• HLAA Northern California Chapter Coordinator-in-Training Announcement

    by  • March 22, 2014

    HLAA-CA is delighted to announce that Janel Edmiston has been appointed Northern California Chapter Coordinator-in-Training by HLAA National. Don Senger, who has been serving as Northern California Chapter Coordinator since the resignation of Cindy Jagger, has kindly offered to mentor and support Janel.

    More information can be found here:
    http://hlaachapternews.blogspot.com/2014/03/a-good-story-northern-californias.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+hlaachapternews+%28HLAA+Chapter+Development+News%29…

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    Announcement Regarding HLAA-CA Board Members

    by  • February 19, 2014

    The board of trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America – California State Association (HLAA-CA) would like to thank Maxine Barton-Bauman, former HLAA-CA secretary and board member, Debbie Clark, former HLAA-CA vice president and board member, and Ellen Mastman, former HLAA-CA vice president and board member, for their service, contributions, and dedication. Additionally, the HLAA-CA board of trustees cordially would like to welcome Janel Edmiston, Ram Kakkar, and Karen Wheeler who joined the HLAA-CA board of trustees. Furthermore, during the February 15, 2014 HLAA-CA board meeting, HLAA-CA had its annual officer election. Jim Montgomery was reelected HLAA-CA president, Zina Jawadi was elected HLAA-CA vice president, Karen Wheeler was elected HLAA-CA secretary (vacated by Zina Jawadi), and Jeff Chess was reelected HLAA-CA treasurer.…

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    HLAA-CA Board of Trustees Meeting, February 15, 2014

    by  • February 3, 2014

    HLAA-CA Board of Trustees Meeting Saturday, February 15, 2014, Everyone Welcome

    The HLAA-CA Board of Trustees meeting will be held Saturday, February 15, 2014, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at the San Leandro Marina Inn, 68 Monarch Bay Drive, San Leandro, CA 94577. The discounted hotel rate is $109 per night, and parking is free. To get the discounted rate, please call the hotel at (510) 895-1311. Free pick-up from the Oakland Airport if you are staying at the hotel.

    Everyone is welcome. See you there!…

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    Hearing Loss Association of California renamed to Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association, Inc.

    by  • October 28, 2013

    The Hearing Loss Association of California (HLA-CA) has officially changed its name to the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association, Inc. (HLAA-CA).

    The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) is the nation’s leading organization representing people with hearing loss. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, HLAA is a national and international, non-sectarian, educational organization for people with hearing loss, their relatives, and their friends. HLAA provides hearing loss education, support, and advocacy and works on raising public awareness about hearing loss and eradicating the stigma associated with hearing loss.

    The Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association, Inc. (HLAA-CA), formerly Hearing Loss Association of California (HLA-CA), was founded by a group of HLAA California state leaders in 1989. HLAA-CA is affiliated with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). In addition to the state-level HLAA-CA, California has nineteen HLAA local chapters, as of October 2013.

    Both HLAA and HLAA-CA are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations.

    The new name, Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association, Inc. (HLAA-CA), aligns HLAA-CA with the HLAA national brand, strengthens HLAA-CA’s name recognition, and unifies HLAA-CA’s identity with the HLAA national organization, HLAA chapters, and other HLAA state organizations. Furthermore, the new name recognizes HLAA as a single entity with many chapters and state associations.

    The HLAA-CA logo will be updated in the near future.

    Zina Jawadi
    HLAA-CA Secretary…

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    Hearing Loss Association of California – State Board of Trustees 2013 Election Applications

    by  • October 8, 2013

    There are three Board openings each year. Board members are elected at-large to represent all members of HLA-CA.

    If you are interested in serving on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association – California (HLA-CA), you must:

    • Be a member of Hearing Loss Association of America.
    • Support the goals of the Hearing Loss Association of America.
    • Be willing to serve a full three-year term on the Board of Trustees.
    • Attend at least two Board meetings per year, normally in February and August. A limited reimbursement is allowed for travel expenses.
    • Be willing to communicate with the board via email between meetings and vote via email when required.
    • Have no conflict of interest, such as representing vendors or distributors who provide services or equipment to HLA-CA or its members.
    • Ideal nominees will have meeting skills, and an ability to conduct program and policy evaluations at the state level. Nominees should be known as team players.

    The purpose of HLA-CA is to:

    • Provide a strong communication link between National, State and local chapters.
    • Aid the Hearing Loss population and the State organization in providing focused advocacy efforts, both national and local in scope.
    • Assist Hearing Loss Association of America in policy development, review and evaluation.

    To apply for the Board of Trustees, please send a cover letter via email including:

    • The number of years you have been a HLAA member
    • The number of years of HLAA chapter membership/leadership
    • Your hearing loss (if applicable)
    • Why you would like to serve on the HLA-CA Board of Trustees
    • Hearing loss issues you are interested in
    • Your email address for contact, or questions from voters
    • Include or attach:
      • A current resume with applicable experience listed (resume will be used by the HLA-CA nomination committee only)
      • Endorsement by your chapter
      • A 250-word candidate’s statement/autobiography to be used in ballots, which will be sent to HLAA members and published on the HLA-CA website

    Please email completed applications to Susan Shaffer, HLA-CA Nominations Chair, at sshaffer@hearinglossca.org, by October 20, 2013

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    HLA-CA Board of Trustees Meeting, September 21, 2013

    by  • July 26, 2013

    HLA-CA Board of Trustees Meeting Saturday, September 21, 2013, Everyone Welcome

    The HLA-CA Board of Trustees meeting will be held Saturday, September 21, 2013, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles International Airport Hotel, 5985 West Century Blvd, Los Angeles CA.  The discounted room rate is $110.00, and discounted parking is $10.00 per day.  Free pick-up from LAX.

    Ron Elsberry, Disability Rights Legal Center, will speak about ADA training.

    Everyone is welcome.  See you there!…

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    HLA-CA Board of Trustees Election – Deadline October 10, 2012

    by  • August 22, 2012

    Interested in running for the HLA-CA’s Board of Trustees? Applications will be accepted to fill three positions. An applicant must be a member of HLAA and a resident of California. The term of office is three years with two Board meetings a year in February and August.

    Please send completed applications to Susan Shaffer, Nominations Chair, 9341 Gordon Avenue, La Habra, CA 90631, sshaffer@hearinglossca.org, postmarked no later than October 10, 2012.…

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    Increase Public Awareness & Action for Hearing Loss – Join the Competition Online – Deadline September 30, 2012

    by  • August 22, 2012

    The Oticon Foundation and the non-profit Ida Institute have launched a worldwide open call for ideas that have the potential to generate better understanding of hearing loss, change public perception and encourage people to take action. Ideas, Speak up – Action and Awareness for Hearing Loss is an open innovation competition, funded by the Oticon Foundation and facilitated by the Ida Institute. The idea competition is designed to involve hearing care professionals, students, patients, families and the general public to submit their original ideas online for awareness projects that have the potential to affect change locally and/or globally, are simple and cost-effective and inspire people to action.

    Why is such a competition needed? More than 250 million people worldwide have hearing loss and 80 percent go untreated. Many attempts at raising awareness have been tried in the past and yet none have had any lasting impact. Hearing loss has high costs both individually and for society. Past negative images and stereotypes prevent people from seeking solutions. Hearing loss will continue to affect an ever greater number of people due to an aging population. Unacknowledged and untreated hearing loss is linked to health problems, stigma, job loss and social exclusion.

    Now is the time to make a difference by coming up with ideas to increase public awareness. So don’t wait. Speak up, post your ideas, share, vote, win. If you Click ideas, you can read already submitted ideas.

    Until September 30, 2012, ideas will be shared online at www.awarenessforhearingloss.com and commenting and voting will take place. From October through February 2013, implementation plans for the top-ten ideas will be developed. In February, an expert panel of judges, made up of thought leaders in a variety of hearing and health care, innovation and communication disciplines, will select three winning ideas that will be announced at the April 2013 American Academy of Audiology Conference in Anaheim, CA.

    Each prize winner will receive a round trip airline ticket to Anaheim, CA, three nights stay at a hotel, a subsistence stipend and entry to the AAA Conference.

    About the Oticon Foundation
    Founded in 1957, the Oticon Foundation funds social and educational programs, publications, conferences, cultural activities and campaigns – both for researchers, hearing care professionals and the general public. The Foundation supports the needs of hearing impaired individuals as well as organizations that serve people with hearing loss.

    About the Ida Institute
    Established in 2007 with a grant from the Oticon Foundation, the Ida Institute is a non-profit independent educational institute located in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Institute seeks to foster a better understanding of the human dynamics associated with hearing loss, by serving as a catalyst for knowledge sharing and the development of innovative and practical tools.

    Marisa Sarto entered her photojournalism idea, Hear Nor There, in the
    competition. Following is Grace Tiessen’s entry, Hearing loss is a public health issue.
    Please VOTE. Use the search bar to find the idea you want to vote for, open it.
    At the top there will be 5 stars. Click on the stars.

    • Hearing loss is a Public Health Issue;
    • that everyone throughout their lives should have their hearing tested;
    • that audiologists and doctors must collaborate and prescribe hearing aids or CIs and follow up.

    I am profoundly hard of hearing and wear two Cochlear Implants. I get annual checkups to get a report on my health. For years I was told my health was excellent when in fact I was in poor psychological health. I was anxious, under stress, withdrawn, isolated. I had trouble with my close relationships. It was impossible for me to go to school or work. My three children, now in their fifties, with a family history of hearing loss, have never had their hearing tested.

    In 2012, I went to a Research Symposium at the Hearing Loss Association of America Convention, How the Brain makes sense of the World of Sound, and learned
    • 85% of people who need hearing aids do not get them in the US and the UK (free hearing aids). So money is not the problem.
    • There is a strong connection between dementia and untreated hearing loss with a 32% faster rate of cognitive decline in people with hearing loss vs normal hearing.
    • The representation of speech within the brain breaks down with sensorineural hearing loss.

    The Solution. Hearing must become part of our medical record with our primary care physician, just like cholesterol, blood pressure, mammograms, vaccinations, family history of disease.
    There must be a mandated schedule of hearing tests (an audiogram), and mandated followup. Testing at birth, at ages 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 and then every five years for life.

    How to implement this? Next time I go for my annual checkup, I am going to give the above information to my primary care doctor. I am going to suggest to everybody on my Facebook page that they do the same.
    The American Academy of Audiologists, Hearing Loss Association of America and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association must work to have this passed into law. Testing at birth is already mandated. Expand this to mandated life long testing of hearing and mandated followup.…

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    HLAA Board of Trustees Meeting – August 4, 2012 in Long Beach

    by  • July 15, 2012

    HEARING LOSS ASSOCIATION – CALIFORNIA
    BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING

    Saturday August 4, 2012   –   9:00 am to 4:30 pm

    Arts and Services for Disabled Inc.

    3626 East Pacific Coast Highway, Third Floor, Long Beach, CA 90804

    HLAA members are welcome.

    Please RSVP by July 30, 2012

    Gail Morrison, gmorrison@hearinglossca.org

    Maxine Barton-Bauman, mbarton@hearinglossca.org

    Captioning, looped room, lunch provided…

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    Senior Technology Lab at GLAD – July 2012, September 2012, January 2013 (Free)

    by  • May 11, 2012

    The SENIOR TECHNOLOGY LAB at the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc. (GLAD) is a FREE 10 week course for deaf and hard of hearing senior citizens. This is funded by the California Communications Access Foundation (CCAF) and will include an introduction to computers, basic computer operation, sending and receiving email, using programs to develop documents such as grocery lists, creating birthday cards, and putting together a photo album.

    Dates:
    First Session Begins July 3, 2012
    Second Session Begins September 18, 2012
    Third Session Begins January 8, 2013

    Location:
    Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc.
    2222 Laverna Ave.
    Los Angeles, CA 90041

    Registration Information:
    323-478-8000 (Voice/TTY)
    323-892-2225 (VP)
    info@gladinc.org
    www.gladinc.org…

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    Chapter Fundraising: The Garage Sale

    by  • January 23, 2012

    1. Find a good location. Hopefully, you can find someone in your group (or a friend of a friend) who is willing to donate their home as the site of the sale. You don’t really need a garage — the front lawn and driveway are usually enough. The key is finding a house on a high-traffic street. We’ve used Danny and Katherine’s house in Glendale, which is a corner house on two VERY high-traffic streets.

    2. Garage sale basics. The more merchandise, the better. The more “prime” merchandise the better. What’s prime? Antiques, usable furniture, tools, car parts, kids toys, usable furniture, new books and DVDs. Interestingly, framed artwork does not sell very well. Give your members plenty of advance warning, and have them search their houses for items that will get a lot of interest. Let them know this is NOT a consignment sale — all of the proceeds go to the group, and any unsold items will be donated to charity at the end of the garage sale (see #9 below). Have a cash box on hand, about at least $50 in change: singles and fives. Maybe a couple of bucks in quarters, but don’t go crazy on having change ready. Most sales come in multiples of $.25 or $1. Have plenty of tables and display racks. The more the better. (see item #8 below). Have a table set up just for the cash, and have it at the very back of the sale. DO NOT SELL MERCHANDISE BEHIND THE CASH BOX. PROTECT THE CASH BOX AT ALL TIMES. It’s not like the world is full of thieves, but the world is full of folks who’ll grab a loose stack of cash if they spot an opportunity.

    3. Get a crew of volunteers to work the event, which means getting to the site by 6:30 or 7am at the latest. The serious garage sale buyers are out at dawn, literally, looking for bargains that can be resold. These people will make or break your sale. If they come by at 7am and you have nothing to sell, you’ve lost a big opportunity. We generally make half our money by 9am, and 80 percent of our money by noon. (Make sure you have a reliable cashier who knows how to bargain with customers. It’s also a good idea to have bags on hand for purchased items.)

    4. Try to make it a fun event. We usually have doughnuts and coffee for our volunteers, and Danny grills hot dogs around noon. We sell the hot dogs to the public, but we give them to the chapter members who are on hand. It’s a cheap morale booster (and a bonding experience). We’ve also tried having homemade goodies for sale. It’s not a big moneymaker, but it gets all of us involved.

    5. Market appropriately. Like all garage sales, you want to put signs up in the neighborhood a few days in advance. And you can place garage sale listings on sites like Craigslist, Recycler.com and the Penny Saver. Make sure to list it as a non-profit fundraiser. Have a large banner or sign at the garage sale itself promoting this as a non-profit fundraiser, and offer receipts staying that HLAA is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

    6. Pick a date in the spring or fall (not too hot, not too cold), and if you want to make it an annual event, keep it around the same time period. It’s surprising how many people have shown up at our garage sale year after year.

    7. Put your most people-friendly out front. Not everyone is a born salesperson, or a born schmoozer. Our group has a couple of each, and they tend to take a large role, encouraging people to stop, shop and spend. Have one or two people handle the cash and negotiate with shoppers. The others can keep the displays neat and fully stocked.

    8. Neatness counts. Don’t throw a pile of clothes on the ground and expect people to buy lots of them. Organize the sale by type of merchandise as much as possible. Electronics on one table. Books on another. Kids toys in one section, artwork in another. It’s almost impossible to do this 100 percent, but it helps people find the merchandise they’re most interested in.

    9. Plan for the end of the sale before the sale begins. We advertise a sale from 8am to 3pm, and one of the smartest things Danny and Katherine ever did was arrange to have a charity come by at exactly 3pm to pick up EVERYTHING that wasn’t sold—even the crappiest items. Some charities will want to pick through and select what they will or won’t take, which could leave the homeowners with a huge cleanup problem. Find a group willing to take everything, and have a crew of volunteers to help pack up the leftovers in boxes and load the truck. Do NOT expect the same group that set-up at 6am to have the strength to clean-up at 3pm.

    10. The big one: Plan to have fun but work really really hard. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it, no matter how much or how little you make. Working with your fellow chapter members is a great bonding experience, and a great team-building exercise. You will be closer when the day is over than when it begins.

    This post was written by Alicia Fernandez and her husband Michael Caplan, who are members of the HLA-Los Angeles Chapter.

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    The Power of Ed Roberts

    by  • December 14, 2011

    Why should young people care about Ed Roberts?

    First of all, do you even know who he is? You probably have a neighbor named Ed Roberts. Even if you do not, I don’t need to wonder why you have never heard his name before.

    Two years ago, I gave a presentation in several college classrooms that included a slide of three images set next to one another: Martin Luther King Jr, Harvey Milk, and Ed Roberts. I asked them to name the people in the images. I think only one person recognized Ed Roberts. One.

    Ed Roberts was a disability rights activist. He went to UC Berkeley and helped launch the Physically Disabled Students Program run by students with disabilities. He changed the way that architecture could be accessed by people with disabilities. He was a pioneer in the independent living movement. He served on various boards, was a vital part of the emergence of the Center for Independent Living, and co-founded the World Institute on Disability. He did this all before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)…because he spoke up. And he didn’t do it alone. His actions were part of a nationwide movement that affirmed the dignity and potential of all people with disabilities to make their own decisions about the lives they wanted to live.

    Why should students know about Ed Roberts? The same reason why you should know about Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony. They represent movements. Minority groups. You.

    In the past year, the newly redesigned Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley opened. It’s a model of universal design – design that is accessible for all. Ed, who died in 1995, would have liked that.

    The California Museum recently inducted him into their Hall of Fame.

    But is he in your textbooks? On the walls of your classroom? A part of the curriculum? In classroom discussions? If he isn’t, he should be – along with countless others who were a vital part of the disability rights movement before and after the ADA, including Justin Dart Jr, Laura Hershey, Paul Longmore, Harriet McBryde Johnson, Leroy Moore, and Kate Gainer. As a young person, you have the power to organize in your hands. You can demand to have disability history in the curriculum. Justin Dart Jr once said “Get into empowerment.” Go for it!…

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    My 25th High School Reunion

    by  • November 2, 2011

    I’m not sure what brave soul inhabited my body last Saturday, but suddenly I found myself driving to my 25th high school reunion, a fresh battery in my hearing aid and a pad and pen in my purse. I haven’t attended a reunion since my hearing loss began about 20 years ago. Social events are stressful enough, but something about seeing people who knew me when I had normal hearing has always seemed extra scary.  I could never get used to the thought of being seen as the girl who once had all that potential and now had a major disability. I’ve dreaded the discomfort that would inevitably ensue when people would realize they couldn’t communicate with me the way they used to. Or maybe it’s been my own discomfort that’s scared me most, and the thought of being so blatantly reminded of what my life was then, and what it is now.

    My first act of nerviness happened weeks earlier, when I emailed Jenny, the reunion coordinator (our former homecoming queen), and confided to her about my hearing loss. I wanted to know if there would be loud music playing at the event, and if there would be any quieter outdoor areas more conducive to conversation. Her warm response was more than I expected. She suggested I show up, scope out the environment and if I decided not to stay, she’d refund my ticket. She said if necessary, she would turn the music down (or off), and emphasized that this was meant to be an all-inclusive event.

    It wasn’t until an hour before the reunion began that I finally committed myself to going. When I arrived, Jenny greeted me with a mini dry-erase board to use for the night. I was so touched by her thoughtful gesture. Since she had made the effort to bring it, I felt compelled to actually use it, even though the packed room was making me want to run. There’s always that panic that sets in at social events, that desperate hope that somehow a miracle will occur, that my hearing aid (and non-functioning cochlear implant) will somehow allow me to interact and converse like everyone else.  But who was I kidding? Even without music on, the background noise level was so high from all the loud chattering. I couldn’t hear a thing.

    The dry-erase board was a great idea, much easier to use than a notepad. And once I had it in hand, I had no choice but to use it. Even if I wanted to, it wasn’t something I could just tuck away in my purse. People would ask why I had it, which forced me to disclose my condition right away.

    Some people were hesitant about writing on the board, and just didn’t want to be bothered with it. They seemed to think they could make me hear if they yelled in my ear loudly enough. (By the way, to anyone out there who thinks that yelling in a hard-of-hearing person’s ear is helping them, you’re wrong. Most likely, it’s still going to sound like mumbo jumbo, just really loud mumbo jumbo. In fact, you’ve probably just caused a little more damage to our already-damaged hearing cells. The best thing to do is to look at us head-on so we can see your mouth as you speak.)

    Besides those few who disregarded the board, most people seemed genuinely okay with using it. I would try conversing normally first, with lip reading and whatever my hearing aid could pick up, but would usually end up having to politely gesture to the board. Gradually, I became more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, if that makes any sense. It was people’s willingness to communicate with me that helped fuel my confidence throughout the night. Heck, there were guys I never talked to in high school who were now writing on a dry-erase board to me! And while I often felt embarrassed and awkward, I also felt a sense of empowerment that I’m not used to feeling. There was something very freeing about exposing my deafness. After years and years of hiding my condition, I was finally showing people, this is who I am now.

    It’s funny how life never goes as expected. In high school, I imagined myself at my 25-year reunion with a fabulous career, maybe a PhD, and enough worldly success to make people envy me. I never dreamt that the accomplishment I’d feel most proud of would be simply showing up and communicating as best I could. For me, it was a huge step, a monumental feat. When I think about what constitutes “success” for me now, I feel twinges of melancholy and disappointment. But more than that, I feel a deep inspiration forming, an inner pride that makes me want to keep going. Twenty-five years ago, I’m sure I wouldn’t have signed up for the journey I’ve been on. But maybe real success lies in embracing whatever journey’s been handed to you as best you can, and realizing that a dry-erase board can mean just as much as a PhD, sometimes more.

    A week later.  There was one guy who spent a lot of time “conversing” with me by writing on the board, and I connected with him on Facebook after the reunion to thank him. I thought I’d share his meaningful response with you……“I have to admit, I don’t like loud places so much and the reunion was loud! The only real and meaningful conversation I had was with you and your dry-erase board. I thought that was so ironic! It took your situation to enable a conversation worth having! I thank you for being patient and letting me into your world for a moment.”

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    Welcome to the HEARD: Equine Assisted Psychotherapy

    by  • November 2, 2011

    A year ago, if you had told me that a trio of horses would change my entire outlook on life, I most likely would have looked at you with quizzical eyes, which I would have proceeded to roll and added, “Yeah, right!”

    But last Spring, a group of three horses actually DID manage to change my whole outlook on life.  This is how it went…

    I am a psychotherapist, and in order to maintain my license I must complete a certain number of CEUs (Continuing Education Units) every year.  This year, I decided to collect my hours by doing something out of the ordinary. I signed up for a three-day workshop on Equine Assisted PsychotherapySo that is how I happened to take a plane to Colorado one Wednesday evening in early May, following my day of work.

    It was sunny and comfortable in L.A. when I left.  I was wearing a pair of paddock boots, jeans, a t-shirt and a fleece sweatshirt.  I had packed a raincoat just to be safe.  I arrived in Denver at 9:30 pm, smack in the middle of a snowstorm!!  It was 30 degrees and the visibility was terrible.  I rented a compact car and in the middle of the night, drove an hour to a little hotel near the training site.  I checked in, got my key and carefully entered my room.

    I had planned to share a room with two other training attendees I’d never met.  They were asleep.  I quietly put my suitcase down, undressed and settled into bed, exhausted from the stressful drive.  Boy, did I feel proud!  Look at me, I’d travelled all this way, in a storm, going to sleep next to people I don’t even know, and I’m not even scared or anxious!  What a tough chick I am!!!

    The next morning, I awoke to meet Susan, an Equine Specialist, and Sheri, a psychotherapist.  We had an instant connection, the kind where you wonder if you had met this person before, maybe in a previous life?

    We proceeded to the training.  It was a cold, cold day.  There were about forty of us in a big covered riding arena, sitting on little plastic chairs and covered with extra blankets.  The ranch was gorgeous, but it was freezing cold!  In attendance were three horses roaming about.

    We proceeded with the general introductions and I, of course, was the first to stand and share with all those in attendance that I was hard of hearing and that I needed them to look at me when they spoke and raise their hand so that I could see who was speaking.  Deaf Assertiveness 101.  For sure, that earned me the love of the entire audience… NOT! This room was nearly all psychotherapists, but soon enough, my roommates began hearing snide comments such as, “Well, I’d like to sit at the front, too!”  Of course, I was oblivious to their words, not being able to hear!

    Life was all good…until I raised my hand to participate.  Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is experiential by nature: we focus on the emotions that emerge when doing an on-the-ground activity with the horses.  (The most common types of therapy are solution-focused or cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which focus on your thought process; however, experiential-oriented therapy focuses on the emerging feelings in the moment.)  So, I get up and volunteer with 9 other participants, feeling nervous because I might not be able to hear or follow directions, but thinking, “What is the worst that can happen?  I could get trampled by a horse, I guess.”  In retrospect, I think it would actually have been less painful if I had ended up being trampled.

    Instead, I ended up crying. “When it rains, it pours,” goes the saying—but in my case, it was more like “when it rains, there is a typhoon.”  It turned out that the exercise with the horses raised so many feelings of inadequacy and hurt that I did not know what to do with myself.  I’d thought that over the years I had handled my late deafness, that I’d made it past the grief and found my place in the world.

    Twenty minutes of work with the horses proved I’d been kidding myself all these years.

    And it felt as if the horses knew it: like me, they were looking for an exit from the ring the entire time.  I realized that my life had always been about the destination, never about the journey.  If I get this job, then I will be worth it; if I get this degree, then I will be better; if I write a book then I will be someone, and on and on… but the bottom line is, no matter what I accomplish, no matter how many people validate me and no matter how much I am loved, it is obviously never enough, because deep inside I still feel broken and a misfit, forever unhappy.

    It also brought back many suppressed memories from my childhood.  I was totally overwhelmed.  I cried a whole night and half the following day.  I could neither stop nor verbalize my feelings.  I felt ravaged, dazed and disoriented.

    Then, on the afternoon of my last day in Colorado, when the tsunami seemed to be receding, leaving merely a storm to rage within me, this huge draft horse found me sitting on a chair in the big arena.  He was the only blind horse there, and he picked the only person in the group who had a disability.  He placed his muzzle on my shoulder, and stayed there for a few long minutes as if to say “I feel your hurt, I feel YOU, just bear with me, it is going to be ok.”  As people all around were watching me cry (most likely wondering what on earth was wrong with this deaf woman!) I felt my inner eye open.  I felt I...

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