@ 2006

Would've, Could've, Should've...New Year Resolutions

Each year, immediately after Thanksgiving, the magazine markets and the TV talk shows, inundate us with "how to" articles and stories: how to stick to your New Year's resolutions, how to set realistic goals for the new year, how to get that man of your dreams this year, how to make you look good from head to toe in 60 minutes, how to be a gourmet cook in less than 30 minutes, how to save money when you don't make any and, my favorite, how to go from a size 16 to a size 8 in just four weeks.

I don't know about you, but each year for as long as I can remember, I've promised myself that this would be the year I would lose all my weight and keep it off, stick to the Weight Watchers principles, exercise more, eat healthier foods, spend less, dress better, keep in touch with family members, be less angry, enjoy life more and spend less time on work. Naturally, these resolutions are swimming in my head on the eve of December 31st. Each year, I bring in the new year with a toast and a vision of what I will look like next year at this time.

The next morning, January 1st, I'm cradling my hangover from the night before and I've eaten all my allowable Weight Watchers points for the day, plus my week's bonus points, by 11 a.m. I'm angry and disappointed, I'm wearing my fat pants with the elastic stretch band (while eating those points, no less), I've gone out and spent money on comfort foods by 2:00 p.m., I've hung up on my brothers twice in the afternoon and I'm at the computer reading through my work e-mails. So much for setting realistic goals and sticking to them for the year. My vision of me wearing a size 8 skirt shattered in less than 12 hours.

This year, I decided, has to be different. After all, making a New Year's resolution means having to deal with change and, as we all know, change is difficult. The SayWhatClub is no different than any of us who go through changes. SWC is headed into a new year with greater expectations, some new ideas, new faces and, hopefully, new beginnings. That's not to say that the past was unsuccessful! In fact, if it weren't for the past, we would not be ready to move on to the future.

We are all here for the same reasons, we are a group of people who share a focus. SWC's mission statement reads as follows:
* Educating SWC participants and the public about all aspects of hearing loss;
* Providing for mutual sharing of coping and "life" skills;
* Reducing feelings of isolation, frustration and despair;
* Enhancing feelings of self-concept and optimism.

I don't know about you, but when I first read the mission statement, I knew immediately that I was "home." I wanted and needed desperately to be part of a place where people understood what I was feeling. I needed a place where I could have the political and social interchange without feeling left out. If I recall correctly, I joined right around December 2001. It was probably, my New Year's resolution for that year.

So, what does this all have to do with my New Year's resolution for the upcoming year, 2007? I am making two commitments this year and they have nothing to do with my diet.

My first commitment is to educate and inform my clients at work, the hearing impaired/deaf students and their families, and hearing impaired/deaf members here in my SWC home. That means finding reliable resources and information that you may or may not know of. Sure, some of us are more informed than others but no one here is exempt from learning something new, including myself.

My motto has always been, "Educate yourself and you will be able to negotiate what you want and need." Without information on what's available (for example, hearing aids, telecoils, FMs and/or assistive technology, etc.), others will make decisions for you. We must take 150% responsibility to educate ourselves and then move forward to get what we need to communicate more effectively in the hearing world.

My second commitment is to educate the hearing population I come across in my life daily. This includes my own family, friends and colleagues. More and more, I am finding and discovering that the hearing world does not want to understand what it means to be hearing impaired and/or deaf. It scares them terribly. After all, why do hearing people who begin to lose their hearing, accept wearing prescription glasses to correct their vision, but refuse and even scoff at wearing a hearing aid to increase their hearing ability? Why does the hearing population seem to lack tolerance in rephrasing when asked to repeat? My goal is to educate others and help them understand what it means to be hearing impaired. What it means to miss out on three-quarters of the conversation and, most of all, how terribly hurtful it is when asked, "How come you're not hearing me if you're wearing a hearing aid or have a cochlear implant?"

2007 can be just another year in your life as a hearing impaired/deaf adult or you can help by making a commitment to bring about change. That change can be something as simple as explaining your audiogram to a family member, discussing your own hearing loss to the PTA in your child's school so that you can partake in school functions or informing your pastor, rabbi or minister so that they understand you want to be part of the service and not just sit there clueless. Most of all, I believe in thanking those who help us publicly. Thank those who sponsor captioning for television and start a letter-writing campaign to those shows and commercials that do not provide captioning.

May the new year bring us all good health, loving families, fond memories, good friends, more laughter into our lives and, most of all, peace to a very complicated world.

Best Wishes,
Pearl Feder

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