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.

Storytellers’ tales deserve our attention

Day by Day
Storytellers’ tales deserve our attention


August 2017


My late father-in-law loved to tell stories of the “old days” — coal mining in southeastern Ohio, life during the Depression and more.

He would be well over 100 years old if he were still alive.

When we learned of his cancer, one of his granddaughters gave him a cassette recorder and blank tapes so he could record his stories.

My husband, Bob, grew up listening to stories not only from his parents, aunts and uncles, but from others who lived near their farm and had emigrated from eastern Europe.

Recently, Bob was telling some of the stories to our grandchildren. They laughed and asked questions and were amazed at how different things were for their Pappy and his family than they are today.

Our granddaughter, Elizabeth, said she wanted to write down the stories, and that she did. With pencil and pad of paper in hand, she wrote the stories passed down from her great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents.

Intertwined were stories of her Pappy’s childhood and his experiences with all the former storytellers. It was a joy to listen.

Since Elizabeth is a writer in her own right, I have a feeling a version of these characters will show up in a novel or two in her lifetime. At least, she will carry the history on to the next generation.

I grew up listening to stories, as well. I never knew either grandfather, so my grandmothers, aunts, uncles and parents provided tales of life in the same old days. That might be where I learned to love weaving words into stories.

We moved to Grove City in 2005, when we came back from the West Coast. This town was my first beat as a reporter in 2000. I loved the feel of the town. The people were amiable and seemed to work hard for a living.

I had heard history revealed in personal experiences of the early days in Grove City from people like Pudge — that’s the only name I knew him by. I could listen to people like him for hours and never glance at my watch.

Our neighbors are friendly, much like those in the Westerville neighborhood in which I was raised.

In 2007, one neighbor, Ann, hosted a get-together. We were in for a real treat when Ruth Sawyer Jividen, who lived around the corner, was a guest.

Turns out she was the last direct descendent to the first settler in Grove City. She started talking, and I started writing. She was a female version of my father-in-law.

Ruth and I enjoyed our time together writing the “Ruth Remembers” columns, which were published for a few years in a local newspaper, now gone. I was fascinated with her experiences growing up in Grove City, and so were the readers.

Around the same time, Janet Shailer and Laura Lanese published “Images of America: Grove City,” and Ruth’s family homestead history is included.

Ruth is now with her maker, in whom she firmly believed. Her home has been refurbished, but it’s just a house. I’m blessed with my memories of my time with Ruth.

As a reporter in Upper Arlington, I met Pete and Marjorie Sayers, lifetime residents and true storytellers. Marjorie was the driving force for the book, “The History of Upper Arlington,” published in 1988.

A new edition, in honor of the town’s centennial next year, will be available in the fall. The authors interviewed Marjorie and others to give it a conversational tone, along with the historical facts.

Soon after I wrote a story about Pete and Marjorie, the editor of the newspaper asked them to write a column about Upper Arlington history.

The late Patricia Orndorff Ernsberger wrote “Bicentennial Journal” and later added an updated version, including “Uptown: People, Places and Events” about Westerville history.

Most towns have their own local historians, and families have their own storytellers. People of this generation are all but gone. Their stories remind us of different times — not easier, but simpler.

All we need to do is listen.

Ruth Sawyer Jividen

Bob and me with our granddaughter Elizabeth. Our dog Toby joined in.

Why write? Motives vary; need universal

Day by Day
Why write? Motives vary; need universal

April 10, 2017
This Week News

By Liz Thompson

I pushed the loaded cart of ancient records, videotapes and books into the used bookstore.

Standing at the cash register, where employees would look through my personal stash and give me a dollar value, I saw books piled so high, they looked as though a breeze would topple them.

Late author and humorist Erma Bombeck once said, “It is probably true that every person has a book in him fighting to get out. What is crucial is that if something is going to happen, the wannabe writer has to commit by putting all those hopes and dreams on the line. It’s time to stop talking about clever titles and get the book written.”

I was overwhelmed — and as a writer, a little discouraged — by the number of books I saw, all these “hopes and dreams” people had put to paper, tape or film. I wondered about my own motivation to write.

I love writing — but bestsellers? Not likely. I write to inspire and inform.

I posted this question on a Goodreads author group: “What motivates you to write with so much competition?”

Sue, who lives in Canada, replied, “My motivation in writing my first book was my desire to achieve wellness. (My book) was never written with the intention to become a bestseller, but rather to reach those who could benefit from the information … and for those who did read it, that is exactly what they reported that it has done for them … mission accomplished.”

Leonide, an Oregon resident, said it seems the world has enough books, so why write another to add to the excess?

“I continue to write books because it is a creative drive inside of me that demands expression,” she said. “There are stories that simmer within and insist on being cooked fully and set out for the feast. Whether they get consumed and appreciated is outside my control.”

She markets, like most authors.

“I certainly hope others will read and enjoy my books; writing the book itself is the most important thing,” she said.

Jim, a cartoonist, said, “As a kid, once a week I would head down to the bookstore for a portal into another world. Every week I’d get to tour an exotic location and imagine another life. I just want to give that experience to someone else.”

Lily in San Francisco writes because if she doesn’t, she feels as if part of her has checked out.

“It’s as important to me as food,” she said. “The words are like a communion wafer that melts on my tongue, nourishing body and soul.

“Writing itself is a mysterious act. Putting symbols on a page not only connects us with our own inner worlds but also with others.”

Kate loves used bookstores.

“I still remember the joys of rooting through the secondhand book shop … hunting for a Georgette Heyer novel that I didn’t already have (since they were out of print). Sheer joy to find one and hold it close … until I got it safely home. It was a ticket to another world.

“We authors capture what’s in our heads in words. Black on white. It has no substance until the reader re-creates the people and the world inside their own head. It’s a kind of miracle. No images provided … only words, yet their imagined movie of your book will have scenery, props and characters fashioned by them from just words.

“With 7 billion people on the planet, there’s a good chance that at least one of those people will connect with your story.”

Don of New York said, “I must write, and I even wake in the middle of the night to pen down a thought that comes to me, or risk losing an amazing idea for a story or a book.”

Rita, who lives in Australia, said simply, “I write because I can!”

I left the bookstore $5 richer. My discouragement fled soon after and new words swirled in my head.

A writer friend a little closer to home, Janet Shailer of Grove City, said, “My mind always has ideas flying around, like a plane waiting for clearance to land.”

Eventually, our ideas land and words appear on the page. And so our story begins.

Joy comes from hearing other people’s stories

Day by Day

Joy comes from hearing other people’s stories


November 14, 2016
This Week News

Every day I’m reminded there are miracles.

When I put my cochlear implant voice processors on my ears, sounds of life flood my brain — voices or music on the radio, water running, the coffee pot dripping and my husband talking to me or our dog — and I smile.

All these sounds were happening, even when I couldn’t hear them. They went on much like people’s lives, even though I don’t know them.

One important fact I learned as a reporter years ago is that everyone has a story with many chapters. The stories range the full spectrum, from celebration to sorrow.

Before my first implant, in 2002, I was a deaf reporter relying on several things: one ear that had some hearing with a hearing aid, my ability to lip-read, pen and paper, computers and people’s patience.

I let people know I wanted to hear their story and they all complied, doing whatever was necessary to get the story right.

My favorite interviews were when friends and family gathered to remember a loved one. I looked at photos, old newspaper clippings, scrapbooks and more. I heard and saw laughter and tears while writing a story of a legacy worth remembering. Legacies born of hard work, loving their families and respecting life.

Once I had my first implant and the ability to understand speech made conversations possible, I treasured interviewing others even more. The strain was gone for both parties, and I developed a deeper interviewing style that was a joy for me.

The local politicians might not have liked that I could understand, but I did. News also ran the full spectrum, and 15 years ago, I reported the facts — both sides, unbiased and without commentary.

Especially since my second implant in the other ear, I love engaging in conversations with others. When I ask, “How are you?” I really want to know and wait for an answer.

Last month, we were camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. One day, we stopped at a picnic grounds by a creek for a snack. A woman was reading a book, and I asked what she was reading.

“A book by Lisa Wingate,” she said. “I love her writing!”

“I’ve read all her books and am one of her early readers,” I replied.

She saw my cane, I think, and came over to our table. We chatted for a bit and she sat down. She was Junella from Indiana, named for relatives June and Ella. I told her Ella is the name of the protagonist in my fiction book I’d recently finished, and she smiled.

I felt I’d known her for more than the moments we talked about books and life in general. All too soon, we had to be on our way. I left her my card and told her I’d love it if she emailed me.

This conversation would have been impossible prior to 2002, unless she knew sign language, and I was never proficient in that.

Throughout our camping trip, we had various conversations with people from all over the U.S. We talked weather — it was much warmer than usual and very dry — and about our dogs, campers, music, children and grandchildren, trips we’d taken and even politics, which was a hot topic this year.

It thrills me to be able to catch every nuance of the conversation and hear the different accents and still understand the words.

Most of us know the tradition of Thanksgiving began as a way to show gratitude for the harvest. In an era of at least presumed plenty, we need to think of those who don’t have enough to survive well. There are many ways to help — food pantries and missions, to name a couple.

But the need might be on your street or nearby.

The list of what I am thankful for is too long to write here, but hearing and understanding again tops the rest. Each new day, I’m reminded of this blessing. I don’t take it lightly.

If you tell me your story, I will listen. Count on it.

When I start asking people questions, my husband teases me that I’m in my reporter mode. But the truth is, I’m interested and intrigued by other people’s experiences. I may not write one of your stories, but I’ll count it a blessing that I understand your words.

Local author Liz Thompson writes the Day by day column for ThisWeek News. Reach her at lizt911@gmail.com.


Four legged friend in need offers comfort

Day by Day
Four legged friend in need offers comfort
by Liz Thompson
December 10, 2015

“Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, oh tidings of comfort and joy.”

These words from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen will be heard this Christmas season, as they have since first published in 1833, a mere 182 years ago.

Life has changed since those days. We know a lot more about physical comfort, something we all hope for: a comfortable chair, a bed, shoes, clothes and basically, a comfortable life.

Does it happen the way we hope? Sometimes we are blessed with things going as we think they should.

We especially seek comfort in times of illness, grief, or confusion. After a hard day’s work, that recliner calls us to prop our feet up and read, rest, enjoy our family, or watch television. But life has a way of keeping our feet on the ground and life scurrying around us, no matter what we want to happen.

It has been proven that pets lower blood pressure. Put a furry, cuddly creature in your lap, or next to you – maybe while your recliner is in the up position – and as you stroke the fur, your shoulders relax, your worries diminish and life seems to be pleasant, at least for the short term.

Two years ago, such a furry creature was born to a mission of silently comforting others. Last year, after a year’s training, Rosie, a Golden Retriever, was placed permanently in the Passing of the Leash ceremony as a Comfort Dog for Atonement Lutheran Church and Preschool in Northwest Columbus.

She lives with Atonement’s music director, but many people are trained as her handlers, taking her where she is called to go.

Rosie likes to go to church and cares not which one. She will greet people as they come in and leave, listen attentively to the sermon and music, lie down or sit while people pet her and accept her unconditional love.

With the command “visit,” Rosie will place her head in your lap. “Lap” has her upper body and front legs lying across your lap. That’s your cue to hug her, stroke her fur or bury your face in that same, soft fur. Maybe you’ll sigh, or cry, talk to her or laugh. There are no rules and Rosie cares not which you do.

She joined more than 80 other dogs across the U.S., as a part of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry. There are other similar programs in the U.S. that bless people.

These dogs are “trained service animals prepared to interact with people in ways that provide a bridge for compassionate ministry. LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are friends who bring a calming influence, allowing people to open up their hearts and receive help in times of need.”

She also goes to schools, nursing homes, assistive living facilities, funeral homes and funerals, libraries – she loves to be read to and might nap a little – disaster scenes, and she has her day in court, when needed.

Imagine you need to give testimony in court, or even worse, you are a child having to do this same thing. Your nerves are rattled and you hope your words make sense and your answers to questions are appropriate. Sweaty palms, right? A sleepless night beforehand, most certainly.

Now imagine the same scenario and Rosie is seated next to you, your hand on her head or back. Her presence steadies you. It’s still not an easy time, but you have a friend in your corner. If you are that child, you might even pretend you are talking to Rosie, not an attorney or judge. It has happened.

On January 5, four LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers from Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio were deployed to Washington Courthouse where Rosie was the “top dog.” They were there to “offer support and unconditional love to the family and community that lost three boys and a grandmother on Christmas night.”

Rosie has her own Facebook page at facebook.com/RosieComfortDog. You can email her at Rosie@K9Comfort.org or call Atonement Lutheran Church at 614-451-1880 to request her presence in a time of need.

The true meaning of Christmas often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the month. Comfort dogs remind us of what’s important.

“Now to the Lord sing praises, all you within this place, and with true love and brotherhood, each other now embrace; this holy tide of Christmas Doth bring redeeming grace, O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, O tidings of comfort and joy.”


Rosie the Comfort Dog