be a great way to spread awareness about the dream of Dreamers Coffee!! We would greatly appreciate you voting for us in this booth contest. 
****Please note, we are listed as Brew21 on the contest page (this is our LLC name).****
You can Only Vote Once per email address and the last  day to vote is this Friday, July 15th at Midnight (Central time). Please Vote and share!  Thank you!!




How Did I Learn? Learning to Learn...

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Two questions that have been asked of me since I learned I am hard of hearing are, "How well did you do in school? How did you learn?"

These are really great questions.  Learning that I have a significant hearing loss has helped me understand the answers to them so much more.

The simple answer, I did horribly in school.

Teachers liked me a lot, because I was a happy student, who wanted to learn.

However, my grades reflect my struggle with learning all the way from kindergarten through to my freshman year in college.

So then it begs the question, "How did you get through college?"

For that answer, I would need to start at the beginning.

One of my first memories of learning actually happened right in my own home.

My siblings and I all loved to play school.

My sister was always the teacher, and I was always the student. (At least that is how I remember it. They may tell me otherwise. But this is my best recollection.)


This is where I learned all of my letters.

I also learned to read in our little school.

If I recall correctly, our toy box had a chalk board on it, and we would line up two of our little chairs from our little table and chairs set, and listen closely to her lessons in our little one room school house in our basement.

Little did I know that this up close and personal, one on one instruction, would be the base for all of my learning for the rest of my life.

After I learned all of my letters, we would read little books out loud to the class.  I even learned to write my name in cursive.

This was all before I ever went to school.

When you are in a big family, I am the youngest of nine, stuff like this happens, when the rest of the world is not even noticing.

I was excited to go to school.

My first teacher, my sibling, made me realize how much fun learning was going to be.

I took all of my letters and reading to kindergarten with me.

Unfortunately when I finally went to a real school it was anything except like my first learning experience.

My teachers were very happy that I knew my letters and I could read. My report cards reflects that.

I am sure they were pretty proud of themselves. Little did they know, my sister had already taught me one on one.

Even though on my report card it stated I had a hard time communicating clearly, my reading skills and letter skills showed I could learn.

Learning in a large group setting was very difficult for me.

School was very difficult for me.

Many attributed it to the fact that my dad died when I was two and a half.

All that I knew was that it was just hard for me.

Interestingly enough I have all of my report cards. After I found out I was hearing impaired I took a trip down memory lane.  It is all right there.

"Diane is very well behaved in school. She needs to work on working independently."

"Diane is a joy to have in class. She needs to work on her academics and to work independently."

"Diane reads very well, however she has a difficult time with listening comprehension."

Right from the beginning in kindergarten there was a flag.  The teacher wrote that I did not express ideas clearly, however I had a strong interest in reading.

Some years they had me re-do the standardized achievement tests one on one.

The years I did the best were the times I had to retake the test one on one. When I say my best, it is a relative term. My scores are nothing to write home about.

Even with the one on one, my listening comprehension portion falls into the low average, and some years below average.

So the signs were there.

It always puzzled me why it was so difficult for me to learn when I loved to read and write so much.

I would go home from school and directly pick up a book or write in my journal.

I would read everything I could get my hands on.

I loved learning.

So if I loved learning, why was it so hard?

I know now why it was so hard.

If you can't hear like the general population, and you are very significantly hearing impaired, learning will be hard.

When it came time to go to college I took my ACT and did only ok. Which was par for my course.

I was grateful when one of the UW schools accepted me. It was the one I wanted to go to, so I was thrilled.

My first semester was a total fail. I went to class, took notes, and came out with a 1.9 GPA.

One thing was different that semester. I met a boy.

At Christmas we promised each other that we would study every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, along with studying all week long.

I liked this boy so much and I wanted to stay where he was,  in college.

So I figured out a system to learn.

Every week, I would completely read the chapters from my book before the lecture instead of after the lecture. I prepared even if the professor never brought the information up again. If it was in the syllabus, I read it, highlighted it, took notes, and brought those notes with me to class.

Then I would sit in the front row and I would mark what I heard him repeat from my pre note taking.

At the end of the week, each Friday, I would make office hours with my professors to confirm that my notes were correct or that I was understanding what they said in their lecture. I let them know that I had a hard time learning and they were very happy that I wanted to learn the material so much, so they worked with me.

As the semesters passed by, I ended up being a student that they called on in class because I was the student who understood the material.

This experience was all new to me, and I grew to love the art of learning.

I became passionate about empowering others to teach themselves before they ever go into their classes.

I believed it was the best way to learn, and as a teacher I started the first 2 weeks of my school year each year teaching what I began to call my process, "Learning to Learn".

I wanted all of my students to have this level of independence in their learning.

As a parent I taught my children the same thing. All of them went to college knowing this was what the needed to do from day one to be successful. I taught them to not be dependent on their professors, and that they needed to go to the information before the information came to them.


Now, as I look over all of my school records, there were so many times my hearing loss was almost caught.

After I found out I was hearing impaired a memory from college came flooding back.

One of my professors who was teaching a lecture on speech and hearing let me meet with him weekly to confirm my notes, just like my other professors.

One week he asked me where I learned to speak.

All of my life, I thought I had a deep voice. Which my mom had. Well, which I heard her have. It is not nearly as deep as I heard it my whole life. But it is still deep.

I said, "From my mom." Thinking he was referring to my deep voice that I had believed I had my whole life.

He said, "Well, you are copying someone, your speech is not natural."

Another missed moment.

Once I heard my voice for the very first time 5 weeks ago, I realized I never had a deep horse voice. It is very soft and feminine. I never knew that. It hit me right in that moment he was referring to my actual speech patterns and not my voice.

All those years ago, when I was told to articulate, enunciate, speak clearly, I worked hard to do that. It is very likely I was copying the speech patterns of my siblings and parents on the sounds that I severely cannot hear.

So how did I learn if I could not hear like the rest of the world? I didn't. My report cards reflect that all the way through. A lot of notes about Diane needing to be a more independent, all the way to grades that were C's and D-, with notes that say, "Nice girl."



Until I got to college.

And I met a boy....

I liked that boy so much that I wanted to stay with him for the rest of my life.

So I figured out a way to learn so I could do that.

I graduated with about 3.24 or a 3.42. Neither of us can remember which one.

That boy was John Grover.

What a difference one person can make in your life.