When you remember, life is simple

When you close your eyes and take in a deep breath, you are met with a moment of peace. Life really is that simple.

But I don’t expect you to believe me right away. It’s just too modest a concept to be true! In fact, even now, I have to pause to remember this important lesson from my past. It gets lost so easily in the complexity of thought.

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So instead of asking you to listen in blind faith, I’m going to share with you a story of how I came to this wisdom. In the end, you can decide what you choose to believe. All I ask is that you make that decision after taking your own deep breath:

 

When I was ten years old, I had a medical condition that required constant medication delivered by epidural. We relied on a local compounding pharmacy to deliver the script, and eventually, there was bound to be human error. That error came on Halloween night.

 

Sewn into a witch outfit made specifically for my swelling and casts, I began to feel nauseous. I wanted to trick-or-treat, to join the crowd of ghosts, witches, and cats, but I could feel my head sway from side-to-side. Sweat dripped from my hands and onto my pumpkin candy bag; my palms were shaking in my lap. My flesh was burning and aching with the constant feeling of being stabbed with a flaming knife. Somewhere between nausea, anticipation, and pain, my mom had readied me for bed, deciding my sister would just have to get my candy. She pulled my thin, pink blanket to my chin, careful to keep my swollen leg uncovered, and wished me a good night.

 

The next thing I knew, my mom was screaming at my bed, her body turning to run down the hall. My consciousness faded as I lay mumbling without words, still holding my hand as though I were grasping the pumpkin candy bag. Clicking my tongue to my lips, I nestled my head in my pillow, my body into Egyptian cotton sheets. The peaceful comfort of my bed extended for miles, and I just couldn’t understand what all the yelling could mean.

 

My head began to shake back and forth, but all I felt was wonder. If something was wrong, I wished my mom would just talk to me. When I tried to scream for her attention, though, my attempts were detached, my vocal cords too remote for my brain to control. Everything, even the worry, seemed so distant.

 

My mom ran back into my room almost immediately with two men and a gurney, her voice swallowing dry tears. I felt like I sat up in bed in response, though I know now I didn’t. With the injury and medication, not to mention the seizure, I physically couldn’t. Whatever they were doing, I lay there invisible. They moved at double-speed, while I watched as though the world were moving at half its pace. For every word they said, I could whisper twelve. Don’t worry, I thought to myself, sitting in a silence more vast than any silence I’d ever heard. Slow down.

 

The weight of my inflamed body melted from my bones, and I rose, floating from the bed to the bay window. I had worn a white, ankle-length pajama to bed, one covered with smiley faces on top and an old Egyptian cotton sheet on bottom. It was an original, sewn together by my mom from my two favorite materials that I just wouldn’t throw away. Staring from the window seat at the body in my bed, I wondered how that girl, too, had one of my pajamas. Her hair was the same strawberry blonde as mine, her leg just as swollen and cheeks just as sickly pale.

Realizing what I was seeing, I felt like the proper reaction would be to gulp. But I had no need to react. My mind was at peace.

 

Everyone in the room looked so worried, jamming the gurney to my bedside, calling out numbers. Everyone seemed so frazzled.

 

Don’t worry, I called out, unseen at the window.

 

Looking behind me, I could make out ambulance lights swirling in our driveway. It was all so interesting, so curious.

 

I’m okay, I thought, fading out of consciousness.

 

You’ll be okay.” A man at the head of the gurney stared into my face as my body convulsed in violent thrashes. Tension wrinkled through my forehead, my eyes staying only slightly open as I gasped for more air.

 

I remember worrying about my nightgown – I didn’t want them to tear it. I remember seeing the popcorn acoustic ceiling as we moved from the hallway, through an arch to the living area. And with a final thought to not worry, I forgot the convulsions and let the world fade away.

 

When moving through my days since then, I often forget what I felt sitting separate from my body. But the opportunity to know that feeling is a gift I keep near.

 

When we think life is rushed, I know now, perhaps it isn’t. Take a step back, and we have all the time that we need. When we worry about the worst possible outcome, I think now, to choose to feel calm. Just maybe, the anxiety will fade away.

 

We all have a tendency to complicate matters. We build stress into each day. We look to the future with fear and anxiety. We look into our past with regrets and what ifs. We complicate our lives until we forget that we have the power to take a simple, deep breath.

 

So pause with me a minute. Take a deep breath.

 

And hear me out, because I’m not pointing fingers. I do the same ‘complicating’ thing. But then I remember the girl in the window seat, the girl who chose to sit apart from the worry. I feel her weightlessness and calm. And I ask myself, ‘Girl, what are you doing?!With a simple choice to just breathe, life will always unveil an extra sliver of peace.  

© 2018 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

 

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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.

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.

 

Just one realization could change your life.

Let’s try something new…

Let go

of your worries and fears. For just this moment. Let go of your to-do lists and your experience of chaos. Let go of that feeling that you are so tired and life is so busy. Simply choose, right now, for a moment, to let go, and take a deep breath. Simply choose, for a moment, to be still.

And allow the moment to pass.

Now, don’t jump straight back to the tension you carry. I know, your boss/teacher/child/neighbor isn’t going to let go of his/her request. Your landlord and electricity company aren’t about to let go of their owed pay. The world isn’t going to stop because you need a break.

Except, think back to the last moment: it just did.

In the moment you chose to be still and feel free, the world stopped. In the moment you chose to take a deep inhale, the demands paused and waited for you. Nobody felt slighted. None of your obligations ballooned into insurmountable tasks. In that moment of silence, nothing bad happened.

You just were, and the world simply waited.

And doesn’t it feel nice

to know that you are in control – of how you feel, of how you respond, of the tension you carry? Doesn’t it feel freeing to realize that you are empowered by the simplicity of your breath?

Today, the Jewish people are eating in a Sukkah, a three-walled ‘shack,’ if you will, lined with a roofing of palm branches. As one of three pilgrimage festivals in the Jewish faith, Sukkot reinforces the simplicity of eating, the temporary in life. Our shelters can blow away. Our food is simply what grows in the field. In the Sukkah, we are separated from the material possessions of the modern world, and brought back to a zeman simchateynu, a season of joy, when our ancestors’ fields shared their yields. We can choose to worry about the challenging climate outside or the burden of carrying out our food, but instead, we empower ourselves. We rejoice in the beauty of what we do have, and leave the worry behind.

Yet, in our day-to-day lives, outside the holiday season, we all tend to forget our own power. We tend to clutter our world with interpretations of what we see.

She has a curled brow – that must mean she’s frustrated with how slow I’m working. He’s looking away; did I do something wrong? And the guy across the room is just sitting and smiling; if only I could be more like him.

We see ourselves as our weaknesses, the time as a deficit, our neighbors as a measure of compare. We place meaning in the wind when really, the wind just is. That woman just was. Our stories are just a product of our minds’ creation.

They aren’t reality.

And neither is our anxiety or tension or fear that we feel. Neither is that draining thought that we have so much to do in so little time.

I was reading a book, crossing out the words that ‘didn’t matter.’ And, in erasing the clutter, I found the gist of the story: “Beneath a tall man stood a shorter man and the two were surrounded by others.”

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Now, that wouldn’t be the Blockbuster slogan on the back of a cover, but the simplicity of the ‘true’ story – and how I came to find it – carries important lessons:

(1) Change is hard – especially when, through the choice to change, we lose the option to go back. For the longest time, I would ‘cross-out’ words in a book with pencil, drawing only a line so I could see what used to be there, erase the marks and ‘go back.’ For the longest time, I wouldn’t even mark a book, ruin the perfection of the page. But then, I irreversibly marked the page, and I found my next lesson …

(2) In making a choice, we allow ourselves power. So much in life is out of our control. So much simply happens, and, in return, we respond. The response can be instinctual and follow our natural patterns of behavior – like not writing in a book, or only writing in the margins in pencil – OR the response can be daring, that choice we always wanted to make but were simply too timid to try. In fact, the choice that doesn’t meet expectations often challenges us most to exceed those expectations.

And, of course, in removing the extraneous detail of a story, I came to the most important insight of all:

(3) Life, at its core, is simple. 

It’s not a stressful experience or a tiring string of days. It’s not a journey of working to live, or a challenge to experience the craziest and most beautiful parts of the world. Those expectations, like the author’s ‘clutter’ of words, are simply interpretations of what is really happening: there is a man, and a shorter man, and a lot of other people around them. What everyone is thinking or feeling, what emotion fills the air and what color paints the grass – those are choices that we can each make in the moment. Today, I choose rest to fill the air. I choose softness to paint the grass. I don’t recall what the author chose, but I am certain his world was much different from mine. I don’t know what you will choose, but I am certain your world, too, will be unique.

So think back to that thought of ‘having so much to do in so little time.’ What’s the gist of the story?

You have things to do. And you have time.

The adjectives you choose to paint that reality can either lead to simplicity and freedom or clutter and stress, but the choice and the power is all yours.

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Reality is a funny thing

because no one reality actually exists. We place interpretations on interpretations on interpretations of the world, and somewhere in that mess, we find ourselves overwhelmed and toxically stressed.

So take a step back, return to the simplicity of your life, and make the interpretive choice that will suit your health and wellness best. After all, you are the author of your world.

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

 

 

 

Harness Your Power To Heal

A woman sat beside me at the doctor’s office. “I’m in pain,” she said, cradling her knee. Under the flow of her skirt, I couldn’t see what was wrong. Was it swollen? Was it bruised? Was she bleeding and bandaged? All I knew were her words: ‘I’m in pain.’

 

As we humans tend to do, my first instinct was sympathy. Phrases like, ‘I’m so sorry to hear that,’ and ‘Can I do anything for you?’ came to mind. Thoughts of fetching an ice pack and consoling a stranger claimed my brain.

 

But I didn’t even know if she needed ice!

And as a medical provider trained in empathy, I could hear how distancing these words really were. ‘I’m sorry to hear that,’ is nice, but it doesn’t mean I share in your pain. ‘Can I do anything for you’ is generous, but it still makes this pain your problem, not mine. In a world of personal boundaries, sympathy is the safest of routes, but it’s far from the most healing.

 

But the empathetic route, the option to turn to her and say, ‘That must be hard’ or ‘I can’t even imagine what you are experiencing,’ just didn’t seem right either. Because her knee hurt – I could imagine that much. And, as I have learned in my years of improv comedy, never assume another person is thinking the same as you. Maybe this pain is something that excites her – though, that would feel odd. Or, maybe her experience is anger, not sorrow. Maybe she’s angry because her kid left a toy in the hallway and that led to her trip and fall. I hear an improvised ‘Yes, and…’ in the distance. Maybe her kid is a teenager and the game was a video game console that he was supposed to put away hours ago! The real pain is having to deal with that son of hers when she gets home.

 

Who am I to assume another’s story?

And who am I to intrude on her experience? Sure, I could ask how she feels. I could ask her to tell me more, but I wasn’t her doctor. I wasn’t even an acquaintance. I was a neighbor, a fellow patient in waiting. I was a woman sitting in the same position as her with the only difference being our chief complaints.

 

And even as a complete stranger, I carried the power to help.

 

“Have you heard of biofeedback?” I asked, speaking as though I was simply starting a casual conversation. With a neurological illness as a child, biofeedback was one of the many tools at my disposal. With patients in the dental chair, biofeedback was one of the most powerful techniques for alleviating the anxious mind. And in the absence of technology, I knew meditation could be just as complete. “Your mind is a powerful thing.”

 

I closed my eyes and rested my hands. I softened my shoulders, and let my head fall. I felt the chair beneath my body, and the floor beneath my feet. I asked her to do the same. I took a deep breath in, tasting the air of my surroundings, smelling the plastic of the waiting room chairs. I took a deep breath out, purifying my body of that doctor office smell. I pictured what kind of room the smell came from. I let that image go. I pictured the paintings on the walls. I let those paintings go.

 

“My hands feel heavy,” I whispered, letting their weight fall into my lap. She repeated. She felt the same.

 

“My arms feel heavy,” I whispered, letting my shoulders sag against their weight. She repeated. She did the same.

 

“My arms feel warm,” I smiled, embracing the air around me. My eyes were closed, but I like to imagine she felt the same.

 

“I feel calm and relaxed,” I inhaled, dropping expression from my face. “I feel calm and relaxed,” I exhaled, dropping pain from my mind. “I feel calm and relaxed,” I finished, nearly falling asleep.

 

“Rosa, Rosa Sorencio!” A nurse called a name in the distance, opening our eyes to attention. “Rosa!”

 

And just as quickly as we met, we parted ways, but we weren’t strangers any more. We weren’t women in passing. We were neighbors, or slightly more, united by a moment of calm, gathered in the strength of our own beautiful minds.

 

And if you think this is just a story, think again! Because your mind is just as powerful. Your strength is just as beautiful.

 

Each and every one of us carries such an incredible power of healing. Our only true barrier to calm is our noisy selves.

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I close my eyes. I relax.

I am at peace.

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

10 Lessons from 10 Dental Specialties

Open wide’ to the possibilities in the dental profession, and do please keep your jaw cracked open, too. We’re almost done with the soft tissue exam.

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We can learn so much from the many specialties of the dental profession!

CLICK HERE to read my latest Huffington Post article and to find out if you have the chutzpah of a prosthodontist!

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

Who Do You Love?

Great West Financial asked the dental community a beautiful question: 

Who do you love?*

*And, of course, what a life insurance policy from Great West Financial means to you in the context of love.

Well, dentists and dental students across the nation answered, pouring their hearts across the digital screen in 100 words or less. And I am honored to share that my Valentine’s response was among the 22 winning responses!

“I haven’t yet found the love of my life – other than my little morkie puppy, of course! But I love the idea that one day I will be in love, and one day I will be able to share with my love the serenity of knowing we are in the reliable hands of Great West Financial.  If that’s not an ”I love you” gift, I don’t know what is!”

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So there you have it: the latest quote to decorate life insurance policies everywhere 😂

But now, I have a challenge for YOU:

In 100 words or less, tell us about the person you love. He, she, it, or just the idea is such a gift in your life.

P.S. Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day, and more! What a perfect time to give yourself and your loved ones a gift. Head on over to A Smile Blooms on Etsy to pick out your very own inspirational magnets, and to get your very own Values Journal with engaging exercises and meditations that guide you on a valued life.

Affordable. Enjoyable. Meaningful.

Just right.

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

Making Headlines

I’m so honored and thrilled to see my latest Huffington Post articles hit dental news! Now that’s a great Friday feeling 🤗

You can find tips for making toothbrushing fun for the family by CLICKING HERE, and you can find the video HERE.

You can find tips to manage dental anxiety by CLICKING HERE, and you can find the video HERE.

Happy reading and healthy smiling this beautiful Friday!

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