From Fear to Joy in the Dentist’s Chair

My path from fear to joy in the dentist’s chair took many small steps. It certainly was aided by advancements in dentistry. I was not too fond of dental visits because I had a mouth full of cavities as a child. While city kids received fluoride in their drinking water, country kids like me didn’t. That’s my excuse. The reality of choices early in life is they can have consequences as we age.

From Fear to Joy in the Dentist’s Chair

I assembled all my dental paraphernalia to illustrate I take my dental health seriously. And also, I want to introduce a habit I’ve developed over the last year that makes my dental visits an absolute joy.

Most recently, I had two visits in seven calendar days. They were scaling and root deep cleaning to remove the tarter and bacteria that love to lurk at the gum line. Convention expects numerous injections to numb the entire area to effectively and quickly release the damaging plaque.

As a result of the meditation I use daily, my persona has transformed from a hurried doer to a calmer appreciator of rest. For example, I begin slow, shallow breathing after the hygienist numbs my gums with a topical. Then it returns to regular breathing, except I slowly extend my out-breath.

When the dentist tells me, “This is going to pinch,” I’m in the middle of a slow, steady out-breath. I don’t flinch, groan, or react to any injections throughout the procedure to numb half my mouth. That is one whole side, up and down. The slow breathing puts me in such a calm state, and I’m perfectly still. Fear is a distant memory.

I can honestly say during the first procedure; I never felt pain. Never.

Conversely, I felt pain radiating out my tongue toward the tip during the first injection at the second procedure. Yet, I didn’t perceive this as painful or upsetting. Why? Because I know the sensation will be short. After all, the purpose is to numb the area.

My Dentist’s Reaction

As I’m in this euphoric, meditative state, I seem to know what the dentist or hygienist needs me to do. So it took a few seconds before I realized the dentist was talking to me about my demeanor.

“I’ve never had a patient as calm as you during the numbing process. And I don’t like being on the receiving end, either. So how do you do it?”

I explained my slow breathing strategy.

“So you breathe deeply in and then slowly out,” she said.

“Not exactly. It’s more of a continuously shallow, slow breath.”

As the dentist and hygienist continue their animated banter, I drift into my peaceful, dreamlike state.

Parting Thoughts and Suggestions

It’s hard not to laugh a little and think how much they reminded me of myself when I was in the constantly doing mode. And that’s another helpful mindset in the dentist’s chair. It’s your mind, and you can take yourself somewhere else anytime you desire. Don’t worry. When they need you to move, they’ll let you know.

As a child, I was not too fond of dental appointments for a simple reason. I was stuck in the past, anticipating a repeat of an uncomfortable experience. However, if you can move your thought patterns from the past, where the source of fear exists, to the present, it’s simple to be in the peaceful, easy feeling of now.

The next time you walk into the room with the dentist’s chair, take a moment to look at the chair. When sitting in it, close your eyes, lean back, and feel the comfort of a perfectly designed piece of furniture. Then, take a deep breath and sink deeper into the luxury of the dentist’s chair. You have begun your journey from fear to joy in the dentist’s chair.

When You Want to Smile

What is the answer when you want to smile and know it’s a way to avoid the inevitable sadness and grief of losing a loved one?

Some Factors to Consider

Indeed, the answer may include many factors.

  • Your relationship with the loved one.
  • A support system.
  • Personality.
  • Outside influences.

What You Can Control

Although none of the factors in the list above is under your control, there is one area open to you – how you choose to live.

  • Surrender.
  • Allow the grief to come in.
  • Acknowledge this part of the healing process.
  • Live in the moment.

My Personal Experience

When I returned home after twenty-one days of dealing with the nuts and bolts of widowhood, I was delighted to see my weeping cherry in full bloom. The deep blue skies accentuated my joy.

Throughout the twelve-hour drive from central Florida to northwest North Carolina, I focused on living in the moment. All along the interstate in South and North Carolina, the pure white dogwood blossoms created the illusion of an open weave lace pattern among the leafless trees. Soon the vibrant purple of redbud trees joined the dance, both in native and landscaped stands.

When there were vistas of blooms at rest areas, I walked my dog where I could see the entire scene. In the North Carolina Welcome Center, I strolled through the pollinator garden created by the local garden club chapter. For me, nature always pulls me into living in the moment.

Tears still flowed in private moments, sitting in my car when my deep sadness overcame the moment. I surrender then and continue to submit to grief. The intensity isn’t linear. Instead, my grief follows a path including both current and past losses. This time I’m allowing the flow of emotion, welcoming quiet solitude, and feeling the difference.

The Next Phase

With this newfound flow, I feel hope. As I move through grief, my strength increases. I’m learning how to allow life to move at a slower pace. Completing necessary tasks, I feel alive, more whole.

Each week I dip my toe a tad deeper into my adopted community. Perhaps the local garden club chapter will offer the expertise needed to add season-long perennial color. Does the inaugural High Country Jazz Festival appeal? Or maybe the monthly Candlelight Ghost Tour in Wilkesboro. When you want to smile, I find life offers all the opportunities we allow to come into it.

Finding the Right Mother’s Day Card

Finding the Right Mother’s Day Card

Finding the right Mother’s Day card has given me a headache in past years, especially if I waited too long and the selection was getting sparse. This year is different.

A Chance Meeting

Earlier this week, I was in the Hallmark aisle at Publix, selecting a Mother’s Day card for Mom. As I approached the section, I noticed a 30-ish young woman who seemed mildly exasperated.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find the right one,” I said.

”Yeah. My mom is a Strong Mother. All these gushing messages don’t ring true for me.”

”Don’t I know it!”

”The Strong Mother cards are near the bottom,” she added.

We said goodbye behind our colorful, handmade masks and I started my quest.

A Strong Mother

Her phrase, a strong mother, had made an impression. Rather than feeding a judgement about her mother, she had given our shared reality a positive spin.

Now I was in a different mood, focused on the best thing about my relationship with my mother. Laughter. We share a lot of wholesome, good-natured, joyful, loving, laughter. It was easy to find a funny card to make us both smile.

How Did My Mood Change?

Finding the right Mother’s Day card is a shared experience, especially among women. That was evident when the lady on the card aisle had two cards in her hand; one for her mother and one for her mother-in-law. In this shared energy, we were both open to share our feelings.

Be open to accept positive energy

Additionally, I have taken many small steps toward forgiveness in regards to Mom. She did the best she could do. I did the best I could do as a human being and a mother. And you are doing the best you can do.

Forgiveness of others opens up forgiveness of yourself

Finally, realize that forgiveness is incremental in nature. The relationship between a mother and her children is complex, taking many small steps to unravel until the last trace of hurt and anger are gone. Along the way, find ways to bring joy into the relationship right now.

Live in this moment with joy

Enjoy Yourself!

Whether or not you are a mother, you deserve happiness everyday, including Mother’s Day. Start the day with some deep, cleansing breaths and welcome joy into your life. Regardless of who raised you, thank your birth mother for bringing you into the world. Then continue to thank her or whomever cared for you… They helped you arrive where you are today.

If this is just too hard, take one step toward forgiveness by writing out your feelings on paper. Keep writing until you feel better, until the tears come less, until your body says, “That’s enough for today.” Repeat this tomorrow.. or next week.. whatever feels right to you.

Love and blessings,