What Will Be Your Joy?

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

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This One Story Will Transform Your Day, if not your life

Hey there!

Whatever you are doing right now, stop. Pull up a chair; put on those reading glasses. Maybe grab a cup of tea. Let’s just have a chat, friend-to-friend.

I know; I know. We barely know one another. I’m a dental student typing from Boston, Massachusetts, you’re a blogger off on the other side of the country, if not the world. But trust me. This moment matters.

Because I want to tell you a story from not too long ago; in fact, this was just a few days over a week ago. Iarrived in clinic ready to meet a new patient; we’ll call her Lailah. She was 5’7 and calm, and really just wanting relief from her pain. When she sat down beside me, so much was going wrong – in her medical condition, in her dental health – but she was just so optimistic.

 

“I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving,” she told me, describing her large family. “I don’t want to be in pain on the holiday.”

 

“I don’t want you in pain, either,” I answered, reading her radiographs. “Let’s see what we can do together before then.”

 

Lailah let me know about a few of her medical conditions, the cancer for which she was receiving treatment, the congenital heart disease that didn’t seem to worry her cardiologist any longer, the hypothyroidism that seemed to be under control. Through her full story, she was radiating with the warmth of a smile.

 

“I promise,” I told Lailah, “to do what I can to move your treatment forward in time for the holidays. We can’t do everything by then, but we’ll work together here.”

 

The minute Lailah left my office, the work began.

 

I called every doctor she named, spoke to every dental advisor I could reach. I carefully, and with haste, developed her treatment plan, and prepared for the next stages of her care. And when I spoke with her oncologist, my heart sank.

 

“Lailah has 6 months to live,” her oncologist boldly introduced. “One year at most. Unless we find the cure for her type of cancer in the next year, I want you to understand, we are not doing normal dentistry here. Extract the infected teeth. We start chemo on the first.”

Now take a deep breath for me, perhaps a moment pause. I’m not telling you this story to catch your breath. And my intention is certainly not educational, though I can’t help but notice just how impactfully this story demonstrates the intersection of medicine and dentistry.

But I am sharing this story with a goal.

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When Lailah and I met, I knew her care was important. I knew her healthy smile mattered. It’s the same approach I have with each and every patient in my chair. Even if my job is to simply guide the patient to a specialist or someone who can offer the needed attention, I give my time, heart, and growing knowledge and experience to that patient. Every patient matters.

Knowing Lailah was going to die didn’t make her matter any more or any less. She was still a patient. She was always important.

And, in so many ways, she reminded me of what really matters:

  • The opportunity to share the warmth of your smile with everyone around you, even the dental student you just met.
  • The gift of spending the holidays out of pain and in the embrace of family.
  • The hope that our actions today will make for a better world tomorrow.
  • The faith that everything will be okay.
  • The courage to move forward no matter what weight follows us from our pasts.
  • And the joy of knowing we have made an impact in this world, whether within our own families and communities or on a larger scale. We have mattered.

In Kabbalah, in Jewish tradition, Lailahel is an angel, one who comes to the world with a message to share. My patent, Lailah, is just that, sharing with us, each day, her beautiful messages of hope, faith, and gratitude. This holiday season, let us all try to have a touch of an angel – a touch of gratitude and optimism – in our hearts and minds. No matter what has happened today or this year, all that matters is now, and how, even with a simple smile, we can choose to make a true difference,

All names, characters, business, places, events, and incidents have been changed for privacy. As a compilation of many patient experiences, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  

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

The 3 Things in Life that are Certain

Three things are certain in life:

  1. You will never have enough time to read that list of the 40 best ____ – what fills in the blank doesn’t matter. The list is still four times too long.
  2. Your earbuds will always become tangled in your pocket or purse or backpack.

And

  1. Your life will be a journey of discovery.

The focus of that discovery: Well, first off, the end of those tangled ear buds. But, more importantly, you. (You know, just something kind of completely fantastic.)

No matter where we are in life – our mid-life crises or our eighteenth birthdays; our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs or our twelfth Hillel Shabbat dinners – we are continuously blooming. Every person we meet, every experience we have, every sunset we witness becomes a part of us.

The conversation you had with a neighbor last night opens your mind to something more that you are. The journal entry you wrote last week touches a part of you that you hadn’t yet seen. The new flavor you tried at brunch widens your senses to a world and culture you can’t wait to know.

Every moment of presence is a moment of growth – if we allow it to be.

Which also means, at any moment, we are imperfect. We have yet to experience every aspect of life and we have yet to interact with every person who is to cross our paths. Rather, we are open, our hidden parts simply awaiting the right moment and encounter to emerge.

But what does this mean for today?

Everything.

Because, in accepting the journey, we open our minds to the possibility of each moment. And, we start to live our lives with three vital changes:

  1. We take no moment for granted.

If every moment and every interaction becomes a part of us and blesses us with growth, then, logically, every moment is of value. We have all heard the advice to ‘live in the moment,’ but it’s time we do more than just that. It’s time we appreciate the moment, no matter how small, and allow that moment to fill our hearts. Because that moment is now a part of us, it’s ability to help us grow only limited by our own resistance to change.

  1. We open ourselves to the world.

We grow from experience. Which means, if we avoid experience, we limit our own potential. So instead of accepting the comfort of a couch and Netflix show, or following the routine of taking the 5:10 bus and sitting in the window seat of row 12, let’s challenge ourselves. Go outside your comfort zone. Try something new. Welcome new friends and new experiences, and soon you will find, in each day, you discover a little more of the fantastic person that is you.

  1. We live and breathe authenticity.

Something magical happens when we realize we are forever growing: we start to let go. If we understand that we are never quite perfect, we can never fall short of what we think we ‘should’ be.  If we recognize that, in error we learn, we start to embrace those errors. In embracing the truth that our interactions with others can help others grow, too, we start to give ourselves more fully to the world. We can’t be perfect, but we can make a difference and welcome growth just by living each moment as our truest selves.

And, yes, if your truest self is still untangling those ear buds or working through number 26 on the list of 40 best books of 2017, you are, in that moment’s way, still experiencing growth.

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Congratulations. Another moment has passed, and you have beautifully grown!

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

Here’s what really matters…

Comedy can be rather simple. Really! Because the key to success in almost any scene is to define a relationship. Who are you to the other person? How does the other person make you feel? How do you feel about him/her?

And how are you going to COMMUNICATE all of that so that your partner on stage and your audience in the crowd know what’s going through your head?

You could use body language, action, perhaps simply words. The choice is yours, and the choice lets the other person know that this moment really matters.

Just today, in fact, my partner in crime and I exchanged our excitement for working together by smashing the top-secret computers in our spy headquarters. We knew right then and there how much we each valued this precious moment. (Granted, this was all in an improvised world, and smashing computers isn’t exactly what I have in mind for the day-to-day, but you get the idea).

And the truth of this lesson doesn’t end on the comedy stage.

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Imagine if, passing your neighbor, you stopped and told that person how much it means to see her smile on the stairs. Imagine if, while sitting on the bus, the man whose name you can’t recall tells you how much he enjoys these 6 a.m. conversations over speed bumps. Imagine if we told the people who impact our lives just that: you make a difference in my day. Imagine if we reminded others why this moment with them is important.

It only takes a second to pause and reflect on the relationship. It only takes the truth to make an impact. It only takes you to make a difference on another person’s day.

For more improv comedy lessons, take your turn on stage with classes. Might I recommend ImprovBoston in Cambridge, MA? Or, if you live in Colorado, check out Voodoo Comedy and Grafenberg Productions. You’re in for a great time!

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

Say ‘YES’ to YOUR life

It’s much too easy

to say ‘yes,’ to live your life in the service of others. Nurses, teachers, and stay-at-home parents, construction workers and attorneys … all of us have an innate desire to be of service for others. We light up with the joy of helping another, and fall in humbled honor at the privilege to be part of another’s life. We gain from approval and aim to not disappoint. Most importantly, we aim, in saying ‘yes,’ to be kind.

But when we turn the question around, when we ask ourselves to go out and enjoy the night, take a break for some rest, or break out of our comfort zones to make changes in our lives, the easiest answer is always ‘no.’ I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too full of excuses to make this change.

Somehow, we forget that the most important approval we could ever gain is from ourselves. We forget the joy of being there for ourselves when we are so wrapped up in the journey of always being there for others.

We lose ourselves in our lives.

And yet, we have not disappeared. By choosing ourselves, by saying ‘yes’ to our own inner requests and making choices that support the lives we want to lead, we can experience life more fully than ever before. We can come to life. 

And only then can we be of greatest service to others.

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So just try, for a day, to say yes to yourself. And don’t worry if you become hooked to ‘yes and-ing;’ just imagine how gloriously your life will change!

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

Take That Back: A simple game to refresh your life

I come to life

on a comedy stage, with a suggestion, and a promise of a good laugh. I come to life on a dance floor, with country music, and a group of new or old friends. I come to life at home, with a pen and a paper, and too many words to decide on just one to come next. I come to life in a clinic, with a child, a few stickers, and a toothbrush in hand.

But do I have to be in those specific situations to feel alive, to feel energized by life? Am I less alive through the rest of my days?

No way! 

Because it’s not the place or the situation that brings light to our eyes. It’s our own mindsets. It’s our willingness to free ourselves from restraints and to gift ourselves the joy of life in every moment. It’s the decision to let the worry, stress, and clutter of life pause so that we can just be, and just breathe.

And it’s the forgiveness we offer ourselves when we choose the wrong path and end up locked in a challenging moment.

There’s a game we play in improv comedy called ‘Take that back.’ Essentially, when you say a statement, the coach, at any moment, can demand that you ‘take that back.’ Say you just exclaimed your love for fried fish. Well, take back that love … so now you commit to a love of rolling chairs. Say you just whined about your character’s lost keys. Well, take back that emotion … and now you are overjoyed about your character’s lost keys. Standing in an objective position, the coach can see what helps and hurts the scene, and can guide you to success with just a touch of ‘take that back.’

And with practice, you can do the same in your own life!

Start noticing how you feel throughout the day. Check in with yourself when you wake up, when you are on the bus. Check in with yourself when you have work sitting before you. Pay attention to those moments when time just feels like it is dragging through mundane and tiresome tasks, or when time is lost to ‘spacing out’ of the moment. Pay attention to each moment.

After noticing for awhile, letting the awareness grow more natural, start to ‘take back’ your experience. Say you woke up with the thought, “It’s Monday morning. Ugh. The early alarm, the trudge through traffic, the full week of work ahead.” You feel tired and weary. You’re already counting down the days of the week. Sure, you could try to let that thought pass, but your body has already responded to the negativity. You’re already feeling weak.

Which is the perfect time to tell yourself, ‘Take that back!’

So you start again, opening your eyes, thinking, ‘It’s Monday morning! Yes! An early start, a productive day, and so much I can accomplish. This will be great!’

Already, you feel energized. Already, you feel hopeful. Already, you are wondering what great things will come of the week instead of reminiscing about the past weekend or anticipating the next. Already, you are more alive and free of your thoughts in the moment.

It’s not an easy exercise to use on yourself. (There’s a reason improv teams use a coach!) But it’s an exercise you can learn and build into your life, and, if you try it right now, just for kicks and giggles, I guarantee* you will experience a momentary transformation in the experience of your day.

*Restrictions apply. Must have your own capacity to set back time in order to complete the guarantee refund of reading this post. And if you have that capacity, YOU JUST INVENTED TIME TRAVEL. DO SHARE, PLEASE!

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

What makes you happy?

Whatever makes you happy, be it

– a dance party

– a night in

– a night with friends

– comedy

– faith

– a good book or even just a selfie

Share it. Love it. Embrace it.

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That joy is what brings a smile to your eyes and light to your life.

What makes you happy? Think about some sources of joy in your life and share them with the world! You might just inspire joy in another’s life.

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

 

Because You Deserve a Healthy Smile

Chances are, every single one of us reading this post either has or knows someone who has dental anxiety. The fear is real!

More importantly, the fear is manageable.

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Working with your dentist and these five simple tips, you can start to bring that anxiety under control, because nothing should come between you and the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve.

CLICK HERE to read my latest dental article on The Huffington Post, and be sure to share it with that dentist or anxious family member/friend in your life!

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

 

I approve of this message

It’s tempting to look out for approval.

We were taught to do so ever since the first grade. We studied for good grades, sat with arms folded for respect from our teachers, and eagerly awaited that next star-shaped sticker for our prize boards.

We did everything we were supposed to do, and looked out for the praise. In a context of operant conditioning, we learned how to behave and how to garner respect. And when we made mistakes, we looked in apology to those supporting us, and tried again.

But we were never similarly untrained.

No one ever gave out star-shaped stickers for NOT seeking approval. No one ever handed out extra candy for letting our self-drive and self-acceptance be enough. Few dared to tell a teenager that the only opinion that mattered was from the reflection in the mirror, not when it came to the day-to-day choices in life. It is much easier and so much more predictable as a caregiver, after all, to stay in control of the world and the people around us.

It’s not that we don’t all want our friends and family to grow strong and independent. On the contrary, we couldn’t imagine a better outcome for our loved ones.

Yet, it’s easy to forget

we as humans don’t naturally know how to look to ourselves for approval. We as humans don’t readily break the patterns by which we were trained. Have you ever tried to break a burdensome habit? It’s hard work! And it takes a lot of time, attention, and awareness of the problem. Not too many of us will turn to that hard work without some external factor pointing out with a big flashing arrow that how we are operating is no longer working.

But with so many resources out there – quotes and the like – reminding us of the value of self-approval and self-direction, you can be sure you are not alone in carrying this trained habit to adulthood. The market simply doesn’t spew out supply without a proportional demand.

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Of course, self-approval has its risks.

When you start to give yourself the approval you seek, you may make some mistakes. And you may have to own up to those mistakes – there is no longer someone to hide behind. The mistakes are softened, of course, because you are aware of the hard day you are having and you understand the sources of that choice. You are responsible for and understanding of your actions.

AND you are empowered by the freedom to choose what comes next. No one can push your head to a slump, and no one can take from you the pride of your smile. At a beautiful level, you are in control of the positive and negative outcomes. Everything you need comes from within, and everything you are is imperfectly perfect.

Everything you are is good.

And everything you can become is stunning, because only you can set the limits on your potential.

But don’t think I expect that you change this trained habit in one day. Instead, let’s try for one minute to make choices without approval, and to applaud those choices on our own. If it’s hard, that’s okay. We can try again in a later moment. Little by little, day by day, you can build to a life where you rejoice at the smile of another, yet garner pride from the approval you give to yourself.

In this moment and moving forward, you are your own greatest advocate.

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