Don't Let Life Slip Away from You!
I know, better than anyone, that my advice isn’t worth pure gold. Even on my best day, I’d never suggest that anything I have to say is worth a $20 bill. Someone once suggested that I charge people to read certain articles on Self Help Daily. I was relieved that he suggested it in e-mail, so he didn’t have to see me throw my head back and laugh as I said, “Oh, that’s a good one!”
I don’t have an over-inflated sense of myself or anything about me… well, I take that back. I’m beyond cocky about my cooking. I’m pretty sure that if anyone ever told me something I cooked or baked was less than a 10 on a scale of 1-10, I’d grab them by their neck collar and throw them out of my kitchen, all the while asking them how they managed to live to this point with absolutely no taste buds.
I’d offer to set up a fund and solicit money to buy them a new tongue – one with taste buds that actually function. I’m just charitable like that.
In all seriousness (an area I seldom visit), the advice I’m about to lay on you is golden. It’s the best advice you will get all year.
I’m not being cocky.
I’m not being grandiose.
I’m simply being honest.
If you have anything in the world that stands between you and enjoying the world to its absolute fullest, I plead with you to take the one small step to navigate around it.
I have been needing new glasses for years. YEARS. But, like most people, I kept seeing other things that I’d rather spend time and money on. Looking back, I know just how ridiculous I was. I’d even go as far to say that I was foolish.
Since I’d last gotten a pair of glasses, my vision has changed a great deal. I could tell when driving or riding in a car, for example, that I couldn’t read signs I was pretty sure I once read. When reading a book or the back of a cereal box, for that matter, I always had to take my glasses off or peek over the top in what I always termed my “annoyed librarian look.” The kind of look a librarian throws to kids who aren’t talking with their “indoors voice.”
The vision change happened so gradually I wasn’t fully aware of just how much I was missing. I knew that I had been slacking off on my writing and reading, but I guess (somehow) I never attributed it to the simple fact that trying to SEE the words I wanted to type and read had become such a challenge.
I knew I needed stronger glasses and I knew I needed bifocal lenses. But I kept putting it off – for years. And years. It wasn’t vanity because thanks to AMAZING technology, today’s bifocals look exactly like all other glasses. “No Line Bifocals” look the same as all other glasses. It boggles the mind, but NO ONE knows you’re wearing bifocals except you. You know it when you can actually read without taking off your glasses, you know when the text on your phone is clearer than ever, and you know when you don’t whip out your annoyed librarian look while reading small print.
More than anything, I think I was afraid of being able to adjust to bifocal lenses. I envisioned myself getting seasick just walking through the room. I pictured myself floundering in a distorted world that suddenly seemed like a house of mirrors.
I got my beautiful new No Line Bifocal glasses this weekend and am relieved to say I’m neither seasick or floundering. What I am is amazed. Absolutely amazed. A whole new world has, literally, been opened up for me and I realize, now, that I didn’t even realize, then, just how much I was missing.
As soon as we left Lenscrafters, I found myself reading billboards and restaurant names from FAR away. Because my vision had deteriorated slowly, the world had, in a sense, slowly slipped away from me. But the story has such a happy ending, I can’t even feel sad for the time lost – I’m too excited for the time saved!
If you need glasses, bifocal lenses, hearing aids, or anything else that will help open a whole new world for you, again, I’m pleading with you to simply take the small step needed to walk through the door. The world may be slowly slipping away from you and, because it’s been so gradual, you may not even completely realize it.
My mother experienced gradual hearing loss beginning at a very young age. Although everyone needed to repeat things to her several times, she always seemed to think that people were mumbling. Everyone, thinking of what all she was missing, kept telling her to get her hearing checked because she needed hearing aids. No one did it in an ugly manner, of course – only jerks do that. Personally, I never even minded repeating myself. If someone actually cares enough about what I say to ask me to repeat it… I’m flattered!
However, my mom (who was such a character, I can’t even tell you – she was the very definition of a PILL!) did what just about everyone with hearing loss did. If she’d already asked someone to repeat themselves several times – she didn’t want to keep on asking, “What?” or “Excuse me?” She’d simply kind of guess at what they’d said and either laugh or or answer with something she hoped would fit the situation.
Sometimes she’d be so off base I’d have to laugh. She’d answer my dad at times with completely off the wall responses and I can still see the befuddled expression on his face. One time he told her that the heat needed to be turned up “a couple of notches” and she said, “I’m going to the store later.” He said, “Okay. Let’s go with that.”
To which she replied, “Of course you can go with me.”
He then looked at me and whispered, “Help.”
While we sometimes laugh at moments that surround vision and hearing – at ourselves as well as others – let’s be honest. It’s not all that funny, is it? While we may tell ourselves, “I’m as blind as a bat!” or while someone may tell us, “You can’t hear a lick!” – I don’t think anything that stands between someone and life is anything to laugh at.
My mom, to her credit, did make an appointment for a hearing test. She got a couple of hearing aids and, honestly, tears kind of come to my eyes when I remember the look on her face when she heard birds singing for the first time in what must have been 20 or more years. We were in front of her house and she said, “Listen! The birds are singing!”
I thought, Momma, they’ve been singing all along.
So often, she’d ask us, “Have you always been able to hear that?”
She started calling her hearing aids her “ears” and would often say something like, “We can go in a minute… just let me put my ears on.”
The world had slowly slipped away from her and she didn’t even know it. You, while reading these words, may be in the same boat as my mom (hearing loss) or with me (vision problems). The world could be slipping slowly away from you, and that really breaks my heart.
If the only thing standing between you and hearing aids, glasses, reading glasses, or bifocal lenses is vanity – let me give you a wake up call. No one cares. They really don’t. I think a lot of people are afraid of looking “old” or of being perceived as “old” when it comes to glasses and hearing aids.
Duh! There are grade school kids who require glasses and hearing aids. Besides, I’ll give you another little wake up call. If you’re in your fifties, you aren’t keeping that a secret from anyone, no matter what you may think. The world will know you’re there and, guess what… again, they don’t care! Fifties and sixties, today are like the yesterday’s forties.
Never be ashamed of your age… be proud.
Besides, let’s be honest, who will be perceived as older, the one who has to do the “annoyed librarian” move or the one who simply sees what they want to see. Who’ll be perceived as older, the one who says, “What?” or the one who gives a perfect answer every time, right on cue?
Today’s glasses and hearing aids are made so stylish, anyway. With people living longer, companies are making sure that these products are as fashionable and discreet as ever. Trust me, you’ll be blown away.
You’ll want to kick yourself for not taking that first step sooner. When you’re seeing or hearing everything you’ve been missing, you will feel like a whole new world has opened up right before you. Think of the scene in the movie Avatar when Pandora opens up for the first time. It’s like that… only better.
You’ll find that you have more time to actually LIVE and enjoy life. You may not realize just how much effort it takes to try to do things others take for granted. I spent so much time taking glasses off, putting glasses on, walking closer to see what I needed to see, etc. I never realized how much effort I was having to put into life! The same is true for those who have hearing loss. They have to ask others to repeat what they said (and subject themselves to some people who get annoyed when they have to repeat themselves), they have to try to read lips (my mom mastered this trick), they have to, nervously, throw out an answer and hope for the best.
That’s a lot of effort. It’s also a great big fat (and needless) barrier between yourself and life.
Please don’t live on the sidelines any longer. Make this the week you call for an appointment. There is LITERALLY a whole new world waiting for you to step into it. You just have to make that first step. As I’m typing these words, I see my computer screen more clearly than ever. The words are sharp and clear. Every now and then, I glance out of the window my my desk and window and see the birds and trees that I love so much. They had been slowly fading away from me and I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am to have them back.
When things fade away gradually, you never realize it fully until you have them back again. I stopped reading the signs on the way home because it occurred to me, my husband has seen them all along. He doesn’t need me to read them to him! So, I silently read them to myself and felt so much joy that I had trouble containing it.
The world is a joyful, beautiful thing. Please don’t let it slip away. I feel so strongly about this that it hit me this morning – if my words and our story (mine and my mom’s) can make just one person take that first step, every minute I’ve ever put into Self Help Daily will have been more than worth it.
“Listen! The birds are singing!” (Momma, they’ve been singing all along.)