How Huey Lewis Taught Me The Art Of Possibility

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Recently I read that Huey Lewis, a great rock star with songs like “The Power of Love” from Back to the Future, “I Want A New Drug”, and “If This Is It” that were especially popular in the ‘80s, has suffered extensive hearing loss. I was remembering how he impacted my high school and early college years, hoping he recovers well.

A dream come true

When I was in high school, I wrote a letter thanking him for his great music and message (against drugs) and somehow, miraculously, it actually made it to him! I had seen him in town and knew he lived relatively close by and had young children. At the time I had a thriving babysitting practice and loved playing with kids. I offered to help if they needed it and some references.

And then one day the phone rang. I managed to choke out something to the nice lady and agreed to meet. My parents hung near the doorway with wide grins on their faces – my note had gotten through and they wanted to interview me. And, to my great amazement, I got the job! My parents said it was fine with them, as long as I kept it secret so there wouldn’t be any security issues.

Author and Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel with signature from Huey Lewis

My parents arranged for family and friends to sign a special page of my high school yearbook, and also Huey Lewis, which was a great surprise! I kept my babysitting a secret from most of my class until the yearbook came out with this signature in it!

While it was a regular babysitting job, caring for great kiddos, I also learned a lot by watching how they lived.

  1. Fame doesn’t mean everything. Huey Lewis and his wife seemed to be great at not letting all the publicity and fame affect their family life. They were normal people and enjoyed that season of life well. Their children were delightful and such a joy. And by giving me a little work and glimpse into life behind the curtain of fame, it was a super boost for an awkward high school girl looking for her own future in life as graduation rapidly approached and college beckoned.
  2. There are still diapers when you’re on TV and stages and famous. I probably don’t need to elaborate, but there’s still dishes to do and chores and the basics in life.
  3. Having an openness to possibility can do neat things in life. If I hadn’t written that letter, I never would have had this neat experience. Later in college, I wrote other letters to companies looking for internships and competed nationally to work at the Clorox company and even Lucasfilm (where I finaled at least!). Having a bit of courage and a sense of openness to positivity has served me well all these years. I love watching for possibilities for my kids now, too.
  4. Music makes for an adventure. Now that I have sons very involved in band and various kinds of music and theater, I know how that can enrich your experience, even as just a hobby. I love watching their own favorites emerge and have put music in my tween novels.
  5. Overcoming in life is a choice. This one is hard. The simple boost of working secretly for Huey Lewis’ family carried me though some difficult choices and times as a teen. It was nothing earth shattering, but that small smile when his music came on or seeing him on TV or in movies would remind me to stay positive.

Now that I’m an adult, I focus on resilience perhaps, in part, from that glimpse into the possible. I’ve survived family health trials and our wildfire experience and other challenges, but I’ve decided to remain open to possibility, and instill this into our kids as well. It’s a major theme of my books I’m writing for tweens. In fact, well before hearing of Huey Lewis’ hearing loss, I’d chosen to have a main character who loses her hearing and deals with this. Right now, I have readers who are hard of hearing and deaf looking over my manuscript. Although I have family who wears hearing aids, I don’t myself. But I know what it’s like to face a huge challenge in life and want to teach kids how to do so with hope and a sense that something good can come out of it all.

Huey Lewis Sports album cover

If Huey Lewis were to read this somehow, I’d love to thank him for his example, wonderful kids, and smiles that came from working for he and his wife. I’d wish him well in this unexpected turn of events. His music and example from that time will always lift my spirits. I’ve learned from others who’ve lost their hearing, like Amanda McDonough from Switched At Birth and other TV/movie roles, how to face into those moments with courage. (My interview with her about waking up deaf one day is HERE). I’d hope to perhaps share a small bit of encouragement back to him in his season of challenge, too.

Photos courtesy of Huey Lewis and the News album covers.

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