Anniversary

23 07 2020
Dad & My Hands
Today is the first anniversary of my father’s passing (7.22.2019). I captured this shot of me holding his hand a few days before. Dad wasn’t much for hand holding or physical affection, and he probably would have been irritated had he been aware that we were holding vigil for him by his bedside. He was asleep when my sister Kelley and I arrived at hospice that Friday. He never woke up during the next four days, so we did what families usually do—cry, laugh, and tell stories. I read some entries to him from his blog. He was a gifted writer and took a lot of pride in his essays.

In the photo, I’m wearing one of mom’s gold rings. I never take it off. It has five tiny diamonds set into a gold band that crosses another band. I like to think she bought it because each diamond represents the five members of our little family. I have been surprised at just how comforting it is to wear it and then in the same moment, I am made painfully aware that it is no longer gracing her hands. It is just one of many rings she wore faithfully, earning my father’s lifelong nickname for her—Diamond Lil.

That spring, I gathered my favorite essays from his blog and my sister Debbie printed them out and created a binder for him. I presented it to him on a field trip to his favorite place—the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville, Texas. His sweet friend Patty and my sweet high school friend Tom accompanied us that day. Dad and Patty sat in the backseat, holding hands, and perusing the binder. My dad, who never rode with me without admonishing something to do with my driving, said nothing. He was content with Miss Patty and happy to be out of his assisted living facility. At lunch, I told Patty that this was the first time ever that he didn’t criticize my driving, so she must be a good influence on him. Dad just smiled.

A few days later I visited, and even with his failing memory, he brought up that trip and said he really enjoyed it. I fervently had hoped that we would have many more days like that, but that was not to be. I asked him if he wanted me to read a few of his blog posts out loud. I read a couple of my favorites, and with a surprised look, he asked, “I wrote that?” He had been diagnosed with vascular dementia a few years earlier and the blog was a distant memory for him, as were many other things, including my name. I could still see glimpses of my sometimes ornery, often witty father. I missed the existential conversations we had through the years. I missed calling him when I wanted his sound advice or feedback on something happening in my life. He was my sounding board on so many things in my life. He was my go-to guy. Got a problem? I’ll call dad. He’ll know just what to do. He’ll tell me to weigh the pros and cons. He will help me assemble the disjointed puzzle I’ve created out of my life at any given juncture.

Our conversations were very limited once the dementia took away much of his ability to form complete sentences. I could see his frustration in conversing, and I often tried to help him finish a sentence. Sometimes he appreciated the effort, other times there was that familiar look of irritation. No matter. I found patience that I didn’t know I had during those times. I always left there sad, though. Helpless. Sad for his struggle with his thoughts. Sad that he sometimes didn’t know why he wasn’t home, but knowing he was right where he needed to be. I worried a lot. I worried just as he did with mom when she was ill.

Then he found someone to love—Miss Patty. His first three months living in a very nice assisted living apartment were full of angst and anger, railing against his daughters for “putting him there.” He wanted to go home. Then he met Patty. We had met Patty earlier at an Alzheimer’s Support Group meeting, so we recognized her immediately when he introduced us to her. She is so much like our mother—soft-spoken, patient, and kind. She tempered him when he was upset. When he would tell her he wanted to go home, she would remind him that he was home, and that they lived in a really nice place and were well taken care of—and aren’t we the luckiest? She would tell him what wonderful daughters he had, and eventually he came to agree (much to our delight). He was no longer angry with us. Patty had given him a reason to stay. We thought we had longer with him…that he had longer.

He was my rock. My go-to guy. My road trip buddy. He was the ultimate cheerleader on the sidelines. He was smart, witty, and well-educated. We shared a never-ending love of books and art. He could also be very, very difficult. And it was often unpredictable. But even in the most difficult of times, from childhood to now, I felt loved. I always felt loved.

He told me that when I was born, despite the doctor turning me around three times, I came into the world feet first, setting the example for my life as an artist. When he told the story, he finished with, “It figures. You’re still marching to the beat of your own drum.” That was a really nice way of saying that I’m stubborn. I came by it honestly—he was, too.

He was endlessly supportive of my creative abilities, fostering them with guidance, supplies, and art lessons. With his prodding, I started drawing in kindergarten, painting in junior high, and photojournalism in high school. When my teacher asked if anyone could photograph a game for the yearbook, I cajoled my dad into letting me borrow his Yashica 35mm and off I went, instructed by him to not lose it, break it, or put it down. This was my first experience with a 35mm camera, and when the contact sheets came in, it was crystal clear he would never get it back. I started Dyer Photography in our paneled den in Donna, Texas, while I was still in high school, shooting portraits and parties, and after graduation, I moved on to wedding and quinceaneras.

Naturally, I decided to major in art when I entered college, but my practical and wise father asked me how I would make a living as an artist; there began the switch from fine art to graphic design. My career started with winning first prize for a jeans pocket design, and progressed to designing retail window displays that paid mostly in clothes and shoes. Before long, however, I was doing portrait and wedding photography again (and earning real money to my dad’s delight), then fashion illustration, graphic design, layout, copy writing, and creating newspaper and radio ads.

As I wrote earlier, my dad was a gifted writer. When my mom was dealing with ovarian cancer (over 11 years), I knew he needed an outlet because he often couldn’t sleep. He was worried about her. I introduced him to the world of blogging, and once he got started, he was off and running. My friend Debbi gave me a handmade illustrated book as a gift one Christmas. It was in honor of me creating the Runnymeade Garden Club. I was deemed the Head Weed, and my members were the Weedettes. The storybook cast me as Princess of Runnymeade, and my mom and dad were the King and Queen of Texas. Dad was delighted to claim that title, and it instantly became the title of his blog. He began it in March 2009 and wrote until early December 2013. Perhaps his memory loss began around that time, and that’s why he wouldn’t continue or lost interest. I’ll never really know.

My mother passed in November 2010. Dad was lost without her. He was the best caregiver all those years. He said he wanted his “job” back. He was lost without a purpose. After she passed, those years leading up to his dementia diagnosis were often difficult. He was depressed. He pushed us away so many times. We didn’t understand. We hung on, because that’s what families do. That’s what mom would have wanted us to do.

In the last few years, the erratic behavior wasn’t explainable until it was—dementia. Time to reframe our assessments. Redirect our anger, and sadness, and disappointment. He needed us, even if he didn’t think so.

I miss his cheerleading. I miss his insight and advice. I miss his fun comments on my blog postings. I miss being able to call him to tell him about something exciting happening in my life. I miss going to Half Price Books with him. I even miss the stream of consciousness jokes, even the unsavory ones.

I am so grateful to my sisters for making hard decisions, for being there when I couldn’t. I am so grateful to our friend William for being his caregiver after his diagnosis. and most of all, being his friend. We knew dad was safe with him in his life, watching over him. In the end, we all know we did the right thing for dad. We did it all with love. And I do believe he had the happiest last year of his life. He was well cared for. He was safe. He was surrounded by friends. He was loved. He had someone to love. In the end, that’s all that matters.

I love you, dad. Give mom a hug for me.




Dad

20 06 2020

My friend and neighbor, Rebecca, just colorized a photo of my dad that I had posted yesterday on FB. I told her I work in PS daily and haven’t ever had the opportunity to do colorization like this. She did a beautiful job. Thanks, Rebecca!

This is my father (center, staring intently at his beer) when he was in the Air Force. He entered very young (barely 17), and I imagine he was maybe 20 years old in this photo. I see my resemblance to him a lot in this photo.

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Winter’s coming: Download the winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine free!

31 10 2017

The winter issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is still available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue. The first links is for single-page viewing (perfect for printing off your favorite recipe!); the second link is set up for “reader spreads,” so you can see the magazine in spread format (my favorite!).

Thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

You can order a print-on-demand copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

Click here to view on issuu.com.

On the cover: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, award-winning Impressionist painter from San Antonio, Texas

CHM Winter 2013 FInal Cover

In this issue:

FEATHER YOUR NEST
Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

HOME
Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes, the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

FAMILY
Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

THE ARTIST
Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

HOW-TO
Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

PETS
How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup

Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

THE CREATIVE LIFE
Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

THE COLLECTOR
Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

CRAFT
Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

PERSPECTIVES
What Home Means to Me

 





Re-post: Celebrate Home Magazine, fall issue

4 09 2017

In 2012, Barbara Kelley and I launched Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication. Visit our website at www.celebratehomemagazine.com. We published four issues (fall 2012, winter 2013, spring 2013 and summer 2013).

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.





The Pawlowski family

13 05 2014

I photographed the Pawlowski family for the cover of the May/June 2014 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of American (HLAA). From left, Alex, Katherine, Megan (mom), Nicholas, Sebastian (dad), and Elizabeth. Eight-year-old Katherine is HLAA’s first Walk4Hearing Ambassador.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MayJune2014cover

 





Re-post: The (not so) Orphaned Images Project: Kindergarten graduation day

27 01 2014

From kindergarten through fourth grade I lived in San Antonio on 155 Farrell Drive in a little white ranch style house. My dad closed in our tiny carport to make a den (and did the same thing in the next house) so we would have more room. Our front porch was long and narrow, flanked by a low brick flower bed full of deep purple Wandering Jew plants.

cindykindergartenDirectly across the street lived “Aunt Opal.” I’m not sure why we called her “Aunt,” because she wasn’t a relative to any of us in the class or on Farrell Drive. She operated a kindergarten out of her home and had 11 kids enrolled when I attended. She, along with my father, were the first two people to encourage me to draw when they saw my creative potential. I remember one of my first drawing assignments was to draw a rose using colored pencils. Aunt Opal showed us how to draw the petals with a series of crescent moon shapes grouped together. I think I still have that drawing somewhere—temporarily misplaced in a safe place completely unknown to even me, of that I’m sure.

Above is my class graduation photo. I’m in the front row, second from the left, with my mouth hanging open. I certainly don’t look like the brightest of her students, but I’d truly like to believe I was. (Girls in front—as it should be!)

Aunt Opal wore June Cleaver-like, flowered dresses in polished cotton, accessorized with a single strand of pearls, big pearl button earrings, and dark cat-eye glasses. She had perfectly coiffed hair, sparkling blue eyes and looked a bit like the TV character Hazel. She always drank Tab after school was let out for the day. I know this because I shared one with her on more than one occasion while waiting for my mother to come home from work to walk me from school across the street to our house. Ah, my first diet cola—let’s blame Aunt Opal for our affinity for them now, shall we?

After driving by that house a few years ago, I blogged about 155 Farrell Drive in “Pressed between the pages of my mind,” here. You can read about how my younger sister and I staged pool parties in our back yard, sold lemonade to neighbor children and how I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was eight years old. That same plant-filled brick flower bed was where one Valentine’s Day, my classmate Darren dropped off a box of chocolate for me, rang the doorbell, then ran away. I’ve been scaring boys away ever since!

I was taken back to that time again recently when I came across the two photos below in a dresser drawer in my parent’s guest room. Now you get to see that Aunt Opal was just as I had described her—perfect coif, polished pearls, sensible pumps and all. Below that photo, I’m on our front porch in front of the flower box, proudly holding my first diploma.

Want to learn more about The Orphaned Images Project? Learn about the origin of the project here. Visit the site at  http://orphanedimages.wordpress.com/





Sole to Soul

17 10 2013

Hayleigh in pinkI met and photographed Hayleigh (left) and her lovely family in D.C. at HLAA Convention 2011. Hayleigh started her business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, making hearing aid and cochlear implant ear “charms” and the whole family is involved in her venture. You can learn more about Hayleigh and her thriving business in my blog post here.

Please consider donating to their Sole to Soul fundraising campaign! Their goal is to raise $30,000 to buy 1200 pairs of shoes for children in Kenya whose school/dormitory recently burned down, forcing them to return to their homes in the slums of Kenya. They have raised $5,000 so far from babysitting, bake sales and other fundraising efforts. They plan to purchase the shoes in Kenya to support the local economy and will hand deliver them to the children in need.

And while you’re at it, send out a prayer and good thoughts of continued healing for Hayleigh, who is in the hospital in critical but stable condition.





Jackson, the mischievous cherub

13 08 2013

Jackson is my cousin Diane’s grandson; he was quite the photogenic subject with his many expressions; photographed at the big McLean-Pridgen Family Reunion in June down in Georgia (my mother’s side of the family)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Jackon 2-up





Payton Diantha McLean

11 08 2013

Introducing Payton Diantha McLean, daughter of my second cousin, Ashley, and his wife, Amber. Ashley is my first cousin Lamar’s son. Lamar’s father, Charles, is my mother’s younger brother. (Got all that?) Payton just turned one year old recently and is my third cousin (and quite photogenic!). I photographed everyone at the big family reunion in Broxton, Georgia, at the end of June. More photos of Payton (and other reunion shots) to come…

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Payton in Zebra Outfit





Family Reunion: Deanna and Lamar

7 07 2013

Deanna and Lamar are my first cousins (their father is my mother’s younger brother, Charles)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Deanna and Lamar lorez





Family Reunion: Kaci and Macie

5 07 2013

Meet my niece, Macie (9), and her newfound 3rd cousin, Kaci (also 9). I just loved watching the kids play at the reunion this past weekend in Broxton, Georgia. They would just run up to each other, exchange a few words (probably their names and “how old are you?”) and then run off together to play. Too bad we make things more complicated as we get older, huh?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Kaci Maci 1





In the studio: Angela and Annabella

27 05 2013

I photographed my friend Jeff, his girlfriend Angela, and her daughter Annabella this morning in my studio and outdoors. For the studio shots, I used my Westcott Spiderlites as well as two strobes with the Lastolite Hilite background. I’ll have more images to show later but wanted to share a few sneak previews.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

AngelaAnabella 1 lorez





Hearing Loss Magazine, May/June 2013 issue

21 05 2013

The Bozzone family graces the cover of the May/June 2013 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which is published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Jason and his wife, Melissa, have three children. Their youngest child, Madeline, has a hearing loss. In this issue of the magazine, Melissa writes about Madeline in “Our Party of Five: Madeline’s Story.” Julie Fisher, the Walk4Hearing Program Assistant, interviewed Jason for this issue as well. I photographed the Bozzone family at a Pennsylvania Walk4Hearing event last fall.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

HLM_MayJune_2013_Cover

Also in this issue:

National Sponsors Create Awareness for Walk4Hearing
2013 sponsor Noreen Gibbens explains why she supports the Walk4Hearing.

The Countdown is On
Nancy Macklin builds excitement for Convention 2013 in Portland, Oregon.

Closed Captioning Frustrations—How to Get Some Help
Carol Studenmund explains how consumers can help improve the quality of captioning on TV.

Can You Hear Me Now? Maximizing Your Hearing on the Phone
Audiologist Brad Ingrao offers technical tips and communications strategies for using the phone.

Seen & Heard
HLAA member Teri Wathen is this issue’s profile.

Advocacy, One Person at a Time
Lise Hamlin, HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, outlines how the organization advocates for public policy and federal regulations, as well as for the rights on more personal levels

Hooked on Bionics
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and in honor of the event, world-renowned puzzle creator George Barany creates a doozie for our readers.

Hearing Loss: My Secondary Disability
Osteogensis Imperfecta is a rare genetic condition. Adding hearing loss to that could mean a lot of frustration and insurmountable challenges, but, not for author Rosemarie Kasper.

New in Print: Shouting Won’t Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can’t Hear You
Janet McKenna reviewed Katherine Bouton’s new book.





Family photos: Aunt Lorene

26 04 2013

My dad just shared this striking photo with me. It was posted by a family member on Facebook recently. This lovely model is my Aunt Lorene, one of his three older sisters. She was the last to pass away of his siblings (Larry, Jesse and Dot preceded her in death). In her teen years, she worked in a garment factory. Here, she modeled for a photographer in Eupora, Mississippi. I always thought she was pretty (she had robin’s egg blue eyes with flecks of gold), but hadn’t seen photos of her as a young woman until a few years ago. No wonder she inspired that photographer!

Aunt Lorene





Scenes from a wedding: Shelly and Matt 3.16.2013

9 04 2013

Here are a few shots of the bridal party, family groups and happy couple shots after the ceremony. We timed everything to be able to take advantage of the sunset when it came to doing the solo shots of Shelly and Matt. Perfect timing!—with very special thanks to one of Shelly’s brothers (a videographer and film maker) for moving things along by efficiently organizing the groups. How about that sunset over Huntsville?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ShellyMattCollage4





Spring 2013 Celebrate Home Magazine: Artist-in-Residence

4 04 2013

Camilla and Jim Houghton’s laid-back Florida home is featured in the spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, now available for FREE download in the links below. Read my interview, “Artist-in-Residence,” starting on page 12 of this issue.

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

Photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ArtistInResidence





Spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine now available for digital download!

4 04 2013

The spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue.

This issue is jam-packed (and there’s even a jam-making feature!), so download today and get started reading.

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Spring 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Spring 2013 Spreads

Order a print copy (at cost, plus shipping): http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/540569

You can also view it on issuu.com here.

On the cover: What says “spring” more than colorful tulips? I was photographing this bed of flowers and was standing on the edge of the wall when this little girl, clad in a princess skirt with sparkly shoes, came running around the corner. I got this one shot and she was gone. Serendipity!

CHM Spring 2013 cover





In the studio: Bon Appétit! Images from the winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine

13 02 2013

I’m learning food photography by the seat of my pants…and hope to keep improving! The images in the collage below were all shot for our winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, a quarterly magazine published by me and my publishing partner, Barbara Kelley.

Check out the three food-related features in our new issue: A Wintertime Dessert Party (Recipes by Barbara Garneau Kelley), Bowls of Comfort (Recipes by Bobby Garneau, Gay White, Michael Schwehr and Karen Byer-Storch), and Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook (Recipes by Margaret Barker and family)

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

You can order a print copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Winter Food Shots





Winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine now available for digital download!

11 02 2013

The winter 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue. The first links is for single-page viewing (perfect for printing off your favorite recipe!); the second link is set up for “reader spreads,” so you can see the magazine in spread format (my favorite!).

The more clicks we get, the better we do with promoting and getting advertising! We thank you for your support.

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

You can order a print copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

Click here to view on issuu.com.

On the cover: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, award-winning Impressionist painter from San Antonio, Texas

CHM Winter 2013 FInal Cover

In this issue:

FEATHER YOUR NEST
Winter-inspired lovelies for you and your home.

HOME
Delicious Pops of Color
Easy on the eyes, the Hedstrom house takes advantage of light-filled views with clean lines and engaging color.

FAMILY
Living the Fairy Tale: To Quit or Not to Quit?
Mothers share their struggles with jobs and families.

FOOD & ENTERTAINING
Bowls of Comfort
Take the chill out of winter with our filling soup recipes!

A Wintertime Dessert Party
Pair wine and desserts for elegant and easy entertaining.

Green Chicken: Creating a Family Heirloom Cookbook
Create a cookbook that cherishes family recipes.

The Many Seasons of Beer
Beer aficionado Jefferson Evans explores the world of seasonal brews.

THE ARTIST
Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist Painter
Always proud of her Colombian and Mexican roots, this artist’s passion is reflected in her colorful work.

HOW-TO
Winter Photography Indoors
Stay indoors to photograph nature this winter.

PETS
How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Choosing the Family Pup

Think you’re ready to add a furry friend to your family? Here are some things to consider.

THE CREATIVE LIFE
Every Picture Tells a Story
Discover five tips for decorating your walls with original art.

THE COLLECTOR
Bejeweled: Camilla Houghton’s Unique Ring Collection
What started as a gift exchange between two sisters expanded into a beloved collection of rings.

CRAFT
Ring Bling Box
Give your rings a new home with our easy craft project.

PERSPECTIVES
What Home Means to Me

 





Debbie

25 01 2013

Portrait of my sister, Debbie

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Deboo Blog





Portraits

15 01 2013

A few months ago I donated a framed botanical image to a school auction and was offered a free full page b&w ad for their catalog. After combing my portrait archives, I’ve realized that I’ve done a LOT of portraits in my lifetime. I love doing portraits as much as I love photographing gardens, flowers and insects! I’m working on a separate website for my photography and will be launching it in a few months. There will be a separate section just for portraits. These are just a few of the many faces I’ve captured in pixels over the past few years.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

CD Auction Ad





The Evolution of Zac La Fratta

6 01 2013

HLAA member Zac La Fratta is on the cover of the first issue of 2013 of Hearing Loss Magazine, which is published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Zac wrote the cover feature for the January/February issue.

I was first introduced to Zac at his second HLAA convention (and my first) in Nashville, TN, in June 2009. Zac was in town this past November for meetings at the HLAA headquarters in Bethesda, MD, so we set up his cover photo session in and around the office.

Zac La Fratta joined HLAA five years ago and was appointed to the Board of Trustees in June 2010. He currently serves as the secretary and is a member of the executive and strategic planning committees. As a young adult serving on the board, Zac represents the voices of young adults with hearing loss. He formerly was vice president for the HLA-Boulder (CO) Chapter and as president/founder of the HLA-Washington, D.C. Chapter. He is also the moderator for HearingLossNation, an online community for young adults with hearing loss. (A link for that online community can be found on http://www.hearingloss.org.)

Zac Blog Shot

Hearing Loss Magazine pitched Zac a few questions and topics to comment on and he took the ball and ran. Here’s what Zac has to say about his hearing loss and changing careers mid-stream. All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Start at the beginning.

I was born in Denver, Colorado, on February 3, 1976. Mom checked into the hospital on a warm sunny day and checked out on a cold snowy day. I spent my childhood years in Dallas and went to high school in Lynchburg, Virginia. I have also been able to call Iowa, New York, Georgia, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., home, throughout my life.

I am the second of six awesome children—four brothers and two sisters. All but two still live in Virginia, the others in Alabama and Colorado. My extended family is gigantic and I have lost track of the growing count of cousins, nephews, and nieces. Any type of reunion that takes place, big or small, is considered the party of the year.

Describe your hearing loss.

I have a stable bilateral, normal steeply sloping to profound sensorineural hearing loss acquired from exposure to bacterial meningitis at eight months of age. It is not clear whether meningitis or the ototoxic medications I received for treatment contributed to the hearing loss, but I consider myself extremely lucky that the hearing loss was the only negative outcome.

My first spoken words (according to dad) were “hold me” after persistent, unsuccessful requests to be held through gestures and crying. Sign language was actually my first language before I started talking around three years of age. After leaving a pre-school that promoted total communication, spoken language became my primary mode of communication. I once again started learning sign language shortly after I began embracing my hearing loss in my late twenties. I sign at a proficient skill level conversationally and in the audiology clinic.

My hearing loss has always been underestimated, perhaps because I received intensive speech therapy. Also, I never sought accommodations in high school or college. I’m not saying this was a good thing not to use accommodations, it’s just a fact. So, I always chuckle when audiologists are shocked and astonished after reviewing my audiogram.

Do you wear hearing aids or use assistive listening technologies?

I wore hearing aids for the first decade of my life before “putting them in the drawer” for nearly 20 years. I now proudly wear hearing aids after accepting my hearing loss. I’m currently in conversations of possibly pursuing a cochlear implant. I wear high-end, high-powered, behind-the-ear hearing aids with the receiver in the canal that uses a size-312 battery. This particular hearing aid is already two model-generations old! Being an audiology student has its fun privileges in that I get to try different hearing aid technologies. They really are quite different from one another as is each person’s hearing loss.

I use different assistive listening devices that use the telecoil features in a variety of situations. For watching television, listening to music, and talking on a cell phone, I take advantage of the SurfLink streaming feature that comes with my hearing aids. I occasionally use FM technology if it is readily available in large group settings. I heavily rely on closed-captioning technology. In fact, my family and friends automatically turn the closed-captioning on for me, and some even leave it on permanently. I recall my first closed-caption decoder box my parents got me for Christmas one year. It was one of the most memorable gifts I have ever received. I also won’t attend a movie showing unless some form of captioning is available.

TOC Zac La FrattaWhat was it like growing up with hearing loss?

Growing up with a hearing loss has been a roller coaster ride for me, manifesting throughout different phases in my life. I have experienced a range of emotions—embarrassment, confusion, anger, fear, depression, acceptance, and finally, peace.

I often wanted to forget I had a hearing loss, but with constant reminders from family, friends, and strangers, not to mention my own struggles, I could not escape reality. I would frequently be asked the same question along the lines of: “How can you hear on the phone?” “Are you Australian?” “Can you read their lips?” “Do you sign?” and on and on.

Tell us about going to school with a hearing loss.

I received early intervention services through The Callier Center at The University of Texas at Dallas and was mainstreamed in both private and public schools.

I have vivid memories at Callier of happily clanging bells with dozens of other children with hearing loss, to what was supposed to be the “Jingle Bells” tune. The proud parents in the audience merrily sang along as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I have many other good memories from my time at Callier. However, I do recall, even at this pre-school age, my gut feeling that something was off, especially when I was instructed to wear uncomfortably loud devices on my ears.

To my parents’ horror, I reacted by flushing those expensive devices down the toilet. This event was the beginning of my resistance to wear hearing aids and my resolve to be “normal.” As hard as I tried, there was no escaping my hearing loss as it presented various inevitable challenges throughout my life. I had my share of bullies and academic struggles during grade school. Although the bullies never went away, my academic struggles dissolved after receiving appropriate intervention in public school settings, even after I discontinued wearing hearing aids in junior high school.

Professions—past and present

In my determination to be a successful, normal person, I managed to get through college and enter the software consulting industry without any accommodations. I spent a decade in the IT industry as a business analyst working with Fortune 500 companies.

I felt accomplished and had success in this industry; however, I no longer had the passion or drive to maintain the intensity required to keep up with the demands of the job description. Much of my role consisted of client interviews, managing meetings, and handling conference calls, all of which are a nightmare for the person with a hearing loss, especially without the use of assistive listening technologies or other accommodations.

I came to the realization that I had reached my peak and landed on a plateau in terms of fulfilling dreams and ambitions. I knew instinctively that in order for me to grow and move forward, I had to acknowledge my hearing loss and be comfortable and willing to ask for help.

However, I admit, by this time I was burned out and ready for a new career that inspired me, yet I didn’t want unnecessary hardship. I know it’s unrealistic that a new career wouldn’t bring challenges but this is the way I felt at the time. I needed a break from the day-to-day hassle of communicating on the job.

So…what happened next?

In 2007, my audiologist in Colorado asked me to interview with NBC’s Colorado & Company to share my experiences wearing new hearing aids for the first time in nearly two decades. (Remember, I denied my hearing loss and didn’t wear them.) There was an audiologist on the set and to my pleasant surprise, he also had a hearing loss and wore hearing aids. I was inspired learning about his journey.

The light bulb went off immediately and I knew a career in audiology was my calling. The following year, I was a registered full-time student at Colorado University at Boulder to fulfill the prerequisites required to enter an audiology program. At the time, it made perfect sense for me to pursue audiology as a profession. Having a hearing loss myself, I wanted to find new ways to contribute to the community of people with hearing loss. I was interested in working with children with hearing loss and their parents. I also had a burning desire to understand my own hearing loss from a clinical view and obtain the best resources available to make my life easier.

I am completing my clinical doctorate studies at Gallaudet University’s audiology program and will graduate in August 2013. Meanwhile, I am completing my externship (a.k.a. “residency”) at the audiology clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital. I also serve as an audiology LEND Fellow with the JFK Partners program in Colorado to continue my training with pediatric audiology through various multi-disciplinary models.

I’ve completed clinical audiology rotations in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area at an ENT private practice, Children’s National Medical Center, and The River School. I am also proud to work with several programs at the Marion Downs Hearing Center in Colorado, including Campus Connections, Building Communication Bridges, Infant Hearing Screening Program, and Teen Day. In addition, I had the privilege of teaching the Peer Mentoring Certification Training Program at Gallaudet University for two years.

Describe a typical day in your externship.

I am fortunate to be completing my externship at the University of Colorado Hospital because it provides a great, all-around experience. In addition to working with audiology’s bread and butter—administering hearing tests and working with amplification technologies with a diverse population—I also work with balance testing, cochlear implants, and infant hearing screenings. My favorite part of my externship experience is counseling. From my personal experience, I can connect with many of my clients, especially parents of children with hearing loss.

Zac Outdoors LargeWhat (or who) do you think contributed to where you are today?

I have a supporting cast who believes in me, instills in me the confidence and courage to be the best I can be, and above all, loves me. I can’t underestimate the power of my family, mentors, and friends when it came to encouragement and support.

After having worked with parents in the audiology clinic, I discovered that I took for granted the challenges my own parents experienced to ensure I lived a great and normal life. I am forever grateful for how they raised me, taught me independence, and always provided a sense of belonging. They did an amazing job even with limited educational resources for kids with hearing loss.

My brothers and sisters also are a big part of who I am. They provided the social inclusion and unconditional love I needed during my childhood. They showed me how to be creative and silly. We had fun growing up and they created a safe haven for me to be myself. Since I am second to the oldest, I babysat my siblings on a regular basis, and it was always fun to create games and activities to keep them entertained. My brothers and sisters intuitively understood my hearing loss, oftentimes sacrificing their own needs for mine. They accepted that my hearing loss was a part of who I am and accommodating me was part of our family’s daily routine.

I am lucky to have the quality of friends I have made over the years. I didn’t have an abundance of friends growing up, but the ones I made were compassionate and trustworthy. As a kid, I latched onto friends who had similar interests and didn’t get bored doing the same things over and over (boxcars, Transformers, and G.I. Joe’s!). Eventually, we grew out of toys and took on sports.

Like my family, my friends never let my hearing loss interfere with our friendship. My friends might never have fully understood my hearing loss, but they always had my back. There were even practical jokes at the expense of my hearing loss but I knew I was accepted as one of the gang.

A favorite story was on a Halloween night. We were dressed in fun costumes and enjoying ourselves. One of my friends, known for his one-liners, got everyone hooked on over-enunciating one particular line from a movie throughout the night—“What the problem is?” (A line void of good grammatical form so it was hard to grasp.)

The problem was I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what they were saying all night. I finally had the courage to ask, “Are you saying ‘hippopotamus?’” And with that for the remainder of the night, “hippopotamus” was the new one-liner.

My mentors—a few teachers and speech-language pathologists—were pivotal in how I connected and fit in with mainstream society. We spent countless hours working on my speech and academic skills, as well as boosting my self-esteem. To this day, I have been unsuccessful in tracking them down to show my appreciation to all they have contributed. (If by some miracle you are reading this, I thank you!)

There is no one who understands me and my hearing loss as well as my girlfriend, Maureen Shader, whom I affectionately call Mo. More importantly, there is no one who has as much patience in regard to my hearing loss as she does. It amazes me the sacrifices she has made over the past few years to contribute to our powerful and fulfilling relationship. Mo does it all! It is the little things like her continuing efforts to face me when she speaks, constantly carrying hearing aid batteries in her purse, sitting quietly with boredom in the car while I drive (driving poses a large obstacle to lipreading), and giving up our time together while I put time into advocacy projects for those with hearing loss.

Without question, Mo is my biggest supporter and advocate. It certainly helps that she is also an audiology student and is proficient in sign language. We have a running joke that all that is missing is for her to have a hearing loss too. I thought I was destined to have a relationship with a woman with a hearing loss, someone who could walk in my shoes. In reality, I could not be more grateful that Mo doesn’t have a hearing loss. I admit it is nice to have a good set of ears around. As it should be, our different levels of hearing doesn’t matter. It’s about the person and the values you have in common, not the hearing loss. But it does help that she understands.

Hey Zac, did you have anything to do with you?

While all the important people in my life have been a solid foundation, okay, I’ll give myself a little bit of credit. Early in my life, I spent much of my time playing soccer and tennis since it was an easy way to escape from all of my struggles. My parents understood how important this was for me, so mom became a soccer mom and dad was my biggest fan. Winning and stardom on the playing field made me feel good about myself, so naturally I was determined to win off the field too, just so I could feel normal and accepted.

My family and friends can attest to this, I became fiercely competitive in everything I did, which I now know was annoying and exhausting for those close to me. But this tactic was my survival card, getting me through school, bullies, and feeling vulnerable. After college, this behavior became less and less effective and useful in my life. It is not a coincidence that after accepting my hearing loss, I discovered that this trait was unhealthy, so I began to channel my competitiveness in a productive manner in everything I do. I am able to use this new tool to accomplish things that benefit the community and society and are important for myself to feel like I’m making a contribution.

Tell us more about how you think people see you.

The consensus among my family and friends is that they often forget that I have a hearing loss. I honestly don’t believe that is true, rather they are fully aware but do not perceive my hearing loss as a disadvantage or a disability for me since they simply do not find themselves needing to compromise their own lives to accommodate me. However, they can recall quite a few occasions where they’ve advocated for me, remembered funny stories related to my hearing loss, or are reminded of events pertaining to my hearing loss.

When I am socializing, people often ask my friends or family members why I speak the way I do, why I am standoffish, why I frequently need repetition, or simply say “what’s up with the hearing aids?” Occasionally, people who are aware about hearing loss (through their own family members, friends, or co-workers) will inquire about my hearing loss.

My family always shares that they are inspired by how I’ve handled my many adversities—such as educational and social challenges. One of my brothers reflected that after having gone through middle and high school himself, which he considers one of the more difficult challenges of life, is left inspired that I was able to work through the same challenges in addition to having a hearing loss.

One of my sisters believes that I compensate for my hearing loss with a sixth-sense, or super-hero ability. She reflects that this trait equates to my determination to excel, especially when faced with challenges.

The family also has tons of fun with my hearing loss too. Long ago, audiologists told my dad that I have some residual low-frequency hearing, so he brilliantly exaggerates a low voice when he calls my name. My family and friends think it is hilarious, but it works! The whole family loves home signs, particularly “bathroom,” “stop,” and “hurry.” My family also never lets me forget how I have funny ways of saying words like “ridiculous” and “scissors” or how I am constantly mixing up idioms.

Tell us about getting involved with HLAA.

When I made the decision (and yes, it was a decision) in 2004 to accept my hearing loss, I went all out by launching “Deaf-inite Entertainment”—a fund-raising project to raise awareness among the hearing loss community. It was an exciting project that raised funds to provide a free open-captioned showing of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the local theater and to donate to the Starkey Hearing Foundation.

During this project, I met many wonderful people with hearing loss, including Debbie Mohney from the HLA-Boulder (CO) Chapter. Debbie planted the seed for me to join the chapter because she knew it was an opportunity for me to expand my role in the community of people with hearing loss.

Her patience and persistence paid off when she convinced me to attend my first chapter meeting in 2007. Debbie wasn’t kidding that I’d benefit from joining this chapter, because a few months later I attended my first HLAA Convention in Reno in 2008 thanks to a scholarship the HLA-Boulder Chapter awarded me. It was at this convention that I met a small group of young adults with hearing loss for the first time. I had never been in the presence of so many people my age with a hearing loss!

To say I haven’t looked back since then is an understatement. I always was a happy person, compensating for my hearing loss in the most competitive ways. But it wasn’t until I accepted my hearing loss—even embraced it as I like to describe my experience—that I began to understand the significance it’s had on my life.

Moving forward, there are a lot of things to do in both my personal and professional life. First on the list is to find ways to get more young adults with hearing loss involved in HLAA. Read on about the 100 Portland initiative. I hope to see you in Portland, Oregon, this June for HLAA Convention 2013.

Zac La Fratta lives in Denver, Colorado. In addition to his studies and the 100 Portland project, he enjoys playing tennis, dining out with his girlfriend, traveling to new places, and spending time with friends and family. He recently discovered the joys of cooking and experimenting with different recipes. You can e-mail him at zachary.lafratta@gmail.com.

Also in this issue: Zac La Fratta debuts 100 Portland, an initiative to attract young adults, ages 18-35, with hearing loss to come to HLAA Convention 2013 in Portland, Oregon, this June; audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, A Rose by Any Other Name: PSAPs vs. Hearing Aids, takes a close-up look at hearing devices advertised on TV and in magazines; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, shares highlights for the upcoming Convention 2013; Stephen O. Frazier and Sally Schwartz discuss induction loop technology in their article, The Often-Neglected Neck Loop; audiologist Mark Ross reveals why simply giving a person who is elderly a hearing aid doesn’t always get to the heart of the matter of not hearing well in his article, Older People with Hearing Loss: Aural Rehabilitation Might be More Necessary than Ever; Sally Edwards writes about how life doesn’t always go as planned, especially when a hearing loss interrupts those plans, in Labors of Love; and HLAA member and Reeses Peanut Butter Cup lover Gary Trompower is profiled in Seen & Heard.

KNOW SOMEONE WITH HEARING LOSS? Give them a gift membership to the Hearing Loss Association of America. Visit www.hearingloss.org for more information.

 





P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm, Part 7

21 12 2012

Above the brown and white bedroom is the top floor, which houses the sleeping and lounge areas for P. Allen Smith’s nieces and nephews. A bright pink and white checkered runner welcomes you up to the sitting area (my apologies for that noisy image but it was all I got with my iPhone!). Across from the lounge are four twin beds and a full bath. Two dormer window nooks offer beautiful views of the Arkansas River Valley.

KidsBedroom





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2012 Recap

28 11 2012

The last issue in 2012 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes last week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services to HLAA. Here is a recap of the issues published in 2012.

Tina and Tom Hamblin were the cover feature for the January/February 2012 issue. Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue (recapped here). Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

I first met Tina and Tom when they arrived for their engagement photo session at my favorite location to shoot, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA in spring 2011. After we did our portraits around the garden, Tom started doing cartwheels (he’s a gymnastics coach) and I captured him in full motion—making it the first time I’ve ever photographed someone doing anything gymnastic. I captured him in his wedding finery doing some handstands and cartwheels on his wedding day as well! My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland.

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. The title of their article, “Taking the plunge,” refers to both the turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage. You can find Tina blog’s here and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog here. Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao focused on the best practices for hearing assessment and hearing aid fitting in Getting it Right the First Time: Best Practices in Hearing Aid Fitting; Gael Hannon showed us a practical look at information that would be helpful to those who have hearing loss in What the Professionals Should Tell Us; Michael Ann Bower discussed what people with hearing loss can do to avoid the misdiagnosis of dementia when hearing loss is the issue in Hearing Loss and Dementia; and Barbara Kelley interviewed young jazz singer Mandy Harvey in Musically Inclined.

The March/April issue featured the host city for the upcoming Convention 2012—Providence, Rhode Island. HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, presented a comprehensive guide to the upcoming convention in this issue.

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao discussed cochlear implants in Plugged in for Sound: Cochlear Implants Today; Scott Bally outlined the Five Most Effective Speechreading Strategies; Renowned audiologist Mark Ross talked about hi HealthInnovations Hearing Aid Dispensing Program; Meredith Low, a pro at planning and making sure that the communication environment is arranged so she can enjoy the party as much as her guests, offered great tips in Welcome! Easy Entertaining for People with Hearing Loss; Pamela Selker Rak shared her experiences with hearing loss in Lost in Translation: How a “Lost and Found” Friendship Opened My Eyes to Hearing Loss; Lise Hamlin focused on HLAA’s efforts in Advocacy: A Few Hot Issues, and HLAA member Netegene Fitzpatrick crafted a special Word Search puzzle for her fellow members to solve.

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, was the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue. In his article, Einhorn wrote about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. You can read excerpts on my blog post here. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard in March 2012. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film.

Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world. It has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. You can learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Also in this issue: Barbara Kelley interviewed Richard Einhorn to learn more about his work and future projects; Therese Walden, president of the American Academy on Audiology, discussed the UnitedHealthcare® hi HealthInnovations hearing device benefit program in Self-Diagnosis, Self-Treatment: The Wave of the Future?; Brad Ingrao wrote about water-resistant hearing aids and cochlear implants in Jump Right In! Water-Resistant Hearing Technology; Lise Hamlin revisited the Americans with Disabilities Act 22 years later in Accessible Design for People with Hearing Loss; and Yoona Ha revealed the special bond with her grandmother in My Six-Million-Dollar Grandmother.

Laurie Pullins was the cover feature for the July/August 2012 issue. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip. It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara that we entice Laurie to write for the magazine. I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. See Laurie’s feature on my blog post here or download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Also in this issue: Brad Ingrao helps you understand your hearing loss and what you need to hear better in Beyond the Beeps: Needs Assessments and Outcome Measures; Lisa and Des Brownlie shared their experiences of their babies born with hearing loss in Two Children, Two Hearing Losses; Sam Trychin discussed research that has uncovered information about another built-in, inherited type of pain that also has survival value—social pain—in Hearing Loss and Social Pain; Lisa Tseng of hi HealthInnovations shows the company’s model for how to reach those who need hearing help in Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reveaks her personal experiences resulting from the fruits of HLAA’s labor in Newborn Hearing Screening: A Success Story; and Viola LaBounty expresses her improved hearing loss through her poem, Digital Technology: My World Alive.

Melissa Puleo Adams, a former San Diego Chargers cheerleader, was our cover feature for the September/October 2012 issue. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph Melissa when she was visiting her family here in Virginia in May. The title of her feature, Sixth Time’s a Charm, is in reference to her trying out six times to be a Charger Girl cheerleader. She persevered despite the rejections and made it on the sixth try. Her fellow Charger Girls were very supportive of her and her hearing loss. Melissa owns her own web and graphic design firm in California. You can see her web design work hereCover photo © Cindy Dyer  (Read Melissa’s full feature in my blog post here.)

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao provided an in-depth look at three alternative hearing systems in Middle Ear Implants and Bone Conduction Hearing Devices; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, revealed highlights in her Convention 2012 Wrap-up; Susan Clutterbuck wrote about the results of the EARtrak survey and if they reveal whether or not consumers’ opinions are being heard by their hearing health care providers in Improving Health Care—Make Your Voice Heard!; Ronnie Adler shared great stores about how Walk4Hearing Funds are put to good use in local communities in Rewarding Great Ideas—The Benefits of the Walk4Hearing; and Scott J. Bally showed how NVRC is changing lives in the community in NVRC: A Model Community Center Improving Communication.

Marisa Sarto was the cover feature for the November/December 2012 issue. I met Marisa in Providence, R.I. this past June during HLAA Convention 2012. I was going to profile her for our Seen & Heard column but after learning about her photo book project, we decided to make her autobiographical story a main feature for the magazine. I photographed her one afternoon in a park near the hotel. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Marisa’s inspiration for her book-in-progress, Hear Nor There: Images of an Invisible Disability, came from her experiences as a woman growing up with a hearing loss that made her feel self-conscious and set apart from others. The project will be a documentary monograph, showcasing photographs and stories of individuals of varying ages, ethnicities and genders and their challenges of living with a hearing loss. Learn more about the project on her website here and sample images and narratives here. Download and read her feature article here: Marisa Sarto Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, Better Hearing, Better Health, explored the relationship between hearing loss and health-related quality of life; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, showed us why It’s Time to Head West! with her Convention 2013 Sneak Preview; Hayleigh Scott, owner of Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, and Netegene Fitzpatrick proved there isn’t a generation gap among people with hearing loss in their feature, A Unlikely Friendship; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reported good news in Shopping for Phones; long-time HLAA member Vern Thayer explained why he is Lucky that he discovered HLAA in 1983; and HLAA members George Kosovich and Marisa Sarto were both profiled in Seen & Heard.

 





Celebrate Home Magazine now available on www.issuu.com!

10 10 2012

Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for viewing on http://www.issuu.com! You’ll love the page-turnable interface and downloads are FREE. You can even control the zoom in and out features! Check it out here:

http://issuu.com/celebratehomemag/docs/celebratehomemagfall2012

Help us get those numbers up by downloading your free copy now. Every click helps us grow the magazine, ensuring more issues for you to read in the future. Help us spread the word!





The Lady of the Lake in Celebrate Home Magazine

3 10 2012

In mid-July I photographed a beautiful log home on the shores of Lake Anna in Virginia. I haven’t done a lot of architectural-type photography, so I knew this would be a challenge. Heeding the advice of my long-time photography mentor, Brian Loflin, I put my camera on a tripod and used really slow shutter speeds to utilize just the ambient light available in each room. I added the human element by having homeowner Marion move through the frame, creating a blur of activity. She serves as a kind of apparition, reinforcing the mythic role of “the lady of the lake.”

You can read Barbara Kelley’s feature about the Fonti family’s beautiful log home by clicking the link below to download a pdf designed for two-page spread viewing (best viewing, especially for her feature).

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single-page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A labor of love: Celebrate Home Magazine is born!

2 10 2012

The Fall 2012 Celebrate Home Magazine debuts today on the first day of October with the mantra of “making the ordinary extraordinary.”

Published quarterly, Celebrate Home Magazine focuses on family, food, entertaining, gardening, art, crafts, hobbies, personal expression, hospitality, pets, decorating, communities and neighborhoods.

The time has come for a magazine like this—highlighting ordinary people doing extraordinary things. No matter your budget, your skills or the size of your space, we’ll enthusiastically share experiences of those who nurture the space they call home. Let us inspire you!

I’ve teamed up with the talented and renowned Barbara Kelley, whose editorial expertise has graced Hearing Loss Magazine for more than 20 years. She brings her passion for hospitality and her publishing experience to this brand new publication! We are both passionate about all things home and welcome you to open the door and come on in. We also welcome you to be contributors. This magazine is for you and about you.

Click the link below to download a two-page spread pdf of the magazine:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Spreads

Click the link below to download a pdf designed for single page printing:

CelebrateHomeMagFall2012 Pages

Want to order a print copy of Celebrate Home Magazine? Click here, then sign up for a free magcloud.com account. You can download the FREE pdf or purchase a print copy on this link.

 

 

Would you like to be a contributing author or photographer? Please e-mail writing and/or photography samples and links to websites with your work to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

Do you have an original recipe you’d like to share? Please e-mail your recipes to bkelley@celebratehomemag.com.

We can come to you! Are you having a party or special event at your home or an activity that relates to the subject of home? Contact us to discuss your idea. If it fits the editorial scope of Celebrate Home Magazine, we may photograph your event and write the story.

Do you have a product or service? If you would like to advertise your product, service, or your city/town/region, contact advertising@celebratehomemag.com.

Check it out and celebrate home with us!





The Orphaned Images Project: Petticoat Junction, anyone?

12 08 2012

Scribbled in pencil on the back of this photo:

Luella Devo and me, Jesse and Adelaide Devoe on the silo

With just a few seconds of research, beginning with the fact that two of the women in this photo are likely sisters—Adelaide and Luella—I found a grave marker that indicates Adelaide Delphine DeVoe was born October 15, 1890 and died May 3, 1984. Her younger sister, Luella Adella DeVoe, was born two years later on October 24, 1892 and died April 15, 1957. They are buried in the Parfreyville Cemetery, Section 12, Dayton Township, Waupaca County, Wisconsin.

Adelaide was 93 when she passed away at Bethany Home. She lived in Waupaca for 60 years and worked for 30 years in the laundry at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home (WVH). She had two brothers, Claude and Floyd. I can’t find any indication that she or her sister ever married or had a family.

There is very little information on the link for Luella’s gravestone. I did learn that in 1941 she was the “head laundress” of the WVH-King Laundry. Ed Fosgate was the head laundry man and there was a total of 12 employees in the Laundry. They handled 7,567 pounds per week with 3,300 of this being sheets. There were 641 members in the WVH.

I did find their father, Charles DeVoe. He was born in Rennessalier County, NY on June 26, 1855. When he was six, he moved with his parents to Fond Du Lac, WI. In 1890 he married Amanda Chapel. They had seven children (one died in infancy). They moved to Janesville and then to Oshkosh.

From the Waushara County Obituaries: Left to mourn his loss are his wife, four sons, Harley, Lloyd, Claude and Floyd, and two daughters, Adelade and Luella, all of Oshkosh, and two brothers, Henry and Willard of Etna, Washington. He died July 29, 1922, at the age of 67 years, 1 month and 3 days at the home of his niece, Mr. Ora Wing. He was sick only a few hours.

Research is fun even if these aren’t my family members! It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, made easier by someone’s cursive writing on the back of an old photo.

Double-click on the photo to see more detail. Learn more about The Orphaned Images Project on my site dedicated to this project here.





The Orphaned Images Project: Class Picture Day

12 08 2012

I realize that these young students were probably told to remain motionless while their class photo was taken, but there is not one happy face in the bunch, is there? The writing at the bottom of the photo reads “Estella” (with an arrow pointing to the young girl that is seated fifth from the left), below that reads “Gobbelsville, Indiana.” The name “Berlia” is written with an arrow pointed to the child seated second from right. Berlia sounds like a girl’s name, but girls didn’t wear pants back in those days.

I did a search for “Gobbelsville” and there aren’t any results on Google. There is a town by the name of “Gobelsville,” though—an unincorporated town in Clear Creek Township, Huntington County, Indiana.

Double-click on the photo to see more detail. Learn more about The Orphaned Images Project on my site dedicated to this project here.





Laurie Pullins: Dances with Sounds

17 07 2012

Laurie Pullins is the “cover girl” for the July/August 2012 issue of the Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

Here’s how Laurie came to be the latest HLAA member to grace the magazine’s cover. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip.

It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara Kelley that we entice Laurie to write a feature article for the magazine. Barbara is the editor of the magazine and HLAA’s deputy executive director (she is a Sneezeguard Heiress as well—check out her hospitality blog here). I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it.

She was here about three days and in addition to getting some beautiful shots of her at a local park and in my studio, she was able to do the tourist thing, too. Michael and I took her to the Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon Memorial and we did quite a bit of drive-by sightseeing as well. Laurie is an avid photographer and a fellow Nikonian. We had such a great time during her visit and she was on pins and needles with excitement about keeping it a secret, especially to her friend Jennifer Thorpe, whom she sees every month when Jen comes to her city to work. Even Jen didn’t know about it until the issue was released!

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I consider her a very dear friend now. I appreciate her support of my work and am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. Much love for and appreciation of you, Laurie!

Below is Laurie’s feature in its entirety or you can download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Dances with Sounds by Laurie D. Pullins

We enter this world with nothing and leave it with nothing. In between there is a “dance” called life. What we do with that dance defines who we are and how we embrace the world around us.

It’s 11:34 a.m. and I see the rain falling on the pavement outside. I’m enamored by the glitter of each raindrop as it splatters in the puddles between the uneven blocks of sidewalk; I’m compelled to go outside and play. As I dance in the puddles, weaving through the trees lining the sidewalk, I catch a glimpse of a small cat pouncing through the grass and I am again compelled to follow after it.

It is springtime in 1959 and as a small child collecting rain and grass all over my tiny, wet feet, I couldn’t be happier. Living in a small town in upstate New York, there is not much to hear on a daily basis, with only a grocery store and a post office as the main businesses of the town. I am like a sponge soaking up the new information being presented to me and I don’t even realize that I am missing the noise of my surroundings, until I take an unexpected path and darted across the street, barely being missed by an oncoming car. My mother, Betty, calls out to me and I simply do not respond. Here begins my “Dance with Sound…”

EARLY YEARS
I was the first child for my parents and was full of mischief and was often disobedient. By the time I was 18 months old they became uneasy about my lack of speech but did not connect it with hearing loss. Even though I was not verbalizing like other children my age, I was highly observant and always seemed to notice things first before anyone else did.

My severe-to-profound hearing loss was diagnosed at the age of two, shortly after the “running across the street after the cat” incident. My parents were told that I was deaf—not completely so, but to a degree that I would probably never learn to speak normally or understand spoken language without a great deal of therapy and training. Their dreams were shattered and they were deeply distressed and discouraged when they heard the words “bilateral,” “congenital,” “sensorineural.” It was suggested that I could be sent to an institution for the deaf where I would learn sign language as a means of communication. This choice usually meant that children sent there never learned to talk and communicate normally.

Shortly after meeting with an audiologist and psychologist at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, they were encouraged because I still had some residual hearing and had been responding to training and voice stimuli. With extensive effort and training I could possibly be mainstreamed into the hearing world. From that moment on, they were focused on guiding me through the long and difficult process of learning to communicate verbally.

They were naively optimistic and unaware about the challenges that were ahead but they persevered. They knew they did not want me to be trapped in a world of silence. It was unconventional in the late 1950s and early 60s to teach children who were hard of hearing or deaf to speak.

I began therapy three times a week after my hearing loss diagnosis. I was fitted with my first hearing aid, which was a bulky body aid that I wore on my chest. After the birth of my brother, we moved from New York to Ohio. I continued with speech therapy three days a week at the Speech & Hearing Center in Derby Hall at Ohio State University until I started public school. There was no organized program for deaf children but I was fortunate to have enthusiastic therapists.

My father credits my mother, a teacher, for ensuring my speech and hearing training and spending hours on end with me. She enrolled in the John Tracy Correspondence course at home and got a special packet each month. This program gave many practical suggestions and encouragement and answered many questions. We would sit at the kitchen table every day going through the scrapbook that she made with various words and matching pictures cut out of magazines and catalogs.

At the age of five, I entered the deaf program in the Columbus public school system for kindergarten. My first teacher was Mrs. Card, who was the wife of the director of Deaf Education. I vividly remember sitting on her lap in front of a mirror with my hand on her throat, trying to imitate and form the sounds and words that she was making. I was reading at the third grade level by the time I entered first grade because I had to learn to read in order to learn to speak. I was mainstreamed in the public school systems from first grade on and had speech therapy through the eighth grade.

FAMILY LIFE
I had the privilege to grow up in a loving home. My family included my parents, Ed and Betty Royer, my two brothers, Dan and Doug (who was later diagnosed with a hearing loss), my sister, Kathy, two sets of grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins who did everything within their power, no matter what the sacrifice was, to include me in the hearing world that was so familiar to them. They were great “therapy” for me! (The Royer family, from left, back: Kathy, Doug and Laurie; left, front: Danny, mother Betty and father Ed)

Still, the challenge of growing up as a child with a hearing loss in a hearing world was overwhelming and frustrating for me at times. I didn’t fit in the hearing world. I didn’t fit in the deaf world either because I did not know any sign language. I was fortunate to have good, understanding teachers. I even had a science teacher who shaved his mustache so I could read his lips!

As a teenager in the 60s and 70s, life was hard. Peer pressure reared its ugly head and I felt isolated. I went to a large high school in Centerville, Ohio, with more than 550 students in my graduating class. I had very few friends because I “talked funny” and couldn’t hear very well. I contemplated suicide several times but worked through my issues with the help of my support system. I couldn’t use the phone and even if I wanted to communicate with someone, I had to do it by mail or in person.

I just wanted someone to listen to me and validate my feelings. I wanted to have a sense of belonging. Thankfully, I had a wonderful family. However, not every teenager has that in today’s world. It was a struggle to have a conversation in the dark or hang out with a group of friends when multiple people were speaking. I knew firsthand the frustration of trying to understand what people were saying when I could not read or see their lips.

I also knew what it was like to misunderstand others and be misunderstood. It was difficult to meet new people because they just did not understand or did not want to take the time to talk to me. I was often labeled as a snob because people did not understand that I did not hear them when they called out to me. I had a small circle of friends, but still felt lonely because I was not always included in their activities. I had a few boyfriends but was never invited to a high school dance or prom. I immersed myself in books and music. I took swimming lessons and joined a synchronized swimming team, took piano lessons, wrote poetry, took gymnastics, learned baton twirling, and was involved in my youth group at church and Girl Scouts. I also had several regular babysitting jobs in the neighborhood. Deep down in my heart I wanted to get married and have a family, but I did not think it was possible with a hearing loss. A part of my world was taken away from me because it was a common misconception of our society at that time that not being able to hear well would hinder me from having a normal life. I became good at bluffing and hiding my hearing loss.

COLLEGE AND MARRIED LIFE
After graduating from high school in 1975, I was determined to start a new life with new friends and new goals. As I entered college that fall with a full scholarship, my plan was to leave the past behind and focus on getting my college degree in accounting so that I could have a career, travel and be independent. There were no accommodations for students with hearing loss, so I had to work twice as hard to “get the message.”

The freshman classes had at least 150 students and were in large auditoriums, making it difficult to take notes and read lips at the same time. But, the best thing that happened to me that first year was meeting my husband, Steve Pullins, who was a senior at the time.

My hearing loss was never an issue for him and he was patient and kind (and still is!) dealing with it. My mother knew he was serious about our relationship when he built me a bookcase for my books as a Christmas present!

Steve and I were engaged the following spring and married in November 1976. Steve served as an officer in the U.S. Navy right out of college. We moved around quite a bit the first few years of our marriage. This made it difficult for me to continue with my college education. Every time we moved, I transferred my credits and enrolled in classes. After a professor told me that I needed psychological help because I could not understand her (another misconception), I dropped the class and put my college education on hold with a promise to my parents that I would return someday to finish my degree. (Left: Steve and Laurie on their wedding day, November 13, 1976)

IN THE WORKPLACE
In 1997, I decided to get a part-time job to help with our finances. It was a scary time for me because I had not worked with the public in a long time and knew that I faced many challenges. Among other things, I needed a position that did not require using the phone. I found a job working as a teller in a credit union. I had to ask customers to face me so I could read their lips. The staff and my co-workers were supportive and helped me when they could. This renewed my desire to return to school in my 40s. (Laurie with her siblings in 2006, from left—Doug, Kathy and Dan)

When I enrolled at the University of Tennessee the Office of Disability Services contacted me. They offered to provide sign language interpreters for my classes. When I told them that I was oral and did not sign, they told me that they had transcribers available. Two transcribers came to every single one of my classes with two computers. I had a computer in front of me and they had the other one. The transcribers used a special program and typed almost word for word everything that was said in class. I could read everything on the screen in front of me (and could sit anywhere in the classroom) and participate. After class, the transcript was saved in a file and e-mailed to me for my notes. I had the best notes. As an added bonus, at my graduation everything was transcribed for me (and others) on the Jumbotron in the stadium! I was glad I waited to return to college when I did because more than 25 years ago there were few resources available for people with hearing loss.

My mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in 1992, but I kept my promise and graduated from college in 2003. I wore her picture on my gown as I walked across the podium. Mom was always there for me. And she still is, in a way. I truly believe she is my guardian angel, watching over all of us.

A RICH FAMILY LIFE
Steve and I have been blessed with four beautiful children—Jason, Chris, Brad, and Marissa. My mother always commented that our children were good “therapy” for me because my days were filled with teaching them to talk and conversing with them. They learned to take their pacifiers out of their mouths so that I could read their lips. Our children learned to be my “ears” for me at a very young age. They were trained how to talk on the phone and had to learn telephone etiquette to relay messages for me. They learned some valuable coping skills since I did not always hear everything that was going on. (Left, Christmas 2011: (back) Steve, son Jason and grandson Jackson, sons Brad and Chris, daughter Marissa’s boyfriend Howy Moulton; (front) Laurie, daughter-in-laws Jessica and Caitlyn (holding Madelyn), daughter Marissa Pullins holding Wyatt Moulton. Photo © Sabrina Lafon Photography)

They are our greatest accomplishments and successful young adults who are sensitive to others who are “differently-abled.” Many other highlights of our marriage included moving nine times in twelve years with the Navy and living in six different states, career changes and raising our four children.

PAYING IT FORWARD
I believe we were fashioned for fellowship and formed for friendships. My definition of friendship can often be defined more lasting than a marriage and closer than a brother or sister. The most unlikely people can end up as friends and I feel that often has to do with where we are in life.

I’ve had some wonderful friendships over the years but since I came to terms with my hearing loss and started my cochlear implant journey, some of my closest friends are also on a hearing journey as well.

I joined HLAA in 2005 when I started losing what little bit of hearing I had and soon discovered that HLAA was a lifeline for others like I am who are affected by hearing loss. I would not be where I am in my life if it wasn’t for their encouragement, advocacy, information, and support. Not everyone has that type of support and that is where HLAA comes in at the national and local level. I have used the Internet as an opportunity to connect, meet and even mentor to others, including parents of deaf children. I am passionate about HLAA and it is no accident that I am in a position to “pay it forward” and help others with the challenges that they face every day. (Above: HLA of Knoxville Christmas party; Laurie is in the front row, far right.)

Someone asked me once that if I could name the one person who has made a difference in my life, who would it be and why. Although I’ve been blessed with many friends and supportive people, it would be my mother. She was a great advocate for me and my younger brother, Doug, and did everything in her power to help us be the successful people we are today. Because of her love and dedication, I can “pay it forward” and advocate for others with hearing loss. Mom is still very much a part of my life today.

WHY I DANCE
When I started my cochlear implant journey in 2005, I created a blog and named it “Laurie’s Dance with Sound.” Little did I know that I would embrace the world of dance in a brand new way six years later.

In January of 2011, Steve and I walked into the Let’s Dance Ballroom Dance Studio in our small town of Maryville, Tennessee, to explore ballroom dancing. We found a new passion that we could enjoy together as a couple in our new lives as empty nesters. Steve and I have been dancing the “dance of life,” so to speak, for the last 36 years and were looking forward to dancing together in a new and different way. After a few weeks of lessons, something stirred inside of me and I knew then that I needed more than just a few sessions a week. In addition to dancing with my husband, I started private lessons with our dance instructor to explore the world of ballroom dancing on a new and different level.

During one of my private dance lessons, Chris Rose, my dance instructor, asked me the question, “Why do you want to dance?” The question caught me off guard. I have pondered it ever since, searching for some better answers. As long as I can remember, music has always been a part of my life. Even though I could not hear well, it filled my heart with emotion and needed no words.

Victor Hugo describes it perfectly when he says, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.” When I wore my hearing aids, music was just “pretty noise.” I would play it as loud as I could so I could feel the beat and rhythm through the vibrations and sounds. Throughout the years, I have expressed music through many different forms, whether it was by playing the piano, ringing hand bells in church, dancing liturgically, signing to music, and even swimming on a synchronized swim team.

In August 2005, I underwent surgery for my first cochlear implant, and surgery for another cochlear implant followed in January 2007. These two surgeries changed my hearing and life dramatically. For the first time in my life, I was hearing sounds that I had never heard before, sounds others take for granted. I spent a year in auditory-verbal therapy relearning how to hear with my new “ears.” Now that I can hear almost perfectly with my cochlear implants—the sounds of music changed for me and became multi-dimensional with the variations of the different instruments and voices.

When I dance, I can leave the stressors of daily life outside the dance room door. I lose myself in the music and the dance. I cannot go more than a few days without music. And now I cannot go more than a few days without dance. I cannot find all the words to explain how I feel, but I do know that ballroom dancing has changed something deep inside me, and it is something that cannot be hidden or controlled.

When I dance, I feel a shift in my spirit and lose myself in the rhythm of the music on the dance floor. When I wear my dance “hat,” I only know that I am listening and responding to the music playing in my ear, and it makes me feel whole. Learning to ballroom dance has ignited a fervent passion and desire that I cannot deny. For when I dance, it is just the music and me.

Dancing lets me live a dream that I have always had. Ballroom dancing has allowed me to let my hair down and be free. It helps me release the tension and stress I encounter in my daily dance of life, keeping my body and brain active, and helping me with my mental health. I have Meniere’s disease, which is a disorder of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance, characterized by episodes of vertigo, dizziness, and occasional “drop attacks.” I am learning how to balance and control my body and have had fewer episodes since I started dancing! I am gaining more confidence and coordination in my body, which is resulting in a better posture and a more positive outlook on life.

My dance instructor and his colleagues at the dance studio know that they have given me a new lease on life. Their faith, belief and trust in me that I can dance in spite of my challenges speak volumes. Chris is so patient with me, yet firm with constructive criticism. Since I’ve started dancing, I’ve performed four different routines with my husband, Steve, or with Chris and have entered and placed in several local ballroom dance competitions. I am nervous right up to the time of each performance but as soon as the music starts, the butterflies in my stomach go away and I just dance.

What a wonderful feeling it is to show my joy, my emotions, and deep gratitude that I am able to do what I love as I move across the floor with my dance partner. I would not have done this without the miracle of sound through my cochlear implants, and especially without the support of my parents, family and friends.

My mother always encouraged me to use the gifts that I was given and NEVER gave up on me. She said in 1974, “From our standpoint it is worth it all. I feel that even with all the modern help now available, too many parents set their sights too low and give up too easily. As a result, many deaf children are not realizing their full potential.”

A CHANGED LIFE
It doesn’t take much for the tears to well up in my eyes and start flowing down my cheeks when I hear the joyous sounds of the birds, the wind in the trees, music, voices of my family, especially my grandchildren, to be able to hear and understand people around me without having to read lips, to be able to use the phone, and everything else with two “ears.”

I am a changed life. Changed because of the technology that allows me to dream again, to go back to college, speak, dance, mentor, and hear the world all around me. So many of us are afraid of the unknown and are afraid to leave our comfort zone to try new things. And we run away from it when the very thing we should do is to embrace the challenges before us. And when we do accept the gifts and talents that we are blessed with, we will come out on the other side, surprised and better than we were before.

So, my friends, dance the dance of life that you are given. You will never ever be the same again.

Laurie Pullins has been the president of the HLA Knoxville Chapter for five years. The Chapter recently participated in the Chattanooga Walk4Hearing and was the highest fundraising team. She can be reached at ldpullins@gmail.com. Her blog is http://lauriescidance.blogspot.com.