The Start of June 2016



“Green was the silence,

wet was the light,

the month of June trembled

like a butterfly.”
Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets



American Sign Language has hand shapes that represent English ABC’s.

I carved rubber stamps to make the letter A, C and L.

My friend is having a Deaf baby and her name requires that I need to also carve the letters: R, I, B, and E. Soon I will have the whole alphabet!

Burt’s Bees Ad: #LOVEYOURNATURE, “Silence”

pain let's the light in for all of us

I stumbled on, of all things, a lipstick ad that really speaks to this experience of adjusting to not singing in tune…and now occasionally right on task. I’ve never been a professional in music – but I dreamed of it as a girl. And, as far as coping with life goes, hitting all of the notes, especially in church, was a fail safe relief for almost all of my first forty some years. It wasn’t funny after a while when my kids had to break it to me that I was not just singing too loud in church, but I was way off key, more times than not. I rely on their honesty. But, it’s hard to explain how quickly I, for the most part, got over my fears about the fact that I may lose most of or all of my hearing at some point in time in my later life. Losing some or all of my ability to accurately hear music? That’s a tough one too, but this year I’ve learned to watch and listen and just enjoy. It’s less work anyway.

But, feeling left out, experiencing exile – it’s tough no matter how, or why, or for how long. It’s tough.

about exile.jpg

(photo credit: Beth A. Richardson – thanks Beth🙂 )

The closed captions are not totally accurate on the lipstick ad that I mentioned so here is a transcript. It is SO beautiful. You don’t have to be thinking about anything other than that life can be challenging to appreciate it – it just happens to also be about the Deaf experience and the joy of singing music in key.

Here is a link to the ad: #LOVEYOURNATURE “Silence”

Burt’s Bees “Silence” ad re: #LoveYourNature

Closed Caption Transcript

(Violin music)


In life you have a lot of barriers and you have two choices: you can allow yourself to stay stuck and do nothing, or you can find your way around and experience life.


I started performing when I was about four and I was always the singer, but I had problems with my hearing so, losing my hearing was always my biggest fear.


When I was in music school I started noticing that I couldn’t understand my teachers. Everything just got quieter and more muddled, and it was just….




it was gone.


I lost all of my dreams.


I lost everything that makes sense.


I could have stayed angry and fearful, but I made a choice to face my fears and find happiness again.

(musical tuning sounds)


I had to start small, so…I wanted to find the notes.

I started on a journey of feeling vibrations. Through the floor I could feel the drums. And, the bass, I can feel through my chest, and the high frequencies I can feel on my skin, my arms, my face.

(Mandy to accompanist) “I can’t tell if you are playing lower or just louder, so I just kind of want to look. (finger snaps, 1-2-3-4 followed by music). Pull back just a little.”


Before I was just terrified to actually sing in front of people, but losing my hearing was my biggest fear. So, now I don’t have that fear holding me back and I just enjoy singing.

Now I feel the music, like I am a part of it, even though I can’t hear it.


And….I love that about myself.”

Another Day

“My love is stronger than the winter you were frightened of…” ~Lucy Wainwright Roche



I hope that this summer offers time to write more about this – this thing of an enjoyable challenging winter. One that ended with finally getting a hearing device and yesterday, James Taylor and I singing in perfect harmony for the first time in what may have been years.

I would have been okay if I’d never hit those notes again.

More than okay.

That’s how happy with my full life and all of it’s changes.




Joan Chittister: “The Place in Which I Stand.”

walk paul

To be enlightened is to know that heaven is not “coming.”

Heaven is here.

We have simply not been able to realize that yet because, like King Arthur and his search for the Holy Grail, we look in all the wrong places, worship all the wrong idols,

get fixated on all the wrong notions of God.

We are always on our way to somewhere else when this place,

the place in which I stand,

wherever it is,

is the place of my procession into God,

the site of my union with the Life that gives Life.

~Joan Chittister, from “Illuminated Life”

My friend Ned put that in a Facebook message yesterday – and it’s awesome.

I don’t know about you but I started out this Lent with all kinds of plans – the kind that involved trying to figure out what I feel guilty about and a plan of action about how to make those wrongs right.

One of our local pastors gave a most dynamite Ash Wednesday sermon, complete with asking us to listen closely to “The Man in Mirror” by Michael Jackson and to come up with some Lenten activities that involve doing something that brings about social justice.

Well….I haven’t done that.

I’ve done a lot of reading. And a whole lot of thinking – particularly about audism (oppression from the hearing world toward the deaf world).

But….nope. The heavy hitting Lenten reads that I signed up for are still in my email inbox – but are dutifully flagged for another time.

My idea to give up TV and listen to music – not really a sacrifice – it was a trend that was already happening. Because of my hearing loss TV is more frustrating than enjoyable most times and I tend to use the head phones and binge watch during school breaks.


And, I also started out the semester with an assignment in my Linguistics class which was to come up with three MEASURABLE and DOABLE goals. My instructor for that class is fantastically patient – which is good, because the first few things I sent for this assignment were….a little bit over the top shall we say.

After a few weeks she mentioned to the group of us that “some of you might want to consider being a bit less hard on yourselves and adjusting your goals and measurements to the reality of your daily lives.”

So – I asked one of my classmates – the one who is typically quiet, and will be brutally honest if you ask her to be. I wanted brutally honest.

“I need you to red pen this thing” I said to her during break.

She took one look at the goal assignment on the computer screen and, to my delight, burst out in laughter and expletives.

I’m proud to say that the red penned goal list is working quite well. I hit most of the goals but not always, and they include practical things like remembering to do laundry and playing with markers on a regular basis. I’m too embarrassed to admit how complicated and impossible my first list was.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do we think that the good stuff is yet to come?

Why do we ask “Where does the time go?” What does that question even mean?

When will we appreciate what we have, right here, right now?

So …thus far…Lent 2016 has been about friendship – and becoming utterly dependent on friends in addition to family. Not just relearning how to make new friends…I figured that out last year.

But, telling the truth to friends, and…I hate this…


asking for help.

Here’s the view from my window yesterday morning:



And, this was the sunset in the neighborhood park last weekend:

park sunset


What more could I possibly ask for….

“…the place in which I stand,

wherever it is,

is the place of my procession into God,

the site of my union with the Life that gives Life.”