Spot the difference…

Hearing Dog Marshall had his first bus ride with me this week. The driver initially questioned his presence, but as soon as I pointed to his ‘Hearing Dog’ jacket, he was welcomed aboard!

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What we wear says a lot about ourselves. Uniforms are obvious examples. They allow us to identify someone’s job and their position. When I was a student nurse our caps had one, two or three stripes denoting how many years training were under our belts!
Mufti isn’t a word commonly used nowadays, but what we wear off-duty can communicate a lot too. We use clothes to reflect our personality, or present the image we would like others to see.

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As a deaf person I look for information in someone’s appearance. It gives me clues about what might be important to the person, and what interests they might have.  What do they look like they’ve just been doing, where might they be going to, what stage of life may they be at, and so what kind of things might they start talking about? It enables me to prepare myself for a conversation and attune to words they may use. Being deaf requires the rapid processing of visual information…
However, there is a danger, and that’s making misassumptions. I guess we all make rapid evaluations of people, but it can be easy to get it wrong. Hence

‘never judge a book by its cover’

Truth is, regrettably I have done this. The tough looking guy who looked anything but a gentle giant, the marathon runner who looked like they’d find a stroll in the park tough going, the graduate who without mortarboard and gown, took me by surprise. Whoops, whoops and whoops.
It reminds me to hold lightly to first impressions, and to spot the difference between outer appearances and inner qualities, and to look for the gems within everyone.
Yes, what we wear says a lot about us, but it’s never the whole story. So no more jumping to conclusions, and mistaken identities…

Truth is… If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Nudges…

I haven’t been writing recently as I’ve been busy bonding with a new partner.
Just over a month ago I had the news that a possible ‘match’ had been found for me, and the invitation to meet him…

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Yes, ‘him’ is a dog.
I’m deaf, and I’ve been waiting for an Assistance Dog for over two years, so imagine my delight at the prospect of a first meeting to see if there was a spark between us!
There was, and with the basics in place, ‘Marshall’ moved in and a trusting relationship is resulting.
Truth is, I’m learning a lot from him…

A successful partnership has trust at its core. A Hearing Dog trusts a deaf person to notice and respond to what it is communicating through its nudges, and the person trusts the dog to be with them 24/7. Like any meaningful relationship, it’s rooted in trust.
Isn’t this what God longs for us? That we trust God to be with us, and respond knowing that our best interests are at heart.

For Marshall and me, the nudges are all important. Marshall has been trained to nudge my leg with his nose and lead me to what needs my attention.

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His nudges are gentle yet firm, and always for a reason. He urges me to follow him, and in doing so, I find out what I need to know.
Isn’t this the way of God? That if we respond to the nudges we sense, we will discover more of what life is about.
For in doing what we have been gifted to do, and in being who we are blessed to be, we will find connection and fulfilment.

It is true that:

in giving we receive

Giving is about filling the space that has our name on it.
Marshall does this – and without looking for the approval of others. My affirmation of him is sufficient. But he only receives this because he keeps close to me, and senses my affection.
Isn’t this the same for us? If we are to sense deep affirmation and love, we need to keep close to God.

Truth is…. There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. (Acts 20:35)

 

Deaf Sentence…

There was a day last week when I felt under a deaf sentence!
No, that’s not a typo, I am deaf.
It was news coverage of a report in the Lancet that darkened my day – research has shown that hearing loss tops the list of factors that can lead to dementia.

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That’s the bad news. The good news is that this isn’t inevitable.
It’s not so much deafness that can contribute to dementia, but the isolation
and depression that deafness can result in. These are ‘modifiable’ factors,
and if a person can find a way through and forward, there’s a case for optimism!

Of course, it’s not only deaf people who may experience isolation and depression.
For a wide variety of reasons, many people will experience poor mental health in one form or another, at some point in their life.
From my experience, focusing on the little things that can be changed in life rather than the big things that can’t, and having the courage to spot the difference, is the way forward.

Truth is, it was a mixed blessing when my audiology results catapulted me into the ‘severely deaf’ category.
It confirmed a degenerative condition, yet opened up the possibility of an Assistance Dog, and I’m now on the waiting list for a Hearing Dog which will transform my life in so many ways.

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In the meantime, I need to live in the present moment.
As a believer, I have the sense that God longs for us to let go of re-living the past or pre-living the future. It’s the choices we make today, that shape life for us, and those around us.

The essentials of happiness have been identified as

“Something to do, something to love, and something to hope for”

This dates from the 18th century, so it’s stood the test of time.
To me, it suggests that a meaningful life is a purposeful life. It all comes down to choices, and whether we are open to life in all its fullness, even with limitations!

 Truth is…  ‘I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness’ John 10:10