Frustration out west spurred self-assurance

Frustration out west spurred self-assurance


February 19, 2018

This Week News

Twenty-two years ago this month, I did something I regret.

I have reconciled, but can’t forget, so I hope this will serve as a fair warning to others.

If you have ever visited or lived in the Southwest — in particular, Arizona — you’ll understand in a moment.

Winter is the most beautiful time of year there. The mountains burst with riotous flowers. Even the spiky cacti bloom.

When my husband and I moved to Phoenix in July, we were greeted by record heat of 121 degrees. We learned quickly not to go barefoot on the concrete, to drink water all day and to leave the car windows open a bit.

Once winter hit, 70 degrees felt cold. Don’t laugh — that’s 50 degrees cooler than the hottest time of summer.

In job interviews, I was upfront about my hearing loss, not yet the self-advocate I would become. A job offer came, and my only request was that I would not be asked to answer phones. “No problem,” I was told by the CEO’s secretary in the interview.

I shared an office with that same woman, and within a week, she found repeated reasons to leave our office for long periods of time. I reminded her of my request and she said to take messages.

That was like asking a 5-year old to type the financial reports for me.

Failure and many embarrassing situations ensued. I hated feeling incompetent.

A phone ringing put my stomach in knots. Names and numbers were almost impossible for me to comprehend without caller ID. My boss did all he could to help me, but he, too, was baffled. Other staffers were very kind, as well.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was still young.

Finally, I contacted an Arizona state agency for the deaf and those with partial hearing loss, asking for assistance on how to handle the situation. My first clue to the problem should have been when the agency contact suggested meeting at a noisy restaurant. I had to read her lips and have her repeat and repeat.

Her advice, which I should have questioned and, unfortunately, was one of the comments I understood, was: “Without a college degree, you’ll never get a job paying above minimum wage.”

I shook internally, like I do when something serious is impending or happening.

We were about to leave and I said the conversation would have been easier using sign language.

“You know sign?” she said casually. “I didn’t think so since you aren’t deaf.”

But I did know it, and I soon was to be called “functionally deaf.”

Since she was supposed to be the expert, I thought I had no other options. I didn’t know who else to ask.

My husband and I talked it through many times, but we had no other ideas for my employment. Finally, I begged my husband to move back to Ohio — to what was familiar.

He picked up my final paycheck for me. The employee asked him why I was leaving. When he told her my hearing loss was making it difficult to do my job, she said, “I wish she’d said something. My sister is deaf. I could have helped her.”

My husband left a job he loved in a place we’d both learned to love to come back to Ohio, all because he loves me.

We returned to Ohio in February, the grayest month. I swore I’d never get myself in a spot like that again and that I would find answers, even when they seemed elusive.

That experience made me an advocate for people with hearing loss or any special need. I never wanted anyone to have that much doubt in their abilities or think options were so few.

Seven years later, with me now sporting a cochlear implant and true ability to hear and understand, we moved back to the Valley of the Sun. I worked in schools with special-needs children, hoping to spark their confidence. Three years later, we chose to move back to Ohio.

God didn’t put that old doubt in my mind, so be careful when taking advice — expert or not. Don’t live on regrets — learn from them.



Words’ impact can last for life; choose wisely

Day by Day: Words’ impact can last for life; choose wisely


January 22, 2018
This Week News

Words are powerful. They can make us smile, cry, rejoice or doubt. They can inspire us to improve, learn, apologize, question, create and think.

If you doubt the power of written or spoken words, consider the words “I do” spoken at a wedding and all that promise implies.

Think of the parent when a child says his or her first word — especially if it’s Mama, Papa or a version of the same.

The old retort to deflect cruel words, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” may work only for the moment. The long-term effects can be devastating if we are told often enough, especially when young, that we are stupid, ugly or other equally nasty names, and we believe it. We can only hope there is plenty of positivity in those same taunted lives — or that we can be there to soften the blows.

Authors of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and music have entertained, informed and given us reasons to sing and dance since the first word was written, the first instrument was fashioned and the first words sung.

As a writer, I respect words, and think through many times before submitting a column. I have done just that for 20 years this month. That’s a lot of words — and I have loved every minute.

I asked some friends what words they believe hold power.

Don Huiner, from Worthington, chose his power words in two groups. He placed despise, loathe, contemptible and worthless in one group; in the other, treasure, cherish, respect, value and thankful. I spy two words in the last group of positives that were turned into popular songs.

Pat Vincent, who lives in Grandview Heights, said, “When somebody says, ‘How are you doing, really?’ you know that they really want to know. They’re not just being polite.”

When I think about how many times a day we might say, “How are you?” without waiting for a reply, his words ring true.

Pat also said when a person looks at something you have done or said and responds, “That’s nice,” you can be pretty sure they are only being polite.

Dee Standish, whom I’ve known since kindergarten, said: ”‘I am here for you if you need me’ are powerful words for two reasons. The first, (you are) letting someone know you care and will support their needs. Second, it allows the person in need the freedom to respond when they might be vulnerable in varying situations. There is no pressure on either side.”

When words, or what we might think are the “right” words, seem to escape us, words of action or support suffice beautifully, as Dee says.

I wasn’t surprised when a friend from church, Mariann Rowe, chose hope as her most powerful word. One synonym for hope is faith.

When we hear bad news, in particular, hope can sustain us. We say we hope something good lasts. How often we say, “I can only hope … ” or “I hope you have a good day.”

I love reading fiction. I’m selective with the genre because I don’t need fearful or negative topics swirling through my head.

Some time back, I wrote my first novel. Since I’d always written nonfiction, the mechanics of writing fiction required research.

My first try was rejected by two publishers, but with good advice. Their words were powerful because they didn’t just say “no,” but they softened the blow with advice I took to heart. I knew I had a lot to learn. More research and more rewrites followed.

The last rejection told me to consider writing in third person, not first. I shifted gears, turned around and started again.

Words of rejection are hard to hear, but with practical advice, I was led to hope, to improve and to learn. That’s powerful.

Most people can name at least one author, song, speaker or teacher that had a lasting effect in their lives. My bet is those words they read or heard were positive.

We control the power of the words we speak or write when we take time to really listen and choose hopeful, caring words.


Twenty years of words

Twenty years of words

Twenty years ago this month (January 2018) I sent what I thought was a letter to the Editor to Suburban News Publications (SNP) about living with hearing loss.

A few days later, I got a call through my TTY (Text Telephone). Someone was calling me through the Ohio Relay Service for the Deaf.

When I read, “Hi Liz, this is Cliff Wiltshire, Commentary Editor for Suburban News Publications,” I was stunned.

Very few people contacted me in this way. He asked if I sent him the letter that began, “I can’t hear you when I yawn…” I told him it was me.

“I hardly have to change a word,” he went on to say. “It will be in the newspaper next week.” I typed back (and the operator voiced my words) a thank you.

The next week I opened my Booster newspaper and saw my words staring at me with Guest Columnist next to my name. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that.

After that, ideas flowed into words and I sent my thoughts to Cliff monthly. Cliff became the ultimate editor for this novice writer. He gently guided me to improve my writing to get my point across in the 800-plus words allowed, in those days.

Eventually he asked for a photo. That photo has changed, as well as my byline, over the years: Guest Columnist with no photo, to the same with a photo, and eventually changed to Staff Reporter.

Cliff told me, once I was on staff at the newspaper as a copydesk typist, to think of a name for my column. I brainstormed with my coworkers – Lisa Proctor, Dorothy Stoyer, Mary Mattison and others whose names elude me.

Nothing sparked interest.

One evening, my husband said, “How about day by day?” I loved it and asked him why he thought of that.

“Because that’s how you live.”

With my late onset deafness and MS, I really have no real choice but to live this way. But my faith in God really directs my steps and Bob knew all this about me.

Plus, my maiden name is Day.

Once I became a reporter, in 2000, I met so many people with unique stories that I had new material for columns. I was glad to redirect my topics away from just me.

We moved to Arizona in 2003 and I was fortunate to have The Arizona Republic newspaper run my column for more than two years. My topics changed to my perceptions of a transplanted life from green, seasonal Ohio to the desert.  I wrote about the water issues, my experiences working in the schools and daily life.

Once back in Ohio, in late 2005, Suburban News Publications welcomed me back. Eventually, the newspaper was bought and now I write for This Week News.

I have kept paper copies of all my columns. In 2007, I started to put them in a file in word processing, thinking that someday my grandchildren might want to read them.

As I started typing, I thought I would add my inspiration for each column. Then I remembered the wonderful letters I’d received ‘snail mail’ and added those.

One day I said, “This is a book.” Many of my early columns were about my hearing loss, eventual deafness and my cochlear implants, so I proposed my book to Gallaudet University Press – the only university for the Deaf in the U.S. In those days, authors sent a hard copy and double spaced at that.

They took it, edited it, and published it as “Day by Day, the Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter.” Even though I was deaf, I wasn’t born Deaf, as Deaf culture dictates, so the title read this way.

All the editors at SNP, Cliff, the late Marty Rozenman – who wrote the foreword in this book – and Joe Meyer and others stood by me, and I know it wasn’t always easy.

Thanks to the people at SNP, my dream of publishing happened in January 1998 and I can’t seem to stop writing.

Thanks for listening all these years.


Life’s DVR can’t rewind, so take care

Day by Day
Life’s DVR can’t rewind, so take care


Dec 18, 2017
This Week News

When I graduated from using a correcting Selectric typewriter to a large Xerox Memorywriter with floppy disks, I asked the trainer, “How does it work?”

He looked at me and said, “Unless you’re going to repair them, don’t worry about how it works and make it work.” I was overthinking but I learned to make it work.

I’m dating myself, but this is how I began using computers in the early 1980s.

I learned slowly, one detail at a time without feeling overwhelmed.

VCRs, floppy disks and typewriters are technological history. Now we have DVDs, DVRs, streaming, computers that sit in our laps or are held in our hands.

I like the convenience of our DVR (digital-video recorder, for those who might not know). We can hit rewind, fast-forward or pause as many times as we want. It’s interesting to see some details when we use pause: The background that sets the scene, the expression on actors’ faces in still and all the minute details we miss when watching or fast-forwarding.

If we move too fast through our days, we miss the details of life that make it worthwhile. We easily can overlook the beauty of simplicity and of nature and the moments with the important people in our lives.

Here we are at the end of another year, and it’s almost like God fast-forwarded time. I want to pause and look back on the past 12 months and remember the highlights and the choices I’ve made — good and bad.

A sign on a restaurant wall in one scene of a movie read, “This is our life, not a dress rehearsal.” I paused the DVR to read it and wrote it down to remember.

But we can’t rewind or fast-forward our lives and make different choices, take back words we wish we hadn’t said or rewrite our history.

We are figuring out day by day how to make our lives work and how to make the best choices and react in loving ways.

I love quotations that give me pause to think.

One of the reasons I love to read is the different perspectives I see in everything, from daily lives to profound life choices. It helps me firm up my own opinions to make the most of every day.

In a novel by Karen White, her 93-year-old character, who still types on a typewriter, notices a 10-year-old girl who spends her days with her face in a computer, checking Facebook.

The older character notes we’re building a generation of “backspaces and delete buttons,” in which people believe they always have a second chance to say the right thing.

I related to this after having been a secretary for 28 years and then a reporter, typing away as noted above. On a typewriter, when you made a mistake, you either started over with a fresh piece of paper or used correcting tape or Wite-Out to type over it.

Obviously, with computers, we no longer have that tedious task.

But as soon as your words are on the internet, you can’t take them back.

Similarly, once we say something, we can’t take it back.

My dad used to say, “Think before you speak. It’s not just what you say but how you say it.”

I wrote a poem years ago about how our words were like feathers on the wind. Trying to retrieve the words is impossible, just like gathering feathers flying high and away into the sky.

So if our life is our personal novel and we are not yet at the end, consider this quotation by historian Carl Brand as we start a new year: “Though no one can go back and make a new beginning — anyone can start from now and make a brand-new end.”

Our histories are riddled with choices we have made.

Right now, we’re thinking about how to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Hopefully, we will be overwhelmed with joy, save time for reflection, speak kindly and focus on new beginnings.

Amid negative news, altruism spurs gratitude

Day by Day:
Amid negative news, altruism spurs gratitude

November 21, 2017

This Week News

Giving thanks means different things to different people.

I’m thankful for each new day as I wake and put my voice processors on and sounds rush in that eluded me for years as I became deaf.

Thanks to cochlear-implant technology, I hear and understand speech, along with all the beautiful sounds — and the annoying ones — in our world.

I put my feet on the floor and push to stand, and I’m thankful my multiple sclerosis didn’t steal that ability as I slept.

The fragrance of coffee greets me as I arrive in the kitchen and see my husband of almost 40 years.

As I do a mental scan over my years, I realize many people encouraged my faith and ability to be content no matter my situation.

Years ago, I broke my ankle and a fellow Battelle secretary sent me a card with this Scripture from Philippians 4:8: ” … whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

Negativity abounds, and it can be a challenge to stay positive. The news, in general, seems to focus on crime, politics and disasters without the balance of good news and both sides of the story so we can form our own opinions.

Many people selflessly gave of their time to help those affected by the storms and fires this year. These people-helping-people stories are a breath of fresh air.

It would be naive to close our eyes to problems and not watch the news. I do recommend sifting through the blast of media to find the truth, when possible, and not the hype or the short sentences that don’t tell the whole story. Do some research to seek “what is true and what is right.”

Some of that searching will show stories in our own town.

Last year, I wrote about the Stitching Sisters formed in 2004 by nurse practitioner Joanne Lester and 10 oncology patients.

This group of quilters has grown to nearly 400 people working on these blankets in some capacity. They started making quilts for oncology patients at James Care in Dublin.

The good news about this group, whose members work year-round, never seems to stop.

Lester told me, “We’ve surpassed 17,000 quilts since 2005. We are now providing quilts for nearly all the outpatients receiving chemotherapy at the James Cancer Hospital (at) the Ohio State University.”

For each of these cancer patients who snuggle into a quilt during treatment, this group of people works to make each day more bearable. Patients and quilters alike probably were able to think, at least for a moment, about the good things.

Chuck Rees is president of the Gahanna (Ohio) Lions Club. He joined in December 1983 after he had this experience:

“I was assigned to take turkey, ham and groceries to a woman who was mother to seven boys. The 4-year-old gave a big hug and said there is a Santa Claus. I started crying and so was everyone else. I asked the mother why it was so cold in the house. She said the electric and gas had been turned off due to nonpayment.”

This Lions Club dug deep into their pockets to collect $200 to pay her utilities.

Speaking of cold, it is upon us. The Knitting/Crochet Ministry of St. Matthew the Apostle Catholic Church in Gahanna is making hats, scarves, blankets and more for those in need. This year, the ministry will exceed 15,000 handmade items as it gives to 48 different organizations. Members also made 50 fleece blankets, 100 men’s hat sets and 60 women’s sets for homeless or needy veterans in the Stand Down program.

More than 150 people knit and crochet for this ministry, and not just in Ohio.

Efforts such as these are happening all around us. You likely have a story of your own.

We may not see your story on the news, but many people are helping to create a thankful attitude our nation needs.


Trades deserve attention from new graduates

Day by Day
Trades deserve attention from new graduates


Oct 23, 2017
This Week News

I like to watch “This Old House” on PBS. I have always respected people who build, make and fix things.

The show is working with Mike Rowe, known for “Dirty Jobs,” on a Generation Next campaign to fill the skills gap in trades, which affects each one of us.

To think that every high school graduate should automatically go to a four-year college is short-sighted.

A 2016 survey by YouGov showed fewer than one in 12 students ages 15-18 attending school or college are being advised to seek work-related apprenticeships, according to Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazine.

In contrast, the survey reports, some 85 percent of students are encouraged to pursue further education after graduating high school. Just 7 percent are encouraged to consider finding a job in a skilled trade.

This compares to 31 percent encouraged to seek careers in medicine, education, law or finance, and 36 percent advised to consider careers in engineering.

For at least 30 years, the labor-market data reports only 25 percent of professions require a four-year degree, said Steve Lipster, director of the Electrical Trades Center in Grandview Heights.

“It’s gratifying to see a young person come into our program and realize they can do this — to feel that sense of accomplishment that they created something,” he said.

“The word is getting out about trades, but we still have a long way to go. We get applicants with bachelor’s degrees.”

After completing an electrician apprenticeship, people can earn $80,000 a year with full benefits and lots of overtime, Lipster said.

“It’s a very common attitude for schools not to encourage trades,” he said. “We can’t get in the door of most schools to talk with advisers or students. There is no more shop class or home economics.

“We have seen youth who cannot read a ruler or know how to use a socket set.”

“Made in America” ran for five seasons on the Travel Channel. It was hosted by actor John Ratzenberger, who became a carpenter at a young age, trained on the job. In an interview in Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Business magazine, he said:

“While I still had my show … I toured the country and noticed the average age of skilled tradesmen was 55-58. I started asking around, and wondering why there weren’t younger people coming into the trades that offer great salaries, futures, pensions and health insurance.”

He discovered a big reason was because schools canceled shop classes.

Knowing a trade is invaluable. It’s a misconception that skilled trades are for people with bad grades. In truth, trades are for creative people who like to work with their hands. Tradespeople need strong skills in reading, writing, math and science.

All careers are valuable. We want doctors, lawyers, teachers and others to have a college education.

What’s missing is the balance of people who build our infrastructure and keep it working — electrical, roadways, airports, water systems and sanitation, telecommunications and energy — and those who provide services, such as chefs, mechanics, dental technicians and beauticians.

Lipster said parents are starting to accept and understand the need. The onus of college debt is helping to swing the pendulum.

The Electrical Trades Center also offers a preapprenticeship that is less intense, in which students can learn if a skill suits them. It also teaches them work ethics for sustaining employment.

“We have students biking from the airport area to come to classes here on Goodale Boulevard. They are never late and work hard,” Lipster said.

“It’s hard to express the self-satisfaction of a job well done — a sense that all craftspeople contribute to society,” he said.

The center partners with Columbus State Community College and Franklin University — which also offer training in trades — and with local, regional and national organizations.

One way to set up our youth for success is to give them all the options for careers, including the skilled-trades route — built by tradespeople.

‘Unadoptable’ label is one no child deserves

Day by Day: ‘Unadoptable’ label is one no child deserves


September 25, 2017

This Week News

We need to give every child a strong foundation. That foundation is family.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of children across the United States are put into foster care through no fault of their own. More than 110,000 still await homes. Franklin County Children Services has 200 children waiting.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption began 25 years ago and believes every child deserves a loving family. “Unadoptable” is unacceptable.

“Children in foster care have had a tough start to life, but they are every bit deserving of the stability and love that comes with family,” said Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. “The adults need to genuinely believe it’s worth it to give a child a home and consider the child’s needs before their own. To adopt or foster, the conversation has to focus on the child.”

In 2004, the foundation initiated its signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which provides grants to adoption agencies to hire specially trained adoption recruiters.

These professionals focus solely on finding permanent, loving families for the children most at risk of aging out of foster care: older youths, children in sibling groups, children with challenges and youths who have simply given up hope of ever finding a forever home.

Charlea Mayle, a Lewis Center resident, was adopted out of a foster home at age 12. Today, she is a WWK recruiter.

“I bring a unique, yet familiar, perspective to the youths in my caseload,” Mayle said. “I believe my passion and belief that all children are worthy of having a forever committed family often allows me to engage and advocate with and for our youths in foster care more diligently and effectively.

“These youths experience tremendous challenges and disappointments. Despite it all, they are resilient and loving,” Mayle said.

The WWK program focuses on all the people in a child’s life to find them a family. Case in point: A 14-year-old boy in foster care was able to identify several friends with whom he remained close. Mayle reached out to one of their mothers, who was a past foster parent to this boy but unaware the agency obtained permanent custody of him. She adopted him.

“Being an adoption recruiter allows me to be an advocate and a trusted ally to these youths on their journey towards permanency,” Mayle said.

Mayle said often youths lose hope, believing people do not want to adopt them or that they will never be adopted.

“Since 1992, the foundation has been committed to the vision of our founder, Dave Thomas: to ensure every child has a permanent and loving family,” Soronen said. “Each day, we work to dramatically increase the number of adoptions from foster care. We believe that family is the birthright of every child and that every child is adoptable.”

The foundation was one of the co-founders of National Adoption Day, a grassroots collaborative that is now embedded in all 50 states to raise awareness of the children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families.

Franklin County Children Services, the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at Capital University Law School and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption will celebrate National Adoption Day on Nov. 16 at the Franklin County Courthouse’s probate court, 373 S. High St., 22nd floor.

Chip Spinning, executive director of Franklin County Children Services, will make brief remarks, with staff, caseworkers and families attending the private event.

Last year, Franklin County Children Services finalized the adoption of 13 children to five adoptive homes.

A total of 65,000 children have found families through National Adoption Day.

For information, call the Franklin County Children Services Adoption Division at 614-341-6060; the Dave Thomas Foundation at 800-ASK-DTFA; or visit or