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Dec 11, 2011

Challenge Myself to Change

I mentioned a few entries ago, about a book I'm reading called "Aspire", by Kevin Hall.  I've been tackling about a chapter a week, so I can work my way through it thoughtfully, to absorb the material and apply it in ways that I need to.

Last week's chapter was called "Humility".  It was very interesting reading, because through explaining the origins of the word, when it comes right down to it, in explaining this word, I see it in a far different way than I had ever seen it.  Kevin explained that  "The origin of "humility" is the Latin word, "humus" meaning soil, specifically rich, dark, organic soil.  When a seed is planted in fertile soil, it transforms into something far greater."  Basically, he says that, "When we have sufficient humus in our lives, we grow and develop, and foster those around us to flourish.  Humility produces growth.

If we think we know it all, we are not open to growth in essence.  We need to be open to learning and growing at all times.  He then told about when he was the head of sales and training division at Franklin (a company he'd work for before).  They wanted to find out what was it that separated the top producers, that made several hundred thousand a year, from those who made a tenth of that.  They had an outside consulting firm come in to find out.  What they found was that every one of the top producers were avid and devoted learners.  They each read at least two dozen books a year and were applying the knowledge they were learning.

This caused me to do quite a bit of reflection.  Reading has always been something I enjoyed, particularly in my early years.  However, through the years, I developed quite a TV addiction.  When I was in my 20's closed captioning came onto the scene.  I enjoyed watching some TV then.  However, through the years I struggled with depression, health problems, weight gain and etc. TV became my lifeline.  It became the one thing I could look forward to.  In the beginning also, deafness and my inability to deal well with it at that time, caused lots of isolation.  TV was my sole world, once I finished my work day.  Reading quit being something I would do.  It was escapism in to TV that helped me to survive.

Over the last few years, I have made lots of personal growth, especially during the period of times that I was losing my weight.  I worked on growth in my mind and spirit.  I did cut back a little bit on TV watching, once I moved in a household with a family, vs when I'd lived alone.  However, the truth was, I am still addicted.  First thing that happens when I come home, is turning on TV.  I  may snuggle with the little, ones, spend some time with them; always, yet always keeping an eye on the TV.

After I read about the top performers and that their success in their profession had everything to do with what they did in their free time to grow and learn.  I realized that it was time for me to take some big steps.  I needed to return to the person that loves to read, rather than the person depending on the crutch of TV.  It was tough to take this step, but I went to my DVR and cancelled the majority of the programs I had set to record for the week.  I kept the news and a bare handful of shows, not more than an hour, if that, a night.  This is in stark contrast to the fact that I always recorded 6 hours a day while I was at work, in addition to night time programs.  I know that I want to make some major growth in my life.  I want to become the person that I want to me, and make the growth that I want in my life.  If I want to become successful at this, I need to be willing to take the time required to nurture myself, to plant the seeds for growth.  While these top performers were performing professionally, I want to become a top performer personally.  That will take a commitment to learning and growing.

I survived the week much better than I would have, mostly because I had to put in some 11 and 12 hours days for work, with my Boot Camp on top of that.  So I was rarely home.  However, there were a couple of times I sat down and turned on the TV and felt at a loss, as there was nothing recorded to watch.  I still had a hard time turning my focus to reading.  I'd check FB, then want to play games since nothing was on TV.  So my work is just beginning and I have far to go to create the discipline needed to engage in the learning.

I realize that I'm just beginning.  I was re-reading the chapter this morning, thinking about what I want to do.  Continue the experiment or what?  The first thought was, sure, cancel it one more week; then let everything record again.  Why?  I'm going to be off work for two weeks.  I was truly afraid to be without all my programs when I all of a sudden have lots of personal time.  Then I realized that this was a challenge I had to take.  I needed to cancel all the series I had set to record period,  not just week by week decide if I'd cancel recordings or keep them.  I need to really challenge myself to work on my growth, learning and reading; especially during the time I have off work. I need to break the addiction and open myself up to learning opportunities and growth.   With that in mind, I went to my DVR just prior to writing this, and cancelled all my daily series recordings.  I'm ready to take the journey ahead!

Nov 25, 2011

Do Little Tiny Mini Goals Matter?

Last weekend I was reading a chapter in the book Aspire by Kevin Hall.  He was telling a story about a quadriplegic who had decided he was going to do something quite extraordinary; Ride a hand tricycle 513 miles from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.  The quest starts out quite euphoric with everyone cheering him on, but it wore on for hours and hours, the cheering crowd was gone and the tasks became much more difficult for many reasons.  His hands had to be taped to the bars to keep them going.  Temperature variations from the low riding hand tricycle from the pavement didn't help a body unable to regulate temperature well.  Lots of obstacles were thrown in his way.  In the middle of the night, as he cycled away, with difficult terrain amongst a host of other problems, he was going about 2 miles an hour and struggling.  His father checked in with him.  He suggested that instead of counting the mile markers as a measure of his progress, why doesn't he count the yellow lines in the middle of the road?  They come by much more quickly.  He did just that and managed to finally make it into Vegas.

While I did find the story interesting and somewhat inspirational, it didn't click with me until a couple of days later.  I was traveling for work and spending the night at a hotel in St. George.  I had decided that since I couldn't work out that day, I would go to the hotel gym and do my best.  Due to a "bone on bone" knee situation, I'm supposed to use the machines that go up and down with your feet and caused no impact on the knee (sorry I don't know what they are called), rather than a regular treadmill.  I got on the machine and found that the weight pressure required for each step was set too high.  I couldn't figure out how to adjust the level/tension/pressure the machine required with each step.  I am a person who walks 3 miles an hour, when I walk.  Yet here I was on this machine struggling like the dickens to walk 1.5 miles an hour.  That's how slow I was walking.

As time moved on, I was becoming very fatigued and ready to just hop off.  Normally, I would have maybe lasted 10 minutes and decided it was too much.  However, due to the lessons I learned last week during Hell Week at Boot Camp, I knew I needed to do more.  I couldn't just quit and give up.  There were no other machines of this type, so I was a little stuck.  As I watched the tenths of a miles markers on the display, thinking, "Gosh, I'm struggling, I can't believe I need off after slightly over .50 of a mile."

All of a sudden, I remembered the story about the quadriplegic man riding his hand bike 513 miles, and reading about all the struggles and obstacles that came to him.   He struggled to reach his goal.  Then he started counting the yellow lines in the road, since they came more often than miles markers.   I decided to apply that same kind of logic here.  I really didn't want to quit at all, before I got at least a mile in.  I thought, Why not count down on the display that would go from .50, to .51 to .52 and etc?  I would challenge myself to get to the next number.  When the number changed, my challenge began again, to stay on until I reached the next number again.  So it went minute by minute, or half minute by half minute of  'little tiny goals'.  For example, at .69 I challenged myself to make it to .70, then to .71, then to .72.  This continued on until I finally reached my ultimate goal 1.00, the complete mile!  It took me 45 minutes to do that mile, and it was the hardest mile I'd ever done.  I was elated (and also dripping with sweat!), when 45 minutes after I began, I was able to get off the machine with the display at 1.00 and my full mile completed.

This hotel workout gave me a clarity of understanding of one of the lessons the author of my book may have been trying to get across.  Yes, when the task is hard and difficult; you need to not only set a big overall goal, but you need to set little tiny mini goals when the task is so hard/overwhelming that you don't feel you can do it.  I was able to understand thoroughly how counting the yellow stripes in the middle of the road kept the quadriplegic man cycling all the way to the end and reaching the goal he had set out to achieve.

As I reflected on the lesson I was internalizing.  I realized that I had "sort of" done the same thing once before in my life.  When I set out in 2005 at 387 lbs, to loose weight, I did have an "end weight" I was trying to achieve.  However, I never once allowed myself to think in terms of how many more pounds I had to lose, and then be overwhelmed.  Instead, I chose to weigh with my back to the scale, and only to have them tell me how much weight I lost that week.  I'd celebrate the week, and add it to the total......all the way to my goal.  I realized that in a different way, I'd broken off a huge chunk by looking at it in little tiny increments, week by week and celebrating each week.  Just like I broke the mile down by little increments and celebrated internally that I was still going for it as the numbers every so slowly crept upward.

Nov 19, 2011

The Ingredients of Determination

As I mentioned in a previous post, I survived Hell Week.  I'm still absorbing some of the lessons that I learned this week.  As I ponder today, I think one of the most important ones I'm pondering on is that of determination.

There are many times where I've had desire to make a change, but done nothing.  I've always known that I'm the kind of person who once I set my mind to something, it will be done.  (Note my journey that made it possible to lose 238 lbs)  The problem was, how do I make myself move beyond desire and into determination?  I'd spend a lot of time not doing anything towards that which I wanted, just because the desire didn't move towards determination.

This week, I followed through on a desire to begin to have another tool to help me to lose the weight I gained and be able to maintain weight loss easier.  Because I've often wondered what was lacking in making me "determined", my senses as to what's happening were particularly acute as I pondered what exactly happened that allowed me to be determined for a change.  Therefore, I've come up with what I believe are some of the key ingredients necessary to move from desire to determination and actually achieving what you want.

The ingredients of determination are 1) smacking down and not allowing any negative thoughts to begin 2) being positive about and envisioning what my outcome will be and the goals I can meet by doing this thing,  and 3) making no excuses.  Mix those together, you have developed a batter I will call  "focus".  With this new focus of the mind, you are suddenly able to just  "find a way to make it possible" and you achieve the impossible! 

When the negative thoughts starts, I immediately stop it and counteract it by saying, "I'm going to do it"  I won't allow my mind to start the train of thoughts that would allow myself to begin thinking about all the obstacles and being scared of it or what not.  I would instead envision meeting the goals that I so wanted to meet, and be so hopeful that my newest endeavor would lead me there.  I've come to realize recently that I am the "queen of excuses" which has been to my detriment time and time again.  Yet, when it comes to getting determination, I won't even accept an excuse.  It shows me that I do have it within myself to stop the excuses, because I've proved I know how to do it.  As I thought about the mindset that I acquire when I'm not allowing negativity or excuses, and building positivity; I realized that my brain is now focused on what I'm planning to achieve.  With that focus, I just can't help but succeed and achieve what it is I want.  It is that focus that says, "find a way to make it possible".

For example, if I wasn't determined to do boot camp, it's something I typically would've said, 1) It's too expensive, I can't afford it and 2) I don't have the time, my schedule is too unpredictable and  not in my control every day.  However, because I was determined, those never even entered my mind.  Each time the problems came up, I just figured out how to solve it.  I figured out where to get the money, in the beginning to afford it.  Then as I started the daily work outs, I had to make a lot of extra effort to make it fit in my schedule.  In addition, I went to my colleague that schedules all our our team appointments, and told her that for the rest of the year, if she has to make appointments that won't get me back in time to work out before it closes (and I gave her a specific time), that she needs to make sure that she doesn't start out morning appointments before a specific time that would allow me to get in and do the morning work outs.  I was focused, so I didn't anticipate or dwell on the difficulties.  I just did what I wanted to, and then found a way to solve each issue that arose.  Wow!  Eye opening to realize that.

I've also found determination just in trying to complete all the specific difficult exercises I'm give, for the number of reps required.  Instead of saying, "I can't" which I would do without determination, I'd say to myself, "I will".  When I had no breath left (lung damage coupled with 30 lbs added to the burden on my lungs) and the instructor would check in to see if I was OK, instead of saying I can't because (and I had a GOOD reason), I said, "I'm OK, I'm just catching my breath, and I'll continue until I finish.  Determination.

I'm really grateful for the lesson I'm learning about determination.  I think these is something I will need to revisit again and again.  I know there are new goals and desires I have.  If I allow myself to go down my usual path, it's unlikely I'll achieve them.  I will always need to think about what is happening internally.  Am I allowing negativity?  Am I not envisioning reaching the goal and being positive?  Am I making excuses?  If the answer is yes, then of course I'll know that is why I have no focus.  I've got a recipe for helping myself to get back on track now!  I'm grateful for this new awareness!  Now it's Happy trails as I continue to embark on my recent journeys! :) 


Nov 18, 2011

I Survived!

It was a windy, dark and cold morning,  6:00 a.m. to be exact.  Bundled up in long johns, a turtle neck, fleece sweater, a coat, a pair of pants, 3 socks and gloves, I arrived for my last Hell week workout.  I was quickly outfitted with a 30 lb vest, and paint streaks (to resemble either mud or war paint?) were put on my face.  I joined a company of 20 some odd people at attention, waiting for the orders and instructions to follow. 

I'm the woman who would never wake up at 5:00 a.m. for anything.  On top of that, I would NEVER wake up early to exercise of all things.  Yet, here I was, a 54 year old, formerly obese 387 lb, oxygen tank dependent woman, doing something I never in my wildest dreams would have pictured myself doing.  Our workout ended just as it was starting to get a little light on the top of a little hill in the park with 65 situps.  After those were finished, I was surprised with a little ceremony for the three of us there, who were finishing up Hell Week.  Music of some sort was played (have no idea what type, as I had my hearing devices off to prevent sweating all over them) as everyone stood at attention.  I suppose it was something military.  The Boot camp instructors were lined up facing the "new recruits",   After the music, the leader walked over and awarded us the above dog tag.  I photographed both sides for your viewing pleasure! :) 

One by one, each of the instructors from each of the different "companies/locations", walked in front of me, congratulated me and shook my hand in this ceremony.  Little ole' me!  Many of the 20 odd strangers came and congratulated me.  Suddenly, I was quite proud and realized that it really was an accomplishment.  I had made a decision to do something entirely out of my comfort zone, and persevered no matter how tough and difficult it was.  I actually did 5 straight days of intense, rigorous workouts, with 30 lbs strapped to my vest, and was outside on a cold winter morning at 6:00 a.m. doing the last one.  I felt such a sense of achievement to get this dog tag. I feel already that this is going to be a treasured possession.

As I look at it, I realize it now symbolizes and embodies a wealth of lessons I learned for the first time, as well as lessons, re-learned.  It reminds me of the strong woman who earned it.  I can always continue to change my life, re-new myself and my spirit.  I'm never to old, too out-of-shape, too anything to embark on new journeys.

I can't wait to see what the next 5 weeks bring me. I have a vision of a strong, confident woman, walking into the future believing in herself, keeping her priorities straight, exploring her dreams and knowing, her potential is limitless and living her best life. 

Nov 14, 2011

H -E - Double Hocky Sticks Week

It's been a long, long time since I wrote about the weight loss journey that you see documented in the layout of the blog.  The truth is, that since reaching my goal weight a couple of years ago, I've struggled to  maintain my weight.  I've gained a few pounds, which is enough to unnerve me significantly.  I have kept perspective and realized that though I've gained a few pounds, I've not given up the fight.  I've still continued my weekly visits to Jenny Craig for support.  My mindset has not been what it needs to be and I've cheated enough to be in this situation. 

As I've searched and struggled to get my mind fully in the game, I hit upon a "possible solution".  What did I do?  I've joined Boot Camp!  I figured this intense 6 week physical program, might be the next step I need to take.  Today, I started my first week, which is known as "Hell Week".  After my first workout tonight, I now know why.

Holy Cow!  First they put a 30 lb vest on that you have to wear to work out in during Hell Week.  When you gain weight, a little at a time, you never notice it coming on, except I did start to notice that there's a little too much stress on my knee, that used to not be there before.  However, when 30 lbs is strapped to your chest all at once, you realize as you go through a super demanding workout, drastically out of shape, what a burden extra weight is.  For me, having that weight pressing on my chest, was really difficult for my lungs.  When I weighed over 200 lbs more than I do now, I couldn't do anything without my oxygen tank strapped to me.  I realized instantly tonight how the weight effects my lungs.  I think the lesson is starting to sink into  my stubborn mindset that I've had for a while.  The mind set that said, 4 1/2 years of losing weight, you deserve to take it easy and not work so hard.  Now I'm starting to see that maybe the work never lets up.

I'd recently come to the realization that if you're not moving forward, you're moving backward.  Ever so subtly, and quite unnoticeable I've been moving backwards.  I was realizing this recently, in terms of personal growth.  Now I'm starting to click onto the fact that this lesson applies physically as well.  What I really hoped would happen with boot camp, is that I'd get enough exercise that the little slips food-wise that I like to enjoy, would be burned off.  I know that if I'm more physically active, I'll do better at maintaining weight.  However, after just the first day of Boot Camp in Hell Week, I'm starting to realize there are other lessons I need to learn and re-learn as well.

The first jolt was to realize what a burden gaining weight is.  I DON'T want to ever go back to that person.  As I do the physically demanding work out for the next 4 days (including 6 a.m. in the park workout scheduled for a cold winter Friday morning this week), carting around my 30 lb vest that I'd suddenly gained; I think my mindset is going to really change to what it needs to be.  I can feel myself getting that change already, on Day 1. 

Another lesson learned today, was how deep my determination really does run.  I've always known that once I set my mind to something, nothing stops me.  The problem I have at times, is that I don't always "set my mind" to what I want.  I just kind of pussy foot around it and say I want this or that, but I don't steel myself to work for what it is I want.  Tonight as I struggled to breathe, struggled to complete the number of reps required for each task; there were a couple of times I found myself really digging deep.  I WAS going to complete it, no matter what it took.  It was a nice reminder of what really is down deep in the core of my being.  I will probably get more "experience" in digging deep for my determination this week. 

There's other things that I'm working on for personal growth, in addition to this Boot Camp for physical growth, I will make those subjects for a future blog.  One of the interesting things is that at a point in our workout, we are to say that "P.T. Lovell requests more P.T.  Thank you for conditioning my mind and my body".  I thought it was silly when I first learned I'd have to memorize this to say tonight.  However, I really am understanding the meanings behind it.  First of all, being positive, and asking for more workout, is really a way to prevent you from saying, "Oh, this is too much, I can't do it", but rather say and think something more empowering.  This and several other small things that were done tonight, in addition to the 30 lb. vests, made me realize that there really is some conditioning of the mind going on as well.  I NEED that conditioning of both my mind and body!

So wish me well folks.  While I've sadly neglected my blog more often than not over the last couple of years, I've now resolved that I will be returning to writing more frequently, as I once did when I was on the initial weight loss journey a few years back.  Part of the writing my blog is therapeutic.  It helps me to sort through the things I'm learning, as well as gives me clarity of thought.  You have to clear your thoughts, before you are able to clearly communicate what is in your head.  Check back weekly, I'm resolving to write at least that often! :)

Sep 17, 2011

An Article About Me!

I opened my Facebook page today and began reading.  To my great pleasure, I found this article listed on the Cochlear Facebook page showing up in my newsfeed!  Just thought I'd share!  Click on this link for your reading pleasure!  http://www.hearinghealthseminar.com/2011/09/when-losing-helps-you-win-ann%E2%80%99s-story/

Sep 16, 2011

Slices of Heaven

Slice of Heaven #1

A couple of weeks ago, I was running to the store for a quick errand, with Finn buckled in the back seat.  As I drive to the store, I hear the sweet little voice say, "Me love you!".  Precious.  There was a time I never would have heard that and missed this little sweet moment of joy.  Without my cochlear implant, this little moment of joy is one I never would have heard.

Slice of Heaven #2

Today, Finn was hanging out with me downstairs.  He's my little shadow and always wants to "go downstairs with you".  We had to go upstairs, as his mother and siblings were getting ready to go spend the evening with his grandma (my sister).  As I gave him a hug goodbye, I heard, "I'll miss you."  Ahhhhh.....  So sweet and touching.  I wasn't even sure I heard right at first, until I saw his mom's expression.  She too was touched at his sweet pronouncement.  :)

And just because I adore him, I'll share some recent pictures.  I had a cute video I was going to post, but apparently, it doesn't work for some reason to upload it here (I tried 3 times).  Oh well.  I'll just share my pictures then!

The picture below is one of about 20 that Finn took by hitting the button on my iPad as he wanted a picture.

Speaking of slices of heaven, the next picture is the one I love! :)  He often snuggles next to me and lays his head on my shoulder.  It couldn't be any sweeter! :)

Mar 27, 2011

Sweet Joys

Tonight, after midnight, I got a text from upstairs.  Finnley kept saying to his mom, "My Ann, go see my Ann....."  She finally texted me to see if he could come see me.  Of course he could!  When his mom told him he could see me, he got so excited.  I went upstairs to get him, and he immediately hugged me and started snuggling.  Before I even sat down im my chair downstairs, yet still snuggling against me, he was out!  It's such sweet joy for me to have this little one in my life.  Everyone used to say, he has me wrapped around his little finger.  Once he got old enough to run, walk, and talk; it became clear that I have him wrapped around my little finger as well.  I obviously love it our little mutual admiration society! :)  The picture above is less than flattering of me, but I share it, after all, isn't that such a sweet little innocent face? :)

Mar 4, 2011

Can You Feel The Joy?

There's not a lot of words that are needed for this video. Just look at each face there and the joy they show. Here they are, the young and the old, living the miracle. At 2:43 into the film, you'll see me and my friends. Right after us, you see the engineer who designed my cochlear implant, followed by Dr. Graeme Clark who's dream of helping his deaf father lead him to creating the cochlear implant! This video brings back memories of the good times, as well as tears of joy and gratitude to my two heroes.

Cochlear Celebration

Ahhhh, Celebration....How do I love thee, let me count the ways! :)  Seriously though, Cochlear Celebrations are counted among the highlights of my life.  I'll give you a little mini taste of Cochlear Celebration.

The opening event of every even is the Opening Social on the first evening.  Here you have people from all over the country gathering together and getting to know each other.  You meet people for the first time (as my friends Diane and Debra are doing at this table), socialize and get to know a little about each other.  It's great fun to start to build connections to others who are living the miracle of sound.

 The opening session of every Cochlear Celebration I've attended is begun by Chris Smith, the CEO of Cochlear Celebration.  I do enjoy the chance to hear from those who lead this great company.

Here is Jim Patrick speaking in the opening session.  Jim is one of my three heroes from Australia.  The cochlear implant was created by Dr. Graeme Clark in Australia.  Jim was his first employee and the engineering genius who created this marvelous miraculous machine I wear behind my ears.  The last hero is Rod Saunders, who has passed away.  He is the first cochlear implantee who tested this device for Dr. Clark and Jim.  I love getting a chance to sit and chat with my hero Jim in both of the Celebrations I've attended.  He's truly a humble man for someone who has done such great things.

Here is a view of what we see when we first walk into the opening sessions.  For me, waiting for Chris to get up and officially open, looking at this view up front is positively electrifying and exciting!  Let the fun begin! :)

Here I am with two of my favorite men at Cochlear Celebration.  On my right is Mark , one of the upper level managers at Cochlear from Texas.  He was the person who trained me to be a volunteer some years ago (when they used to fly volunteers to Colorado for training).  He was also the first person to be implanted bilaterally.  To my left is David!  David has one of those spirits about him that he is genuinely loved by all.  He too works for Cochlear.  He works in their shipping department in Colorado.  It's always fun to me to order batteries, filters or other parts for my cochlear implant, and then see a little smiley face and a signature from David, saying "Hi" to me!  I always hope he's the one that sends me whatever parts I'm ordering.  David is also the kind of man that is loved by all.  The kids at that are at Cochlear are genuinely drawn to him.  He is known for giving the best hugs around.  All the employees at of Cochlear truly ROCK!

Cochlear tends to spend an evening having a special event of some sort for those that volunteer.  Here I am sitting between two Linda's at a special happy hour type of event for the volunteers.  Linda who traveled with me from Utah, is in the foreground, and then Linda Day, another awesome Cochlear employee, who is the Volunteer manager from California is sitting right next to me.  On the other side of the table are two volunteers from Washington. 

You can count on Cochlear Celebration to have a great keynote speaker at the opening session.  Here we were fortunate to hear from Tom Sullivan, a blind singer/actor/author.  He spoke and sang to us.  It was truly touching and reminded us of our own miracle as we listened to him tell us how truly jealous of us he was.  He would give anything in his life to be able to see his wife, just to be able to see.  And here we all are able to hear.  He was inspiring and touching.  At one point the lights dimmed and he asked us to close our eyes as he took us through a morning run with him.  Of course we all had our eyes open to read CART, but the lights were dim and we went on a morning run.  It was astounding to see the world through his ears.  Sounds became even more precious as we experienced it through him.

 During his talk, Tom made the statement that I quickly got my phone out and took a picture of before it disappeared from CART.  I realized the instant he said it, how truly profound it was.  If you can't read it, click on the picture and it will enlarge so you can.  It helped me realize how much I have to focus on the here and now, the joys and potential of the here, rather than dwell on the past.
There is always an evening at Disney or a local attraction.  Hollywood Studios was closed down early on Saturday night.  We ate dinner on the streets of Hollywood studio.  After dinner, we walked to where the giant Mickey Mouse hat was lit up.  We watched as fireworks erupted from it.  Then we were able to ride the roller coaster and the Tower of Terror as many times as we wanted.  On the "streets" of Hollywood, near these rides, there was music, a street dance and entertainment.  Truly and enjoyable evening just for us!
Before we know it, the closing session arrives.  Chris Smith CEO shows us the joy of our time here when he bounds onto the stage in a feather boa with Mickey Mouse hands! :)  After his speech, we get the opportunity to be introduced to and hear from this year's Graeme Clark Scholarship winners.  A friend of mine from Utah was awarded this scholarship three years ago.  I hope someday to see another young many from Utah up on the stage with a scholarship.  His name is Chance (a hint to his parents if they're reading this!) :)  After the scholarship winners speak, we all wait for THE ANNOUNCEMENT!  Where will the next Cochlear Celebration be.

 Whoo Hoo!  February 2013, I'll be there in San Diego, celebrating once again.  The minute this announcement popped up on the screen, I snapped a picture and texted and emailed it to a couple of friends on my PDA, telling them I want to see them there with us at the next one and to start saving!

Another Celebration ends, and my dreams for the next Celebration begin anew!  Cochlear Celebration 2013, here I come! :)