HLM Cover Feature: Lynn Rousseau

9 05 2011

The May/June 2011 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), is hot off the press! This month’s “cover girl” is my dear friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau. I first met Lynn in October 2008 in Denver, Colorado, when we both received a Focus on People Award from Oticon, a leading hearing aid manufacturer. Barbara Kelley, Deputy Executive Director of HLAA and editor of Hearing Loss Magazine, secretly nominated me for the award. Oticon flew all the winners (and a guest) to Denver for the ceremony, and I wrote about that amazing experience (thanks again, Barbara!) on my blog here.

Lynn and I hit it off instantly and talked for hours that weekend. She was very funny, sweet and a great listener. Last year I told her that she needed to share her life story with the hearing loss community. She has led quite a colorful and creative life, so I knew she would have great photos to illustrate the article. She didn’t fail me with the visuals—she mailed a big bag of newspaper clippings and photos collected from a lifetime of dancing, performing and modeling. It was hard to decide which ones to use first! I had the pleasure of photographing Lynn for the cover when we met up at the 2010 HLAA Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last June. Lynn confessed that while she didn’t think she was a writer, she would do her best to repeat some of the stories she shared with me when we first met. I enlisted the help of my father, Hershel M. Dyer, as editor (thanks, Dad!). He crafted a beautiful article from Lynn’s notes and stream-of-consciousness prose. You can read more of his work on his blog at www.thekingoftexas.wordpress.com.

Lynn’s love of dance and performing garnered her several “15 minutes of fame” moments—in her teens she was just one of three girls chosen to perform every Saturday on the Rick Shaw Show and the Saturday Hop Show in Miami. She performed at legendary Miami Beach hotels and her first television show was with Paul Revere & the Raiders, Simon & Garfunkel and Neil Diamond. She also had a small part on the big screen in Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason, had the opportunity to dance with the June Taylor dancers, and was an extra on the movie, Doc Hollywood, with Michael J. Fox.

In this month’s feature article, she shares both the sad and funny moments in her life concerning hearing loss, introduces us to her incredibly supportive family (husband Joel, three children, and eight grandchildren), and reveals her diagnosis of and subsequent recovery from breast cancer in 2008. On this month’s cover I wrote Lynn Rousseau: Fearless, Persistent, Resilient. Lynn is all those things and I’m thrilled that readers will get to know a little more about her colorful life. My father has always told me that I march to the tune of a different drummer. Lynn most certainly does, too, (sometimes literally!) and I am so proud to call her my friend. To read the entire article, click to download the pdf file here: Lynn Rousseau





Awards acceptance speech, October ’08

28 11 2009

Today I’ve been in spring cleaning mode (yet again). I’ve also been cleaning up my computer desktop and triple-backing up important files. I just came across this acceptance speech I wrote last year. In August 2008, Barbara Kelley, editor of Hearing Loss Magazine, began interviewing me for what she said was an article that would highlight professionals with hearing loss. I had no idea she was actually filling out a nomination form for a contest!

In early October 2008, just a few weeks before the awards event, I received notice that I was the winner in the Adult Category in Oticon’s annual “Focus on People” awards event! Oticon paid for flights for both me and Michael and provided beautiful accommodations at The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center in Englewood, Colorado, just outside of Denver. Winners received $1,000 each, plus $1,000 to be dedicated to the charity of their choice. Pretty exciting! You can read more about the big event in my posting here. Below is the speech that I delivered at the ceremony.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

MY HEARING LOSS
Not only do I design, produce, and photograph for the Hearing Loss Magazine—I, too, have a hearing loss. I lost my hearing suddenly at age two, and with medical intervention, most of it was restored. To this day, we’re unsure of what happened. When I was seven, I got my first hearing aid. It was clunky and I disliked being different from my classmates, so I refused to wear it. In 1993 I lost all the hearing very suddenly in my right ear, and exploratory surgery revealed that scar tissue had caused the eardrum to collapse. The exploratory surgery did not restore my hearing, so I decided to try an aid again, some 30 years after my first hearing aid experience.

HEARING AGAIN!
That experience was, so to speak, ear-opening! I hadn’t realized the world was so incredibly loud. My new life with a hearing aid had its funny moments. Walking up the stairs in our townhouse, with Michael right behind me, I stopped suddenly and asked him, “Do you hear that noise? What is it?” In the most loving way possible, he said, “Hon, those are your knees popping.” I was mortified! He laments my new acute hearing because he can no longer collect the loose change I drop, unheard, to the floor.

In the beginning, the TV volume was set so low when I controlled the remote that Michael couldn’t hear! I could hear soft noises such as my cat’s purr and water running in the sink and birds chirping through closed windows. There are many events I wish I could relive with a hearing aid now that I know what I have missed.

FACIAL PARALYSIS
Five years ago, my life was upended. During a routine checkup, a new ENT discovered a cholesteatoma in my deaf ear. I hadn’t had any symptoms, so I had no idea how long it had been there. In my routine quest for knowledge, I did some online research, and learned that 1% of patients experience facial paralysis during this type of surgery. I wasn’t concerned. One percent is pretty low odds. I had surgery two weeks later. Unfortunately, I was one of those 1% patients. The entire right side of my face was paralyzed. I was so devastated. I couldn’t smile and my right eye wouldn’t fully close. Because of my surgeon’s aftercare regarding the paralysis, I consulted with Dr. John Niparko at Johns Hopkins just five weeks later. After alarming nerve testing results, I was scheduled for surgery the next afternoon to determine if the nerve had been cut. Fortunately, it had not been cut, but there was some repair work done. I am perennially grateful to Dr. Niparko for his skilled hands, concern, warmth, and kindness. Here I stand, five years later, more than halfway down the road to healing with a renewed sense of hope.

HEARING LOSS MAGAZINE
About three years ago, a client forwarded a job opportunity to me. Without telling me who the client was, she wrote, “this job is perfect for you in so many ways. You should go for it.”

Barbara Kelley, editor of the Hearing Loss Magazine, was looking for a replacement designer. In the end, I believe the scales tipped in my favor partly because of my personal experience with hearing loss. She felt I would bring more than just design skills to the job. My hearing loss actually became an asset in my professional life. Imagine that!

As a result, I’ve met so many interesting people who thrive despite their hearing loss. I’ve photographed a ballerina in The Nutcracker, an incoming Gallaudet University president, a local county singer, and last month I was at Redskins Park photographing football player Reed Doughty, who just revealed his hearing loss this summer.

I’ve also met many HLAA members, such as our May/June cover girl, Abbie Cranmer, through our respective blogs. And there have been so many unexpected perks from the job as well. Barbara introduced me to HLAA member Mike Royer and his family, who appeared on our Walk4Hearing cover this spring. I had the privilege of photographing the birth of Mike and Alicia’s third child, Ashley Jocelyn, just last month. And recently I was offered the opportunity to photograph HLAA member Wayne Roorda’s cochlear implant surgery in November.

This magazine has morphed into more than I could have imagined. I have been challenged creatively and technically. And I have discovered I have a passionate desire to change, through my design and photography, the sometimes negative perception of people with hearing loss.

I have never let my hearing loss define me. It is part of my makeup but it is just a tiny part of who I am. And if I can inspire someone else with hearing loss to overcome their self-esteem issues and find their place in the world, then that’s just another reward from this amazing job.

THANK YOU
Thank you to Barbara Kelley and Brenda Battat for letting me run wild with my creativity and opening doors to a community of wonderful people who just happen to have hearing loss. I offer profound thanks to Barbara for her glowing nomination. And thank you to both Sara Coulter and Oticon, for your generosity, your hospitality, and for honoring me with this award.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Oticon’s Focus on People 2008 first place winners with Peer Lauritsen, President of Oticon (fourth from left): Todd Landsberg, AuD of Eugene Speech and Hearing Center in Eugene, OR (Practitioner Category); Doug Wernke, M Ed of the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Rapid City, SD (Pediatric Practitioner Category); Cindy Dyer of Alexandria, VA (Adult Category); Peer Lauritsen; Lynn Rousseau of Gainesville, FL (Advocacy Category); and Mariella Paulino of the Bronx, NY (Student Category)





The Ferret Inn

16 11 2008

Yesterday Michael and I drove up to Columbia, Maryland, to meet Nancy Wilson, who operates The Ferret Inn. The Ferret Inn Rescue & Shelter was one of five non-profit animal organizations that will receive a portion of the charitable contribution I was awarded by Oticon last month in Denver. Oticon is a leading hearing aid manufacturer and I won a Focus on People award in the adult category in this year’s awards program. Learn more about the 2008 Focus on People awards event from my posting here and see Oticon’s recent press release here. Barbara Kelley nominated me for the award. Barbara is the editor of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Our most recent cover feature was Reed Doughty of the Washington Redskins.

I have chosen to donate my charitable contribution from Oticon to several animal-focused groups in honor of my very dear and greatly missed friend, George Hope Ledbetter, who passed away a year ago this November 9. George loved animals (as does his wife, Carmen) and I wanted to do something special to honor his memory. The other designees are Gene Baur’s Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York; Happy Tonics, Inc. in Shell Lake, Wisconsin; Wild Bunch Wildlife Rehabilitation, in Alexandria, Virginia; and Frisky’s Wildlife and Primate Sanctuary in Woodstock, Maryland. I shot the photograph below of George, with his beloved cocker spaniel, Angus, just after George retired from the Air Force.georgeangus1

Since The Ferret Inn is only about an hour away, I called Nancy to ask if I could present the check in person and see her operation. Michael and I had eight ferrets from about 1992-2004 and although we are ferret-less now, they still hold a special place in our hearts. On the way to Columbia we stopped at Petco to pick up some ferret treats, a hammock and some toys as an extra donation.

Nancy and her husband, Tom, operate the shelter and currently take care of 60 ferrets (down from 80!). They had a recent influx of 21 ferrets who arrived via a research facility. Two have since found their “forever homes.” In the first photo below, Nancy is surrounded by some of those ferrets.

The Ferret Inn has a staff of devoted volunteers to tend to these wonderful little critters. Nancy’s cat, Joey, competed for our attention and served as a sentry for this business of ferrets. (Did you know that a group of ferrets is called a “business” of ferrets?).

Michael named our first ferret Bandit—because of the mask around his eyes. If you know anything about ferrets, naming a masked ferret “Bandit” is about as generic and unoriginal as you can get. We did get better with names as time went by, though. One of our most rambunctious ferrets was named “Pogo Diablo”—translated as “Jumping Devil.” And that he most certainly was. Our ferret names, in order of acquisition, were: Bandit, Silver (another unoriginal name, silver is the name for a particular ferret coloring), Missy, Callie Jo, Ben, Pogo Diablo, Jessie Bell, and Ginger (yet another name for a particular ferret coloring). Jessie Bell and Ginger were adoptees from the Alexandria Animal Shelter. The shelter presently has six beautiful ferrets up for adoption here.

The cages at The Ferret Inn were labeled with fun names such as Napster, Jezebel, Peaches & Herb, Snickers, Jackie-O, Hunny, Cotton, Kitty & Kat, Shark (ferrets are commonly called “carpet sharks”), Bonnie & Clyde, Isis, Calypso, and Thelma & Louise (one of which is featured below, pulling her stuffed toy into a crinkle tube). Thelma & Louise were rescued from a “ferret mill” in Ohio, just two of more than 600 that were rescued and placed in rescue shelters across the country! Nancy’s ferrets are clearly well-loved, happy and healthy. Click here to see other ferrets up for adoption at The Ferret Inn.

The Ferret Inn is an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit and has been in operation since 1999. They specialize in ferret rescue, placement and boarding. Since their inception, they have placed approximately 900 ferrets. If you want to learn more about ferrets or might consider adopting one (or two!), call Nancy at 410/531-4936 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. EST, or e-mail ferretpassion@verizon.net. There is an adoption application available for download here. The Ferret Inn also has ongoing opportunities for volunteers—click here for details.

Can’t adopt right now? Then consider donating to The Ferret Inn! Donations help offset high veterinary costs and keep the ferrets healthy and happy until they find their “forever homes.” Every little bit counts. The Ferret Inn takes donations via credit cards and through PayPal on their website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ferretinncollage





Getting my ducks in a row

29 10 2008

Okay, I know these are geese…but the expression isn’t “getting your geese in a row,” so I’m taking liberties here…simply because I can.

This weekend Michael and I were in Denver (actually, Englewood) for an awards ceremony held Saturday at The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center. I was nominated for a “Focus on People” award by my Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley. There were five categories: Student, Adults, Advocate, Practitioner, and Pediatric Practitioner. I learned a little over two weeks ago that I was the grand prize winner in the Adult category. What an honor and a complete surprise!

Barbara interviewed me several months ago under the guise of writing an article about professionals with hearing loss. Little did I know she was actually filling out the nomination form for this award. I had received a package from Oticon earlier in the week and didn’t open it immediately since I thought it was just a copy of their already-in-place ad for the magazine we were ready to send to print. I felt the package, noted that it didn’t have a CD case in it, and assumed it was an ad insertion order. It sat on the coffee table for two days before Barbara suggested that I open it. That’s when the whirlwind began.

Before I knew it, we were booking reservations to attend the ceremony—airfare and accommodations courtesy of Oticon, the sponsor of the awards program. The Oticon representatives and staff were incredibly gracious, hospitable, and generous. I was a bit overwhelmed by the attention but happily soaking it in anyway.

Oticon was founded in 1904 in Denmark by Hans Demant, whose wife was hearing impaired. Oticon’s headquarters is in Denmark, with the U.S. headquarters in Somerset, New Jersey. Oticon produces many types of advanced digital hearing aids, some with artificial intelligence.

Friday night we attended a reception and dinner where I met Oticon’s PR person, Sara Coulter, who did a wonderful job of organizing the event and made us feel so welcome. The awards luncheon was Saturday at noon. We were each asked to give a brief acceptance speech, and although I am by nature not a shy person, I was incredibly nervous—embarassingly so. And, of course, I was first to give my acceptance speech (Murphy’s Law, you know). I had spent a couple of hours writing the speech the night before, rehearsing it to my audience of one (Michael), and having him time it over and over again so it didn’t turn into a recitation of War and Peace.

Despite all the rehearsal, I was a trembling bag of nerves at the podium. So when I mention I was a bit overwhelmed, that’s actually an understatement. Add the common fear of public speaking to the honor of the award in the first place, Barbara being so kind to nominate me, all the attention being showered, and being designated to go first—surely you have a recipe for potential disaster! I started out nervous and calmed down (if only a bit) as the clock ticked. I was followed by four very eloquent and moving speeches from my fellow award winners. I only wish I hadn’t been so nervous. Afterward, I thought of all the things I wish I had said. Isn’t that always the case? Do-over, do-over!

Each winner will receive $1,000 cash prize and Oticon will also donate $1,000 to the charity of our choice. All that and airfare, accommodations and wonderful meals! Without a doubt, this past weekend was an amazing one for my this-is-your-life book. I’ll post a photo shortly of all the award winners with the president of Oticon, Peer Lauritsen. Thank you, Barbara, for nominating me. And thank you, Oticon, for recognizing my work and honoring me with this award.

The photos below were shot just outside the hotel, near the golf course, after we had lunch in Baca, one of themed restaurants at The Inverness. Click here to view their video on how to make churros! The Inverness is a beautiful hotel with an excellent staff and it was such a treat to spend the weekend there. We rented a car late Saturday afternoon and spent the evening in downtown Denver, where we perused two of the three Tattered Cover Bookstores (Colfax Avenue and LoDo locations), and had dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory. On Sunday we drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park, where we were giddy with excitement over the abundance of wildlife to photograph. We spent Monday morning stalking various Lepidoptera at the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster before catching a flight back to D.C. in the evening.

Stay tuned for photos from our field trips!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.