We're all in this together

Posted by jennifer gibson on Sunday, September 23, 2018 Under: september 2018

I recently came across this phrase by Gabrielle Bernstein "We're all in this together" and thought it was the right fit for today. It certainly feels true. In one of her chapters, she was discussing the need for us to let go of the anger and resentment from our past, especially from our childhood. I agree and this is exactly what I'm working on these days, learning to let go of situations that I have no control over. They are life lessons from when I was a child that focus too much on inequality and separation and I do not need to carry that into my present day as an adult. 

Living with that horrible sense of dread or uncertainty can be pervasive if we allow it to continue to seep into our lives today. I know that feeling well. Most people who truly know me, are well aware that I'm working hard to overcome my personal issues. I've always been upfront about my demons, particularly from my childhood which still affects me today. 

I realize now that it was a hard learned lesson to discover the true meaning of strength and adversity. My past struggles in dealing with a severe hearing loss on my own, forced me to look inwards for answers and find out who I am as a person. Today, the word "strength" has a new meaning while I try to deal with chronic pain from three herniated discs in my spine. One of the difficulties of living with constant pain, 24/7, is being able to stay focused especially when I'm getting less than five hours of sleep at night. 

As a result, I'm always searching for inspiration and guidance on a daily basis. Living with chronic pain on top of pre-existing disability has pushed me to a new level in terms of perseverance. Learning to live with more limitations than ever before has changed my perceptions and tested my faith. 

I'm relying more on miracles and faith these days for answers. Sometimes it's through the guidance of Gabrielle's words (such as today about letting go of the past and old anger) that help me get through the day. What's interesting is that I'm in such a different place now, both physically and spiritually. Living in a new city has forced me to become much more independent than ever before. I have become more self aware and confident. Being able to look forward to the future with renowned optimism is especially important to me. 

Every day and night, I ask for signs that I am being guided. Sometimes the answers seem miraculous and happen fairly quickly or seem like perfect timing. Recently, I was worried about my finances when out of the blue, jobs and money began pouring in. I couldn't be more surprised and grateful. It was a welcome relief that I needed and a true blessing. As someone with a disability, being able to contribute to the society and local community, means the world to me. 

On the days when it seems like my life is falling to pieces, especially when I'm in a great deal of pain, I have had to turn to other means of solace. It may sound ridiculous but watching a show like "White Collar", "The Flash" or "Supergirl", is enough of a distraction to get me out of that dark place. Even spending time snuggling with my fur babies and doing Sudoku helps. Listening to music or spending time at the dojo can make a huge difference to my state of mind.

Martial arts has been a saving grace for me and the one sport that has remained in my life since high school. It has saved my life, literally, in more ways than one. Aside from learning valuable skills, including self defence, it has kept me sane and strong. Being a part of the martial arts community has given me an incredible opportunity to continue learning long after my first black belt. Even as an instructor, I was still developing new skills and innovative teaching methods. Working with students of all ages helped me stay young. 

I'm extremely fortunate to be a part of a local club ( that teaches Goju Ryu which is a new and exciting challenge for me. Every single day I look forward to training there even when I'm in a ridiculous amount of pain. It has given me a positive start on my new journey here. This will continue to help me stay strong in all aspects of my life. Granted, some days will be more difficult than others but it's a great opportunity to grow and learn from a supremely talented (and fun) instructor. 

I'm often asked why would I want to continue training in martial arts, even after obtaining more than one black belt. The answer is simple: it's a part of my soul. That passion is deep within me. Without it, I would be lost. 

One of many questions I'm asked on a regular basis is "How do Deaf people listen to music?" By the way, that's what I'm here for, to share my experiences so that others can learn from it. The answer to that popular inquiry is that I will often watch music videos so that I can lipread the singers or read the lyrics as I listen to it. Bear in mind, that my ability to hear sounds is fairly limited, it's almost like trying to listen to sounds while wearing super thick pillows over my ears. For the most part, it sounds muffled and distant. It's kinda like sticking your head out of a moving car on the highway and trying to talk to the person in another car as the wind rushes over your ears. It's loud, chaotic, and you get only bits and pieces of the conversation. 

So, how do I focus on the words from the music? The best way I've found is by doing two things at once: I follow the lyrics online while I listen to the song, over and over until I get it. Since my ears don't work like everyone else's, I have to train my brain to learn to recognize the words along with the acoustics. It's hard since I'm trying to literally separate the speech from the music because there is so much overlap. It's not easy since there is so much information for me to learn. 

That invariably leads to another question, "Don't you get sick of listening to the same song over and over?" My answer is no because it's a great learning opportunity for my brain to recognize the sounds especially with new hearing aids. The technology changes so much that I have to learn how to listen to people every time I get new ones. I hear an average of 50% of the conversation, or 30% in a noisy environment, which is basically six words out of an entire sentence. The rest of the time I'm guessing what is being spoken.  Due to the severity of my hearing loss, the hearing aids have a limited capability and can only work within a two meter range in front of me. Beyond that, I can't hear anything. I do rely on massive amounts of lip reading and observing body language. It's exhausting and I still miss a tremendous amount of information. 

For the most part, hearing loss is one of the most difficult and misunderstood disabilities. It's considered an invisible disability because you can't see how hard I am working just to hear. There are days (a lot of them) when I fail spectacularly and I feel like an absolute idiot And it's those days that I have to resist the temptation to have a melt down. It's times like those when I have to re-focus those negative thoughts into a learning experience mode and find other ways of dealing with it.

Right now, I'm in a unique place in my life where I have to embrace new challenges. They are a big part of my growth and self confidence, regardless of difficult it may be. Every day I'm constantly evolving into a better person who is slowly learning to love herself. The signs are there for me to find. 

Just like the other day when I discovered a new song by George Michael (As, duet with Mary Bilge). It wasn't until I started reading the lyrics that I realized the signs could not be more obvious, these words stood out: Loving you always. That was an incredibly poignant moment for me and something that I really needed to hear right now. 

In : september 2018 

Tags: "hearing loss" disability  "gabrielle bernstein" "martial arts" 'black belt" 
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