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Participant Information

Hazel Beth Haas

City:
Margate
State:
FL
Country:
USA
Essay:

I was able to express myself even at an early age. I started to dance before I was three years old. I was formally trained in all facets of the performing arts, in England.

I was able to utilize many of these skills in my work as an Activity Director, mainly for the geriatric and psychiatric client. Although I had taken early retirement, I still ran workshops, as a Certified Activity Consultant and Registered Drama Therapist.

I was informed that I had MS, in 1998. In 2003 I was re-diagnosed with PD. No wonder that I was having difficulty with my voice, gait and stance, and the obvious tremor in my right hand, let alone numbness and burning in my left thigh. Also, it was noticeable that my writing was reduced in size.

While the diagnostic puzzle was coming together, my theatrical talents were shattered. Initially I resigned myself to a rapid decline, unable to run seminars, and the like. Then I noticed that those who had benefited from my humorous programs, appeared to be down-hearted.

So to compensate for my mask-like features, I exuded animated expressions, and body language. I chastised my right hand for its unscripted performance, and generally approached my short-comings in a light-hearted fashion.

Living alone, I didn't have many opportunities to have conversations, let alone sing. I realized that I needed to exercise my voice; so I started to talk to myself, as well as sing.

When I had an opportunity to be a speaker at BANC, (Broward Aging Network Conference), I decided to discuss PD, and its personal impact. I was inspired to parody, or paraphrase, mostly Broadway Hits. I managed to put together ten diverse renditions.

Having successfully performed some of them, "to rave review," I was encouraged to submit two examples for your perusal. One is on a cassette tape, to the melody of "Adeline's Lament" from Guys and Dolls. The second contribution consists of lyrics that may be sung to the melody, "Ask Me How I Feel", also from Guys and Dolls.

I decided to compensate, not compromise. For example, I'm not really that artistic, yet I tackled Fuzzy Posters for my grandchildren, embellishing them with other mediums, attempting to make them unique and interesting. Determined to keep my right hand occupied, I also tried embossing tee shirts and denim aprons, knitted simple projects, as well as starting scrap-booking.

My goal is to challenge myself by writing more, (in spite of handwriting difficulties). Try more artistic endeavors (even with a right-hand tremor.) Attempting to sing (whether off-key, pitch, or volume.)

Also, choreograph routines, for an audience of one (my reflection.) Naturally, I have no idea what is ahead, but I must believe in a positive outcome. I will even be satisfied with my condition stabilizing, if not a miraculous cure.

So I continue to pursue my hobbies, attend the informative support groups ... and keep a stiff British upper lip! AND MAINTAIN A SENSE OF HUMOR, ESPECIALLY THROUGH MY ARTISTIC ENDEAVORS.