Gordana Mosher, CHHA’s fabulous Manager of Communications, asked me a few questions about Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss to share with the CHHA hearing loss community.
Gael, what is the book about?
Thanks for asking, Gordana; it’s been my favourite thing to talk about for two years now! Hear & Beyond is the answer to the burning question that my coauthor Shari Eberts and I asked ourselves: How can we lead our best lives with hearing loss?
This is the ultimate hearing loss survival guide we wish we’d had early on our individual hearing loss journeys. The book paints the Big Picture of the hearing loss life – what to expect, what we have control over, and how we communicate better. Shari and I tell our stories from the hearing loss journey and how they shaped our personal philosophies. And most importantly, we offer a three-legged stool of strategies for skillful living. The three-legged stool is unique because it never wobbles, even on uneven ground. It supports us.
A sneak peek: the legs on the stool are attitude change (how we approach our hearing loss), technology (the great tools that charge us up), and non-technical communication game-changers (the interpersonal tactics that are more exciting and easier to do than they may sound)!. While each of the three legs is critical to living well with hearing loss, when they work together, when we live them and apply them to our life, especially in relationships, that’s when the magic happens.
And we didn’t make this stuff up! Our ‘formula’ is grounded not only in our personal, lived experiences but also in those of thousands of other people like us. Our principles are also corroborated by hearing science, tremendous advances in technology, and modern hearing care principles such as person-centred care.
What inspired you to write this book with Shari?
A weak moment of creative insanity, probably. From writing my first book, The Way I Hear It, I knew how much work goes into creating a book, especially one that’s good. But I felt that there was a gap in the hearing loss literature. Early books focused on hearing loss and how hearing aids would help. Then came a welcome wave of memoir-based books that helped many people realize that they are not alone and that there is help. But I felt the need for a book that focuses on the strategies missing from the standard model of professional hearing care delivery. This book directly encourages people to take charge of their own hearing loss success.
Shari was a friend and one of the world’s best advocate-writers on hearing loss. I knew we could create something with more impact and authority by collaborating with Shari. So, almost two years ago to the day, I sent her an email.
“Want to write a book?”
“Hearing loss, duh.”
And – we were off! Writing the book was a joyous, laughter-and-tears experience for both of us – and written entirely through the pandemic!
You use humour to communicate on many topics related to your personal experiences. Do you find this something easy for you to do? People seem to resonate with how you deliver your message, both in-person and in writing.
Wow, thank you, Gordana. My sense of humour came from my parents, especially my dad. He was the funniest man I’ve ever met – and one of the most stubborn when it came to (not) wearing his hearing aid! My humour is in storytelling – I’m a terrible joke-teller! Life with hearing loss is a goldmine of stories because it affects almost everything we do. I like to illustrate those unique, frustrating hearing loss moments that, when we recognize them in ourselves, help us see the humour. Not right in the moment, maybe, but later. We become better at communicating when we can get a clearer picture of how we do hearing loss and how we can do it more skillfully.
What tips for navigating hearing loss can you share from your own experience – or from the book?
Stand tall. There is no shame in this. The hearing loss journey is never straight; there are always twists and bumps in the road. This became clear to Shari and me as we shared our stories with each other. Both of us had individually reached a point of change.
Along with our bad habits, we had developed some valuable skills, and it was time to reassess our goal. We decided to stop being a hostage to our hearing loss and take charge. We both became better self-advocates from that point forward.
What has been the feedback on Hear & Beyond so far?
Although I’m writing this a week before the book comes out, we are excited to say that advance feedback has been wonderful! Early readers with hearing loss have given us an enthusiastic thumbs-up, and hearing care professionals tell us it’s a much-needed tool to help their clients.
Final thoughts: what can readers and your fans expect to learn or key takeaways from this new release?
Ideas. Inspiration. Support. Tips, tricks, and hearing hacks. All of the above. But one of the most important takeaways should be this:
Earlier in our separate journeys, Shari and I struggled and found nothing changed because we didn’t know how to make things better. But eventually, through daily struggles, trial and error and the good fortune of meeting other amazing people with hearing loss, we learned to live more skillfully. We shifted our focus from wanting to hear better to wanting to communicate better. And that changed everything.