A Simple Reminder

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

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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.

 

You Are a Part of the Solution: Remedying the Opioid Crisis

Every day, over 90 Americans die from an opioid overdose. And, we are each a part of the solution.

Click Here to read Mirissa D. Price’s Huffington Post article on the topic of Opioid Abuse and the Dental Profession.

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NPR’s Robert Siegel of All Things Considered came to discuss this very issue at Harvard School of Dental Medicine in August of 2017. They happened to catch me learning how to make provisional restorations in the process (the above photo). Click here to listen to the full broadcast from the Harvard and Boston dental community.

Whether you are the patient, the family member, the medical doctor, social worker, or dentist, it’s time to ask yourself one simple question:

What role will you take in creating the solution? 

© 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.

30 Simple Somethings That Matter Most in Life

Only the perfect among us have lived a life without worry. Good news for the rest of us – I haven’t met anyone claiming perfection. What I have met, though, are beautiful dreamers – dozens of them. I’ve met men and women and children experiencing pain and searching for joy. I’ve met families who have faced such hardship you would be at a loss for where to find hope, and I have seen them still radiate with joy. I have seen marvelous individuals come to face obstacles. I have faced obstacles. And I have seen these same people choose to sit back, reflect, and regain the strength to move forward.

 

Yet I know, in the midst of a struggle, it’s hard to find hope. I understand, when everything seems so overwhelming and the future so uncertain, it’s hard to carry enough faith to move forward. It’s hard to see past the now, to feel past the worry.

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It’s hard to experience the little moments that matter.

 

But the thing is, in ten, fifteen, fifty years, what is going to matter more: the fear that captured your breath or the future that swept you away? I’m guessing the latter. In fact, take that back. I know it’s the latter! When you look back on your life, and flip through your memories, what is going to matter most is not how much anxiety you felt before that next interview or how much sorrow you carried with the loss of a friend. No way!

 

What will matter – what does matter – are the choices you made, and the incredible possibilities your choices create. What you will remember are the simple somethings that made each moment of each day an authentic touch more complete.

 

In fifty years, my friend, what will matter most are these thirty moments:

 

  1. The day you decided to move out of your comfort zone. You made a pro/con list. You asked a dozen people you knew. And you ignored all the data – didn’t even tally the votes – and just went for it.
  2. The moment you decided to stay there – outside your comfort zone. And live there. Even when things got hard.
  3. Every morning you woke up in time to see the sun rise – the colors of angels lighting up the sky. And especially those mornings when you decided to stop. When you did nothing but breathe in and simply stare.
  4. Each afternoon when you chose to walk home. When you smiled at strangers and made friends with the dogs.
  5. That one cab ride when you climbed in the backseat of a Honda, smiled to the driver, and decided to ask much more than ‘how long have you driven for uber?’
  6. That conversation when someone asked, “How are you doing?” and you answered, instead, as though you had just said, ‘I’m fine,’ and, in exchange, she pushed, “No really, how are you?”
  7. The time you laughed without holding your smile together. You were just happy. Your emotion was pure.
  8. The moments you smiled for no reason at all. It was truly incredible how the smile filled you, filled the room, filled the world with such joy.
  9. Those dozens of moments when you realized you were happy. So you didn’t say anything. You didn’t fear anything.
  10. The dozens more moments when you felt truly proud. I can still see how high your graceful shoulders were rising.
  11. The night you undressed just to sing in the shower. Joy finally made sense, and lifted your heart.
  12. When you jumped in a crowd and spoke without thinking. Sarcasm flew through your tone, spontaneity brought you to life.
  13. That feeling of a pen and a paper and words falling to a page. That feeling of having something to share.
  14. The morning you awoke and smiled in the mirror. You didn’t need a reason more than the reflection being you.
  15. Summer days when the sun glazed your back with its warmth, as you walked through the city, a friend at your side.
  16. That squeeze of his arms around your back. The beautiful tension of you hugging back.
  17. Being a deer in the headlights, a novice at life. But still trying, and stumbling. And having a moment when things again made some sense.
  18. Watching a child’s eyes overflow with pure light. Being part of the magic of that child growing self-love.
  19. Deciding to be responsible for a woman in pain, so you steadied your focus and restored her to a smile.
  20. Sitting in a dark room, surrounded by people, you felt so alone, so you chose to say, ‘Hi.’
  21. Sitting in a loud room, you saw a girl all alone, so you walked past the others, and reached out to say, ‘Hi.’
  22. The day you recognized your weakness, and you didn’t ignore it. You didn’t deny it. You didn’t even reach for it. Instead, you asked why.
  23. Making the choice to come out from hiding. With one word, one action, one click of the mouse, your voice suddenly became an authentic agent of change.
  24. The first time someone complemented you, and you chose to say thank you. It was simple and still just oh so very hard.
  25. That conversation you had where you did nothing but listen. You smiled, you nodded, and you were purely there for a friend.
  26. The evening you two sat on a park bench. You waded through sprinklers, watched cyclists in tutus, and laughed all the way through Pharrell William’s “Happy Song.”
  27. The moment you fell in love with your body. You forgot from time to time, but you always returned home to yourself.
  28. The day you just couldn’t breathe, looking at how much time had passed. Guess what? You’re still reading this. You still chose a breath.
  29. The tears you shed for a loss, and the choice to sit in the pain. Yes, it was hard. And for that, you grew.
  30. The butterflies you felt for the uncertain future, and the choice to live now with the energy of pure faith.

 

If you stop and just remember, in a series of moments, your life hasn’t been perfect. And it’s sure far from over. But, my friend, your life’s beautiful

It’s everything perfection never could bring.

 

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