About Mary Hiland

Need a keynote speaker? Want a workshop that will wow your conference attendees? Been looking for just the right person to present a sensational sensitivity session? Mary Hiland is an “Advanced Communicator” in toastmasters International, a member of World Champion’s Edge, and is an experienced public speaker.

Goodbye Dear Little Piano

Watching my son and another man ease my piano out the front door felt like sending a child away to live with another family. I have such sweet memories of moving that piano from my mother and dad’s house in southern Indiana up to our house in Gahanna. We had rented a You-Haul, and when we finally pulled into their driveway after a 6-hour drive, my husband joked, “OK Steve. You take one end, and I’ll take the other, and we can get back on the road.” And then Steve, who was only about 5 or 6 began to cry, because he thought we were going to visit Grandma and Grandpa first. Of course we were, but Steve sometimes didn’t get my husband’s sense of humor. The other part of this memory occurred when we were driving across the bridge over the Ohio River, and I prayed that the kids would stay asleep in the back seat. I know that the weight of the piano made it hard to handle that You-Haul trailer, and especially going over the bridge, it made me very nervous. To add to my stress, the kids had found a turtle in the road in from of my parents’ house, and the turtle was riding in the trailer with the piano. I prayed it wouldn’t get squashed. The piano and the turtle both made it home safely, and the piano has enjoyed a long stay at my house. I can’t say the same for the turtle.

My daughter took piano lessons, but long before that, I took lessons myself. I learned to read braille music and memorized several classical pieces. I never did learn to play by ear. But I did enjoy learning and playing for my own pleasure. When my mother hosted a birthday party for my Aunt Vida who was turning 80, she asked me to play the piano. Normally, it would be my mother who would entertain the guests with music, but for this party, she would be busy hostessing. It was the one and only time I performed for other people, but because it was mostly family there, I wasn’t nervous. Now, when I hear a particular piece on the radio, like a Chopin waltz, I sigh with some regret, thinking, “I used to play that.” Every time I hosted a holiday party for my bike club, I gladly paid the money to have my piano tuned in preparation for the party. Several people in the club were very good pianists, and they would take turns at the piano. It always made me feel happy to have that piano played. It gave me more joy during those parties than at any other time, although there was one time that topped them all. That was when my mother and my very young granddaughter Meghan played Ode to Joy together, with Meghan playing her simplified version mostly in the treble keys, while Mom filled in with bigger chords. I am so thankful Steve caught it on his phone, and pulls it up from time to time when we get into a reminiscing mood. Meghan doesn’t play anymore, and neither do I. Kara’s daughter Brianna does, but she’s not here enough to make it worth taking up the space I need in my living room for other things.

I have moved that piano by myself to 3 of the 4 walls over the years, because I love rearranging furniture. Her final move came today, as she left with a very pleasant couple to claim her after my granddaughter placed an ad on line. They have 6 kids, and one is already quite good on the piano, and they are hoping the other kids will learn to play as well. One child has CP, and they are hoping to get a teacher who will come to their house. If playing piano music brings joy to that little girl, then it’s worth the sadness of saying goodbye to my long-time friend, my dear little spinet piano.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

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Paying for my Dreams

I don’t happen to have thousands of dollars at my disposal for redecorating my house, so I did what most people do in my situation. I opened an account with Synchrony Bank to take 18 months to pay off the loan with no interest. Of course the catch is that if you don’t pay it off in 18 months, you have to pay 29% of the entire loan. I had done this before when I bought a new sofa, so I was familiar with the drill. I filled out the paper work to have equal payments withdrawn from my checking account. But when the first due date arrived, and no payment was withdrawn, I called the next day to complain. To make a long boring story shorter, they were going to charge me a late fee. Now I rarely yell at the customer service person, but this time, I lost it. “Oh no,” I said. “I am not paying a late fee. It was not my fault that they did not take out the payment from my checking account.” A few days later, I got a letter saying they would look into the matter. Just as I plan never to do business with Right rug again, I am never doing business with synchrony Bank again.

This upsetting exchange came on the heels of having the plumber charge me $346 to replace the seal on my toilet. $346! I’ve been told by friends that they got a completely new toilet and had the old one taken out and the new one installed for much less than that. I have a feeling that as a single female I was taken by Water Works, the company that Right rug contracts to take a toilet out and replace it when the bathroom floor is being replaced.

the next expense is going to be shaving off the bottom of the closet doors, because now the carpet pile is too high. Lucky for me, my friend from church, Paul, came over and fixed one set of closet doors and two bedroom doors, but the doors to my own closet need serious work. I hadn’t counted on that being a part of the makeover. When I casually mentioned to the Right rug man that my next project would be replacing the countertops, he wanted to take a giant leap back to the store to show me what they had. Not so fast. I have to pay off one project at a time. By the time I do that, it will be time for me to move into independent living, and I will not want to go, because then I will love my house and refuse to move.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

New Carpet, a Hard-Earned Joy

??It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve had new carpet in my house, so I’d say it’s about time to update around here. I laugh when I remember how my volunteer Sherri and I went to pick out linoleum for the kitchen. I had no vision by then, so I had to rely completely on her taste and judgement, which made her very nervous. “Don’t even describe anything that’s ugly,” I advised. “Just tell me about the ones you would consider yourself.” My only suggestion was to find something that would blend in with paw prints from my dogs. For the carpet, I was completely on my own, just going by what the salesman described as he put down various samples in my living room. I chose one despite the name, Thunder Storm, which turned out to be a blueish dark grey, again to mask the dog prints.

This time, I had the good fortune to have my friend Valerie along with me, as well as her husband Mark to select the color at the store. It’s called Wonderful. I hope it is. It took a lot of frustration and irritation to be a part of my home décor.

Starting with a snarky person who answered my first call to Right rug, I was put off immediately. I suggested that someone come and bring samples. He told me they had 2,000 selections, so it would be better to come to the store. When we sat down to talk to Dan our soon to be salesman, he put down four samples, and that was it. I was expecting to be overwhelmed with choices. Four? As it turned out, Mark and Valerie both liked one, and that’s the one I now have in every room in my house. Next, we set a date, but they could only give me a window of eight hours for arrival. That meant I had to be dressed and ready at 8:00 a.m. and then possibly wait all day. No walk, no errands, no lunch out. Just sit and wait. So I prepared by bringing my lap top, my talking book player, a thermos of tea, and some snacks to the family room, the only room in the house not to be redone.

The next and most frustrating part of this adventure was selecting the laminate wood for the kitchen and bathroom. We chose a color, brought it home, rejected it, because it was too dark. then we brought it back, chose another color, brought it to the house, and decided it was right. Dan put in an order. So far so good. the next day, he told me that the manufacturer had stopped producing that color and had none left over, so back to the drawing board we went. We selected another color, which of course was not in stock, so I had to wait for it to come in. this time it was perfect, but it shouldn’t have been this hard.

Meanwhile, I had to move everything out of my closets and off the floor, strip the beds, find some place to store all this stuff and then make a list of where I put everything. My garage looked like a thrift shop on steroids. I had no idea I had so much stuff. I vowed that when I started putting everything away, I would only keep those items that “brought me joy.” Because I had been through this sort of experience with my mother’s belongings when we moved her into assisted living, it was not hard for me to sort out what I really wanted and needed. I recruited the help of my son and granddaughter McKenzie to carry armloads of clothes back up to the closet and heavy boxes of books. Then I recruited the other granddaughter Meghan to climb up on my countertops to put away the teapots and Blue willow dishes that I display in honor of my grandmother. now I have 6 empty storage bins in my garage. It’s been like moving, only moving back into the same house. But now this house has a fresh look and feel. My next adventure was with the lending institution, which I’ll have to talk about next time.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Mega Puddles

Flood watches have meant nothing to me, since I don’t live near a river or a stream, but all that has changed over the past week. Once the snow and ice began to melt, and the rains came down for days on end, I knew Dora and I would be stuck in the house until cabin fever would force me out.

That happened last Wednesday when the temps were in the 50’s, and spring was in the air. The sidewalks were wet, but who cared? Not us. It just felt so great to be walking outside. Then suddenly, I was up to my ankles in a mega puddle, a term I have stolen from a newsletter I subscribe to called “Our Daily Wit.” These weren’t just puddles that were deeper than I thought, but small lakes that came up to my ankles, soaking not only my shoes and socks but also the bottoms of my jeans. I was not going to cut my walk short, just because of a little water, but as my feet began to get numb, I changed my mind, and we headed home.

Fortunately, I had thought to leave a towel in the garage for wiping off Dora’s feet, so we went through the garage. First was a vigorous toweling off for Dora and then an immediate stripping down for me, once I got in the house. Straight to the laundry room I went, throwing shoes, socks, pants, and grubby towel into the washer.

And here’s the ironic part. I just did it all again today. Yesterday, my daughter ordered rain boots for me, but they won’t get here until tomorrow. This is assurance that the rain will stop, the sun will come out, and all the ice will gently melt into the grass without forming rivers in the streets—all because I’m finally getting rain boots.

You can all thank me later if this really happens.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Published in Toastmasters International Alumni newsletter

In response to a request from Toastmasters back in August, I wrote a 250 word story about how my Toastmasters experience has helped me after I decided not to renew my membership, but to move on to other endeavors. I dashed off the story and then promptly forgot about it. then I received a message last week saying they were going to use my story. “What story? For What magazine?” I was having a real senior moment. The senior copywriter sent me the story I had sent in, and oh yes, then I remembered writing it. I didn’t realize it was going to be a separate newsletter, devoted to stories from alumni of Toastmasters International. Instead of just taking my story as I had written it, they wrote one about me, with lots of quotes from what I had written. It’s still mostly mine, and I wanted to share it with you. the name of the publication is “Toastmasters Alumni, Learn the Latest.” You can probably find it at

toastmasters.org

Portrait of Success

Book-Signing Smarts

How do you extinguish monotony at your book reading? If you’re Mary Hiland, an author and blogger who happens to be blind, you call upon lessons previously learned at Toastmasters, including that of vocal and visual variety.

“A book-signing can be as boring as a literature lecture, but as a former Toastmaster, I first took vocal variety to the highest level, by asking my friends to read sections of the book for me,” she says. “I couldn’t read it myself, because I’m blind, but I introduced each person before they read.”

Hiland also incorporated visual variety by having each of her readers stand when they spoke. “I stood whenever I spoke, but when my readers would stand to read, I would sit down,” she recalls.

Hiland brought plenty of copies of her book, “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living: A Daughter’s Memoir,” to the book signing and held it up for people to see. She encouraged questions and comments; she incorporated humor and seemingly made eye contact, “as I am pretty good at faking it,” she relays.

She knew her audience—one of the “cardinal rules of Toastmasters,” she states. In this case, it was a group of seniors who either had just gone through the process of moving a parent into assisted living or knew it was coming soon.

Hiland made sure she practiced her opening monologue, the segues into each reading and her ending, just as she would when delivering a speech at her former Toastmasters club.

The one mistake she made? “Not bringing enough books to sign—a sign of success!” Hiland exclaims. She credits Toastmasters for her book-signing smarts.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Free Piano

20190123_142603I want to give the gift of music to a child or adult who is ready to receive it. Yes, I said “give,” as in free. All you have to do is come and get it. Apparently, it’s very hard to find a new home for an old piano, and believe me, I have given a lot of thought to having my piano go out the door. But I refuse to put it on the curb and wait for someone to haul it off to put in a flea market or chop it up for fire wood. This piano has brought joy to my family for years, and now it’s time to let it do the same for another lover of piano music. Please contact me via email at

mary.hiland

with “free piano” in the subject line.

If you read my book, “The Bumpy road to Assisted Living a Daughter’s Memoir,” you will see how important the piano has been to my mother and to me. Many fond memories will go out the door with this spinet-size Gulbransen maker of beautiful music.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261

Careful Listening Creates a Critic

If you hated English class in high school, you might want to skip this post, but then again, maybe you shouldn’t. It’s time for another of Mary’s observations in how the English language has changed and how it’s been abused over the years.

Top on my list today is the mispronunciation of a word with a vowel in it, followed by a single consonant. Here’s a very easy example. My name is Hiland, as in Highland, not Hilland. Notice that my name has only one consonant after the i. that means the I should have a long sound, as in eye. I use this example, not to promote my name, but to point out that it’s mispronounced most of the time, and I always, I mean ALWAYS, have to spell it for counter workers at doctors’ offices and anyone else who needs to look up my name. It’s actually my former husband’s name, which I kept for my children, but I also like the sound of it—if it’s pronounced correctly.

Speaking of pronunciation, I must comment on another subject I know a great deal about – how people read aloud. I use talking books and am distracted when the narrator puts the question in her voice at the end of the sentence, instead of at the end of the question. When I was director of volunteers at the radio reading service and routinely administered auditions, this was a common correction I had to make. Example. “Do you want sugar in your tea?” she asked. Note that the ? mark is inside the quotation marks. It does not read like this. “Do you want sugar in your tea, she asked? In other words, the reader’s voice should not continue the upward inflection after the question mark in the text. Another correction I often had to make is the pronunciation of “nuclear.” There is not a second u in this word. Preventive is only an adjective, according to Alexa, while “preventative” can be both a noun and an adjective. And we all know that Alexa is the ultimate authority.

I am also an avid listener to a radio show called “The Moth,” in which people tell stories. Invariably, the story-teller begins with the word, “So.” People, this is the beginning of your story, not the conclusion. If I were still in Toastmasters, you can bet as the grammarian, I would be emphasizing this bad habit constantly.. Or maybe, I could be all wrong about this. Maybe this is the new acceptable way to start a story.

And here’s another change in English usage I might be wrong about. We used to say “You’re welcome,” or “my pleasure,” when doing something or a service for another person. But most of the time, when you say thank you to a server in a restaurant or thank someone for giving you change, the response is “No problem.” And when did “Invite” become a noun? what happened to “invitation?” Here’s one that you hear all the time in ads. “Free gift!” Aren’t all gifts free? It’s like when you ask for a substitution of fruit for the fattening fries, the server says “Yes, for an upcharge of $2.” An upcharge is not a substitution.

Now on to a couple grammar reminders. Say “Not all men are handsome.. “ Do not say “All men are not handsome.” Be careful where you put the word “not,” because it changes the whole meaning of the sentence.

I’m going to repeat this next one, because it is so prevalent. “It took my wife and I 3 weeks to choose a paint color.” If you leave “my wife” out, see how silly the sentence sounds. Now put her back in and use “me” instead of “I.” If you think always using “I” or “myself” instead of “me” makes you sound more educated, please think again.

And one final humorous comment. Each time I wrote “pronunciation,” my spell check changed it to pronounciation. My spell checker must have flunked English.

Mary Hiland

Mary.hiland@wowway.com

www.seeingitmyway.com

Author of “The Bumpy Road to Assisted Living A Daughter’s Memoir”

Available at Amazon.com, dldbooks, and NLS Talking Books DB 91261