An Honor and Transition: Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity

For the past four years, I have been a member of the Jewish Dental Fraternity, Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity. I served as Chapter Vice President, and Chapter Co-President, and worked with the organization in community service and community building endeavors. This May, I am honored to be graduating from student to dentist membership. Congratulations to our new HSDM AO Leadership!

Reach out if you would like more information about the Alpha Omega community in your area.

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© 2019 Mirissa D. Price: A Dental Student, A Writer, A Journey to Share.

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There is always a chance

The celebration of Hanukkah is a celebration of miracles in the context of historic battle. And, it is a celebration of so much more! With each candle we light, we are welcoming hope, faith, and brightness into our lives. With each night we pray, we are joyfully gifted a reminder: miracles happen every day. And so, no matter what happened in our day, no matter what troubles we face, we can always hold onto faith.

What miracles entered your life today? No matter how seemingly small, embrace them, for they are truly life’s most divine gift to embrace.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

L’Shanah Tovah

Happy new year to all my friends, family, and neighbors near and far in celebration. Wishing you a holiday of mindful appreciation, and a year of sweetness, joy, laughter, and love. 

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You have given us the ability to become more than we have
been, the urge to be more than we are, and a gnawing hunger to
attain heights only dimly imagined.


For the power to grow, we give thanks.


You have endowed us with the capacity to discern the difference
between right and wrong; and You have enabled us to follow the
right, to avoid the wrong.


For the power to choose, we give thanks.


You have blessed us with the ability to fashion things of beauty, to
sing new songs, to spin new tales, to add to the treasure-house of
human civilization.


For the power to create, we give thanks.


You have equipped us with the yearning to commune with You, to
bring You our fears and our dreams, our hurts and our joys, our guilt
and our gratitude; to share hopes and concerns with You and with
others.


For the power to pray, we give thanks.


You have fortified us with the ability to rise above disappointment
and failure, to go on after we have been bruised and bereaved, to
refuse to submit to defeat and despair.


For the power to hope, we give thanks.


You have enlarged us with the ability to cherish others, to make
their lives as dear to us as our very own, to share their hopes, to feel
their hurts, to know their hearts.


For the power to love, we give thanks.


You have ennobled us with the strength to overcome our faults, to
mend our ways, and to answer the summons “to turn to You with
all our heart and soul.”


For the possibilities of renewal, we give thanks!

(Machzor for Rosh Hashanah)

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