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One of the greatest boss I ever met is deaf.  His name is Robert.  We met in April 2014, at the Disability Federal Employment Fair in California State University, Northridge.  It was my first time attending a disability job fair not knowing what would happen next.  My life changed when I met Robert.

Our first conversation was very brief.  I introduced myself and noticed he did not speak or respond.  An interpreter used sign language to communicate with Robert.  Robert communicated with the interpreter by signing as the interpreter translated for me.  He asked for a federal resume.

Not knowing how to write a federal resume, I visited my graduate school library and borrowed 8 federal books.  I read all books and researched how to write a federal resume.  It took me 2 weeks before I e-mailed him a copy of my federal resume.  I never heard from him again, I was mad.  Really mad!  Five months passed by and was still unemployed.

I remember packing and getting ready to relocate in Livermore, CA to live with my brother and continue with my job search until I received a phone call that changed my life.  It was from the Department of Veterans Affairs in Los Angeles.  Six people interviewed me in less than 30 minutes and then I never heard from them again.  I was beating myself for not asking what job description I interviewed for.

A few days later, I received an e-mail only to find out that I got hired as an HR Assistant at the Department of Veterans Affairs and had to show up on the next day to turn in the in-processing documents.  When I showed up, Robert was the first person I saw.  He spoke and I was baffled.  All these months I never knew he could speak.  Just because he signs, I immediately assumed he was deaf.  Three months passed by when the HR Deputy assigned me to work for Robert who became my boss.

 

I’m back to blogging!

It has been more than a year since my last post.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about my site and ready to blog.  I decided to cancel my premium in WordPress and change my site address to Embrace Hearing Loss.  This will not affect my blog.  From now on, I will write new blogs and talk about the positive things that has happened in my life.

A lot happened in one year.  When my father died of a heart attack, I met Carlos, my boyfriend.  I wasn’t ready to date but he insisted to help me with the mourning process.  Instead of dating, he provided me a workout plan and introduced me to weight training: bench press, barbell squat, and interval training.  Despite the 2.5 hour commute to work, I continued to workout no matter how tired my body felt when I arrived home.  I began to feel good about myself.  I lost weight, gained muscles and got leaner.  A year later, the commute took an effect on my legs and experienced leg cramps.  Both of my knees hurt from the commute and my workout routine was no longer consistency.  I gained weight.  The pain on my knees pushed me to job search at least closer to home.  I loved my job but the commute was killing me.  Whenever I applied, I didn’t  know where I was going to go.  Then I saw a job announcement posted by NASA.  I applied and got hired.

Two months ago, I started my new job at NASA and relocated.  I live on a 2-bedroom apartment.  None of this was planned.  It just happened.  Life works that way.  Good things happen when you set your priorities right and take action.  Don’t think about it, just do it.

Having 2 degrees, a bachelor and a master’s degree was not easy and comes with a cost.  I borrowed $48K, a total of 11 loans.  After being unemployed for a year, the loan debt increased to 54K.  Since I earned 2 degrees in 6 years, borrowing 48K is really not that much.  I submitted my first payment for the school loan debt in November 2014.  It was my first paycheck that I earned working at the Department of Veterans Affairs and I used it all to pay off the interest rate.  It took four paychecks just to pay the interest rate before paying the principal balance.  It sounds crazy, but I did it for a purpose.  To pay off the interest rate and be debt free in less than 3 years.

I disciplined myself and Carlos convinced me to sign up for a credit card to earn points while paying off the student loan debt.  Every month, I call My Great Lakes to submit a credit card payment.  A week later, I pay the credit card.  If I’m going to pay 54K, I might as well earn points for a free vacation.  The more I submit my payments, the faster my debt decreases.

Today I owe 21k.  This required a lot of sacrifices and I became an expert in couponing.  I stockpiled toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoos, and dish soap for up to 3 years. Whenever I need something, I search through my stockpile storage.  I needed to find a way how to stretch my money, spend less and add more to my loan debt.  It wasn’t easy but with time and organization, I learned to coupon and buy stuff for free.  I will further discuss this in another post.

For a whole year, I did not buy clothes for myself, said no to birthday parties or eat at restaurants.  I lost a lot of friends.  Believe me, it was hard but I am very proud of myself for paying off 33K in 1.5 years.  My goal is to be debt free by next year.

Listen, I know that I’m writing different topics in this post but I only write what comes to my mind.  I will provide more details in future posts.  If you have any question, please ask me and I will do my best to provide an answer.

Zoo Family Trip

This is my second visit to the San Diego Zoo, twenty-two years after my first.  My family wanted to take a trip to the zoo on the 4th of July, including my boyfriend. Mother and brother made fun of me because all I wanted to do was watch the pandas. Unfortunately, I never got a chance to see the face of a panda because it was too tired or lazy to move. All I saw was its dirty butt. See picture below. Oh well, at least I saw the leopards, lions, turtles, chimpanzee, and elephants. Did you know the elephants have their own “spa.”  Pretty cool! I will visit the zoo again. The pandas better move.San Diego Zoo 781 San Diego Zoo 785 San Diego Zoo 796 San Diego Zoo 821 San Diego Zoo 831 San Diego Zoo 848 San Diego Zoo 852 San Diego Zoo 855 San Diego Zoo 864 San Diego Zoo 875 San Diego Zoo 890 San Diego Zoo 893 San Diego Zoo 907 San Diego Zoo 910 San Diego Zoo 920 San Diego Zoo 930 San Diego Zoo 938 San Diego Zoo 939 San Diego Zoo 943 San Diego Zoo 948

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If you’re not honest about who you are then how do you expect others to respect and understand you.  Being honest does not hurt anyone.  Lying and hiding the truth hurts because you chose your path.  We’re not perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from your mistakes.  Honesty is the best policy and appreciated.  I’m very honest about who I am and embrace my disability.  It’s important to be honest when it comes to dating, relationships, and friendship. 
 
So I’ve been on multiple dates and things just got interesting.   Since day one, my boyfriend knows about my hearing loss diagnosis and it doesn’t bother him.  We met more than once and we agree to make it an effort to understand each other.  That’s how relationships work; two people try to communicate to understand each other.   It should never be an 80/20 percent communication.  It needs to be a 50/50 percent communication.  Our policy is to increase honest and trust through communication.   We talk about everything the good, bad, kindness, happiness, awkwardness, and craziness.   As a matter of fact, he tries to make an effort to make sure I hear every word.   He will rephrase the words if I’m not following.  He will repeat words whenever I stay quiet.  Best of all, he never ceases to amaze me and knows how to make me laugh. 
 
We saw Jurassic World over the weekend.   I was about to walk inside the theater and give my ticket.  He noticed I wanted to grab my Sony Subtitle Glasses but I hesitated because we were going to miss the good part of the film so I said to myself aloud “forget the glasses because I brought my hearing aids”.   He pulled my hand and said, “Alicia, go grab your subtitle glasses… I’m sure they also have it for 3D”.  I got butterflies when he said it.  Now I know very well my guy listens and cares a lot for me.  Whenever he shows me his favorite Netflix movies, he immediately adds the subtitles.  I never ask him to include subtitles.  How cool is that!   Believe me when I say this, being honest does not get you the right friends or partner but it will get you the right one(s). 

Pain and Sadness

candles and sadness

When you meet me in person, the first thing you’ll notice is my beautiful smile. Behind my smile I hide deep scars and a lot of pain. I’ve learned how to repress my emotions and feelings by smiling and hiding pain since my childhood years. In addition, I’ve also learned that pain is temporary depending how small or big my wounds and scars are.

Whenever I feel PAIN, I feel hurt. You will always see me smiling and laughing but you will never see me crying no matter what type of pain I’m experiencing. The only way you will ever see me hurt, sad, and in deep pain is when my mind is in “shock” and I no longer have control of my tears.  At this moment, you will want to hug me and I will push you away or try to walk away. In case if you do manage to hug and allow me to hear your heart; I will yell with my lungs and cry to the world why my heart feels a sharp electrical pain.  At this stage, my wall made of bricks is unsealed and broken because I’m truly hurting.

I can handle any type of pain, hide my sadness, and heal my wounded soul. Recently, I just found out there is one type of pain I cannot handle. I feel pain when a person related to my blood or a person who I love dearly suddenly dies. I miss this person so much. He is the first to die and it hurts to think about him.

He is my father. He died at age 56, last month. He survived three strokes. The fourth stroke killed him and left me heartbroken. Whenever I hear strangers “whistle,” I get a minor electrical sharp pain in my heart. The sound of whistle reminds me of father. He used to whistle so beautiful while painting or doing mechanic work. That was his favorite hobby to “whistle.”

Before his death, I remember father calling me every two or three months to check up on me. I know he did not want to miss out on my birthday and would have called to say “happy birthday.” I cried a lot on my birthday because I wished father was still alive to give me one last final call and say “happy birthday mi belleza (my beauty).” Father knew I was always beautiful.

I received a call three weeks ago while completing my cardio at the gym. His mother called me and told me to sit down. She told me father died alone. I felt sad and did not cry. Grandma notice I got quiet on the phone. But when she told me he was already buried, that gave me a deep shock and that’s when I started to cry. I cried running out the gym and drove myself home shaking nervously.

I would have appreciated more had his family members had the heart to  call or give me an opportunity to attend his burial and say my last goodbyes. I still feel anger and pain. Mostly pain but I am a strong person and I know my broken heart will heal but it will take time. I’m starting today because I want to heal faster. How? I’m sharing both the good and bad stories about my father. Someone special recently told me that father died so young and left a beautiful daughter in this world. Those words brought me tears and helped me realize that it’s okay to cry or talk about pain. Now that father is gone, I’m going to stop repressing my feelings and live a happy life. Live the life I always wanted to live. True happiness and not hide my painful feelings.

Sharing my experiences and stories allows me to heal and I hope you can be part of my life too by sharing your pain either with me or someone you trust. Sharing is caring but sharing can also alleviate the pain you’re experiencing. Let’s live a happy and a prosperous life.

This post is meant for the person I lost.  He is no longer part of my life for he is gone forever.  I will always remember the way you made me smile, laugh, and feel protected when I was little. We connected, separated, and reunited before you left.  I am heartbroken but time will heal my wounded heart.  Do not worry about me, I will meet you up there when my time comes. I promise to be humble, patience, love myself more, and forgive everyone.  I love you so much, always will, and I miss you.  I know you died alone and suffered so many hardships.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to know you better before you were gone.  Rest in peace and I will protect your name. You were and still are a good person for me.  When I’m ready, I will visit you. I love you!

To be happy, you need to let go of your fears. It’s okay to be yourself.  Don’t ever let a person make fun of you because you’re shy, innocent, serious, unhappy, unsatisfied, disappointed, confused, and overwhelmed about your life.  We all go through this phase and forget who we are because we’re letting bad people emotionally hurt us.  Be yourself no matter what.  Have confidence.  Having confidence is the key to heal, forgive, and love yourself.

I struggled and felt overwhelmed from lip reading or pretending to hear when I couldn’t listen.  I no longer let my frustrations get the best of me.  Meaning I no longer complain about how unfair my life is or used to be.  I got tired of crying and feeling confused about my identity.  The last time I cried about my disability was the end of last year.  I vowed to never cry and complain about my life.  I smile more often, encourage myself to workout at the gym everyday, and think positive thoughts. The scars from the past made me who I am today.  Stronger, happy, beautiful, and love myself.  Please do me a favor, set yourself free from pain.  Believe in yourself and live a peaceful life.  Call the person who needs happiness – YOU. bird freedom

I’m sure many of you heard these words before, “it’s best to forget the past, especially when you’re hurting so much that you’re falling apart.”  I disagree.

For me, remembering my past gives me a reason to understand why things didn’t work out and sometimes by no fault of my own.  I’m talking everything about dreams, careers, school, friendship, family, and relationships.  I reflect on my past a lot and see pain, sadness, abuse, and darkness.  It’s not about remembering the people who hurt me or the times I failed to recognize myself.  I look back because it’s a reminder of how I became the person I am today –  spiritually and mentally stronger.  It took me days, months, and years to heal.  I feel stronger than what I used to be.  I’m stronger and nothing will stop me from smiling.  I‘ve built a wall made of bricks.  I have a lot of confidence and feel damn happy for you to bring me down.  I’m a Spartan and pride the beautiful person I’ve become.

To heal your pain and sadness, you must surround yourself with people who care and make you laugh.  Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try to focus on helping the person who needs a lot of help – YOU.  You have one body, a heart, two eyes, two legs, and two arms.  Maybe you feel incomplete but there’s a reason why you’re still here and you’re reading my blog; get out of the darkness, follow the light and love yourself no matter what.  I have hearing loss and embrace it no matter how hard it is for me to distinguish sounds.  I refuse to live miserable and rather smile because my smile heals another person.

The ability to recognize who you are depends how you rebuild yourself and live fearlessly without regrets. It depends how many times you’ve failed to overcome all obstacles. In order to live happy and fearlessly, you have to take the first step and be courageous. Do not be afraid of failing especially when you’re willing to take risks. What matters the most is that you tried and will never say “I wished I took the first step”.

I didn’t let people’s opinion define who I am no matter how many times I’ve failed and got my heart broken or disappointed. I choose to define my identity. Wearing hearing aids and being diagnosed with bilateral reverse hearing loss does not define who I am. My struggles, sadness, and failures made me stronger inside and outside. I am very grateful to my brother who accidentally hit me with a shovel on my left eyebrow at age four. My hearing was no longer normal after the accident and I got diagnosed with hearing loss at age 9. For five years, I’ve lived in a world full of blackness, chaos, and confusion. Those years I felt lost and did not understand why people would stare while I tried to lip read. Fortunately, I started wearing hearing devices at age 12 and my life turned around with a bit of temper and patience. Till this day, I have no idea how my mother could live with so much patience. I know that it sounds crazy but I’m very grateful that my brother accidentally hit me with a shovel. I rather live with hearing loss and I cannot imagine what my life would’ve been had the shovel reached my left eye. I do not want to imagine, not even the scar.

As an adult, I’ve learned to appreciate life and be grateful for the small things I have. I rather live poor and happy than being rich and feeling stressed. Money matters but what matters the most is living happy and knowing who you are as a whole. Most people assume that having hearing loss affects your self-esteem, mood, and behavior. It depends what type of hearing loss you have and how you’re willing to live. I choose to live happy, take risks, and never doubt who I am. Again, I will repeat that my hearing loss does not define me and it shouldn’t define who you are. I define myself as a strong lady who never gives up, takes no for an answer, and keeps believing. I hope my new post inspired you because that’s my goal. Do not give up and keep trying no matter how many times you’ve felt disappointed. Even if you cannot define who you are always remember that your goal is to live the moment, keep moving, endure a difficult life, and ultimately be strong enough to live it.

I promise this will be my last confession. I’m ashamed to admit my mistakes. I’m not perfect, I’ve hurt people and made mistakes. No more drowning, it’s time to surround myself with happiness and ask for forgiveness.

I moved to a new city in 2005, transferred to a new high school for senior year without friends to talk. At age 17, I wrote a letter because I no longer wanted to live. How I let my young self think this way still bothers me.

Moving to a new city affected my sleep, appetite, and energy. For eight months I ate breakfast alone, pretended to wear hearing aids and took them off while I drove myself to school. I did not want to deal with the bully. I was afraid of my new school finding out about my disability. It was one of the reasons why my family decided to move to a new city and transferred me to a new school. I ate alone in high school wishing someone would invite me to eat lunch with them. Then I drove myself back home and waited until mother and brother arrived home. I cooked for my family hoping they would appreciate the dinner I made them. When they got home, they didn’t bother to ask how my day was because they were tired from the long commute. Whenever they had bad days, most days were bad days….they yelled at me because I was an easy target. At that time, my family was not aware I was experiencing mixed feelings and difficulty coping with loneliness. So to avoid the yell, I shut myself in my room and spoke with no one. My decision to shut myself in the darkness made it worse for me. The less I socialized, the more I thought stupid thoughts and wished to actually kill myself. This is exactly how I let my young self think suicidal thoughts.

I almost killed myself. I’m not going to explain what I was about to do. The point is, I got caught. Till this day, I still believe an angel told brother and mother to get home early because I was very close to taking my own life. Since then, my family started to care and forced me to see a therapist. My family thought that I had a problem. Later they found out they too had a problem. Things between my family and I got better. My suicidal thoughts slowed down but it never went away. I tortured myself for letting my young self think this way.

Rumors spread out and a majority of my family members found out. I felt and lived with shame. This is another reason why I don’t like socializing with my family. Despite getting caught, I continued to judge myself for letting people call me fat, retarded, big mouth, and overwhelmed with emotional pain. I wanted to understand why I must wear hearing aids when I was never born this way. Maybe if I was born with a hearing loss diagnosis, my thoughts would be more positive then negative. Only a person with hearing loss diagnosis can understand my emotional pain but a normal hearing person can never understand my pain. To truly understand what if feels like to live with deaf or hard of hearing diagnosis, you must have hearing loss.

Now that I’m almost 28 years old. I thank my family and my therapist for saving my life. If I could go back and tell my 17 year old self, I would have told her “Alicia you must live, you will attend two colleges, earn a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, work for a federal job, and blog about your success and experiences to motivate people and help them believe in their dreams.”

The person I want to ask for forgiveness is myself. No more suicidal thoughts. I’ve never felt as happy as before. I’ve learned to accept and love myself. I’ve learned to be honest with myself and wear my hearing aids proudly without letting others judge me for who I am. I’ve learned to defend myself and take care of my body. I am unique, have dreams to accomplish, and feel more beautiful than before.

I learned so much about the deaf community, hard of hearing community, cochlear implant community, and normal hearing community. I’ve learned that we all make mistakes but our mistakes only makes us stronger than before if we learn from them.

If you have trouble coping with mixed feelings, just remember and understand that pain is temporary. Accept the hand that reaches out to you and experience the journey that will ultimately become a golden opportunity. Now that I let all my confessions out, I will blog more about opportunities, golden opportunities.

forgiveness

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