Energy is a Choice: How to wake up . . . on the weekend . . . with(out) an alarm

Why did you get up this morning?  Because your alarm went off?  Because you felt rested (is that something people actually feel – asks the sleep-deprived medical student)?  Because you had a job to do?

Well, I sure wasn’t rested after five hours of sleep.  And the alarm . . . it woke me up, but waking up is very different than actually sliding off the covers and getting up out of bed.  As for the job, it’s a passion, a constant, but it’s also a weekend.

So, why did I do it?  Why did I get up?

The short answer: I don’t know.  I saw the sunlight streaming out from behind the morning fog.  I felt the crisp air of a new season and heard the laughter of a hospital worker at the coffee cart downstairs.  I experienced life without even sitting up, and I was “tired as shit” (the language of choice when you are too tired to think articulately).


And then there is the long answer, the simple answer: because, what if?

Right now, I could rattle off a laundry list of tasks that I just don’t have time for.  I could point to everything I want to do that I am not doing, everything that I need to accomplish that simply will not earn it’s “finished” check-mark on today’s assignment list.  In medicine, especially, there is so much to learn that there is, naturally, so much left unlearned.

Under the overwhelming length of this list, I could very easily pull the cover back over my head and drift back to sleep – especially on a weekend.  OR, I could . . . wait for it . . . just not do that.

Wait, what?!  I could put all the overwhelming “issues” aside?  Just like that?

Well, to answer my own, superfluous rhetorical questions, YES!  We’ve all heard the notion that happiness is a choice, so I won’t drown you in more of the mundanely obvious.  But, platitudes are commonplace for two reasons:

  1. We are too stubborn to let them go, and
  2. They offer valuable truth.

This platitude of happiness being a choice exists for the latter reason, in case you had any doubt.

Happiness is a choice, and so is getting out of bed.  

This morning, I had a choice to feel overwhelmed by “life.”  I had a choice to feel burdened and exhausted, a choice to sink into my inner eyelids in hiding.

Instead, I heard a man’s laughter, I saw the sun glisten across the marble bricks of Gordon Hall, and I wondered, “What if I focused on the good in this moment?”

I am at Harvard Medical School.  I am here!  And, I am not just here, but I AM DOING IT [learning, growing, thriving], alongside a group of the most kindhearted, inspiring, innovative people I’ve ever met.  I am working with faculty who want nothing more than to guide us and our profession in a direction of progress.  I am connecting with and caring for patients, and I am caffeinating with friends (like I said, there’s a coffee cart IMMEDIATELY below my window) as we contemplate parody music videos and prenatal cardiac surgeries.  I could spend an hour in exhausted escape, OR I could change my mindset, get up out of bed, and experience the brilliance of everything around me.

You may not be in medical school, you may be 2,000 miles from Harvard, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are doing it, too!  Doing what?  That’s for you to decide.  Caring for the kids, meeting patrons as a waiter, representing litigants in a court trial.  On the weekend, you may be buying groceries, walking the dog, boating on the lake.

Now, when I do the laundry, I am not living and breathing my passion in life.  It’s just detergent, after all.  But, even in those Downy-soft moments*, there is reason for joy, laughter, and inspiration (in clean socks!).

Right now, I can say for a fact, WE ARE DOING IT.  So what if, for another day, we get up and do it again?  What if, for another day, we find those precious moments of joy and laughter, and let everything good that surrounds us lift us out of bed?

What if, today, we choose to be energetically happy?

And at 7:10 a.m., my fifth alarm went off, so by choice or by schedule, it was time to get up.

*This article not sponsored by Downy, go figure 😉

© 2016 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

Harvard Gives Kids a Smile!

Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) is more than just a school.  On February 6, 2016, HSDM students, faculty, and staff joined together to give nearly 50 children free dental care, crafts, and education.  As part of the organizing committee, I am so very proud of what everyone accomplished to make that day spectacular.

Watch this Kevin Kuo Productions video to see just how much fun a dental visit and a simple smile can be!

Why do I care if my dentist went to Harvard?!

“Are you in dental or medical school?”

Three people asked me this question today, and three times I began with the simple reply, “Yes.”


Thus far at Harvard, I have been studying with the medical school.  I have been taking medical classes focused on systemic physiology and disease.  I have been seeing hospital patients with chief complaints ranging from cirrhosis of the liver to colon cancer.  I have dawned a white coat and stethoscope as I entered Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and I have learned the basics of a musculoskeletal examination on notably all of the joints except the temporomandibular joint.

Finally, wearing scrubs and a gown, I carried that same stethoscope into a dental clinic, and the feeling was unbelievable.  Being in a dental office, I felt at home.  I interacted with patients, did a role-playing intake interview, and explored the Axium computer system.  I witnessed an assessment of the temporomandibular joint and learned about the oral manifestations of sinus pressure.  Everything around me was so enthusing, grounding me in my passion for dentistry.

Unexpectedly, this experience also enhanced my appreciation for the curriculum at Harvard School of Dental Medicine.  Yes, we are effectively in medical school at the present.  Yes, we are learning maneuvers to assess bowel function and spleen abnormalities.  Yet, we are doing this to become better providers of oral health care.  We are doing this because of the integral intersections between oral and systemic health, the intersections I witnessed today in a review of a diabetic’s and a recovering addict’s chart.  While many dentists learn to care for oral health, we at Harvard School of Dental Medicine are learning to treat our patient’s overall health and are thereby leading the dental field in a direction of medical integration that I so poignantly experienced today.

So yes, we began the day jokingly referring to ourselves as confused dentists, imposter physicians, and dental students with an identity crisis.  However, we ended the day with heightened appreciation for the value of treating patients not as their dentists but as their oral physicians.

(Originally published in September 2016 as part of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine newsletter.)

© 2016 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.


I         R E F U S E         to be among the 10% * . . .

. . .  or so people who don’t have their very own, personal, amazing blog.

WHY?  Because, like you, I have a story to share.  And, for you, I have a journey to offer.  So walk with me through the hallowed halls of Harvard School of Dental Medicine, behind the closed doors of a dental school dorm, and into the mind of a scientific creative.

Ready or not,

Here we g o o o o o o o o o o!

(*Statistics used in this post have no basis in scientific studies.) 

© 2016 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.