Monday, February 9, 2009

Bridges and Baggage: Passion and Power


One of my friends once said to me, "Why do I have to pay for what you've lived?"
That made me think. (happens every now and then:))
We all have baggage. Our parents' parents have baggage that is then transmitted to our parents who then transmit it to us and we, in turn, to our kids.

When you look in the mirror, who do you see? Look past the physical presence straight to the heart of who you are as a person. Squirming or satisfied?

I've said before, I can't stand when people call me "Dear." It's condescending. It's insulting. Jordan's first audiologist consistently called me "dear" during the most difficult period of my life. She treated me like a subservient, brainless, twit of an American mother in ripped jeans shorts without a clue in life...and all the while I was busting my ass teaching Jordan to grow. I have a little problem with being called "dear."


Jeff wrote:
When I see people say such things like:

"Move F O R W A R D!"

It reminds me of when I was being told to accept the circumstances as a deaf child. When I was told that crying was not acceptable when you felt you didn't fit in. When I was told that I would have to lip-read for the rest of my life. When I was told many things but never informed of a visual language and a deaf culture.

Jeff interpreted my words based on his *baggage*

I am sorry you were offended, my "move forward" intended to say that it is possible to bring about change while still being respectful of the divergent viewpoints of others.

Rachel has lived her experiences, many of which she blogs about on and has turned her baggage into passion. She writes, illustrates, photographs her emotions and helps others along the way by using her voice.

Aidan channels her energy into creative filmmaking to express herself and her experience as a Deaf Woman...with passion.

When you take your baggage, analyze it, accept it and transform it into passion for the purpose of helping others...that is Power.

Only then, can you move forward.



Anonymous said...

So true about being called, "Dear." When Julie was first diagnosed, I was 31 years old and the case manager who came to our house from Early Intervention services called and referred to me as "Mom." She was about 23 years old. It peeved me to no end. Fast forward 11 years later, my third child's preschool bus driver did the same thing. I looked her squarely in the eye the first time she did it and I said, "I'm not your Mom, I'd appreciate if you don't call me that."

There are boundaries, people. Treat others with respect. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are smart, that they've researched their decisions and allow them to make them on their own, whether you agree with them or not. To criticize parents for choices they have made is akin to calling them "Mom."

Building a bridge means meeting together in harmony, not forcing one side to agree to what the other side wants. It means sharing the space in which we live, letting people choose their own paths and those of their children. The world was not meant to be a homogenous place. Lives, circumstances and PEOPLE are as different from one another as can be. Wouldn't you agree?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I remembered that my old boss called me that I was a special person around the office. That makes me to feel that I was all alone around the office (employees are all hearing) because I am deaf.

That makes me to feel that I got a pet peeve from my boss. Uh-huh.

Know what I hated the most was that several employees were lazy to walk up to me and they decided to use the paper to make into a "paperball," and then, they used them to throw at me. For purpose? To get me the attention and talk with employees. It was out of respect.

*Rolling my eyes*

White Ghost

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

People need to simply respect each other in the various communities for preferences they choose to live by. What hearing parents do not need while in a store with their deaf child while wearing a CI is to see scowling faces in the direction of the hearing parents along with signing fingers with the look of disgust on their faces. And with no benefit of the doubt shown whatsoever.

Slowly foot bridges are being built but we're not yet at the point where there is a San Franscisco sized bridge.


Karen Mayes said...

Well-written blog.

We all need to acknowledge and to be acknowledged for our feelings.

But with respect. Not through patronizingly, condescendingly attitude.

We have to set aside our attitudes and find a common ground... that is what Jodi's last blogs have been saying along...

Anonymous said...

Power is made by power being taken....we all have our own baggage. I've always said we can only describe our own experiences. When we encounter parents who are searching for information...we need not criticize but encourage other avenues while exploring. What fits one may not fit the other.

Now....ya'all have a nice day's what they all say here in the southeastern part of the USA...took me 3 years but I've adapted to that saying by now. :*)


tammy said...

Great post. Love your last paragraph ... I wrote it down and am sending it to my brothers (major baggage). This is so true. Could you imagine our world if everyone thought like this?

Anonymous said...

Each of us have a passion. When two passions clash, it CLASHED.

I only wish that each passionate person don't need to get into the pissing contest with another passionate person.

Just share our views and perspectives, with utmost respect and understanding.

I don't like dealing with passionate person who likes to piss around and telling people what to do.

Amy Cohen Efron

Anonymous said...

yeah, Amy.

That's what I was pissed at Jodi's two recent blogs(ago)-"Build the bridge"! and At The Rim's blog, "Building Bridges". Someone commented about a thing that expects everybody to learn and understand. That is not gonna be happen nowadays.

Telling people "what-to-do" thing is not going to solve the problem. It does not going to help. I'm not Momma.

White Ghost

Dianrez said...

Baggage shapes the attitudes of the new parent. On discovering their child is deaf, their first thoughts will probably include:

--OMG, the poor kid. He'll never talk and hear music!

--I don't know any deaf people, what will he be like?

--I know some deaf people, they beg on the streets with their ABC cards.

--Deaf people can't talk and have to make funny gestures in the air with their hands.

--What will my parents say?

--What will my friends and neighbors think?

And last,
--What will I do? How can I cope?

This is where bridges unfortunately can be broken. The first thing that makes sense is often:

--Implant the child and he will hear.

--If I work hard enough, he will learn to talk and nobody will be the wiser.

--There's special schools that will take care of everything for us.

--All I want is for him to understand me when I talk to him. He can learn to lipread.

Bridge building needs to focus on the parents' baggage, which often comes from generations before them and hampers their coping skills. Giving them credit for finding their own solutions is fine, but needs to be a sensitive, respectful seeking out of where they are coming from, and giving them support and answers that both make sense to them and are realistic for the child.

Bridge building begins between the parent and the child and needs to use all available materials.

Mike said...

It's a little facetious detailing on what parents might say or think once they suddenly find out their baby is born with a disability or condition. Though it's no different on how parents might react upon finding suddenly their newborn baby born with blindness, mental retardation, Down's Syndrome, cerebral palsy and so on. Such a sudden discovery can be a shock and parents will likely go through a grieving-like process and afterwards have tons of questions they want answered. I don't see it as them having "baggage" for having the many unanswered questions. Just as I don't see "baggage" if parents suddenly find out their newborn is blind or have Down Syndrome. Try and go up to a distraught/worried parent of a newborn baby with Down Syndrome and tell them in their face they have "baggage issues." Eventually they'll learn about the their baby's condition or disability, start networking, get the propoer information, ask a medical profession and such, learn how to deal with it and help provide for a baby born not what the parents expected. All parents want is unbiased information to help them navigate choppy waters ahead of them, especially in the area of deafness. If the parents ultimately make an informed decision to have their child implanted and include AVT only then so be it. Or if they decide ASL and AVT, so be it. Or ASL, AVT and cochlear implant, so be it.

Debbie said...

My personal baggage:

I remember in middle school, there was an underclassman, a girl, who walked with a walker, she was always on her tip toes and her body and head flung from side to side when she walked. She always had a smile on her face as she walked down the hall with another girl who carried her books. I remember watching her, and trying not to let her see me watching her. I knew she was handicapped (we didn't have the PC "special needs" then) but had no other understanding of her. In hindsight, she most likely had Cerebral Palsy, like my little girl.

Now I have Amelia. She is non-ambulatory, non-verbal, Cerebral Palsy, Hypotonia, G-tube fed and more. As I look back to that girl in Middle School, all I can think about is how proud her parents must have been of her. I can cry when I think of how brave this girl was to walk those halls everyday.

At the time, she was a curiousity to me. Now...I hope Amelia will one day achieve what she did -- walk, talk, eat and spread a smile to everyone. To the ignorant people like me -- who knew better but were rude anyway and to those who love her most and can't help but stare out of amazement for all she has accomplished to date.

Baggage isn't always passed down from parents, sometimes it's given to you by you -- and your own life lessons.

Anonymous said...

Whoa! I never had any idea so many people disliked being called 'dear'. I hate to admit I've done it. haha! I continue to learn from your blog, even though it may not have been the lesson you intended to teach.

Yeah-- you're right. We all have baggage. And we need to look beyond ourselves before taking offense-- which is very hard to do! It's better to look at the overall message. If someone is respectful in other ways, then it's probably true they meant no disrespect by whatever they said that bugs you.

It's even harder with the written word when we don't see each others' eyes. Some have a gift for writing in a way you can see the feelings behind the words. Others don't.

Unknown said...

God Debbie,
I know her father Joel and I will be sure to send this to him...he will be very happy to read this...Jodi

Anonymous said...

Hi Jodi! You don't like being called "cara?" That's one of the main reasons I moved here (that and "ciao, bella").
So when are you coming to Rome? I promise not to call you cara when we meet (although I might say, ciao, bella)....

Karen Mayes said...

Debbie's comment is the one that hit me in my heart... powerful.

Unknown said...

Karen...Debbie is powerful.
Anne- there is a difference between a deer and a DEAR, one can always tell the I've given up on pancakes, I'm into waffles *smile*
Paula- That would annoy me as well.

Anonymous said...

Another example of "to each his own," I guess! Anyway, I was referring to the conference you mentioned a while ago...not really pancakes.

Unknown said...

What can I say? Pancakes on the brain- the conference is on March 24th...getting closer!! *smile*

Anonymous said...

Debbie's comment is true and strength. She can handle the conflicts but not us as Amy mentioned about the clash. You would not like someone calling you dear. I would not like someone calling me a special when people surrounds me for a specific reason.


White Ghost

mishkazena said...

Debbie's comment touches my heart.

I am guilty of calling my close friends dear. I won't call strangers that, though. That is condescending.

Building a bridge means respecting other people and their values. Building a bridge doesn't mean pressuring others to conform to your cultural beliefs and disintegrate those who refuse to conform. Building a bridge means accepting that one solution doesn't meet the needs of all Deaf and HoH babies and children and remain nonjudgmental at those using different solutions than yours.

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