Music unlocks many emotions

Day by day
Music unlocks many emotions
By LIZ THOMPSON
ThisWeekNews.com
Tuesday October 7, 2014

When I was invited to a hymn sing at an assisted living home, I asked, “What hymns are you singing?” and was thrilled with the answer.

The list included what I call old, familiar songs such as Amazing Grace, When We All Get to Heaven, Love Lifted Me and a childhood favorite, This Little Light of Mine.

I was also glad I would be sitting with the residents and not leading the singing. My singing voice went south in my mid-40s when I was almost deaf, a condition that happened gradually since childhood.

Music and singing was my fervent hobby, and I often led singing at such places while playing my guitar. I had missed it and realized this particular day that, in part, I had been missing the contact with people who love visitors and music.

After two successful cochlear implants, I had hoped for restoration of my ability to grasp music, but it didn’t quite happen as I hoped.

I can understand most vocalists’ words — if they actually enunciate and sing, not what appears to be screaming into a microphone — but new music melodies are like a foreign language and quite flat.

Am I sad about that? At first I was, but my restored ability to understand speech and sounds with clarity superseded any sadness. Going from deaf to understanding about 95 percent is nothing to sniff at and I’m thankful beyond measure.

Back to music.

To my joy, 40-plus years of music are stored in my brain, and heart I believe, as music memory. If I see the words and get the first note of a song, or have the music to read, I get it and can sing.

My voice is no longer one for performing but I don’t mind singing at home or in groups. When my grandchildren were small, nothing stopped me from singing to them as I know I was sung to by my mother and grandmothers.

I can still hear the beat so my foot taps, hands clap and my soul is soothed.

Remember the show Name That Tune? Often I knew the tunes in two to five notes. So you can understand my music memory is full of good songs such as hymns, music from the 1930s (thanks to my parents) through the early 1990s that includes folk songs, show tunes, camp songs, pop, big band, songs I composed and more.
It’s a true blessing and I’m glad my brain has a lot of good information stored for easy access when needed. I don’t even need to select an app to get at it. I only need to think of a song or hear a familiar tune.

After my recent column on memory, a reader, Dana, told me about a movie that was, at the time, showing at the Drexel Theatre called, Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory .

To my chagrin, I didn’t move fast enough to attend and it has moved on to another city. Looking on the website, musicandmemory.org, I learned that music has proven to reach people with Alzheimer’s.

Not a surprise. Many memories are locked inside all of us and we need something to turn the key. In the case of music, it often unlocks memories and emotions for me.

When at the hymn sing, a woman in her 90s held up her forefinger and waved it back and forth when we sang This Little Light of Mine. I joined her in the motion and smiled remembering doing that as a child and when I taught my children the song.

Music can bring tears to my eyes from the message or a melancholy memory often marking the passing of time in my life.

After my first implant, my audiologist told me about HOPE Notes. According to the program’s website, http://hope.cochlearamericas.com/listening-tools, it is a “program uniquely developed for cochlear implant and hearing aid users designed to help improve music perception and appreciation using original songs, traditional folk, blues and country styles and some familiar tunes played in unexpected ways.”

Using both visual and auditory cues, it reminded me of how I heard music, and it improved my ability to enjoy it more.

The man who developed the program is a musician with cochlear implants. So often, adversity brings a gift and he shared his gift with others in a similar situation.

Next time you sway to a familiar tune, “count your blessings, name them one by one …”

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Slow down and enjoy life’s read

Day by day

Slow down and enjoy life’s read

By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014

What page are you on?

I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book when I don’t want it to end. Slowing down only delays the inevitable; the last page, the final word. Next I’ll be searching for the sequel or another book by this author.

Some people struggle to read and find it hard to study and learn; it can be a real problem to overcome.

But I’m also talking about those who can read fine but don’t want the task. They stop and look to see how many pages they have to read, bemoaning the fact they aren’t close to being finished — wasting time being frustrated instead of enjoying the read. The end will come soon enough.

We do that same thing when we check our watch every few minutes or wish our days away, when we spend time worrying or wanting a bad day to end. We’d be better off by making the most of the moment.

Maybe it’s a human condition where we push forward, in essence, to simply get all the pages turned and the book finished.

As a teen, a reading test showed I was a fast reader, yet my comprehension lagged. Reading fast has served me well in some respects, but proved detrimental when typing what I was reading. By reading so fast, I often skipped entire lines. The same proved true when playing the piano while reading the music.

In time, I learned to pace myself for accuracy in typing and playing music. As a result, my comprehension improved and I enjoyed more what I was reading or playing.

Our personal life is a unique book, one I believe is written by God. Not one book, or life, is identical. That’s remarkable. We need to listen and watch thoughtfully as each page is turned, knowing the end will eventually happen.

In May, we were camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On our campsite, we had a screened room but we kept the front open during the day.

A yellow butterfly was darting frantically in this room, seeking an exit. I tried to help it out with my hands and hoped it would alight on my cane when upheld, to no avail. It was almost painful to watch as it hit the top and sides, coming so close to the exit and starting its mad path over again.

Finally, it escaped. We sighed with relief. Two days later it happened again, and I was able to use my hands to ease it to freedom. The flutter of its wings was both a thrill and a warning.

I found my heart rate was up after it flew away, and it reminded me how we sometimes spend a lot of time flying around seeking freedom, often refusing help. We see children acting much like the butterfly until they realize accepting help and guidance is good.

Life lessons are a gift.

I’m reminded of the final page analogy when someone dies and I attend the funeral, memorial service or wake. In April and May, I attended four such events, although in the same time frame six people I knew left this life: three friends, a brother-in-law, a neighbor who was also a friend, and the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony many years ago.

In retrospect, we think of these lives and their legacy.

I believe it’s unhealthy to compare ourselves to others. That would be like saying all the best books, poems and the like have been written. Why should we try to write anything?

I refer to other writers who inspire me; I don’t stop writing, thinking it doesn’t measure up, although I often choose to toss writings or completely rework them.

So with our lives. We spend time reworking ourselves and tossing out the garbage, so to speak. That’s a good choice.

When I attend memorial services, I try not to compare my life to theirs but I take inspiration from them. Those who volunteered — I might support these causes. Those who had great humor — I might catch myself when I grumble. And those who were humble — I’m reminded to check my ego at the door.

The list goes on.

When I fail to do what is good and true, I look to change that, often thinking of those who were positive influences on me.

Life moves fast enough; no need to push ahead. Turn your life pages slowly and enjoy the read.

 

Priority lists…

Day by day

Priority lists good for life as well as chores

by Liz Thompson
THISWEEKNEWS.COM
Tuesday January 21, 2014

Each new day is a gift. As years pass, seemingly faster every year, I become more aware of this reality. I try to start my days with a prayer that I’ll use my time wisely.

In the 1980s, I took a time management class at my workplace. My most valuable takeaway was to make daily to-do lists and prioritize them. The goal was to end our day with a lot of the tasks crossed off.

Years passed and I became a true list maker: grocery, daily to-do, what to pack for a trip, Christmas cards and gifts, and even books I’d read. Sometimes when the day is through and I read my list(s), I add accomplishments completed I hadn’t planned on and cross them off, too.

The last 10 days of December, my daily devotional book was about priorities. The author took each letter of the word, discussing what should be foremost in our lives. I realized that I don’t often list my life’s priorities; they are in my head and heart. This is not the popular bucket list or New Year’s resolutions I speak of, but what uses my time and talents and what fills my heart and mind. The order shifts with life circumstance, with many being constant.

Recently, I was reminded of a visual illustration. You have an empty jar — any size, you choose. You fill it with various small marbles or pea gravel. The jar is mostly full. Then you realize you still have some larger stones you need to put in the jar, but they won’t fit.

Start over and put the larger stones in the jar first. Then sprinkle the small gravel on top; these stones shift around and settle into the cracks and crevices. Some empty spaces remain. The jar represents our day, or life, and the large stones are our first priorities; the smaller stones are minor events. If those don’t all fit in our jar, or life, we’ve only missed out on something of lesser consequence.

Keep in mind that the small joys are no less important.

I asked some friends what their priorities are at this point in their lives. The answers have a common thread, partly because my friends and I are of a certain age.

Don Huiner, of Columbus, wants to become a better, active listener and talk less. “You know me well enough to know that’s not going to be a walk in the park for me,” he said.

Irveline, from Columbus, says her priority for this year is to teach her grandchildren, ages 2 to 20, Dutch and Welsh, which is their ancestors’ mother tongue.

“My priority for the year will be to say it like it is,” says Linda Sturm of Gahanna. “Procrastinator is a pretty word for sloth. I’m not procrastinating when I put something off; I’m being a sloth. By being honest with myself, dropping the window dressing, I hope to be more productive.”

Clay Cormany of Worthington says, “For me the ‘t’ in priorities stands out with t standing for time and a wiser, more productive and less self-centered use of it. That means more time spent playing with my grandchildren and seeing the world through their eyes; more time spent showing my love and devotion to my wife; more time visiting my 90-year-old aunt, who’s my last living link to my parents’ generation; and less time playing computer word games.”

“I want to spend as much time as possible with my grandchildren while they’re young, and my children,” says Judy Hannigan of Grove City. She hopes to start visiting people in assisted living and spend time with shut-ins, like she used to, because they may not see others very often.

My daughter, Mary, wants to be more like the biblical Mary and less of a Martha. See Luke 10:38-42 for the story about Mary listening attentively when Jesus was their guest while her sister, Martha, was busy working.

Elizabeth, my granddaughter, wants to make God’s purpose for her life her highest priority.

If we put these and similar long-term priorities in our jar first — and probably keep them there to remind us — we’ll have room for the small surprises. We’ll still have empty spaces of time open for contemplation, recreation and rest.

No matter what we place in our jars, Zig Ziglar sums up time management well: “Spend time with those you love. One of these days you will say either, ‘I wish I had,’ or ‘I’m glad I did.’ “

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time

Couple spread Good Word one word at a time
by Liz Thompson
ThisWeekNews
September 26, 2013

We must be born with a desire to communicate. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating. The first thing we do is open our mouths and cry – loudly. Maybe we’re saying “Put me back!” but here we are ready to let Mom and Dad know in no uncertain terms we have arrived in this noisy world.

Parents learn to know what their baby needs by the intensity of the cry. Since communication is a two-way deal, babies learn by the parent’s intonation what they mean as well. As the child grows, they love being read to from colorful books leading to the love of the written word. Books become a part of our lives; teaching and entertaining.

We want to communicate from our barest needs to our deepest thoughts.

Imagine, though, you have no written language, only spoken. No books, magazines, pamphlets, closed captioning or subtitles, notes passed among friends, newspapers, email or EBooks, greeting cards, Internet… no need to search further.

Keep imagining as we count our blessings.

In 1917, a young man, William Cameron Townsend, set out as a missionary to the Cakchiquel Indians in Guatemala. While trying to sell Spanish translated Bibles to these Indians, “…he discovered that the majority of the people he met did not understand Spanish. Neither did they have a written form of their own beautiful language, the Cakchiquel,” according to the Wycliffe website.

He didn’t give up. Instead, he lived among the people learning their language while developing an alphabet for them.

Within 10 years, he had translated the New Testament portion of the Bible in that language. By 1934, he was aware of other cultures without a written language and opened Camp Wycliffe in Arkansas to train people in linguistics and translation. By 1942, the camp had “grown into two affiliate organizations, Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.”

The history of Wycliffe Bible translation goes back to 1382 when John Wycliffe translated an English Bible—“the first complete European translation done in nearly 1,000 years.” I encourage you to read this history on Wycliffe.org.

According to Wycliffe, there are more than 6,800 world languages and fewer than 2,000 of those languages are without a written Bible translation. That equates to 209 million people where translation projects have not yet begun.

Stephen and Rachel Katterenrich have been in Tanzania for more than two years developing a written language in the oral language of Bungu, as part of Wycliffe. The process has been ongoing for almost 10 years. Rachel studied language in college and Stephen the Bible. “We have melded our talents,” Rachel said.

This next year Stephen will be studying the Greek language.

Their first four months were spent learning Swahili. “We had some fun blunders along the way,” Rachel said. “Like when I was trying to say someone was a patient (in a hospital) and I was actually saying they were patient (in behavior).”

Stephen said that he can understand the language easier than he can speak it, so far. In time he hopes that changes.

In English, one word can have several meanings and may be spelled the same but the meaning changes with different emphasis. The simple word “oh” which can mean “Oh, right!” as in an aha moment or “Oh!” as in surprise or “Ohhhhh” when dragged out like “Oh, I see!”

In Bungu, the emphasis and the spelling are different in many words. The written word needs to read like it sounds. It’s a complicated and tedious process. The villagers are eager and taking active roles to help make the written language happen.

Just as Townsend worked with the people to learn their language, Stephen and Rachel are living and working with the villagers to learn their language, hear their stories and translate them into writing by creating a data base. It is what they call a cluster project with other people working on their language projects and sharing resources.

The villagers are grateful to Stephen and Rachel. When the Katterenrich’s left to come to the States for a year, they were lovingly reminded that they would return to them. One day, in the not too distant future, they will celebrate with Bible translation being complete.

It matters not where we are born or what language we speak, communicating is vital. It’s comforting to know there are those willing to make sure all people have a written language.

One person and one word at a time.

Give a second chance…

Day by day

Give a second chance; be an organ donor
by
LIZ THOMPSON
THISWEEKNEWS.com
Tuesday July 23, 2013 12:38 PM

 

Second chances. Our parents lovingly gave them to us as we learned right from wrong while testing the limits of the boundaries set before us. We grow and learn to make better choices.

Some people won’t get second chances unless someone else makes a good choice — in most cases, a stranger. When we opt to be registered as an organ donor upon death, and no longer have need of our organs, we become a potential hero.

“When a person is put on a transplant list, it’s because their doctor has told him or her that they’ve run out of options,” said Don Huiner, of Columbus. “Their only hope is that an organ will become available. And if they do get that lifesaving organ, they get their second chance on life.”

Huiner is an ambassador for Lifeline of Ohio and has talked with people across Ohio about being an organ donor.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that, just because you need an organ, you’re not necessarily going to get it. Someone has to say ‘yes’ and sign up to be an organ donor.”

Some person whose identity the recipient might never know.

More than 3,400 Ohioans are on transplant waiting lists. In 2012, only 297 Ohioans donated organs at the time of their death. According to Lifeline of Ohio, their “gifts resulted in 958 life-saving transplants.”

Kaitlyn Thompson, of Lifeline of Ohio, explained: “The heroes who register as organ, eye and tissue donors can save eight lives and heal up to 50 more by donating vital organs and tissue.” The organs that can be donated are the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small bowel. Tissues able to be donated are corneas, bone, fascia, skin, veins, tendons and heart valves.

She explained and clarified the myths and misconceptions that can discourage people from registering as a donor in the Ohio Donor Registry. Some common myths include:

* Doctors and medical professionals won’t do everything to save my life if I’m an organ donor.

WRONG: The priority of the medical professionals at the hospital when an injury occurs is to save the patient’s life. A transplant team does not become involved until independent physicians have determined all possible efforts to save the life of the patient have failed and a time of death is announced. Doctors and hospital staff don’t even have access to the registry to see if the patient is a registered donor.

* My religion is against donation.

WRONG: In fact, all major U.S. religions support donation as the ultimate charitable gift of life and love. Individuals are encouraged to speak with their religious leaders about donation.

* I’m too old to donate.

WRONG: The truth is, you’re never too old to donate. The oldest donor to date was a 92-year-old who donated his liver to one of the more than 118,500 people waiting in the U.S. for a life-saving transplant. Anyone over the age of 151/2 can be a hero of donation by registering when they obtain/ renew their driver’s license or state I.D.

Individuals are encouraged to share their decision to donate with their families so they can help honor the person’s authorization to donate.

One of Huiner’s role models is his late daughter, Erika. After a courageous lifelong battle against the ravages of cystic fibrosis, Erika was listed for a transplant and waited three years before receiving two lungs on her 24th birthday. She lived a full and healthy life for nearly four years before dying of a cause unrelated to her transplant.

“Erika was not able to donate her organs but was a tissue donor and gave the gift of eyesight by donating her corneas,” he said.

Huiner remains in awe of the way Erika lived her life, but said it would be wrong to call her a hero. “The heroes of Erika’s story are the parents of a young girl who made the decision to donate their daughter’s organs so that four people, including Erika, could realize a new, healthy life.”

Not everyone who needs a transplant gets that second chance. Some die before an organ becomes available.

“In a perfect world, everyone who needs a lifesaving transplant should be able to get it. First, however, someone has to say ‘yes’ and sign up to be an organ donor. Everyone deserves that second chance at life,” Don said.

You can ask questions and register to be an organ, eye and tissue donor by visiting your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles agency, calling Lifeline of Ohio at 1-800-525-5667 or visiting lifeline ofohio.org.

Book Talk

Friday, February 15th, I was fortunate to have the chance to talk with a group called OWLS – Older and Wiser Lutherans – at St. John’s Lutheran Church in my hometown, Grove City, Ohio.

As always, I enjoyed the give and take with the group of nearly 50 seniors more than hearing my own voice. Since I am now a senior as well, we shared many types of experiences and thoughts of our faith in God.

Discussing my latest book, God Whispers: Nudges, Fudges and Butterfly Moments, when I asked what they thought I meant by nudges, several shoved their elbows out to the side with a laugh! Right, I said. Sometimes God needs to give us the elbow, in one form or another, to get our attention.

This was a lively group that I enjoyed immensely. Of course photos often don’t capture all the “action” but thanks to Jim Rorick, I can share a few photos. The first one (on the top) is of me (standing) with Ruth Sawyer Jividen, almost 98, who has a letter to Jesus in my book. Behind her sharing a big smile is another friend and neighbor, Ann Reynolds, who brought Ruth this day.  Ruth is a local historical icon with stories that are shared of her early days in Grove City. She and I published a series of columns in the late Suburban News Publications called “Ruth Remembers.” She is the last descendant of the first settler in our fair town.

Thank you OWLS for a delightful experience.

Liz with Ruth Jividen

Liz with Ruth JividenDSCN6661 

Carol Rorick, friend and neighbor, giving my introduction.

Carol Rorick, friend and neighbor, giving my introduction.

Start the year with great care

Newborn's Feet Cradled in Parent's Hand

I get lazy. My relationships are important to me but at times I say things I know I shouldn’t. For what purpose if they aren’t loving? Selfish purposes.

Once I read something by Erma Bombeck about how if she had life to live over she would do things differently. Burn the fancy candle before it melted on its own; get grass stains on her clothes because she was playing with her children and not sweat the small stuff. Who really cares which way the TP hangs? I mean, really.

So recently my tendency to be critical was flashed in my face. The little things that I should ignore. I knew I’d been caught and there was no escape. So what did I do?

I begged forgiveness and admitted I needed to change, not the other way around.

It was scary, really, realizing I was really wrong and there was no escape. But I didn’t really want an escape, I wanted to move on more healthy – more ready to see the best and ignore the silly stuff.

With God’s help, I was able to move on and the sleep is better, the sun is brighter and even the cold, cold weather and snow inspires me to remember; remember no one, especially me, is perfect and never will be.

So I’m not sweating the small stuff and it’s a much more enjoyable walk in this life.

Thank God.