Archive for September 2016

Dreamers Update....

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So much is happening with Dreamers I do not know where to begin.

What started out as a dream.... a dream of me opening a coffee house...

has now turned into a coffee company!!

I could not be more excited about the direction that this has turned.

Jobs are being created nationwide because we had a dream to create jobs locally for individuals of all abilities.

Families are getting a chance to be entrepenuaers.

And companies that are already hiring individuals of all abilities are getting a chance to sell their products through our Dreamers store owners, who are sharing their missions as well!

Dreamers is growing!

Day one I said, I do not know where this will take us.

It has been fun, scary, and exciting to roll with the punches, and grow our mission to tell the world that jobs matter.

We are on the ground, sharing the message, teaching that each and every day!

Thank you to each and every one of you who have supported us by purchasing with a purpose!

Meet Our Dreamers Lizette and Lucas!

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I am excited to share with you who follow me the many Dreamers that make up our growing and spirited Dream Team!

I am going to start with our Michigan/Chicago Dreamer Lizette Vasquez. 

Lizette and I met at a meet up years ago, in the Wisconsin Dells. Her little guy Lucas was a baby and I was so glad to be able to share with them and other moms of young children our journey. Little did I know that that weekend would lead us to this time in our lives, selling coffee and a mission together. 

After I started selling Dreamers coffee, many people reached out to me to ask me if they could also sell Dreamers products. One of those individuals was Lizette. To say I was excited when Lizette reached out is an understatement. 

After we both discussed what we were hoping to achieve through Dreamers, Lizette made the decision so come on as a Dreamer. Having Lizette on the Dream Team has been exactly what I believed it would be like the day we started talking to each other about that possibility. 

Lizette has been more than a Dreamer. She is a leader, an inspiration to everyone, and an incredible friend. Every day that we work together I am convinced that bringing Lizette on to the team is one of the best decisions I have ever made with this company. 

Lizette's motivation is her sweet son Lucas. 

Lizette's dream for Lucas mirrors my dream for MaryEllen. Like me, Lizette is building her part of Dreamers so that one day Lucas can help her run her business. 

Lizette has gone from being a Dreamer Online Store Owner, to now a distributor for Dreamers. 

With every sale of items from Dreamers, we are greatly increasing the opportunity for jobs created in the Michigan/Chicago area. 

Lizette has worked tirelessly to partner with organizations that are working on the same initiative. 

Most recently, due to the her efforts, she has made one of our dreams come true. Gigi's Playhouse and Dreamers Coffee will be partnering together in a match made in coffee heaven! 

Dreamers could not be more proud of this partnership. We believe that our goals align so beautifully, and that together we are stronger! 

For Lizette, it was a moment that brought tears of joy to her eyes. 

Immediately after all of the papers were signed, officially signaling our partnership, Lizette sat in her car and reflected for a moment on what this meant to her. 

Since we are all miles apart, we do a lot of our conversations through video conferencing and often times texting. On a text with me and another Dreamer from Texas, Lizette poured out her heart when she said this in a text to us, 

"I was a first time mom who was told my baby would have Down syndrome, I was scared, and somehow had the courage at 7 months pregnant to walk in my first Gigi's walk and I had no idea what to expect...and to be here today, crying these happy tears and helping our dream... my head is spinning. It really is."

Lizette's journey had come full circle. On September 14, 2016, Lizette and Hugs and Mugs agreed to a partnership. But so much more happened in that moment. In that moment, a mom, who is fighting for her child's future, felt the beginning of her dream matter to the people who guided her through her new journey. She has taken on this dream with the same passion as the founder of Gigi's Playhouse, Nancy Gianni. The same passion that most of us have when we hear the words, "Your child has Down syndrome." The same passion that started Dreamers in my heart and has made it grow to this point.

I am proud that Lizette and Team Lucas are on the Dream Team! You see- together we are stronger! 


Getting Fitted For Hearing Aids- June 6, 2016

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After finding out I have a severe hearing loss,  I was given an appointment to rule out a brain tumor, which they said if I had one, it would likely be benign.

So in the very early morning hours of Friday, June 3,  I found myself closing my eyes as they rolled me into the machine that does an MRI.

To calm myself, I pretended like I was in a bed on a cruise ship.

I kept my eyes shut through the entire procedure.

I then went home and waited to hear the results.

That afternoon, my nurse called me to tell me that they had ruled out a brain tumor, and I "simply" had a severe hearing impairment.

They set up an appointment for me to get my new hearing aids.

At this point, I was believing them, but if I am really honest, I was still in denial.

I still did not understand what was the difference between how I hear, and how the rest of the world hears, and I was feeling uncertain if there would be much of a difference.

As the days went by, I began to notice that I have a hearing loss.

It is hard to explain, but my denial was fading, and I was beginning to realize that I cannot hear like the rest of the world.

Reality was setting in.

I could no longer not know this, and my brain was also starting to believe it.

On Monday,  I went for my first fitting for hearing aids.

Thankfully, one of my dearest friends went along with me, as I was still in a state of shock, and I wanted to be sure someone was with me who could help me sort through the decisions that had to be made.

I would have a lot of adjusting to do to the hearing world, since I was living with a hearing loss my whole life.

She explained, however, that because I had compensated my whole life, she felt I would do well.

She also said, that unlike people who lose their hearing, I would have nothing to compare it to.

She said those who lose their hearing can sometimes be disappointed that hearing aids do not work as well as they used to hear.

After explaining my choices she fitted me for hearing aids.

Now all I had to do was wait until they came in.

Part 3 to Day One of Hearing the World- Getting My Hearing Aids

How Did A Wedding Bring Back a Rush of Memories From My Life? All You Really Need Is Love!

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This past weekend my nephew married the love of his life.

Photo credit Dan Goers
There is nothing like a wedding to remind you that love conquers all.

There were so many moments at this wedding that took my breath away.

Being allowed to participate in the joy that Matt and Cait share topped them all.

Seeing two people who are best friends commit to being together for the rest of their lives makes my heart soar with joy every time. Even more so when it is one of your baby nephews!

Then there are the ceremonial touches that are decided upon months in advance because they brought meaning to the bride and the groom. On this day they bring lessons to all of us!

Weddings connect us!

They are so much more than the actual wedding. Though that is the most important part of the day. There are residual effects of a wedding that happen along the way.

Let's be honest, every time you attend a wedding, you can't help but be reminded of all of the love that has surrounded you all of your life as well.

They are an opportunity for family and friends to also recommit their love to each other.

It is a moment to reflect on the people in your life who have supported you and believed in you, just as everyone is doing by giving love and support for the bride and groom.

It happens almost effortlessly to all who are attending, as you hear the vows and the passages that are meant for the bride and groom, but by default meant for all of us in attendance as well.

There were so many moments that this occurred during my nephew's wedding.

It even came from some surprising places.

Like when my niece opened up to me the night before the wedding about my hearing loss. She shared that all her life she loved hearing my "sweet gentle" voice. She told me it was so kind and loving.

Four months ago, I would have fallen over in laughter.

I had tried to convey kind and loving through my words and actions, but my voice sounding that way, this I would never have known.

As I have said in previous posts, in my world, my voice was deep and gravely.

It was like I was learning about another person as she described my voice she heard as she grew up and what it meant to her.

I don't think anyone else has done this to date.

Lots of people say I sound exactly the same now, but no one has actually shared their memories of who I was when I did not know I could not hear my own tone of voice.

It was heartwarming and overwhelming.

It is heartwarming to know they heard me, heard my heart and voice, and they were comforted by it.

It was overwhelming to hear their side of my journey.

The entire weekend brought memories rushing back. Memories of times with my family and our friends, that for many, this was the first time I heard their "real" voice as well.

The love extended to me this weekend, by all of my nieces and nephews and family, reignited in me the joy I always feel by knowing I am loved unconditionally by them.

Without any of us knowing it, my family showed that to me my whole life when they accepted me just as I am, even though none of us knew life's secret that I am severely hearing impaired.

Then there is that best moment of a wedding weekend.

The moment when you get to take a walk with someone you admire, and trust, and love.

When my big brother asked me to take a walk with him I was happy to oblige.

I enjoy his company and quite honestly I adore him.

But this walk was more than that.

We talked about both of our hearing impairments.

We talked about the fact that 4 us (siblings) have our/a hearing loss.

We shared what our journeys have been like.

He shared with me that when he was young, and he would lay down to go to sleep, he would roll over on his good ear and voila, the world quieted down.

We talked about how I do not have a good ear, which is why my hearing loss was missed by so many.

We talked about the fact that we can both hear voices, but not tones. And not all voices well. So we both utilized lip reading our whole lives.

It was the first time I have spoken at length, about our hearing loss, with a family member who is like me. It was so good to talk to someone who understands my world so well.

And we talked about how I overcame my circumstances.

Ok, truth be told, my brother talked about that.

At that point, I soaked up all of his words, knowing right then and there, that I would reflect on these words he was saying to me for the rest of my life.

He shared with me how proud he is of me.

You see, he has lived my journey.

The only difference is that my loss was in both ears.

I never got to hear the difference between my left and my right ear.

He reminisced that years before this, he and my sister would share with each other their experiences, never knowing their baby sister was also in their club.

This journey has been very emotional. So many memories from my past have popped up over the last three months. So many pieces of the puzzle have come together.

This weekend, while celebrating the union of two beautiful souls, more pieces of the puzzle came together.

Family is who you are.

That connection to family is priceless.

And indeed, weddings have a way of reminding you how very blessed you are to be a part of a family that loves and cares about you!

They have a way of bringing families together, and while they celebrate the lovely couple, they also celebrate the love of all in attendance.

It is almost magical!

I am grateful to be the youngest of NINE beautiful caring siblings. Surrounded by the love of many incredible, kind, and compassionate nieces and nephews.  And finally the recipient of love from a mom who loves all of her children and grand children so much!

Family is who you are indeed!

Congratulations Matthew and Caitlin!

Cheers to many many happy and adventuresome years!

And to quote a favorite group of artists, "All you need is Love is all you need!"