Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Get yourself in check

Often times I feel as if I have it rough. I spend way too much time stressing over stupid things that end up affecting my attitude and overall day, sometimes week (get a grip Tiff). Things like, my husband not putting the keys back where they belong, or that my daughter has been sick for two weeks, or (oh, this is a good one) how much I hate it when I spend twenty extra minutes watching commercials. BIG DEAL right? What about bigger things that REALLY get to us like, having a family member die, not being able to pay rent, or losing a job. Still, too often I find myself saying life just isn’t fair (BOOHOO). But let’s get real, these little things and even bigger things that get easier in time to deal with, really do affect us and really do make a strong impact even though we may try to “GET OVER IT FAST” or be better at “picking our battles”. As I was lying in my bed last night thinking about all of this, I thought about my close friend Jessica Sellers who has had something she once used daily taken away from her which was her hearing. I thought wow, what if I was able to hear at one point in time and then knew that my hearing would slowly fade to complete silence. I have it rough? To me it would be worse having a taste of what it is like to hear THEN have it taken away rather than never knowing what it was like to hear in the first place.  After I started thinking about her, I REALLY thought WOW GET A GRIP and be grateful for what you can do and stop focusing on all of the little things. I hope this post helps us to not only be more understanding of others but mostly I hope that we can learn how to get to the point where we can say, “okay, yea this is hard, but I won’t let it bring me down, instead I am going to figure out how to embrace and endure.”


I am awake, lying in bed with my eyes still closed. As I listen to the birds playing outside my window, the trees blowing in the breeze and my daughter yelling downstairs ready to be taken out of her crib, I think to myself, “Well, here’s to another day.” My friend Jessica on the other hand hears… well, nothing. Complete silence. She is woken up by a vibrating alarm clock then puts in her hearing aide which brings to life the quiet noises of the world.
She is ready to get up!

Take It By The Horns: 
Even though Jessica cannot hear well she has survived the challenges of school, college, sports, boys and living with family members who have enjoyed perfect hearing. Despite her challenges, she lives her life in pursuit of happiness and with a longing to help others. Even though her life is incredibly complicated and difficult, she has turned down a surgery that could possibly allow her to hear (talk about embracing a trial). She has learned to find the good in her quiet world which again, causes me to reflect on how I need to be better at finding the good in my trials and love the lessons I end up learning instead of wishing that I had never gone through something difficult.

one example of an Impant that would be surgically placed 

Limited but Not Brought Down:
She says that college is her biggest challenge right now. Unlike me, who can go to any class with any teacher, Jessica has to do her research in order to find a teacher that is willing to help with her needs, and those who genuinely say, “Yes” are hard to find (Hmm now wouldn't that be annoying...). She usually contacts teachers before classes start to notify them what her needs will be. She said it’s hard to find an interpreter that she can understand and she doesn’t always have the resources to help her. She has told me that she always tries her hardest in school and sometimes she feels like she has failed, which leaves her feeling not as confident and unsuccessful but she doesn't let that stop her. 

At My Finger Tips:
I can call my mom who lives in Oregon and talk, cry, and laugh with her whenever I want. But Jessica can't. She said that she has had a very hard time communicating with her family who hears perfectly. I also heard my daughter cry for the first time, laugh and say, "Momma" but Jessica is totally fine with knowing that she will never be able to hear those things when she has a family of her own. She is just excited to teach her family her language. Maybe I should focus less on how annoying it is to hear my daughter cry in the middle of the night and realize that I am blessed to know that she IS CRYING.

The Challenges Keep On Coming:

The very few times Jessica was given "playing time" in sports were used as her escape from reality. She was fast, had good skills, good grades, and a great attitude but still people could not get past her hearing aid. Her dad  helped her a lot in times of frustration because he would remind her that they don't understand and to enjoy it as much as she can.

Jessica and her Dad

 I live my life with petty problems on my shoulders while Jessica is constantly being defined by her hearing aid. Boys? Boys... Touchy subject. Imagine being rejected by them your whole life until your senior year! Finally someone asked her to a dance and even then it was awkward and disconnected. Yet she is able to laugh at it now and she KNOWS that she WILL find Mr. Right. (I think I need to have a little more faith.)

 Jessica's first time to a dance
With my husband who was not my only candidate

I on the other hand was not defined by any so to speak "disability." I must say I had it really easy and was so caught up in ME and what I was going to wear, AND do, AND say that I didn't even notice those who didn't get asked to a dance or those who never were accepted. Pretty sad. Again... I thought my life was hard. How has she stayed so strong and positive? So amazing.
Getting ready for a dance...

So Unique, So Strong, So Profound:
Okay... so I am ACTUALLY going to say it... Jessica seriously ENJOYS being deaf! Yeah I said it... Have you ever played that game called "Would You Rather,"
where one person asks the other which of two undesirable scenarios they “would rather” choose to experience if forced to make a decision. For example, possible hypothetical questions could include, “would you rather have no legs or no arms” or, “would you rather be stranded on an island or in the middle of New York City?” Another difficult question to answer could be, “would you rather be blind or deaf?” If I were to play this game with my dear friend Jessica and instead ask her, “would you rather be able to hear or be deaf,” a question which seemingly has an obvious answer, she would surprise virtually everyone by actually choosing to be deaf in a heartbeat. Wouldn’t she be considered crazy? Blows my mind! But I really look up to her for what she said. She said, "I really enjoy being deaf because instead of focusing on me I try to help others become their best self. This trial is meant for me to learn and become happy for the people around me. I love being able to learn new things everyday because that is what helps me keep my day going. I learn to count my blessing.” I wish I could be more like her and I hope we can all learn how to be like her in our own individual ways.  
One of Jessica's close friends

"Let my Eyes be my Ears and my Hands be my Voice":
Okay, so she shared something really personal with me and she wanted me to share this with all of you because she hopes it might help not just deaf people but everyone who feels like they are not accepted. There is this song that is on YouTube called... “I Don’t Need Your Cure.” It is sung beautifully by a girl named Megg Rose and signed by a little girl and a mother. Some of the lyrics are, “please no cure, thank God for his gift to me. He gave me both worlds, barrier free. Now I can show the world how to accept me (only if you let me.) Why don’t you like what you see? Do I look like a disability? Let my eyes be my ears and my hands be my voice” (“I don’t need your cure,” Youtube). As tears ran down my face while watching the little girl and woman sing with their hands and their faces, I thought about how often I complain about my life, my needs and my wants.Check it out...
The Answer: 
So I know we are all wondering how does someone who has such a hard challenge live life in such a positive way? HOW DO YOU DO THAT?
Well I asked her... she taught me to focus on what you can do and what we all get to experience rather than the things we can’t. Dream big and make an unstoppable search to find those in need because we all have experienced what it is like to be treated differently and judged. Little do we all know, we help hundreds of people by just simply being true to ourselves. Jessica often thinks about the first time she was able to hear music at a concert and the first and probably last time she was able to hear a baby laugh instead of thinking about the fact that she will never hear those sounds again because of her continual loss of hearing. 
She loves her nieces so much and has helped her sister raise them. She can hardly hear them speak to her anymore and accepts that soon she will not be able to communicate with them like she has once before.

We all have hardships in our lives that CAN make us stronger, empathetic, and more humble and we CAN learn to love and not loathe the time passing just like Jessica has learned to do. Jessica holds onto her hearing aide with a grateful heart but has accepted the fact that soon she will have to let go of her limited hearing. Yet despite all of this, she is happy with life and the time she was granted to enjoy some of the quiet sounds that we so often take for granted.  

No one is saying that it is easy to master this way of life but it is possible. Let's be honest... we all truly know what we need to do to be like Jessica, I guess the down side is that it takes work and time...

I did it! yay! Success...

So I thought I would check in with you all about everything I have said above. My brother died in 2009 and it was very tragic. In a way, my life ended for a while as well. BUT I have learned so much from that experience that I have been able to quietly help other who suffer from the same thing that killed my brother and I have been able to understand others who have experienced loss in a more personal way.  Bellow is a flier that my mom and I made for a walk/run in remembrance of those who suffer from mental illness. It was also to help educate others on mental illness so that we can love more and judge less.

My brother Michael (who died) is the one climbing in the picture. He loved to climb...and I know he would want me to be happy for him. He's free...



  1. Tiff you are always so inspirational. I love reading your blog and hearing what you have to say. I've always felt that if anyone could understand what I feel and been through with certain trials it would be you. Thank you for sharing what Jessica said.

  2. Well written Tiff! That was amazing. We all need reminders like this. Thank you for sharing!