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.

 

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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 …”

Health is a gift…

Day by Day
Health is a gift that should be appreciated
By Liz Thompson
ThisWeekNews.com
Wednesday July 16, 2014

Accidents happen. Life can change in the blink of an eye.

“Health and where you live is important because you need to know what you can control. Because pretty much everything else is out of (your) control,” said Brad Eldridge.

“I just want to be an average guy. Be a taxpayer.”

He said his aspirations are to serve people.

As a lay counselor for the Vineyard Church, he does just that. He knows firsthand about challenges.

“As a counselor, I see fighting about differences. Everyone has a human history that has far more similarities than differences,” Eldridge said.

In the early 1990s during a fraternity initiation at Otterbein College, the pledges were told to dive across the mud. Eldridge was a competitive diver and did a traditional tuck of his head and dove.

His life changed in a moment. He became quadriplegic.

Now 42, he has learned to adapt to a world that’s not built for him. Years ago, he moved to Creative Living near Ohio State University in a space that is built for him.

Eldridge considers himself a minimalist.

When he thinks of the beautiful buildings on the Otterbein and Ohio State campuses, he cringes to think of changing that architecture for a ramp.

“I never had the ‘take me through the front door’ mentality; it never made sense to me. I don’t care if I go in the back door (if the access ramp is there), just get me in the door.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in July, 24 years ago. Among other things, the act required buildings to be more accessible for people using wheelchairs.

“People tend to be insecure and get angry. I don’t get angry. Frustrated, yes — but I don’t waste energy on anger,” Eldridge said.

The last 18 months, he has seen life from his bed instead of his wheelchair while dealing with cancer treatments and pressure sores. Pain is a constant companion.

“I have to rise above the pain. I don’t want it to regulate my life,” Eldridge said. “I ran cross country and that’s about keeping pain at bay. So I was prepared long ago for this. I’m not real sure how I’m able to deal with this, but I just am.”
His faith challenges and sustains him. He doesn’t want to sit on the bench while other lives go on.

“I decided I’m done with this (focusing on pain) and have to move on. Get busy however I can.”
Science offers hope for people with paralysis.

Neurobridge inventor and project lead Chad Bouton of Battelle says, “Indeed, there is hope with science. I’ve spent my career at Battelle specifically because our organization was created with the charter of using science to benefit humanity. It’s something we still take seriously today and it’s something that is personally important to me.

“When I started working almost 10 years ago in the area of neurotechnology, I knew the possibilities could change the world. Today, with my team, we are still working as hard as we can to bring that to reality. We have a long way to go, but certainly we’ve made a lot of progress and hope one day our Neurobridge technology can help people living with paralysis every day.”

Ian Burkhart, 23, of Dublin, was the first to receive the Neurobridge, and with the intricate technology was able to move his fingers for the first time since he dove into a sandbar four years ago and became quadriplegic. Even though there is no personal benefit to him at this point, being part of this groundbreaking procedure was an honor.

The doctors and researchers kept Burkhart completely in the loop throughout the process. He said he knew that technology would come along, but he couldn’t sit around and wait for it. Eldridge was grateful someone took on the challenge — both Battelle researchers and Burkhart.

“This is how it is right now and I make the best of it,” Burkhart said. “Having the right attitude affects everyone.”
A former lacrosse player at Dublin Jerome High School, Burkhart now coaches boys lacrosse at his alma mater.

“It is often said that you don’t appreciate what you have until it is gone. Many people forget that their health is the most precious gift they have,” said chiropractor Peter Feldkamp.

At the end of the day, Burkhart and Eldridge agree that who you are as an individual is not just the body, it’s so much more. They are living proof.

 

If you have the desire, write, share and enjoy

If you have the desire, write, share and enjoy
By Liz Thompson
November 20, 2013
ThisWeekNews

Everyone has many a story to tell. Is it “worth writing a book about” is a question I hear often from people with stories they think are worth the ink.

Recently, I was at Praises Books and Gifts in Lancaster where they hosted a book signing for my second book. Sitting with me was Kathleen Welty who has three stories in this book, along with 14 other contributors.

Since I live in Grove City and grew up in Westerville, Lancaster obviously is not my hometown but it is Kathleen’s. She let friends and family know of the event and many came to see her and meet me. The best experience of the day was meeting these old friends and family of Kathleen and others who attended.

Kathleen’s inspirational stories show how God has touched her life. All three were accepted by the publisher, while some others, by other people, were not. They didn’t fit the theme but were well written.

I fought for one of Kathleen’s stories to stay in the book. Three times it was cut and still kept showing up in a new working manuscript. The third time, I said that it must be meant to stay in and the publisher agreed.

This day, I met Kathleen’s longtime Campfire leader and we talked about how different it was from my Girl Scout experiences. Some friends since first grade showed up with smiling faces and warm memories.

One woman asked about getting published. She had heard of an online service where she could self-publish and she kept talking. When she stopped, I asked how much she had written.

“Nothing yet. But it’s about relationships,” she said.

“Is your goal to simply be published or to tell the story?” I asked.

Her answer was to tell me the experiences. I was hooked and told her I’d read it but she had to get writing. I suggested she sit and write from the heart telling the stories just like she told us that day.

“Don’t edit or worry about sentence structure, just write freely,” I said. “Edit later and do lots of it.”

Our Grove City Writers’ Group supports this idea of editing well and often and that editors are our friends. I have always believed that. We all agree, too, that we can’t have a thin skin if we are going to be writers — published or not. Not everyone reading our work will like it. I don’t like every book or article I read, do you?

Being published or seeing a byline really does hold a personal thrill but I believe writing is about expressing our thoughts, recording personal and family history, sharing our experiences and more. Most artists I know of different mediums are compelled to express themselves.

Also recently, I had the good fortune to talk with the Current Events group at the Upper Arlington Senior Center. They asked me to talk about my life as a writer. I still need to remind myself that, in fact, I am a writer. It’s such a natural act for me and I’ve been blessed with venues like this newspaper, magazines and my books to express my thoughts and experiences.

Having been a reporter in Upper Arlington for two years, this was especially pleasant for me. I did quite a few stories on members of this senior center and other senior citizens in this lovely burg. Their stories often were the stuff of history books, or what they should be.

My Uncle Walter and Aunt Eva Page lived there for years and of course I visited as a girl and as an adult. I used to love hearing my uncle tell stories of his life on the farm on the East Side of Columbus. He wrote them down for his grandsons. My father-in-law made tapes of his life in Southeast Ohio as a coal miner and all his other experiences.

Things I heard growing up from my parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents seemed so distant from the life I knew. But these are tales of the people who helped form America’s history. They lived it, fought in the wars for our freedom and raised families against many odds. We can learn from this generation and need to listen.

Many have written their stories and been published. But whether or not you get published, I encourage you to write, share and enjoy.

Interview

Read my interview at this link: http://www.sellingbooks.com/elizabeth-thompson-author-interview 

Be sure and check the other author interviews. One in particular, Donna Schillinger who is a good friend, great writer and editor. Also, a fellow Christian.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. I just signed up for WordPress via linkedin. Here I will post updates on my book, Day by Day, The Chronicles of a Hard of Hearing Reporter, published by Gallaudet University Press in June 2008 and other things happening.

Be well!