I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Seeing with new eyes

Whatcom Falls with a dusting of snow

The rocks on the left of the waterfall are an unfamiliar color: white, from the snowfall Friday night. After a sunny and cold day, nighttime brought enough snow to cover the ground and make driving a little treacherous. Fortunately I have good friends who worry about me attempting to navigate in it, so John picked me up from my apartment and transported me to the coffee shop. Then Melanie stopped by to take me to Whatcom Falls park, where we walked a nice four miles (along with friend Chris) in a light dusting of snow in freezing temperatures. Then, as predicted, the sun came out and gobbled up all the moisture.

I am slowly reintegrating back into my old routine. It helps to have somewhat of a regular schedule, and today it is the ruminating and pondering about what I will write about. It seems like perhaps going back through the events of last week would be a good idea, but I need to process it all first, so that's not happening. I've managed to get eight hours of sleep for the last two nights, which is helping me recover, and I also seem to have avoided catching any germ cooties during my travels.

One little snippet of delight has been finding that, once I admitted to myself that I have hearing loss, suddenly all sorts of avenues towards getting the problem fixed have revealed themselves. I asked my friend Melanie if she thought I had become hard of hearing,  and she was quite matter-of-fact that yes, she knew and didn't think twice about it. I knew a little bit, of course, but I didn't realize how bad my hearing loss had become, until last week's trip. I was in denial, it seems, and nobody actually brought it up, so it was an invisible problem to me.
I always say deafness is a silent disability: you can't see it, and it's not life-threatening, so it has to touch your life in some way in order for it to be on your radar. —Rachel Shenton

It turns out that our local Senior Center is starting a series of consultations to help people find out how to evaluate the exact nature of one's hearing loss and how to proceed in choosing the correct type of hearing aids. There are plenty of options to consider. From the Senior Center Bulletin:

Joel Bergsbaken from the Hearing Speech and Deaf Center in Bellingham will be on-site monthly at the Senior Activity Center to meet with individuals for one-on-one consultations to discuss hearing change, hearing loss, communication, community barriers, and listening technology. 

 One thing I have learned of real interest is that most hearing aids are much less expensive today than previously, and most have bluetooth options, which would allow me to connect it to my iPhone and use it for yoga classes and other activities easier than using my AirPods, which tend to fall out of my tiny ear canals rather easily. I'm excited to get educated about this and will of course share it with you, dear readers.

My birthday is now behind me, but a party is in my future. My friend Lily is recovering from a serious cold, and another friend (fisherman Gene) was exposed to Covid, so he's isolating himself from others until he knows whether he caught it. I'm in no hurry; I'll still be eighty.

Eighty! It's a watershed moment when you reach that milestone, whoever you are and however you get there. No one in my immediate family has reached it, that I know of, and I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten to this place in relatively good health. I am grateful for my extended family and all the wonderful places I have available for hiking and walking. Since I got home, I've reached all my exercise goals.

But, sadly, my yoga studio has closed for good, and I need to start thinking about another place to take classes. I wish I was one of those people who was motivated to get on my yoga mat without instruction (because I certainly know what to do), but I'm not. It tends to be put aside for one reason or another and I don't do it regularly on my own. Plus there will be new people to meet and get to know, and that also is a good thing. I'm also looking for another place to get some upper body workouts. The pandemic was hard on everybody, but I did get through without getting sick (other than a light bout with Covid in March 2020). I still wear a mask inside grocery stores and the like, and I admit they make me feel safer when I hear an ugly cough somewhere close by. Apparently the flu season is in full swing also, and after three years without catching something, I think I'll try to avoid getting sick. I am boosted with the latest version and got my flu shot. I think I'm prepared for the season.

One might think I mislabeled this post when I called it "seeing with new eyes," but I meant it figuratively. My world looks quite different here in the Pacific Northwest after having been in the heat and humidity of Florida. I much prefer a dew point of 25 to that of 72! Right now, early in the morning, it's actually 19 with a temperature of 30°F, but the dew point will rise to around 28 during the projected sunny afternoon.

Although I don't have hibiscus in bloom (or much of anything, really) and there's a lack of palm trees, instead I have beautiful old-growth evergreens that greet me on my walks through the park. Lots of leaves carpet the ground, and everyone around me seems to be in a good mood and happy, as we enter the first days of winter. It starts on December 21 at 1:48pm PST in just over two weeks from today. Then the days will begin to lengthen, slowly at first, and then around the end of January, I'll notice there is imperceptibly more light in the sky as I walk to the bus in the early morning. I don't mind the dark, as long as I'm armed with a headlamp for the dark days as I walk my familiar paths. And of course I don't drive any more in low light so I am very grateful for the seven-day-a-week buses that take me wherever I want to go in town.

If I were to count my blessings, there are so many I'm sure I simply take for granted, because I don't think twice about them. Traveling and leaving my comfort zone helped me realize some of them, but certainly not all. However, it will be awhile before I go anywhere by plane again. Although it was almost incident-free, it was stressful. More than I expected, because I still think of myself as a youngster, not a crotchety ancient senior. Don't we all do that until we are forced to look squarely in the mirror at the person we truly have become?

It's definitely a blessing to have the blinders fall from one's eyes, to really see the world around me with new and more realistic eyes. I was never without my iPhone and therefore connection to the news, but it also seemed a little distant as I navigated my way through the week. There was plenty of immediate drama, so the war in Ukraine fell a little in the worries I carry within my heart. I know I probably won't live long enough to experience a world at peace, but that doesn't mean I can't hope for it and do what I can to progress my own small consciousness towards the light. One day there WILL be peace and prosperity for all, and I will continue to imagine that it's just around the corner.

A dear virtual friend has gifted me once again with Jacquie Lawson's Advent Calendar, which gives me such delight as I visit the virtual community, with a divine pretend world, filled with all sort of wonderful things to see and do, a different story for each day of the month, with the countdown to Christmas Day. This year there are little elves hiding in the scene for me to find each day, decorate my own virtual Christmas tree, and play the games I've become quite fond of. It's a lovely gift! Thank you, Dee.

I am so happy to have this virtual community that has become a very essential part of my life. Although I have plenty of actual family and friends, this connection has only grown with the years. And to think it all started with a single blog post in 2009! My dear partner still sleeps quietly next to me, and my tea (some of which I managed to spill) is gone. Dear friends, I really hope that the next week will bring you happiness and plenty of hugs, whether virtual or actual. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things.


Far Side of Fifty said...

So happy you are settled in at home again! It was good for you to go and visit with your siblings but it is good to be back home again !! I hope you have a wonderful week!

gigi-hawaii said...

I am glad that you Are getting hearing aids. Costco has good pricing. As for the trip, I agree with you. Travel is extremely stressful, which is why I don't fly anymore. It's been 9 years for me. Just don't miss it. Take care and God Bless.

Marie Smith said...

You always give me perspective, Jan! Have a wonderful week, my friend! Take care and enjoy!

Betsy said...

There really is no place like home is there? I'm glad you had a good visit but happy to be back in your familiar home. I feel like that here. After living in Spokane for 30 years, it's hard to be back in the midwest with it's bitter cold and humidity in the summer.
I'm glad you're getting your hearing checked. My sister has blue tooth hearing aids and they have changed her life. Her phone rings right into her ear! It's wonderful for her.

ApacheDug said...

DJan, I'm sorry to read about the hearing loss but it doesn't sound like you've been missing out on much. Still, I'm sure you'll be glad if and when that's corrected. I'm also sorry your trip was stressful, I actually thought about that a lot. The older I get the more settled I become in my routines and can feel like my day is ruined at the smallest changes in plans. Anyway, I'm glad your journey has given you some new perspectives and a big congratulations again on that 80 milestone!

Arkansas Patti said...

To paraphrase George Burns,"No one wants to be 80, unless you are 79:)"
Glad the age change was almost painless and will be celebrated when you get your friends well.
I guess loss of hearing can sneak up on us. Glad you were made aware and the good thing is that they have come down in price so much. They use to be like the down payment on a car.
Know you are enjoying returning to your comfortable routine. Funny how we need that the older we get.

Rian said...

I know you are glad you went on your trip even though it was a bit stressful. I always feel a bit of accomplishment when I do something that I was anxious about... but got through it fine. So congrats on that, DJan! As for the hearing loss, I too am considering doing something about mine... or at least looking into it. Anything you learn, please pass it on. And again, Happy 80th birthday!! It is a milestone one and should be celebrated.

Elephant's Child said...

Welcome home. I do love your attitude. My partner's hearing is failing but he denies it. His father was very deaf and also denied it, simply turning up the television to incredible levels and answering the conversations he thought he heard.

John's Island said...

You covered a lot in this post. I’m just going to focus on one thing: travel. I appreciated what you said: “However, it will be awhile before I go anywhere by plane again. Although it was almost incident-free, it was stressful. More than I expected, because I still think of myself as a youngster, not a crotchety ancient senior. Don't we all do that until we are forced to look squarely in the mirror at the person we truly have become?” I know that I’m looking at travel in a different way and trying to assess just how much more of it I want to do and I’m not quite to 80 yet. 😊 I think I’ve pretty much satisfied my wanderlust. Maybe the same is true for you, my friend. Wishing you a happy week ahead.

Linda Reeder said...

I don't remember when I got my hearing aids, but it has been at least four years. They were very expensive then. My Audiologist says I am due for an upgrade, but I'll wait a while, even though they are much less expensive now. I was cutting edge with mine, having Bluetooth and connection to my iPhone. I don't use that feature very often though because the setting on my hearing aids make for poor sound quality.
I wear my hearing aids every day but there are situations where they are not helpful, like the brunch last Friday when there were several conversations going on at once. Hearing aids amplify everything. Take your time and explore the options and what will work best for you.

Gigi said...

DJan - I am so happy you had a good trip - even if the travel was stressful (flying has been stressful for years now but throwing COVID into the mix must make it worse) - and I am very happy that you are home and cootie free!

Galen Pearl said...

Enjoyed your post about rediscovering what you appreciate about your home in the PNW. I haven't traveled anywhere in a long time, but I know I would feel the same way about coming home. Yep, hearing aids are in my future too. As another commenter said, there are lots of choices out there, so I'm sure you'll find exactly what is right for you.

Red said...

I certainly denied that I had hearing loss. Here, most places give you free hearing test. I cheated and went to two places and the results were the same. Hearing aids are very expensive. Mine were $6500.00 Canadian. There are quite a few assistance programs so look around For that. I think I actually paid about $2500.00. Turning 80 was one of the more important birthdays for me. It made me think about life.

Anvilcloud said...

Good thing that I wasn’t drinking coffee or anything else when you said that hearing aids are less expensive than they were. It’s not been my experience for sure. Better, yes. But pretty expensive. Mind you, the way they do here is to bundle it in with hearing tests, even in a sort or perpetuity, so I pay for more than just the devices.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, this posting and the most recent one on your other blog made it crystal-clear how much I missed by being away from blogging for several weeks. Health concerns brought that about and those concerns continue, but I'm "bound and determined" that I'll create a routine that will allow for visiting blogs and perhaps for posting every so often.

Turing eighty is surely sort of monumental. I'm four months short of being 87, and that's the oldest in my family also. I find myself so grateful for the years and months of journeying toward a Beyond that is a mystery.

Happy, happy birthday. Your birth has been and is a blessing for all of us who have met you through your blogs.

Meniere's generally takes away all the hearing in at least one of the ears. So I've been deaf in my left ear for 16 years now. In some ways I think I hear better with that loss because I listen so carefully to what people are saying and often I hear within my heart what underlies their speaking.

I'm so glad you enjoy the Advent calendar. I'm having fun with it this year.

And by the way, here's a quote of Marcel Proust that may speak to you: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Peace from Dee Ready.

Tabor said...

My father did nothing about his hearing loss and then it was too late as they could only help him a little. I remember calling him on the phone and did not realize he found it hare to talk to me due to hearing. I think you trip has definitely opened your eyes to new things and that is terrific.

Linda Myers said...

I have hearing aids but usually don't wear them. During covid, if I was wearing my glasses, a mask and the aids, the aids fell off, often to the ground. I suspect I'll put them back in now that I'm not usually in a place where I need to wear a mask.