Episode 3 - Kathy Buckley
Fellow hard of hearing comedian Kathy Buckley invites D.J. into her home. They discuss misconceptions about their hearing loss, Kathy's brushes with death, and Kathy convinces D.J. he's got what it takes to be a motivational speaker.
DJ: Hello everybody, welcome to definitely DJ episode number three, so excited this podcast is actually happening, I'm committed with three episodes and it's a thing, I'm not going anywhere. Having a great day, I hope you are as well, I'm in Chicago right now the windy city, I’m having a bad hearing day and anybody who has any sort of hearing loss knows what I'm talking about. You wake up and something's up, you're not hearing as well as you usually do which isn't that great to begin with. Yeah, my right ear is bad on a good day but today it's like what the hell happened, what was I doing in my sleep, some sort of rock concert happen on the right side of me all night long, I don't know but that’s fine, it’s ok I don't need to hear right now, this is a one sided conversation, I'm just talking to you, I hope you're doing well, once again nobody called me, nobody is calling the number, I got a number set up, I want to hear from you, don't make me sound increasingly desperate every episode maybe this could just be a running joke three years later I'm still doing the podcast just like please call me, somebody eight one eight six five nine six zero two one that’s the number, call me. Say hello, maybe you would be better if I gave you a reason to call me, call me and tell me if you've ever had a bad hearing day, I don’t know, I don't want to put limits on this call, just call me and say hello eight one eight six five nine six zero two one.
Yeah, I'm in Chicago been here for a few days, came here for I performed for a non-profit here in Chicago, what a great event it was for families who have you know hard of hearing children, kids with hearing aids cochlear or implant and just to support structures set up, so all these parents can talk to each other and you know share resources and experiences and just a great organization and really loved it you know that's been the part of my comedy career that I never really expected that I've really grown to embrace, it’s just these opportunities that I have where I'm able to perform for groups these sorts of nonprofits and support systems that I didn't even know existed and I get to meet really cool parents and educators and also young people, kids who have hearing it and I just really value the conversation, not to get all sappy on it but you know it really is special to meet other people with hearing loss and people who are involved in that community and just meet kindred spirits sort of speaking, what a great time that was, the one thing is I performed during dinner and that's my bad you always got to tell them before make sure dinner is finished and then you bring me up because people don't realize just how awful that is performing while people are eating dinner, oh my god people are eating delicious chicken and asparagus and they don't want to listen to me they're eating delicious meals and then half the room can't look at you because they're sitting at their table right, so they're not turning around to watch the comedians, I'm just performing for people's backs and I got to keep it light and positive, I'm not going to be like hey why don't you guys listening to me stop eating your delicious food and pay attention to me, I just got to plow through it the worst is when the dessert comes out, they’re supposed to focus on me when they’re three layer chocolate cake, no not likely, I don't even want to be talking and I want to sit down there and eat some chocolate cake with them and I’m just salivating watching them.
But that's on me, as a performer you got to say hey listen, serve the meal then bring me out but you live and you learn I forgot that, no big deal still a great event, still had a fantastic time and I've just been hanging out in Chicago for a couple more days after that I booked some shows at a comedy club called the comedy bar here in Chicago performing tonight, it is Tuesday right now Tuesday April twenty fifth performed their a couple of nights ago on Sunday as well, really nice venue pretty new, I think it's only six or seven years old and I love performing there, I performed there when I was here a couple years ago as well and they've been good to me, they put me with one of them in town, so check it out if you’re ever in Chicago, the comedy bar tonight I'm performing on a show I believe it's called tomato toss Tuesday, some sort of competition I've been assured that the audience doesn't actually get to throw tomatoes at you know so that's reassuring.
Somebody told me they performed on a show in Britain where the whole audience had teddy bears and if they didn't like you they got to throw their teddy bears at you which is a really passive aggressive way of you know in a minute like teddy bears are such a beautiful innocent symbol and then to throw that at somebody in a rage of dissatisfaction just seems like a check to position that, I don't know how I'd feel getting pelted with teddy bears, probably not great maybe if I got to keep the teddy bears I’d feel a bit better. I love Chicago this is my fourth time here always have a great time staying at an Air BNB right now, my lady came with me we're just having a great time, we're here in Asia on Argyle, it’s like a little bit of a Chinatown, I don't even know if I'd call it Chinatown it appears to be more Vietnamese restaurant and cafes and grocery stores and had a lot of banh mi and pho, used to call it pho changing over to pho, I know that's correct, feels weird but been eating a lot of pho. Just having a great time my lady Magellan taught me a new card game called Pusoy dos, believe it’s a Filipino game, she is Filipino and we've just been playing a lot of pusoy dos, going to various cafes and bars just playing cards now what a dream, life is good playing pusoy dos.
I Love Chicago so much right here on the water, we had a very funny experience at the restaurant we had brunch at this morning, so I'm a very cynical guy by nature, I've got a little bit of a Larry David streak in me I suppose growing up watching The Simpsons, Seinfeld even, these are very cynical shows, it kind of taught me to always be wary of the establishment and just not to take everything at face value I suppose whereas you know Magellan she's a little bit more I don't want to say naive because she's a smart lady but she likes to believe in the better side of people, so what happened was we're having brunch at a place called Tweet, the restaurant was called Tweet and I assume it was around before Twitter, I’m thinking they were probably furious when Twitter came around or maybe they were happy I'm not sure but if you're ever in Chicago, uptown Chicago this restaurant was called Tweet it was amazing beautiful beautiful brunch we had there, every time I say like some kind of placeholder word like beautiful and then I repeat it like I just did I just feel like Donald Trump just a beautiful beautiful brunch, what the hell are you even talking about but it was delicious, point of the story is our server comes over he notices a table that’s shaky like the third time he comes over to check on us refill our coffee and whatnot and he goes is the table shaky, we're like yeah, he puts the coaster down, fixes it immediately like didn't even have to search too hard to see you know which leg he had to put the coaster under, boom forwards the coaster, put it under, checks the table it's immediately perfect and we look at him like wow thank you, he’s like no problem and like it was just a perfect fix and he walks away and matches like wow that was really great that he was able to assess the situation and fix a problem so quickly and I'm like yeah that was great, a little too great, I'm like I bet you he knows that table is shaky and he does that with every customer that comes in and I bet you as soon as we leave he'll take that coaster out, the table will be shaky again next people that come in after a couple minutes he goes oh is that table shaky, puts a coaster back under, I'm like he's got to do that because that was way too quick he didn't even have to assess it, I feel like he would have had to like move the table a bit and be like where do I need to you know where do I need to put a coaster and change the weight distribution here, he knew too much, too quickly so my cynical side thought that this is probably a thing he does some sort of gambit, a ruse if you will to get more tips out of people and Madge was like you're crazy right now, you really think he would do that, I'm like I'm crazy, you're crazy for not seeing the games that people play in order to get more money, money rules everything so it was a battle of cynicism versus the belief in the good of people so what we did was after we settled up we left and we were sitting outside by the way, it was a beautiful spring day here in Chicago so we're outside we leave after we've settled up and everything we take a walk around the block with the express purpose of walking back by the patio again and looking to see if the coaster is still under the leg or if he has removed it and there's a lot riding on this because we're both like I don't want to believe that he did that but I'm also like this would maybe be a good lesson so that Madge could learn that you know you can't necessarily trust people too much where she wanted to be correct so that she could still believe in the beauty of people and their kindness and she just didn't want to become as jaded as I am so we both have a lot riding on this, we take a trip around the block we walk back by the café, the outdoor patio we look at our table coaster is still there, the coaster still there everybody this man had just noticed the problem and helped us there was no need to be cynical and I feel bad that I didn't leave him a tip, I'm just messing with you I left him a tip but also when you walk back after about three minutes, so maybe in a couple more minutes he would have removed it, I don't know that's still the cynical side of me talking maybe I'm wrong maybe humanity is beautiful and I need to trust everybody, who knows the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Today's episode, what a beautiful episode we have, they keep getting better hopefully you're enjoying them, we got a lot of listeners here, I'm really happy you guys are giving definitely DJ a listen and I really appreciate it and I say that every episode but I genuinely mean it, this is really great and I hope this turns into something even more beautiful and I hope somebody calls me eight one eight six five nine six zero two one, let's talk I got a lot of tour dates coming up this summer, I'm on the road now for the next like a month and a half. So, I go back to LA for like a week and then I'm on the road again for another month and a half, so pretty much my whole summer I'm gone from LA. My place I was going to rented out to Air BNB, I just don't want strangers having sex in my bed, I just can't do it, I know I'm missing out on some income, I live in a nice place Burbank California, I could be making at least sixty or seventy bucks a night, I just don't want strangers having sex in my bed and that's the best case scenario, they're probably going to have sex in my kitchen, on my couch, on my kitchen table I don't know. Lord knows when I'm in Air BNB, I'm in Air BNB right now having sex everywhere in this mother.
Oh, my God I always think about this story where a guy in New York rented out his Air BNB and he forgot a bag or something, he had forgotten a piece of luggage so he went back after a couple hours to retrieve it and there was a full-blown orgy happening in his apartment, I don't want orgies happening in my apartment, at the very least I get a noise complaint. So, my apartment is empty as we speak, I hope nobody looks on the Internet and find out my address and goes to my place, although that's ok with me, it would be scarier if you did that while I was home. If you have any interest in seeing me perform standup comedy live go to djdemergs.com, that’s name DJ Demers, It's also my main tweep to my Twitter profile, all the dates are there from Chicago I'm going to Halifax Canada, beautiful Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. I haven't been there in a few years, I'm there for the Halifax Comedy Festival, cannot wait, love performing comedy, I got a new hour special coming out soon, so right now I'm working out a new hour who knows when that one will come out, when it will be released the upcoming one but stay tuned that will be out in the next couple months, I cannot wait, it will be called indistinct chatter and I recorded it last summer so right now I'm working on the new hour and it's going great, I love standup comedy, what a life, what a dream.
My guest today is a fellow hard of hearing standup comic and she's been doing it for years, she won't tell me how old she is. I tried to get it out of her in the episode but she's been doing it so long, she really in a way you know paved the way for me, for comedians with hearing aids and she’s dealt with a lot of roadblocks I haven't really dealt with due in large part to the work that she did before me, so what an honor it was to talk to her and she's been nothing but welcoming and accepting of me, since we met since I moved to LA and she's just a beautiful soul and I know I've mentioned many times in this episode alone that I'm a cynical guy but really she melts away the cynicism, she's really just filled with love and when you hear the things she's gone through, the story she has, the fact that she's still such a positive and loving person despite or perhaps because of all the things she's been through, it really is impossible for it to not have an effect on you and I just feel very fortunate that she's taken me under her wing so to speak and become a friend, so we had this conversation a few days ago at her beautiful home in Glendale California and I think you're going to love it, it’s a really great conversation and dare I say I was moved by it, I was moved a little bit we had a great time, it was funny but there was also a variety of emotions I felt so I hope you guys enjoy it and once again call me eight one eight six five nine six zero two one.
Find me on Twitter, DJ Demers, Facebook DJ Demers comedy, we're also going to be transcribing these episodes really soon, every episode will be transcribed for my deaf and hard of hearing friend and we're going to have a very special sponsor on board for that, so I'm just working out the kinks on that but we're growing, things are getting bigger and better and once again thank you so much for joining me on the ride. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado here is today's guest on definitely D.J. Kathy Buckley.
DJ: We're doing a podcast Kathy, this is your first broadcast Kathy?
Kathy: I think so, I don't even know what a podcast, I’m just doing this because I like you.
DJ: You’ve been very generous to me since I met you, I met you last year at an event here in LA.
Kathy: I invited you to that event.
DJ: You invited me?
Kathy: To the one from the No Limits. Yeah, that was my doing.
DJ: Oh, I didn't know that you were because Michelle Christie of course and I thought maybe it was her, you were the one who.
DJ: I don’t even…
Kathy: And she was nervous about it because she was concerned about you know is that going to interfere with me because we're both women and hearing impaired and that's like no, this is a chance to celebrate and bring on new things.
DJ: So, you said hearing impaired, I'm always curious because a lot of people in the hard of hearing community don't like that term.
Kathy: No, they don't.
DJ: You're ok with it.
Kathy: You know why because it's old school and I’m old school and I think today they like to hear the word hearing loss.
DJ: Oh, ok but how would you describe somebody with hearing loss, hard of hearing I think.
Kathy: Hard of hearing but now it's so weird because now we have deaf speak, we have like my kids at school at No Limits they speak in the deaf, profoundly deaf with cochlear implant but I've always said hearing impaired but then when I think when I say hearing impaired in an article, deaf people call me up and say that's not right, you shouldn't call yourself hearing impaired, you’re not impaired but I say no, I'm not but my hearing is.
DJ: Yeah, that's a thing that term I don't know why it bothers people so much, our hearing is definitely impaired.
Kathy: Yeah, I don't get it, it frustrates me because it's like you know call me what you want to call me, you call yourself what you want to call yourself but yeah, I'm not in a group, I'm not in a culture, I'm just me. I'm just Kathy who happens to have a hearing loss who said hearing impaired and if you're going to have a problem with that don’t talk to me.
DJ: I feel I should say that people are too sensitive when it comes to where to words, as long as your heart is in the right place I feel it doesn't really matter especially when you're speaking about yourself it's not like we're calling other people names they don't want to be called, we should be able to call ourselves whatever we want to call ourselves.
Kathy: I do call myself the ‘B’ word on occasion. So, other people call me that too and they thought no wonder.
DJ: So, you're hard of hearing impaired whatever word you want to use.
Kathy: Well when I got into the business I referred to myself as the hearing-impaired comedian because I was really the first to be doing regular on a basis you know Norm Cosby also had hearing aids like you know and he's like one of the first of the first but he's really old school and then I came on and you’re here stomping on my ground, no I'm kidding.
DJ: You've been nothing but welcoming but I do have a question when you saw me did you feel like shit another hard of hearing comedian.
Kathy: No I didn't think that you know, I thought he sucks. I have nothing to worry about, I mean this deaf comic ain’t going to do shit in this business, I mean really. No I didn't think that way, I thought I just wanted you to succeed, I wanted you to understand the ignorance that I had to deal with and that's why I kind of wanted to take you under my wing more or less because I wanted you to understand there's still a lot of ignorance out there when it comes to people with hearing loss that people just assume like hearing people just assume that because you're wearing hearing devices they think you’re deaf and you should automatically be signing. You and I are in the middle between the deaf and human world, deaf people see us as hearing because we use our voices and hearing people see as deaf because we have hearing devices and maybe a speech impediment, by the way do you have a speech impediment I don't know.
DJ: I think so slightly, some people say oh I don't really hear anything, other people say they can definitely hear the deafness and that.
Kathy: Did you ever get the where are you from?
DJ: All the time, I've had people think I'm Australian, I don't know why at all but definitely people think it's an accent.
Kathy: I've always gotten New York.
DJ: You do, I've often thought you have a kind of New York accent.
Kathy: That's just the attitude baby, that’s just the attitude.
DJ: Where are you from originally?
Kathy: Ohio, I grew up in Ohio.
DJ: But you got a bit of that like Brooklyn kind of…
Kathy: I do have the attitude, tough edge over here baby, it's a tough edge. But that was the thing when I heard about you I wanted to reach out to you, I wanted to introduce you to No Limits, I wanted you to see because you were the only one in your family like me with a hearing loss and sometimes we don't really see ourselves with the disability unfortunately we have to deal with the ignorance of society who put the label on us.
DJ: Yeah, exactly.
Kathy: And back when you came into the States, I said I asked you I kept asking when you come in let me know when you're going to be here because I thought the need to just educate you a little bit about what you're going to be running into like when you did America's Got Talent and I said I was concerned because I know what they were going to do, they were going to emphasize on the disability and they wanted to do the sympathy story.
Kathy: But you don't have that in your life, you had a really good from what I understand a good upbringing with your family, with acceptance all of that. you got a good education, you're very adequate, you have all the great qualities for a human being oh my God and you didn't go through the struggles like I did going through school for retardation and graduating with a third-grade reading level and I had to struggle but I watched you and I knew because you didn't have the same struggles I didn't want you to fall for what everybody expects you to be that you're not. Does that makes sense?
DJ: That does make sense. Can you tell me a little bit, I don't know too much about your past, can you tell me about it, I didn't realize you graduated high school with the grade three reading level, what was the reason for that, inadequate resources?
Kathy: Well because they didn't find out I had a hearing loss till I was eight years old and by then they gave me hearing devices but they weren’t made for my loss. So, they were taken away from me in sixth grade.
DJ: What kind of hearing aids?
Kathy: It was the hearing devices that they put in your ear and then they had a backup battery pack on it with the wires going through your ears.
DJ: Oh, wow that was a pretty elaborate setup.
Kathy: Oh it was the only thing I had an thing on my chest with that battery pack and probably why I'm flat, probably stopped me from growing I don't know and I was embarrassed I mean I was the only one in my family, only one of my kids' school that had a hearing loss and then when they took the hearing devices away because I thought when you don't have hearing you don't have a language, if you don't have language you won't have comprehension skills and because of that I didn't understand why I had to wear the device because you can see a little boy's arms missing but you can’t see somebody whose hearing is missing and it’s an invisible challenge but I didn't understand why they put this device on me other than the fact that it made loud noises and it hurt and I thought I was being punished and I had no idea what I'd done wrong.
DJ: So, you had no idea, when you turned on the device did you not feel a sense of relief at being able to hear things you could not hear?
Kathy: No because the hearing device was not made for my loss, so it's painful.
DJ: What kind of noises was it making?
Kathy: I mean it would make like you could hear your clothes because it’s under your clothes and all you heard is the static and your clothes because I have a sensitivity to low frequency sound. Nowadays they have hearing devices where they can filter out certain sounds or bring in the sounds you don't hear but then they brought everything in and so it was overwhelming and it was painful and I hated it and I complained all the time until in sixth grade my mom had enough of me complaining and she saw a boy who needed them so she gave it to him and I always wondered why is he being punished you know what did he do so bad and so I went to an event with my school with no hearing devices and matter of fact is I went to school not realizing I had a hearing loss.
DJ: So, all through high school as well you weren't using anything?
Kathy: I wasn't using anything, it was totally liberating.
DJ: Wow, how profound is your hearing loss?
Kathy: I have moderate to severe, I go across a little bit and then I drop out, I hear nothing in the high frequency.
DJ: I'm the same way.
DJ: Except I'm severe to profound.
Kathy: Yeah, so I go down and so I have nothing there, so legally I'm deaf in the high frequency nothing and then in the low frequencies sometimes I hear them, I have sound sensitivity to them, I don't like their sound, like the lawnmower, airplane, humming noise I hear them like three times louder than other people so it's the hard to get my hearing aid when I have to adjust them.
DJ: You hear them three times as loud without your hearing aids in.
Kathy: Yeah sometimes because of the sensitivity, sound sensitivity but when they do my hearing aid they have to filter, bring it up, close it out, thank God for that they do it on computer.
DJ: Yeah, they have so much flexibility, a little adaptability, actually sometimes I don't like the things they filter because I'd rather just have a natural kind, I'd rather have a more natural experience because I grew up on analog hearing aid where all the sound was just coming in and now with some of the filters I almost don't like it, sometimes I put it on the setting where I just let everything come in.
Kathy: Oh really?
DJ: he filters bother me sometimes, I'll find they bring down somebody's voice that I want to hear or I can hear things behind me, so I have kind of a love hate relationship with the new technology, the new filters. Sometimes obviously, it's amazing but then there are other times where I put it on the setting where I just let everything come in and let my brain deal with sorting it all out.
Kathy: The good thing is that you've been wearing them since you were young.
DJ: Yeah since I was four.
Kathy: And so that's a great thing because your brain has been assimilated to sound, you welcome it and I bet you know how to block out sound when you want to.
DJ: I'm not sure, probably my brain has that I'm not sure.
Kathy: I don't have that, everything comes to me at one time and like when you're listening to music can you hear the lyrics?
DJ: Sometimes it depends.
Kathy: I can't, I have to really look it up somewhere to see it before I know what they're singing.
DJ: Yeah, I'm that way as well, I'll pick up the odd lyric but I'm definitely not hearing it word for word.
Kathy: I was really happy when they started making video music because I thought I believe I could lip read the people but it looked like soft porn, so I can't figure out if I’m supposed to listen to the music or just actually watch the action of the video music.
DJ: You went through all of high school without hearing aids, what was it like, were you bullied, I get that question all the time but were people mean to you because you couldn't hear well.
Kathy: I wasn't, if anybody bullied me it was me because I was trying to fit in and I was trying to be like everybody, you got to remember my eyes have always been my way of communicating so if I saw somebody do something I would do it because I thought that was accepting, I was lucky, I had a biology teacher who was on to me, we never discussed it but he was on to me and he gave me the camera for the yearbook and told me to take pictures for the yearbook and he got me involved in the yearbook and in the one year he said I want you to edit the yearbook, I told him I don't read well and I tell I'm not comfortable with writing that caption in the pictures and he says you know Kathy if you can't do something, I want you to find somebody to do it for you, so he made me the editor of the book in my senior year and he taught me how to delegate to get things done.
Kathy: So, if I can't do that I find somebody who's good at it and they would do it. So, he taught me more about living life than he did you know cutting open a frog you know and to this day I call him dad, he's like a dad and his wife is like a mom.
DJ: You’re still in contact with them?
Kathy: Oh, yeah they drove out last year from Ohio.
DJ: Wow, that’s really cool, I mean it was amazing how important it is to have somebody like that early in life who you know teaches you a lot, it's so funny because you're kind of like at the time you probably didn't even realize how huge of a lesson it was probably sunk in over or did you realize?
Kathy: Well I didn't know what he was doing, at the time I didn't realize how he was guiding me in my life but all I did was I would appreciate it that I got to work in the break room because it got me out of classes and it made me popular I mean you had the camera for the yearbook, everybody who walked past you would automatically just pose you know and so I was very popular in my school and I'm still in touch with half of my classmates to this day.
DJ: How were your parents during all this, so you get this device taken away in sixth grade did you say?
DJ: After that was there any attempt to fit you with?
Kathy: No because they didn't know, my parents did what they were told by doctors, the problem was when I was born they told my mom I was going to be a slow, that I was going to be mentally slow because of my age factor and then at three or four years old I got spinal meningitis and again they said I was told by my parents I was going to be slow so now my parents have been programmed that they got a mentally challenged child on their hands, so they didn't do anything else to like tests my hearing and stuff like that and now when I got the hearing device then there was a psychologist in the school and they’re telling them that I'm slow because I'm not comprehending, I'm not reading, I'm not keeping up with my classmates, I'm just always being left behind but nobody even thought that you know the kid has a hearing loss you know they're trying to teach me how to read, how do you say it fanatically?
Kathy: Yeah, through sounds.
DJ: That’s two forms of attacks.
Kathy: I know really, so because people put labels on me doctors, therapists and teachers. They all put labels of limitations on me to the point where my belief system is why bother.
DJ: Yeah there probably is something wrong with me if all these people are telling me that.
Kathy: But now with Mr. Hint who says you can do this, you can do that and so I don't believe him because my belief system has always been set in but he made a change, he did it separately and lovingly and him and his wife had an open house at the house all the time and I had a lot of black friends and a lot of people want a lot of hang out with black friends, white and black no.
DJ: In Ohio?
Kathy: Well at that time there was still racism going on back then.
DJ: I mean there still is racism going on now as well, when is this, what time period is this?
Kathy: NO, you’re not going there, you’re trying to find out my age, I’m deaf not dumb you idiot.
DJ: Ok I'm just trying to paint the picture.
Kathy: Yeah, you’re not going there baby.
DJ: So, this is the ninety's and there is still racism in Ohio.
Kathy: No two thousands’, ninety's yeah ok.
DJ: Mr. Hintz, did you say?
Kathy: Mr. Hintz.
DJ: Did Mr. Hintz know it was hearing loss and nothing more, do you think he saw that?
Kathy: No, we never talked about it, he would never explain, I mean I went through my whole time until I was thirty four years old when I realized I went to a vocational rehab and they said you know you have a hearing loss and I'm going I have a what.
DJ: You got hearing aids at thirty four?
DJ: How is your speech so great when you were not hearing until you were thirty four.
Kathy: I always asked my friends to correct me, people let you get away with things when they see oh there's something not right with her but we're not going to mention it.
DJ: Yeah, I don't want to be rude and insult her.
Kathy: And when I got my hearing aids, I went to speech therapy for a long time snd so when I when I got the hearing device I really heard myself and I'm like is this normal I don't know and so all my friends I sat them down and I said look if I say the word wrong you correct me, the unfortunate part was my best friend was from England and she had no problem correcting me and before you know it I had an English accent with a speech impediment. So, I’m sitting there saying would you like a bit of cookie with me (in a British accent). So, it was weird and then my black friend would correct me and then I sound like I'm from the south and this was crazy but I even do speech classes to this day, I still ask my friend to correct me, I don't know it until you tell me and so I'm very blessed to go in my life the way I have but my hearing loss is nothing compared to the ignorance that I have to deal with, with people.
DJ: What's actually you said you’re blessed which is very true but you're also very open minded a lot of people especially as they get older say no this is the way I am, I'm not going to change so for you to still be saying no, correct me if you hear something wrong is a pretty open minded approach to life.
Kathy: Well yeah and I also want to educate the public about you know look at not just kids growing up with a hearing loss, it's people who lose their hearing as they get older, hearing loss is nothing more than if you ask me it's a condition to have the opportunity to be isolated. You tend to hold stuff back, you don't want to get involved in the conversation, there's too many people, too many pairs of lips to read, you don't catch on what's going on in the everyday world but it's a very isolating condition especially when people lose their hearing as they get older and they don't even realize they've been losing their hearing along the way.
DJ: It's amazing how many people I've met, some older people who have gone through hearing loss and for me I've been wearing them since I was four years old so I don't feel any shame associated with them maybe a little bit in high school I did, I'm not you know I was never completely immune to it but it amazes me when I meet let’s say a sixty five year old who has to wear hearing aids for the first time and they tell me about the shame that they feel like I feel like I'm old and I'm admitting some sort of weakness by putting these hearing aids on you know and it just amazes me, it's something I never thought of before.
Kathy: But it's true people and I don't know how hearing aids has got that stigma and glasses didn't.
DJ: Probably because they're not as common or because it's a newer technology.
Kathy: Honey, it's more common than people think you know it's like the insurance company won't pay for hearing devices because they say it's considered cosmetic.
DJ: Really is that true?
Kathy: If that's the case then why is everybody hiding them.
Kathy: They’ll pay for cochlear implants but cochlear implant can be a hundred thousand dollars surgery as opposed to six thousand dollars for hearing aids.
DJ: Wow, are you a candidate for a cochlear implant.
Kathy: No I wouldn't one, I wouldn't do it anyway just because of the fact that I've finally accepted me for who I am now and I take that in and I hold it.
DJ: I've recently learned from my audiologist that I am a candidate for cochlear implant and my right ear is getting pretty bad so I often wonder recently if I would take that step but it scares me because I get by, I live a pretty good life with hearing aids and so the idea of trying this new technology and the possibility that maybe it would be worse than my current state, that scares me so I don't know if I'd actually go ahead with it.
Kathy: I don't think it would be worse but it will be different, it with will be a new sound and it won’t be the sound that you're getting from hearing aids. One of my alumni who is thirty two now from No Limits, he just had a cochlear implant put in for the first time, like you he’s been wearing hearing aids since he was little.
DJ: An implant in both ears or just one?
Kathy: Just the one.
DJ: OK and he wears a hearing aid in the other one?
Kathy: Sometimes personally I think it's better just to have one instead of two but that's just my opinion.
DJ: And then you wear hearing aid in the other?
Kathy: Yeah, whatever you know everyone has a different range of loss but he's saying he has to get used to do sound, the sound is different now, so he has to now re-stimulate to get used to the new sounds you know, if you get a cochlear implant there’s definitely going to be a change.
DJ: And is the new sound better because I've heard that you can hear way better than you do with the hearing aids.
Kathy: Yeah, definitely the sound my kids that have it now because they get it when they’re young they hear really well and you can’t even tell that they have a hearing loss because this piece is so good.
DJ: I've heard music doesn't sound as good with the cochlear implant.
Kathy: That I have no idea about.
DJ: That’s a small price to pay, I love music but still that’s a small price to pay for having a better life all around.
Kathy: To be accepted in society, to be able to be a part of everything going on in your own environment yeah.
DJ: You spoke earlier of the ignorance that people have when it comes to hearing loss, what do you think that ignorance Is?
Kathy: It’s the label, a typical label like in the in the entertainment industry, I've been in the entertainment industry for years and I've only had five auditions and every one of them were for deaf signing. I'm a motivational speaker and a standup comic, I have a voice you know and they don't stop to think, they either go from black to white, they don't think about the gray that's in the middle which is us, that's where the humor is.
DJ: Yeah, so there's more acceptance now, do you feel for deaf, like Capital deaf culture but that acceptance isn't really bleeding into the middle ground like just people who are hard of hearing, do you think that’s the case.
Kathy: See the problem is like my kids in my school, deaf people don't like that we teach them to speak but if you want to put a hundred thousand dollars of equipment on a child's head, you better teach them how to get their brain to wake up and use the sound otherwise they’re just hearing white noise, you've got to train them but again they feel that deaf children when they're born they should be taught sign language immediately. All my kids learn sign language as they get older but if you teach them sign language from the time they're born and then when they’re sixteen, seventeen and they get a hearing device, it's going to be almost not impossible but extremely challenging to get that part of your brain to wake up to recognize sound, to wake up your diet families, you breathe shallow because you don't use it for speaking, it will be very almost impossible for you to pick up speaking and so we think you get them when they're young and if they find they want the sign language that's fine and it's great we teach them, we’ll do that for you but the thing is that you want them to be a part of all worlds and deaf people, deaf ASL not all but some people believe that a deaf child should be taught sign language immediately and I don't have a problem with that but don't give up their opportunity to have a voice, so they can be heard and they can be challenged and they don't have to be in just a culture.
DJ: Why is there such a fixation on the culture.
Kathy: I don't want to believe that it's because it's getting smaller because technology has come into play and that technology has changed the face of the deaf world, now you have deaf speak and people say well they’re not deaf, they have hearing aids, they have devices and they go ok let me ask you this, if an amputee has an artificial leg does that mean he’s no longer an amputee. My kids they their devices off when they go to bed at night, they’re completely deaf. So, you can't say they’re hearing now they just have devices. I just want everybody to be treated equal, I don't care what your challenge in life is just treat the person with respect.
DJ: You keep saying my kids.
Kathy: They’re my kids.
DJ: Yeah, you love the kids that you work with and that you teach and beyond now, you're like a mother figure to them, can you tell me a little bit about the work that you do with No Limits for deaf children.
Kathy: I don't do anything with those kids. I'm more on the financial part of it as I’m raising money so these kids can have an opportunity to have it, I work with the leadership, the teenagers, support the parents. Michelle the founder, Michelle Christy who's the founder of No Limits, I’m there to support her as well, I can never teach the kids speech therapy because I have a speech problem you know so they have to get it from them but I just go in to grab the hugs and kisses and I get to watch their growth because every ten weeks we have graduation and it's amazing within ten weeks, have a speech and language and have the confidence and have the self-esteem build up this but more importantly the best part for me is when the parents finally have hope for their child and because we work with such low income families, a lot of the kids end up being the first one graduating from high school and on to college and every one of our kids have graduated from high school and into college, we have a hundred percent rate for education.
DJ: One hundred percent?
Kathy: One hundred percent and the one thing that I'm proud of just because of the fact that I didn't get that and these kids not only come to learn to speak and learn the language but also we teach them literacy, we give them tutors, we keep them up with their grade levels so they’re never going to feel that insecurity that a lot of kids feel, most of our kids are the only one in their schools that have a hearing loss and so they struggle with it, some of them go to school without their hearing aid because they don't want to be labeled, they don't want to be judged so they go through you know it's just that invisible stigma I mean if a leg is missing it's obvious, there's no question to be asked your leg is missing the only question that would be asked would be how come.
Kathy: But when I get people and they say well what can't you hear, how the hell do I know if I can’t hear it, you get crazy question because it's invisible, they don't know what's going on in you, what’s wrong with you, what's right with you.
DJ: I had lunch with Michelle Christy the founder of No Limits a couple of months ago and she was telling me a lot about these children, the low income families they come from the lack of structural support from the school system, these sorts of things and it actually made me realize because I've always kind of been like my disability is not a big deal and my conversation with her made me realize the reason it was never a big deal for me is because of the support I had from my family and doctors and health care system and all these sorts of things that I completely took for granted, all these things are the reason that I'm able to feel like it's not a big deal whereas if I came up in a low income you know I was a middle class family in Canada which has a pretty decent health care system if I had come up in any of these different circumstance where any of those things were taken away from me, I would have felt much more stigma around my hearing loss so it just made me realize how important the work is that No Limits does.
Kathy: It was so funny because when I met you, it was funny to me because it was like you had no story, you had no horror from growing up and I was so happy for you but I also knew that you're going to be naive as to what you see that's going to come up in your life now because in this well I don't know if it's just this country but there's still a lot a sigma and ignorance that has to do with hearing loss and there is still a lot of education that needs to be done especially now there's just a new generation of deaf children coming to play and that’s the deaf speak.
DJ: I tell you if something like young, cool, hot hearing impaired comedian comes under the scene, I'm not going to be nearly as welcoming as you were to me, I’d sabotage their career at every turn.
Kathy: Any funny is funny I don't care what the challenge is, funny is funny.
DJ: Your story is incredible though because I had no idea you didn't start wearing hearing aids until you were thirty-four, when did you get into standup comedy?
DJ: Really you got your hearing aids and started.
Kathy: Pretty much, I got the hearing device and I was a massage exercise therapist and I found that laughter was my best medicine and healing and somebody came up with me with this newspaper article saying standup comic take a stand that was to help raise money for children cerebral palsy, I love kids I wanted to help them and I have this thing if someone comes to me sometimes, it's the Holy Spirit asking me to follow through but I knew nothing about comedy at the time.
DJ: Are you still in Ohio at this?
Kathy: No, I'm here.
Kathy: I had no idea what comedy was about I went to the comedy club to study what it is and they have the microphones in front of their mouth, I couldn't lip read them and I got frustrated and I took too many things literally and I thought well that's not funny and people were laughing and then I'm the only one in the audience going that's not funny and then I got frustrated and went home and I rented videos and back then they weren’t closed caption, that tells you how old I am to see this videos and I got to watch some of it weren’t closed caption, Robin Williams had the fastest lips I've ever seen in my life, and Whoopi Goldberg lips barely moved and I sat there crying going why am I trying to do something impossible for me, I don't relate to any of this stuff but my focus was to help the kids and so I played around with it for two weeks and I went on stage in front of two hundred people, couldn't hear the laughter at the time and played off people's faces and I feel the vibration in the room and I won that night and then they said you had to go to the semifinals, I didn't even know what that meant. Manager came up and said you brought the house down, I didn’t touch anything and you killed it oh my God, wow I mean all of this new language was coming to me that I haven't heard before and then I finally went to the semifinals and I ended up placing fourth out of eighty comedians who had been in the business for three to ten years and I was only playing around with it for two week.
Kathy: So there's a known saying, you want to make God laugh tell him your plans and I had no plan to be in standup comic, I had no idea what that word was about and I was introduced to it, I was happy to help the kids and because of my focus for the kids I ended up with a career I didn't know exists and then I went onto motivational speaking and I’m just so grateful, so blesses, could not have dreamed this life because I didn't know there was such a thing. I have nothing to complain about, I really don't, some people in industry people are looking at me for a sitcom.
DJ: Well because Marlee Matlin has taken all the juicy roles.
Kathy: Well Marlee gets them all because she's deaf, when she won the Oscar for Children of a Lesser God and I tried out for that.
DJ: Oh really.
Kathy: But I didn't even see, I was so naive at that time that I didn't understand, I was trying to understand why am I different and I didn't understand this time and besides am not swimming naked in the pool ok.
DJ: Did she swim naked in the pool?
Kathy: She swam naked in the pool but she's so talented and she's a deaf actress, I mean she even asked me one time could you teach me how to be funny I said no you've got the acting stuff but yeah I know she's amazing, she's just amazing.
DJ: Why were you in LA if you didn't have any designs on being a comedian yet, what brought you here from Ohio.
Kathy: When I was twenty I was laying on a beach somewhere sunbathing and a lifeguard jeep ran over me and I was laid up for five years, I was in and out of a wheelchair for two and a half years.
Kathy: And they said I'd never walk again, I figured I didn't hear them, I got up and I left. But I had this struggle in my life at that time and when I finally started walking I just wanted to run away, I was so lost and I got in a car and I just started driving and I ended up at the Pacific Ocean from Ohio and I lived in my car for about three months met a young lady her name was Ann and she was looking for a roommate, I moved in with her and then two years later I found out I had cancer.
DJ: Really, I had no idea.
Kathy: I thought you knew all this.
DJ: I knew the lifeguard story, I didn't know you got cancer when you were young.
DJ: How old were you when you when you get cancer.
DJ: What kind of cancer?
Kathy: It was cervical, I had the treatment and then they didn't get it all and I went back again, I didn't go back for a second time I just changed my life, I got mad at everybody poking, probing and picking on me and I just said this is crazy with my life, I'm living my life as a guinea pig to everybody else, I got frustrated and I decided to live my life according to God's will and not the will of man.
DJ: So, you didn't do any more medical treatment, you just know changed your lifestyle?
Kathy: I go and I change my diet, I changed my attitude, I flew back to Ohio I confronted my dad with my challenges that we had when I was growing up and got that over with and I just decided to tell everybody, I didn't want to hold on to everybody being my enemy I wanted to be my best friend you know when you go through life and people are saying you can't, you won't, you will be never be able to, it becomes a belief system but it's not true it just becomes your belief system because somebody else said it and that's when I decided no I want to recreate me, I want to know who I am, what are my likes, what am I dislikes, what am I passionate about and I started taking charge of Kathy and I recreated me, I created me according to what I wanted out of my life not according to what other people put labels on me and I started taking all the labels off and I took the label retarded off and I put on intelligent because intelligence is not how much you learn from a book, to me intelligent is how you look at life, how do you live, how do you contribute, how do you give back. Intelligence is how do you survive you know and so to me I believe I'm intelligent on a different level, no I don't have all the information from books, I don't get a lot of conversation, I watched my godchild when she was little she was in the den doing her homework in front of a TV, mom had the radio on and her mother is talking to her and surely I couldn’t relate to all those elements, I couldn't deliberate and so when I saw that I wanted to be the best godmother for her and I'm not going to be the best godmother or aunt or friend or buddy or relationship to anybody until I let go of everybody’s ignorance that I collected and I did, I collected a lot of people's ignorance by putting limitations on another human being, no one has a right to say you can't, you won't, you will never be able to another human being and that's why I fight so hard for kids today, I want them the know they’re great, I want them to know they can achieve, they can move forward, I want them to know they are gift and I believe that everybody has something to offer even if a child is in just a vegetative state, they still have something to offer and it could be the person who's taking care of them needs to feel needed, everybody has something to contribute on this earth, no one really has limitations because somebody comes along and says you're limited. Why would everybody want to be the same in this world, why can't we just learn from each other's differences, that's where you really get to be powerful. When I first came to California and I saw all different types of people Armenians, Mexicans and all of that, I made sure I made friends with at least one culture so I can go to their house to find out what they eat. I learned about the food differences, I would always ask about their beliefs, what do they believe in, my friend from India we were talking so I say who’s your god, oh he goes we’ve got two hundred gods and I thought you'd better get back on your knees you got a lot of praying to do, you can’t be sitting here. We’ve go a god for fire, god for water oh my gosh, when you go to pray who do you know you're praying to I’ve got one and I love learning, who am I to say what your beliefs are, it’s not for me to be afraid of or judge it or limit it, it's for me to have the opportunity so this is what you grew up with, this is what you believe in but this is what I believe so can you just respect what my beliefs are that’s all.
DJ: You were run over by a lifeguard truck.
Kathy: You’re still on the lifeguard truck.
DJ: I want to put it all together here, you were run over by a truck you go through five years of rehab then you get over cervical cancer then you reconcile with your father for some things from your childhood, all of that those are all very heavy things, how long is the process after that where you said you made the transformation. How long did that take for you to like shed all those labels and all that baggage and become a healthier version of yourself.
Kathy: When I went to vocational rehab, I met my counsellor, her name was Collen I hated the bitch.
DJ: I love how all the positive things you've been saying a lot but you're able to just casually say it.
Kathy: I love it, life is good. I hated her and I knew I know why, she's deaf. I never met another hearing-impaired person until I was thirty-four. So, when I met her it was like looking in the mirror.
DJ: Was she completely deaf?
Kathy: No, she had a hearing device and she spoke and she told me that in order for me to get money from the government to go to school for the speech therapy I would have to have a complete physical and get my hearing tested and I told her I said I would do the physical but nobody touches the ears because the ears were my nightmare because that was my punishment when I wore those devices and so she goes then we can’t help you and so I said ok fine, so I met my technician Michael Shannon and we went into the soundproof room and you know when they put the headset on you water poured out of my head, I didn't you know when you cry you do this (gasping sound) you know how you that, I didn't do that, water just poured out of my head and Michael looks and says are you ok, I go just do the test, get it over with, it was like all this memories were just coming up, rejection from school you know the therapist, the doctor they were all just coming through me until we got the test done and I ran out of the room and he pulled and said you come with me and when I sat in his office and that was the first time in my life he made something invisible visible by showing me my audiogram, he showed me what I was missing.
DJ: And was that a relief for you?
Kathy: It was a relief and at the same time confusing because I'm like what is he trying to tell me because I still can't see so he got me the hearing aid that fit me for my sound, for my hearing loss. I told him I'm not wearing them I mean I fought this tooth and nail, I'm not wearing them, I'm not wearing them because you have to wear them for at least one week otherwise I won't tell the counsellor to give you the money to go to school. Fine and I drove everybody crazy, what’s that noise, what’s that sound, what’s this, what’s that, drove everybody nuts and I realized it wasn't me that's wrong with me, it's with all the other people who didn't take the time to explain to me, show me or take the time to understand, so when I got the hearing aid and one thing about the sound it was about the identity of understanding who I am and where I stand within myself. So I have a hearing loss big fucking deal but everybody else made it really big, oh she's retarded, she's stupid, she can’t, she’ll never be able to, well I'm not retarded or stupid I'm just not comprehending what's going on around me. So, when I got the hearing device and I started exploring life and the sounds and it was like it was like a wakeup call and it was about like I said the birds chirping for the first time it was like every little sound to me represents that God has given me a blessing to say you’re ok, you’re alright this is all that was missing that and a boyfriend but that's beside the point you know but I think when I got that and it was just shortly after that I did the comedy contests, I love taking care of my patients when I was a massage exercise therapist and when I did the comedy contest and that just took me into a whole new world, my confidence started to grow but it also was scary because you know people wanted to represent me you know it's like hey I want to be a manager, I want to blah blah blah. I didn't trust anybody, when you spend your whole life with everybody limiting you and pushing you away now all I see is dollar signs in people’s eyes and I wasn't smart enough to know who to trust and I wish I would have known more about the business so I could have made better choices and I think that part of my thing when you came on board, I wanted to make sure nobody screws you over. I have this instinct to want to protect you but I don't need to because you’re a smart man.
DJ: Thank you.
Kathy: And you know what you're doing, you didn’t go through what I went through, I don't need to protect you but I do want to be there for you if you ever need that friend.
DJ: I do appreciate having you in my corner, I do appreciate your guidance and I would say to play devil's advocate it might be better that you were wary of have people rather than the mistake some people make when they move to California Hollywood where they trust too many people and they’re too vulnerable, so maybe it's kind of good just to put a positive spin on it that you weren't so open to letting everybody into your life at that time.
Kathy: Well there were people that I didn't know were important that I didn't let in and you know I just didn't know, I didn't understand and I had nobody in my corner, I had nobody to say Kathy this is a good person this person can help you with this or that, that's why I'm glad you have Barbara, that's why I reached out to Barbara if she needed anything you know because people in the hearing aid community, the deaf community whatever and I just don't want anybody taking advantage of that for you that’s all.
DJ: And I appreciate it and if anybody wasn’t listening to the last episode we talked about Barbara, Barbara Holiday is my manager and she's a wonderful woman.
Kathy: She's an extraordinary woman I love her.
DJ: Yeah, she's incredible. You're a motivational speaker and a comedian.
DJ: How long after you started comedy did you get into the speaking side of things.
Kathy: Not long I mean I was doing a thing called windmill like this big book really thick and it was all about the ADA law and they thought I'd be a good speaker to go to corporations and teach them how to hire people with disabilities into the workforce and there was a pie chart, I hated the pie chart, I couldn't figure it out of the pieces, I didn't understand, I couldn't read that book but I wanted to do the speaking because I figured I'd make more money. Then I get in front of these people and I was nervous and I was swearing left and right you know shit damn whatever you know because I didn't know what the heck I was talking about, so finally they had complaints, the guy who owned the company at the time he says Kathy I can only give you one more shot but they're complaining about the way you swear and I go yeah I do that and I did in the beginning of my career because I was nervous, I’m in the hearing world solely not understanding a lot of my environment and so the next time I went on to do it in front of five hundred people for a corporation that pie chart I hated, the only thing I like about is that little laser light that you get the point with people in the eye with and stuff but I thought to myself wait a minute, pie chart this book that's bigger than God knows what and I'm like who knows what it's like to have a disability but me, how hard it was for me to get work and the judgment and the labelling and I had so many friends with challenges why don't I just share the truth as I know it and then it became wow and then before you know it I started sharing my story and saying my life and I realized that my story is not my story anymore, my story is a public story it belongs to them, to help them overcome their obstacles to have confidence in themselves, to help them realize that if they’re in an abusive relationship they need to get out of it, to know that no matter what your challenge in life is you can score higher than what your belief system is and so I realized that now people say don't you get upset telling your story over and over and I go no because it's not mine it's yours and I believe that and I think one of the reasons why God gave me a hearing loss and all this challenges that I went through was nothing more than to show me the simplicity of life to appreciate it you know and what gives you courage is not to be a victim of this situation but to look at it as just a challenge and beat that devil again.
DJ: You've mentioned God and religion a few times have you always had this strong faith.
Kathy: No when I got run over by the Jeep I died at the scene of the accident.
Kathy: And that gave me my faith.
DJ: How long were you clinically dead?
Kathy: Well I didn't have a watch at the time, I'm like ok how long have I been here God.
DJ: I’m going to need to remember that
Kathy: I don't know, I remember being run over, I remember seeing what I saw, the thing that I remember the most was the blood, it's not like you die and you go to heaven and you see God and you go wow nice robe, lose the sandals, I’m not marching, it’s not a conversation it would literally be known you’ve been here before. The love, I never felt that love on this earth and the warmth and knowing that I was protected and the acceptance of who I was as I am but the big thing that I got out of that was this choice something someone let me make the choice as to whether I was going to go or stay and I do remember saying I wasn't ready and when I said that I said opened my eyes and they had a brace on my neck, they had me on aboard, they were putting me into an ambulance and so I came through and now I’m aware of what's going on but at that moment you're so busy trying to survive you almost forget that precious time that you had but there was something about that love and it was almost like I went in there and I took a bunch of it and I bought it back with me and that love is what I'm supposed to represent here. I’m supposed to let people know that love is not a word, it's not a simple thing saying I love you, it's more of an action to accept people into your home and you saw how I opened my own for your girlfriend today, I didn't want to let go of the little thing, she’s adorable but I'm all about love and my neighbor was having surgery and I went over the day before and I said well how can I be of service for you while you’re having your surgery, what can I do for you and people don't step out of themselves to other people anymore.
Kathy: And that's the way I believe we're here for, we're here to contribute to each other, this is God's playground and how we get along here is our heaven on earth and so that's my belief, I don't go to church, can't live the priest, don't know what song they’re singing, watch the old lady she’s kneeling and I better get down, oh she’s up I better get up too, shake hands with who tell them peace be with them. they should if they don't know that by now why should I have to be the one and besides how do I know if they have a cold or not, I'm not shaking their hands you know so my church is like right now just sharing with you, talking to strangers on the street, airplanes, elevators. I have fun wherever I go, I get in the elevator and the first thing I say is what's on the floor that everybody's looking at. I never can find what you people are looking for or they're all looking at the number ok, everybody count the numbers out loud you just have fun. People forget how to have fun, everybody gets caught up in their own little world, their own needs, their own sympathy you know they don't take charge of our lives anymore, people don't know how to communicate, I’m not saying everyone. I have thirteen kids in my neighborhood that call me aunt Kathy and all my parents in my neighborhood right here a fabulous parent, I get to see what healthy growing up is, I didn't get to have it when I had it growing up but I get to see it now and I know it’s there and I know there's more of it than there's less and I have to trust in that but life is really a gift and people forget to appreciate it.
DJ: Do you get with how much you clearly enjoy spreading this positivity, do you get more enjoyment out of motivational speaking than comedy or do you feel you can impart the same kind of…
Kathy: Well I do my comedy with my motivational speaking but I get more with the speaking because I like to believe the Holy Spirit and I'm just a vessel because sometimes the stuff that comes out of my mouth I never even knew was there and I'm just like wow that's impressive, you're pretty good up there so I like any opportunity to make somebody love themselves more. That's all I want, once you love yourself you can love anybody you know I'm not saying I'm crazy about me ok, I'm not in the corner kissing myself but loving myself means as far as I’m concerned is loving God and saying thank you and appreciating the gift that he gave me within myself because I spent the good portion of my life hating myself and my mom is one of those people who doesn't like herself and I look at her and she's all alone, I'm the only person in her life, nobody to talks to sad and it's all because of her own insecurities of not loving this stuff because somewhere along the line somebody told her she wasn't good enough and so it's very hard for her to open the door and let people in including me and I've always been there for her and I will never let her be, let her think she's alone, I'll call her three to four times a day, I’m onto her, I check on her all the time, I fly home I take care of her.
DJ: Is she in Ohio?
Kathy: Yeah and that's what love is, love is action, it's what you do, I can tell you I love you and then beat the crap out of you, that’s not love, love is being there for somebody, taking a chance to make a phone call, how’re you doing and what's going to, what do you need, can I be of help of anything. All my kids at No Limits that's a gift, Michelle gave me the gift, Michelle is a person I wish I had when I was growing up because if I had it when I was growing up I wouldn't have gone through everything I went through but if I didn’t go through everything I went through I wouldn't be who I am today. So, I really have nothing to complain about.
DJ: I got to tell you, I told you this last year when we first met you asked me if I did any speaking and I've recently got into it beyond just stand up and I remember my answer to you was first of all I've often found motivational speakers to be for lack of a better word fraudulent maybe they don't fully believe in what they're saying and I didn't feel I had enough to impart to make me a worthwhile speaker but I've got to say like listening to you talk even just right now on this podcast I'm very inspired by you and I'm a cynical kind of guy by nature, I think maybe the positive life I've led has allowed me to become cynical you know what I mean because maybe I haven't been like battle tested enough and I'm not sure what it is but I'm genuinely inspired by you.
Kathy: Oh, thank you.
DJ: And your positivity is and I mean I've seen you with the children at No Limits as well, I've seen some of the adult children who you've known for a while and I see how much they look up to you and the impact that you've had on them so I don't know I just think you're an incredibly special person and I'm very thankful that you've been so welcoming to me.
Kathy: Oh, no problem now get the hell out of my house.
DJ: What a beautiful house by the way.
Kathy: Thank you.
DJ: I would give anything to live in this house.
Kathy: Well apparently, you live in here now. Let me ask you do you feel now that you've have something to contribute as a motivational speaker.
DJ: I haven't been through anything, I wear hearing aids let’s get that out of the way.
Kathy: But wait a minute stop and think, you don't have to go through hell to be a motivational speaker, it does help in my case.
DJ: I’m lying on the beach all day just waiting for trucks to come.
Kathy: Oh, man I’ve kept watch on here, when the hell is it coming and my aim is.
DJ: And I want to look at the watch when they actually run me over so I can tell people how long I was dead and learn from my mistakes.
Kathy: Get the timing down, I talk about timing in my business but as a motivational speaker if you wanted to do more would you to do motivations speaking.
DJ: I want to make people feel good and I want to help people so yes.
Kathy: Ok so I'm grateful to your parents, I haven’t even met them been but I know I love them because I know what I see in you.
DJ: Yeah, they’re wonderful.
Kathy: You had an amazing support system but I would think you would somebody who would teach people about the importance of support you know because I can almost guarantee you if I put you in a room with all my kids the No Limits alumni and you spoke to them they would tell you some of their challenges but the cool thing is my kids don't feel like they're that bad off primarily because they do have No Limits and they also have the shadow when they come to No Limits they see other kids that are like themselves, were you the only one in your school also with a hearing loss.
Kathy: There's that little something that’s like wait a minute I'm not really like everybody but you are like everybody because you had that support in your home, you had people looking out for you even though your sisters were probably trying to get you to wear dresses I don't know.
DJ: Actually, they were a little weirded out about how much I wanted to wear the dresses.
Kathy: I knew it but I think you could do a whole thing on the importance of support, I don't think put how they have to support each other, the kids and encouragement. If you listen even sitcoms today, the sarcasms, when kids are being sarcastic and have that negative vocabulary today put on them, it’s like its ok to be disrespectful, I want to know what happened to the word respect, where did it go? Why are people not using it anymore? I want to know why people can't look you in when they talk to you or why they’re not helping in the stores anymore or whatever, it is that communication, I missed the communication. I spent my whole life to learn how to talk and there’s nobody to talk to me, it’s texting, email, it’s Facebook and I can’t write but I'd like to see if you ever want to go further than that I would be more than happy to support you without that too.
DJ: Yeah, I'd love your help on that, you've been doing it for a while now, you’re going on tour with Tony, Anthony Robbins.
DJ: So, he's one of kind of the I mean he might be the most famous motivational speaker I'm not sure.
Kathy: I would think so, I would think the most powerful most how do you say president you know out there, Tony is very…
DJ: Prevalent I think.
Kathy: Tony is right out there but he's not out there for himself.
DJ: That's what I've often wondered actually does he believe in everything he’s saying.
Kathy: Yes, but he doesn't believe in it to not work for you, you have to do the work he’s the god and he plants the seed and you have to continue working with what he gives you but he really sincerely with all of his heart wants to help each and every person, if there are ten thousand people in that room he wants to help each and every one of them, the thing is you can only work with certain ones when you call them up but if you really stop and think about life everybody has the same story just different experiences, so you can relate to whoever he brings up on the stage whether they’re moody whether they’re feeling abandonment issues or whatever but Tony generally wants you to erase your past and create who you are today, he wants you to be the best person you can be, he wants you to live life to the fullest. Tony had a really challenging childhood and so it’s like me we feel blessed that we found our way out, so we want everybody else to find their way out, we want everybody else to know that the world that you’re living in right now you didn't choose it, stop and think what's available for you and reach for that but quit staying in the quitting stand because all you’re doing is making yourself think, so yeah Tony is phenomenal, he's humble he gives when nobody knows when he's giving, he's not like a celebrity that said well I went to Katrina and I gave blah blah blah he went to Katrina and continued helping Katrina on a regular basis and nobody ever knew but all the other celebrities are putting themselves out on the film, Tony goes behind the back doors and finds out what the community needs not what he thinks you need. He went to preacher, he went to ministers, he went to the community and asked what their needs were and he helped provide that, he was shipping out truckloads of stuff but nobody knows that.
Kathy: Because he doesn't need to be publicized, he just needs to know that he's doing God's work.
DJ: And what about taking care of yourself, you've got all these neighborhood kid to look after.
Kathy: I love my kids.
DJ: You have the No Limits children you know you're looking out for so many people, what do you do to make sure that you're taking care of yourself when you're helping all these other people.
Kathy: I came home from the road, I would contend say nine days, came home and I was in my office and I started crying, I was exhausted and every once in a while you need to have a little pity party and then go like why am I doing all of these work, who am I to appoint myself as their guardian (in a crying voice), crying right and I have all those pictures on my wall in the office of my kid that I've helped over the years and I go I don't even like the damn kids and I turned to them and there's a poster on the wall I don't know if you ever noticed that but there's that little girl that looks up to the heavens and she had flowers in her hands, it’s a cartoon and it says God if I give away all my love would you give me a refill and I looked at that and I thought what is my refill, I didn't know what my refill was and I realized one of the things that I enjoyed the most is swimming because when I was a paraplegic, when I couldn’t walk I would go to the Y.M.C.A. and kept working on my legs and so I ended up going in all my neighbors pools when they were at work they don't need to know where I am all the time. So, I'd be swimming in their pool, they said I could swim in the pool but I'd be in there pool and it really bothered me that I couldn't just go in my own backyard and so I stayed for five years to put in the endless pool and I realized that fills me up emotionally, spiritually and physically. It's a balance for me and I'd be in the pool like one morning I was just floating on my back and three whole hours went by, one day I'm jogging a bobcat walks by I mean it’s awesome that I found something that I can do that makes me happy on a personal level with nobody else having to make me happy and so that's my refill to be able to take care of myself.
DJ: Wow that's incredible.
Kathy: I can't give you what I don’t have until I fill myself up.
DJ: Maybe we can go for a dip in the endless pool after this.
Kathy: I'm not going to let you dip, I'm going to push your ass in that pool.
DJ: Well Kathy once again I want to say how appreciative of it I am to have you in my life.
Kathy: That goes both ways.
DJ: And I told Michelle actually when we met, I want to be more involved with No Limits as well so hopefully we can work together more often in the future as well.
Kathy: I was going to ask you if you want to come and join me on the Jay Leno thing.
DJ: Oh yeah, Michelle mentioned that.
Kathy: I have an event, that’s my event that we're putting together for No Limits in the Garfield theater with Jay Leno and I was going to ask you if you'd like to meet him and come up and maybe do five, ten minutes or so.
DJ: That would be amazing, I'd love to.
Kathy: I got to check and see your calendar ok.
DJ Ok that sounds great, thank you very much for being on the podcast.
Kathy: I love you buddy.
DJ: I love you.