“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

"Your daughter is deaf and she may never read beyond a fourth grade reading level," the doctor told my parents when I was two. 30 years later when I greet each day by putting on my "ears" -- my cochlear implants -- I awake to a world of beautiful sound.

Each and every morning, I vow never to take for granted the sounds of birds chirping outside my window; the chime of the doorbell, telling me a friend has arrived for brunch, or the ring of my telephone, as my parents call to chat.

Each and every morning, I renew my pledge not only to hear, but to listen.

To listen to my parents -- my heroes, teachers and friends -- who gave me a world of opportunities and who continue to teach me about the wonders of life.

To listen to my husband as we deepen our love, marriage, and life with each other.

To listen to my younger brother who inspires me daily with his strong values and intense loyalty.

To listen to my family, friends, and colleagues as we ask each other questions, and offer each other guidance, and,

To listen to myself so that whatever I undertake will be with the same optimistic zeal and "can-do" faith that my parents instilled in me.

Each and every morning I will say thank you by helping others discover their own potential. To each child, colleague, friend or family member who needs guidance, I will take the time to offer thoughtful encouragement. I will always endeavor to bring a smile to each face I encounter, and hope to each person seeking her way.

— Sarah Sommer