Lost In The Page

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© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

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Don’t Ever Believe You Are Not Good Enough

There is a central flaw in our society. And no, it doesn’t have orange hair or a headline beginning with ‘allegation’ and ending with ‘fired,’ so shake your etch-a-sketch clear.

 

Because the flaw I have found is more pervasive.

 

And it’s nothing new. In fact, this flaw is the concept around which much of our ideologic infrastructure is built. And it’s a concept that we all have the responsibility to change: the concept of Nate.

 

Nate was a young boy in a class I taught. He was five when we met, ten when I left the teaching position. He had a fascination with cars and loved playing games on the white board. He could write in his workbook for hours, but could only ever grip the pencil in the palm of his hand, his letters often large and illegible. He was never very neat, even for a young boy, and would fall into anxious habits without even noticing. If he didn’t have a stress ball or toy in his hand, there would soon be blood dripping from his face. It’s not that he wanted to hurt himself, but his mind and body always had to work. When he was angry, he had little control. But when learned something new, he filled the room with enthusiasm. Those moments, however, were far and few between.

 

For every ten steps his classmates took, Nate had to take fifty. For every lesson his classmates learned, Nate learned one-eighth. Every day in the classroom, Nate fell behind. Grades were simply reminders of a fact he already knew. Academic games he could never win were simply public demonstrations of how hard it was for him to even try. The system around him, the system around which our society is built – with evaluations and standardized expectations and celebration only of success – simply served to point out his flaws.

 

Still, Nate kept showing up. He kept trying. He kept learning and filling the room with his enthusiasm. He always kept his body hunched over, his head someone down. But I never did get the idea that he was hiding or ashamed. Rather, Nate seemed to be focusing. He seemed to be tuning out the messages the world was feeding him and focusing simply on what he needed to do in that moment.

 

Unfortunately, the world didn’t let Nate grow up in his difference, medication calming him down until he could simply blend in.

 

Though Nate had a syndrome to face, we all, at one point or another, have been Nate. When receiving rejection. When being left out of the group. When being told we could have done better, and realizing that what we gave was truly our best.

 

We are all imperfect. And the world is built to put that imperfection right in our face. Job evaluations. School marks. Interpersonal schisms. The world shows us our challenges.

 

And face-to-face with our flaws, it is up to us to remember the one thing the world often forgets to share:

 

We can always do better. (And I mean that in the best of ways!)

 

If you score perfectly on an exam, great. But is your learning actually complete? If you and a friend celebrate a five-year friend-versary, fun! But does your relationship really have no room to grow?

 

The world we live in puts growth on a zero to one-hundred scale, with success being this attainable score at the top. And if you are anything less than perfect, the world is here to point that out, and remind you to do better, try harder, achieve more.  You could be as perfect as that other guy getting a 100 over there. Can you imagine that? 😉

 

And it’s really a great system – if we were all the same human being with the same mind and capabilities.

 

Of course, we aren’t. We are all some version of Nate. We are all some version of a caring, incredible person with unique challenges and strengths. We are all on our own zero to one-hundred scales. And we are all responsible for reminding those around us that their great leaps of progress or small steps of growth are equally incredible.

 

  • So your life is at a different stage than your neighbor’s? That’s okay.
  • So you’re excelling at a faster rate than your classmate? That’s fine.
  • So you could do better on an arbitrary scale? Yep. That’s true. You can always do better.

 

The world isn’t going to change overnight. Our minds aren’t simply going to rewire into the peace Nate found when blocking out the comparisons and judgments being made around him. He took years to build that skill. He still, often, forgot it.

 

But, in sharing his strengths, Nate taught me a mantra I will never forget, a mantra we all have the gift of sharing with those around us:

 

Don’t ever believe you are not good enough. 

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© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Three Questions to Help You Become a More Effective Communicator

What do you call an improviser without a voice?

No, this isn’t the set-up to a joke. And yes, there is a real answer to be found. You see, for the past two weeks, I’ve been asking myself this very question. Struck with a long-winded bug and a bout of laryngitis for the holiday season, I found myself in countless situations where all I needed was a voice.

There were days when I went to the dental clinic, attempting to provide pre-op and post-op information for tooth extractions without using any words. And when I approached my patients with a needle, all I could do was smile through a mask, having no words to dictate the scenario.

 

There were afternoons when I climbed into a cab, wanting to say ‘hi’ to the smiling driver. All I could do, though, was point to my throat, and mouth the absence of words. The rest of the ride was in complete silence.

 

And, as the opening line suggests, there were even evenings when I jumped on the improv stage, wanting to contribute dialogue to a scene, but finding myself able to do little more than interact with my body and face.

The transition to silence was a challenge, to say the least.

Because words fill the emptiness of a moment. Or they beautifully frame a memory. They gloss over the emotions of a situation. Or they embrace the feelings in the room. They distance two people with the vacancy of meaning. Or they create a connection only possible through story. Words are a part of life, a part of connection as so many of us know it. And to be without words suddenly is striking.

 

  • When I had something to say, I had to ask myself, ‘Is this worth the effort?’

 

  • When I had something to contribute, I had to wonder, ‘Is there another way to communicate the same meaning?’

 

  • When I wanted to connect, I had to explore why words had to be the only way to do so. What about a smile? What about a nod? What about a simple moment of rare and impactful eye contact?

 

I wouldn’t recommend catching a bug that lasts over two weeks and takes your voice for more than half that time, but I would recommend trying something new: silence. You can use words, of course. When I can talk again, there is so much I’ll have to say, so many comeback lines I had to hold in as the world found joy in laryngitis (there is joy everywhere!).

 

But if, before speaking, we all ask ourselves those same questions I have had to ask myself recently – is this statement worth the effort, is there another way to communicate, is there a stronger way to connect than with words – we can all discover something truly empowering: in silence, we grow more effective. This is true in improv; it’s true in friendship; it’s even true in business. Though, my patients getting extractions through my laryngitis may argue dentistry is the exception to this golden rule.

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As an improviser stepping on stage without a voice, I had nothing to say. So I had to listen. And when it came my time to respond, I couldn’t just offer a quip and move along. That would be far too easy. Instead, I had to search for the substance of my thought, and I had to use everything I had, every creative neuron in my brain, to express just that substance. Nothing more, and nothing less.

And the scenes moved forward as though nothing was lost.

 

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Tolerance (n., v., a way of life)

I never saw Tolerance as a word on my spelling tests in elementary school. I don’t recall it even being a topic of discussion until I was a teen. And that is a shame, because it’s a word we often forget.

Every time someone has a different opinion. Every time someone lives by a different belief. Every time our world view comes into conflict with another’s.

The human instinct is to abandon tolerance. No longer are we in conflict with someone else’s idea. No, it’s that person, that other with whom we are in battle. And when the battle is between two people, we lose focus on the topic. We start to throw knives at the individual. We start to become, quite simply, intolerant.

And, especially now, in 2017, with all that we see in the news each day, we as a civilization must remember that intolerance is not okay. It is something to never support in words or behaviors.

Yet, we still see intolerance, in many forms – intolerance for gender equality, intolerance for racial and religious groups, even intolerance for one’s scientific stance. Every time a medical professional makes mention of fluoride, for instance, intolerance sweeps the internet. Anti-fluoridation groups find their way to the most minimally accessed webpages, and they drop articles claiming dangers of a tool the medical profession has lauded – with scientific basis – as one of the greatest and most accessible public health reforms in modern history. Based on evidence, the benefits are undeniable.

And yet, there are opponents.  As there are opponents to vaccinations. As there are opponents to the reigning political party at any given time in history.

Wherever there is a belief or a theory or a fact, there will be alternative options. And that’s okay. We each have a right and a duty to share our positions. We each have a responsibility to support our beliefs.

AND we each have a duty to respect that another may still choose an alternate belief. That’s what makes life so colorful! In a show of that respect, our debates must start and end with evidence. The minute the attack becomes personal, the minute our arguments become a means of belittling another person, the topic of debate grows irrelevant.

The new topic of focus becomes, quite simply, tolerance.

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In response to the attacks I have received over my life – for my gender, for my religion, even for my beliefs on the dental benefits of fluoride – I often choose to not answer. I often choose to not engage. There is no useful response to an argument that starts with a personal assault and ends with malicious name, except to preach tolerance. Except to remind everyone of a time when some part of who they were or what they believed was under attack. For no reason but religion or gender or the color of your skin, you were deemed to be less than. You were treated as an object. And that wasn’t okay. That is never okay.

In Jewish tradition, holidays commemorating the victory of battle are always bittersweet. We praise the grace of Hashem to guide the Jewish people to freedom, but still, we mourn all that was lost. Even if the loss was to the other group, we take a moment of silence. They, too, are people. They, too, have value in this world. And though our ideas and objectives can come into conflict, our shared humanity is something that will never change.

Start each day with tolerance, and you will see that the world is a radiant place.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

3 Poems Published on Scarlet Leaf Review

So honored that 3 of my poems were just published on Scarlet Leaf Review.

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– Terrified, screaming woman murdered by boyfriend before his suicide in Lakewood.

– We Just Stop Singing

and

– When I open a book

All three are based on articles in the news. All three are available online by CLICKING HERE.

Thank you for reading and thank you Scarlet Leaf Review for sharing this work.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

 

Dental Health Tips for Kids: Help Your Child’s Smile Bloom

We all want the same for our children:

Health. Happiness. A lifetime of smiles.

And with a few simple oral health changes at home, we CAN give our kids a bit of each! Today, let’s start with just four of these easy-to-do changes for healthier smiles and healthier kids.

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Click HERE to read the four tips on The Huffington Post,

And bring your kids to Harvard Dental Center on February 3, 2018, for free dental care, crafts, education and more! Call 617-432-1434 Option #1 to schedule your child’s FREE dental visit.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Just LOLA [Laugh Out Loud Already!]

Improv comedy has nothing to do with being funny.  No joke!  In fact, if you try to be funny, chances are you’ll fail.  Really, improv is about welcoming the moment.  In this instant, in this context, how can we find humor?  In this scene, in this story, where can we spread joy?  If we are really listening, there is always joy.

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Improv is about noticing what is around us and choosing to see it in a way that lifts our spirits (and the spirits of our audience members).  And in no way is this philosophy limited to the stage!

Notice the world around you.  Take it in.  And now, as if out of nowhere, start laughing.  Hysterically!  Start chuckling and belly-jiggling.  Start smiling as though your favorite comedian took center-stage.  I’ll join in!

And observe.  Was there actual humor in the moment?  A joke that came to mind or a story you recalled?  Perhaps you were laughing at me telling you to laugh at nothing.  Maybe you found humor in the fact that you actually listened to this crazy advice, or you rejoiced in the juxtaposition of your laughter with absolute silence.

Whatever the reason, keep laughing.  Keep smiling.  And you will never see that room or that moment without joy again.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

The Ethics of Dentistry

One of the standards of dental ethics is patient self-determination. By providing patients with the opportunity for voluntary, informed consent or refusal, dentists can empower patients to take charge of their treatment choices.

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After being in the dental clinic as a pre-doctoral student, my eyes opened to the possibility:

  • What if this informed consent process were made easier – for patients and providers?
  • What if the information weren’t so … dare I say, boring, and possibly even confusing?
  • What if quality of process and experience were both taken into consideration in a re-haul of this tedious routine?

So I took to the Huffington Post with a dental practice management article of a research-base. If informed consent is something that interests you, be sure to FOLLOW THIS LINK and take a look.

© 2017 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.