My Hands...My Story

>> Thursday, May 21, 2009

Everytime I look at my hands, I think of the song that I heard several years ago called "Daddy's Hands" by Holly Dunn. The song tells the story of a daughter's view of her daddy's hands. It spurred my thought process to think of how everyone has a story to be told and some people use pictures, some use stories and some people, like me, use their hands.

My hands have been my life for almost 14 years; I started signing just before my 9th birthday. At that point, I had no clue what God had in store for me with sign language. I learned to sign just as a way to get out of the house one night a week and then more often once we started performances (I was in a sign language group that performed songs in sign language at various events and nursing homes).

But more than sign language, my hands have been my defense in the face of danger. I didn't exactly grow up in the best of environments and sometimes I found myself defending myself from those who I thought would protect and love me no matter what. Those years of defending myself have taken a toll on my hands and my heart. My hands (and the rest of my body) bear scars of times where my hands failed to protect me. As for my heart, I have found myself searching for love in a world that doesn't offer love like the love that I want/need. I have realized that the love that I need and want can only be found in the One who created me. He is the only one who has stood beside me and protected me when my hands have failed me and when my hands couldn't even protect me. He has stood strong beside me.

Like I said before, when I first learned sign language, I had no clue what God had in store for me in the years to come. As I progressed through life, I had the blessing of using my sign language to entertain others at talent shows and other various performances. But during my freshman year of college, the entertaining of others with my sign language came at my expense. It was during a warm spring evening in Arkansas when a friend and I decided to go swimming in the river just behind the university that we were attending. My careless night of fun changed my life forever. I contracted what doctors believe to be meningitis. I now have congenital progressive nerve damage hearing loss in both ears. I wear hearing aids full time and use an interpreter or assistive listening device when needed.

If I would have known when I dove into that river that night that I would find myself here today, I don't think I would have done it. But thanks to my desire to escape my house at a young age, I am now well prepared for no matter what life throws my way. But learning to deal with hearing loss hasn't been easy. When I first lost my hearing, I refused to speak. I faded from the world. It wasn't until I got home and got my hearing aids that I really connected with the world again. And the even then, the adjustment wasn't easy. My self esteem was through the floor and the simple noticing of my hearing aids by strangers set my mind on a whirl-wind adventure of doubting everything that I had been up until that point. I would often find myself silently asking the question "Do people think that I am stupid, or mentally challenged because I wear hearing aids?". In time, the frustration and embarrassment of wearing hearing aids faded and the questions no longer raced through my mind. There are still moments that I find myself embarrassed by my hearing aids but they are few and far between.

As part of my adjustment to an almost silent world, I had to find an interpreter for school and invest in an assistive listening device, both of which, I knew, would draw more attention to my hearing loss. But I took the opportunity afforded to me to inform others of the dangers that lurk in every activity that we do and that something as simple as a swim in a river can cost you more than what you may bargain for. The one thing that I hope to do by informing people of my hearing loss is to simply change one mind and hopefully save a life in the process.

So that's the story of my hands. Didn't really have much of a reason for writing this, just felt like I should. :) I hope that you enjoyed it.


Karate Celebration...or Test

I have successfully finished my first karate test. On Wednesday, I will get to sit down and discuss with my Sensei how I did and recieve my yellow belt. I will not longer be a white belt. I will proudly wear my hand-me-down belt from my friend, Tiffany.

To be completely honest, I was really nervous about my test. My Sensei has been reassuring me for the past few weeks that it isn't like I am actually being tested. As long as I show up to the test and do my best, I will pass. It isn't until I reach my purple belt (I believe) that I will actually be tested. (For those of you who don't know, the karate ranks are as follows: White, Yellow, Gold, Orange, Purple, Green, Brown with white stripe, Brown, Brown with black stripe, Black.) But no matter how much she told me that, I was still extremely nervous and to my misfortune, when I get really nervous, I cry. So I the testing site before the test started. But I made it through and that is what matters. It wasn't as scary as I thought that it was going to be which was good but it was intimidating since it was my first test. My male Sensei told me to be strong and I did just that. And my female Sensei told me "GAMBATTE! (never give up)" and I did that too. So I did well. Granted, I did have a hard time hearing what our head Sensei was saying so it was slightly frustrating there and it didn't help that my partner wasn't paying attention enough to know what she needed to do. But you can't expect everything to go smoothly.

I feel really blessed to be able to train with such amazing people who are supportive no matter what. Speaking of training, if any of you would like to train with me, just let me know. And if there are any women that you know who would enjoy a women's only karate/self defense class, let me know about them too. We are always looking for new students and since all of our white belts just became yellow belts, we need some new people to start this quarter.

I hope that you all are doing well. I miss you all lots and we all need to catch up. Love y'all!