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This Is What It Looks Like

I hear it all the time, ” You don’t look your age,” and I have always just smiled and took it for a compliment but yesterday I got to thinking .. and I realized something about what that meant.

This is what it looks like.

There ya go. That is it.   Isn’t this something that stops us in our tracks .. keeps us from doing what we want … those words…. “what it looks like” holds us captive, doesn’t it?

I know so good and well what those words do to people and to me.

“This is what it looks like.”

As a woman with a severe hearing loss, I have to be careful -all the time- that I don’t stand too close to someone and give the wrong impression.. because of “what it looks like”  to others that may not realize that I am trying to read lips.   Sometimes when I am with those that know me well, I forget to be mindful of “what it looks like” to those outside my tribe untill I see that all-too-familiar look in their eyes that gives away the thoughts that crosses their mind over and over again.. “what does this look like,what will people think?”

So I back off a few steps and I tuck my hands in my pockets or cross my arms, to hold back my natural tendency to touch as I speak and lay my hands on someone while I’m listening. 

After all, I get it, really, I do. 
 We live in a culture that is so visual, so hooked so social norms, on fitting into perfect places and leaving nothing to chance, to be open to interpretation. 

It is so much easier when things look like we think they should… even when they aren’t.

A good example happened to me again today.  While checking out at Target, I walked out without one of my sacks and loaded my car.  This young guy came up and tapped me on   the shoulder and said,  “I was calling for you, ma’am, you left this.”  and when I smiled and thanked him and explained that I couldn’t hear him unless he was close enough to touch.. he said something I hear all the time. “That”s okay,but, you don’t look like you have a hearing problem.”

I don’t, do I?

After all, what does someone with a hearing problem look like?  Would a hearing aid give me away or maybe a cochlear implant?  Would it be helpful if the deaf and hearing impaired worn bracelets like the  yellow LIVESTRONG  or the pink Breast Cancer bracelets?   Maybe a little dog-tag on a chain hanging from our necks so that somone will see that and immediately know, “There is one of those deaf people.”

That is what it looks like, after all.

But things are not always what they look like.

That couple you see comparing wines at the grocery store may very well just be strangers sharing a few minutes of laughter and a common ground before  parting ways to never cross paths again.  

But then again, they may be business associates planning The next event.

The older lady sitting alone at the cafe lost in thought may have just lost her husband and that is why she didn’t respond  like she usually does. She isn’t  hard of hearing no matter what it looks like. She hears just fine, thank you very much, but she just wasn’t in the mood to chit-chat just yet.  That exhausted man at the park with the talkative toddler isn’t a divorced dad putting in his mid-week visitation. He wishes it was that simple, but it’s not.  The truth is, he’s been balancing his job, his daughter and a bed-ridden wife for several months now.

But that isn’t what it looks like.

Back to this all over again.  If we are always so concernd about what it looks like instead of what we KNOW and what we feel then we are falling into that very same trap that holds so many back and afraid of stirring the proverbial pot.

I wonder, though, if we stopped thinking so hard about what it looks like and instead just decided to take each situation, each encounter with an open mind and a heart that dares to see beyond what it looks like and  to see what it really is and what it could be.

Maybe, we would stand closer and touch more often. Maybe we would lean forward without second guessing what the people two tables over will think.  Maybe we would strike up a conversation with that guy looking for wine without thinking that it will be inappropiate.  Maybe we would hold hands.. maybe we would ask someone if they would like to have lunch or see if they would like to walk to the square for a drink. Maybe we would get up and dance. Maybe we would stop by and see an old friend again without wondering what it would look like to someone else. Maybe we would regret less and live more.

There aren’t really any easy answers to this and I knew that before I started writing my heart out but I know this much for sure- things are not always what they look like and there is always so much more to know, to discover, to learn.

But this is what it looks like. …..and, yes, I really am this age…this is what it looks like to be this age… when you are me, anyway!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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Embrace

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Uncategorized

She Wrote

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C.A.R.E Cast Your Stone Choose to be love Create A Ripple Effect Deaf Massage Therapist Heart to heart kindred spirits Make Love massage Massage with Soul writers with soul Writing

LISTEN

Please

Listen

Don’t just hear

Be in awe

Of the sounds

Laughter

A shout of glee 

The lyrics to a song 

Playing on the radio

A whisper

Thunderclaps

Rain coming down

The cry of an infant

A coyote’showl 

The ambulance

Police sirens

A cat’s meow

The dogs growl
Listen 

To the voices 

You recognize 

And the strangers

In the grocery line

To the friendly greeting 

From the sales clerk

And the deep sound

Of the preacher man

A choir singing

Gospel melodies

The teenage barista 

The weary nurse

Trying to her best

To sound hopeful

As the end draws near
Listen

To the birds chirping

Lawnmower running

Old man playing guitar

While his lady sings

The blues
Listen

To everything

That I can’t hear

And be filled

Overflowing

With gratitude 

For what you have
And I’ll listen 

My own way

With my eyes

And my heart

I’ll hear more

Than most of you

Ever will 

Because

I really do

Listen
Jeanna’ Mead

July 25 2016

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Crying Shame

For quite some time, I’ve thought about the conspiracy of love, the relationships we form with people that sometimes,often times,make sense only to us.
I have,over the years,gotten to know and to care deeply for people that have scars on their bodies, which can be seen and felt,just like my own scars but, the real wounds,the real scars are the ones carved on the soul,hidden from all but the most trusted few. 

Sometimes, though,those scars become chains,snares,gilded circles of barbed wire wrapped tightly because of a decision to hold on to the pain, to yield the  rope of unforgiveness, to create such a web that tangles everyone that even comes close.

There’s something tragic about seeing people afraid to step outside the confines,to dance with someone,to enjoy company;a cup of coffee, an long conversation because they have been unforgiven, and sometimes, it’s that they haven’t forgiven themselves but far,far more often,it’s because love hasn’t.

And it is a crying shame.

❤I wrote this on February 17 of 2015 and on February 17 of 2016, I added this.

“Little did I know that in one year these words would mean even more and the reality of my words would demand my response,”

Now, on February 17 of 2017, I realize just how much I’ve learned about love,about forgiveness,about relationships and just how beautiful choosing to live with an open,giving scarred and healed heart is. 
God has created in me a capacity to love and forgive-myself and others-far beyond what imagined and I am fulfilled with wonder.

Feel with both hands, Jeanna’

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Collections of Connections

While at the store, I stopped to look closely at  a beautiful table display with collections of vases,picture frames and knick knacks and as I touched the items, the reality struck me that I really didn’t want any of things on the table.

You see, a family friend had told me just last week that she was teaching her son to build connections instead of collections and that simple comment has been stuck on my mind every since.

“Connections instead of collections.”

Let these words roll over in your mind,speak them out loud,and write them down.
Whisper them to yourself and see how it causes you to reflect and ponder,and to take a deeper look at the things you have collected.

Do you really want a collection of blue vases and bottles or do you want a good friend that you can count on to chase away the blues?

There’s something incredible about having a kindred spirit that just gets you, someone who will catch your eye and without a word,understands what you’re feeling. 

It’s not just in family members or life-long friends,sometimes a simple connection is made while exchanging smiles as we pass by each other in the grocery aisles.
It is in the knowing look between  two moms carrying toddlers, as one elderly couple passes another, as we make eye contact and acknowledge another’s  presence.

That’s what life is really about -seeing the invisible red thread that connects each of us,seeing the divine in the dust,the possibilities in the seed, the beauty in the chaos.

It’s being open and willing to take the first step in building friendships. I think about all the people that I’ve wanted to get to know better but just didn’t.  Instead of offering  the first invitation, I hesitated and let the opportunities pass by.
I found excuses,instead of reasons to connect with others and, in doing so, I put up walls against the chances for wonderful things to happen.

I know that all deep connections go through hardships and difficulty and that’s exactly why I believe it’s important to reach  deep within and find forgiveness and mercy, acceptance and hope, faith and trust,again, to rebuild the relationship.

Sometimes, we realize that, although relationships change, it doesn’t have to be the end. There’s still goodness,still worthiness,and yes, still reason to continue but in different ways. 

There’s other connections,too, that have been formed by social media. I became part of Massage Therapy groups to learn more about my craft, not expecting to gain such insight and help for my day-to day life. 
One online friend found AVA, the Audio Visual Accessibility app that has changed my life. I haven’t met JT yet, but every time I use  AVA, I think of the Florida graphic artist that not only designed my first logo but also took the time to research accessibility apps after reading my post about not being able to understand group conversations.
Then there’s Joshua, the ocean lovin’, guitar playin’, skateboard ridin’, husband,papa and serious massage therapist who finds time to put together music selections on Spotify so that I- the deaf therapist- have clients exclaim that they absolutely loved the music played during their sessions.

Over time, understanding and intimacy  grows as stories are shared and bonds are formed and these people become the ones that know each other well. Distance may stand in the way of gathering  and sharing meals, but there’s still the “connection” that brings people together and lets them be there for each other.

Another thought that occurred to me, that actually has always been part of my “love language”, is that the “collections” that really matter to me have all came from my “connections.”

I spend hours in my massage studio room,  giving others my touch and attention,
surrounded by things that I’ve chosen to display because they bring me a feeling of contentment,of love,of security, of the connections I have made.

I look around and see a painting that reminds me of blue crab dip and beer with my friend, Keri. There’s a book from Jan, a quilt from Judy, a wooden bowl, framed quotes and painted words from other friends.
The dresser and desk were my mom’s that my husband repainted a bright turquoise ,my favorite color.

So when I look around, I don’t see “things,” I see the faces of the givers, I hear their words, I feel their touch and I know they are with me, in spirit and in truth.

Truthfully I do feel something special-a sense of empowerment and confidence, of love and strength when I wear certain things. It’s almost as if I’m being wrapped in an embrace, given an encouraging pat on the back, having my hand held as I go through my day just because I’m wearing something that came from someone else.

When I feel like I need an extra boost, I reach for my mom’s amethyst ring, layer on bracelets that have been given to me, and slip my feet into a pair of cowboy boots from my collection.
I have cowboy boots from back when I was 20, to the  pair my Mema bought me just weeks before she went to glory.  There’s the flowered pair that I tease my clients about…one bought the right,the other bought the left when they surprised me with a Christmas bonus two years ago.
My newest black stitched boots came from a long time client who tucked a Cavendars gift card in my hand to make sure I kept on waltzing around the table.

These things I wear are more than just accessories, they are wearable memories. It’s tangible collections showing me and others what’s already carved into my heart.

I’m building collections from my connections….and I’m going to begin giving bits and pieces to others so that when they look around their space, or at their wrist,or touch their neck, they will feel  my presence, my warmth,my love and gain a little extra confidence,a shot of sassiness,and waltz out to make their own connections in life!

Connections AND collections….this just might be the beginning of something wonderful!

Feel with both hands, Jeanna’

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Cast Your Stone

There’s a story in scripture that even those that don’t believe in Jesus know.
The book of John tells that a crowd gathered around a woman who had been accused of adultery and demanded that she be stoned,according to a set of rules and regulations.
Jesus, however,said these powerful,profound words-“Whichever one of you is without sin,cast your stone.”

Of course,no one did because no one is without sin but I can just imagine the people walking away, thinking to themselves,perhaps huddling in small groups and whispering,”Sure, I sin, but my sins aren’t as bad as hers .” or justifying it by “well, it’s different in my case; I’m nothing like that woman!”

I know,because I’ve been there on both sides.
I’ve had well meaning “Christian” people accuse me of having an inappropriate relationship with another man and I’ve been quick to pass the same exact judgment on another woman.

I’ve felt the sting of being on the receiving end of verbal stones that were etched with words of shame, anger, bitterness,hatred, judgment,condemnation,and jealously.
Those stones lead me to build up a big wall,shielding my heart from others. It was my way of protecting myself but it also, unintentionally,created a barrier that isolated me and kept me from forming close,intimate relationships.
I hid behind my stone wall, barely even letting  those closest to me inside. I even pushed God out of my life because,after all,wasn’t it all His people, the Christian- God believing,church going people that had placed me in the situation?

For years, I worn this invisible “scarlet letter,” and I also pulled on a mask,pretending not to care, ignoring the loneliness,and trying hard to convince myself that it really didn’t matter.

It did,though,and I was only fooling myself. I wasn’t fooling God and He saw right through me and He gently began to soften my heart and to teach me  something else.

“Cast your stone,” He said, but rather than the hurling stones at someone like they did in the past, with strict rules and regulations, engraved with condemnation and judgement, I want you to cast stones as if upon water and create a ripple effect.
I heard His voice,whispering softly yet persuasively, filling me with words of life to mark on the stones.

Love. Joy. Tenderness. Kindness. Encouragement. Peace.Mercy.Honor.Clarity.Abundance.Compassion. Hope. Grace. Strength.Patience. Understanding.Courage. Acceptance.Generosity. Forgiveness.Faith.Beloved.
Desired. Cherished.

All these beautiful, affirming words that could be used as stepping stones….laid out one by one by one to create a pathway-a mosaics of inspirational truths- showing others what God’s love is really all about.

So yesterday,my husband and I bought a huge bag of black polished river stones and a few white Sharpie markers and began to write the words we had been given along with the name of our new website, http://www.castyourstone.com.

Instead of hurling stones with force,we will place the stones gently into the hands of people and let the ripple effect take place. We may leave stones where they can be found,and we might place a stone in unexpected places,but I know this much for certain.

It may seem random to us and it may not make sense at the time,but God has a plan and purpose for each and every thing that happens in our lives.

I know that everything I have experienced has taught me to be slow to judge,and quick to forgive. I can see how some relationships that others would think the worst of have actually been pivotal, life-changing ones.
I know that I’m the woman I am now because of all the relationships-the good and the not so good-that have shaped and taught me.

Sometimes the very things that break us,also brings us to where we are supposed to be.

Love works that way-God works that way-and it’s absolutely amazing to recognize how things fall into place. I don’t regret a single thing because I’ve learned so much about my capacity to love and God’s incredible attention to detail.using all things to work together for good.

I have received the beautiful stones of mercy and grace,of love and clarity  and,in turn, I’ve chosen to give back the same stones. I’ve offered forgiveness and found my own freedom, I’ve let go of anger and received peace, Instead of holding grudges,I hold hands and I feel the love of God  overflowing from every part of my life.

It really is true that we should never judge anyone because they sin differently than we do.
Rather than.pointing fingers.we should offer a hand….we should cast a stone.
image

This creates a ripple effect. A simple stone,a single word,an assuring touch can be the very beginning and it can go on and on,expanding and overflowing, making a tremendous impact and changing the world.

Whosoever is with sin -that’s each and every one of us- mcast your stone and create a ripple effect of love. <a href="http://castyourstone.com&quot;
Feel with both hands, Jeanna'