Learning to grin and bear it at 39

photo courtesy of Microsoft office clip art

I’ve never had a particularly bad experience at the dentist. In fact, I would say that most of my dentists over the years have been extremely patient and accommodating. My parents always made oral hygiene a priority. Visiting the dentist was almost as routine as celebrating holidays. Cavities were unheard of, and I only wore braces on the lower set of teeth for about a year. Overall, it should have been a fairly easy experience. And yet, I never felt at ease opening my mouth to someone holding an extremely sharp and pointy tool. The harsh sound of enamel being scraped makes my toes curl and the shock of metal touching my gums is electrifying. When I was 28, I needed to have all four of my wisdom teeth pulled. I was so petrified that I made the doctor prescribe a mild sedative beforehand, and had my best friend drive me to the appointment.

In spite of my incredible fear of the dentist, I still make myself go, even years after I’m old enough to make my own decisions. The fear of getting a cavity or losing my teeth is greater than my fear of the doctor himself. Preventative measures seem more manageable than major oral challenges or procedures. I’d rather suck it up, and bear with it, than have to come in for a root canal or something. Both of my children have been seeing the dentist since they were about three and four years old. They have never seen a pediatric dentist, in fact, they started with the same amazing dentist I found almost eleven years ago when I moved to Michigan. Immediately his staff made me feel welcome and safe. And the dentist is soft-spoken, gentle and a great listener. No one ever rushes me or pushes me further than I can handle.I feel invested.

When we first moved to this house, five years ago, I thought it would be no big deal to find a new dentist. After all, why in the world would I want to drive 45 minutes to the dentist’s office for a family of four? I made the kids’ appointments first, using a neighbor’s recommendation. It was a rather large practice, which meant they could be seen at the same time. The plan was to have the kids go, giving me time to get to know the practice, and then move myself.

Fat chance.

The kids saw someone different every time. Most of the time they didn’t remember who I was, and after a year of patronage, I got scolded for not taking The Hare to see a orthodontist after they had told me for months that we didn’t need to go yet. Amazing how when someone finally realized her jaw had stopped growing that suddenly the untrained parent was to blame for the over sight. (Even after I brought them our old dentist’s ex-rays showing she was going to need future oral surgery for a baby tooth fused to the jaw bone.) Obviously, I kept driving to my familiar dentist and found my kids another dentist all together. It’s now been five years of this dental dance. My kids have seen the same dentist for several years now, and are very happy. They are relaxed and good-natured about their visits. The office staff is alwaysprofessional and sincere, and yet, I kept driving the 45 minutes for myself.

“What’s the big deal?” you ask.

The big deal is that I have beginning stages of periodontal disease, I have for years and get my teeth cleaned twice a year, sometimes three, to help manage the gum recession. I also wear a retainer at night on the bottom of my mouth plus a mouth guard on the upper for destructive jaw clenching I do in my sleep. I also have TMJ. One area of my gums has receded so dramatically that I need to go see a gum specialist and probably have some grafting done. I am at the dentist a lot, and every time I go, my stomach is in knots with anxiety. I have trouble sleeping the night before and my bladder can’t hold a swallow of saliva. And that, is a normal reaction to a dentist I have built a relationship with over ten years.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a dark spot forming between a couple of my teeth. It didn’t really hurt, but I did have a strange tingling or itchy sensation in that area. Flossing and brushing did nothing. Since I can’t ever remember having a cavity, I assumed this must be what it looks like, but I wasn’t worried since I had a cleaning scheduled soon. My appointment was last Wednesday. Unfortunately, The Hare woke up with a terrible stomach ache and head pounding, but no fever. The irrational side of me made her get dressed for school, because there was no way I was going to miss that dentist appointment. Of course, this caused DW to ask me again, why I haven’t changed my dentist. He could come home for a quick appointment to help out, but not for one that would take over three hours out of his work day. My hands started sweating just thinking about the possibility.

After a few, “I think I’m going to throw up” I was finally persuaded to let The Hare stay home and go back to bed. Reluctantly, I called my dentist to cancel and reschedule.

“Three weeks?” I exclaimed. There wasn’t another appointment for three weeks. My tooth could rot and fall out by then, I thought. But what else was I to do? I made the appointment.

DW insisted I call the kids dentist down the road and see when they could see me. Rolling my eyes, I dialed the number.

“Really? Monday?” I said stunned, “Like in three days Monday?”

I made that appointment too.Turned out, The Hare developed a fever by mid-morning and was diagnosed with Strep by Thursday. All week long I obsessed over this impending appointment. Sleep was interrupted, my appetite waned and I argued with myself over whether or not I should just call and cancel. By the time I woke up this morning, I thought I was going to vomit in the car on they way to the office.

The dentist was sitting in the receptionist’s office when I got there, smiling, welcoming. I, of course, started babbling like an idiot.

“Well, you’ve finally got me here….hopefully I won’t puke in your office….or pee a thousand times….or worse, start crying…”

The dentist continued to smile.

After I filled out the new patient forms, the oral hygienist was ready. As soon as I sat in her chair, I started babbling again, twiddling my fingers and grasping my hands tightly. I dribbled on and on about all of my oral medical conditions, fears and frustrations. After what seemed like an hour, I took a deep breath and sat back.

“So…you do or your don’t want me to clean your teeth today?” she asked quietly.

“Um, yeah, clean them. I’m already here.”

Turns out, I did not have a cavity, yet. It is a dark spot indicating the beginning of decay, but has not gone through the enamel yet. It is caused by age and De-calcification. In other words, I’m turning 39 next week and my teeth are just old. Plus, up and until the last five years, I have always had fluoridated city water, and now we have well water. No fluoride. The dentist said I need to be using a product like ACT to help stop further decay and fight cavities. They will be monitoring the spot at my next visit.

So now, I am over whelmed with guilt for cheating on my dentist. I’m not sure which anxiety is worse – worrying about coming to the new dentist or having to call my old dentist and break up.

Abandoning all hope may be your only saving grace

Image courtesy of Wonderlane on Flickr. Click image for artist photostream.

I hope every day.

I hope for my children to be happy and secure. I hope my husband feels everyday how much I adore him and that my marriage will be long. I hope for my parents and in-laws to always know that I appreciate them and for all my siblings and close friends to truly believe how much I love them. I hope for good health. I hope for mental clarity and emotional stability.

But there was a time that I hoped for too much and for too long. I hoped for a husband that would be truthful and faithful. I hoped for a bank account that was not in the negative. I hoped for friends that would not abandon me and an extended family that would do the right thing. I hoped for a relationship that would be emotionally and physically safe, for me and for my child. I hoped that lies were figments of my imagination and that if only I hung in there long enough, things would get better.

Hope got in the way of my ability to make decisions. Eight years were spent in the shadow of good intentions and optimism. I waited for change. I believed in reconciliation. I hoped for transformation. But it never came.

Then one morning, in the most innocent voice, my two-year-old daughter spoke. Her words echoed against our dingy rented walls, reverberating against my weakened heart.  Her honesty, her innocence, revealed a truth I had only suspected, a truth I had hoped was driven by paranoia and fear. It was time to let go of hope and hold tight to despair because in the sorrow I knew I could find the courage for change. Hope was a crutch. Acknowledging hopelessness gave me permission to create a different path, build a brighter future, and see my life through the eyes of reality.

I love this excerpt from When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.

“When we talk about hopelessness and death, we’re talking about facing facts. No escapism. Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, not to run away, to return to the bare bones, no matter whats going on. If we totally experience hopelessness, giving up all hope of alternatives to the present moment, we can have a joyful relationship with our lives, an honest, direct relationship that no longer ignores the reality of impermanence and death.”

Hope is still very much alive in my life, only now it stems from a faith in myself rather than in the universe, and I am no longer afraid of hopelessness. Sometimes it is the clarity that we were seeking all along.


According to Dante, the gates of hell are inscribed “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”  Today’s writing prompt from Write on Edge asked us to be inspired by such a warning, in 500 words or less.

Profiting from someone else’s productivity

I am notorious for pretending organizing is the same thing as cleaning. It really isn’t. Spending hours sifting through stacks of papers, out of date magazines, rearranging closets of clothes or creating binders for the home is not equivalent to a sparkling, lemon-scented toilet or a crumb-free counter top. If anyone were to really look at some of my Pinterest boards, they would think that I run an incredibly organized, clean and efficient home. The truth is – I try to but not always successfully. Some days are better than others and of course, on the days that aren’t, I beat myself up about it all day. I have good intentions and great ideas, but not necessarily a great track record with follow through.

However, I am determined to look at every day as a beginning and not an end, in all areas. I kind of compartmentalized everything in my life too, like marriage, family, friends, blogging, personal health, etc. I have systems and goals for each of these areas. I have collected shelves of books on each of these subjects in the hopes of being better at everything. Unfortunately, I haven’t implemented many of them, because I’m always looking for that next “best” system. My latest obsession is trying to be a better blogger, a more consistent and intentional blogger. It made sense to me to just start looking at successful bloggers that I admire and learn from their resources. After all, why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? At least not at first. I figure that I might use an idea or two for a while and then eventually tweak it in a way that makes more sense to me and my writing style or my writing goals. But for the most part, I have found that truly creative people, who love what they do, are more than happy to share their ideas and help others in their quest for success.

And then there are those who just want to make a profit.

I was incredibly sad today to see a blogger passing off someone else’s creativity as their own and selling it through their on-line store. The original idea is truly brilliant and one-of-a-kind and was given out to the public freely in February of this year. And then the blogger selling the duplicate idea (and I mean duplicate, even down to their video presentation) presented her product just this month. One month later? Really? And not even one change to the design or function? So, while one blogger gave her ideas to readers for free in the hopes of helping them be more productive, the other is making the same idea available for $30. It was a no-brainer to email the most generous blogger with a link to the most unprofessional bloggers blunder.

Thank you Infarrantly Creative for your thoughtful creativity and generosity!

The thing is – you can Google “printable blogging planner” and come up with oodles of great resources, all for free. There were a few others that intrigued me for a small fee, but they were unique to themselves. I am not against creative people earning a profit from their creativity and talent, let’s face it, I would LOVE to get paid more often for my writing and oboe playing abilities. However, I am against people stealing words and ideas without acknowledging their inspiration.

So – without further ado, I would like to share with you the Top 5 most promising blogging organization and planning ideas that I came across today and hope to start utilizing them in some manner soon. They are all free and easy to download. A few of them are even customizable. #1 and #2 are my absolute favorites and have already been printed out. (There I go again, not committing to one system!) There are also plenty more great blogging and writing resources pinned to a few of my Pinterest boards, as well. I even think you can pin some to my boards for me if you think I am missing something amazing. My hope is to create a blogging binder by the end of this month, and as I do, I’ll share it with you (acknowledging my resources and inspiration, of course).

#5 Organizational tips for a blog binder by Key Lime

#4 Craft and Printables: Blog Binder by Coffee and their Kisses

#3 Weekly Blog Planner by The Peaceful Mom

#2 The Ultimate Blog Planner by Angela Paige

#1 Printable Blog Planner by Infarrantly Creative



Please Lord, help me think about sex more often

Today’s post was inspired by Shell at Things I Can’t Say and her weekly Pour Your Heart out Wednesday blog carnival. Click if you want to find out more about Pour Your Heart Out.


It’s not that I don’t think about sex, I just don’t think about it often. I remember my mom warning me there would be a season in life where our husbands would want it more than we do. She just didn’t tell me how long that season would last. She also said that wine helps put you in the mood more often, but I doubt she meant that wives should stay slightly buzzed just in case.

I am attracted to my husband. He is strong and bold. His presence puts me at ease. I feel safe in his arms, seen when he looks at me and heard when he asks me questions about my day. I appreciate him and respect him as my equal. He is a more amazing father than I could have ever imagined and looks at the world through eyes of compassion and charity. And when we are together, alone, I am glad to be with him. I am available and feel beautiful in his presence. Our intimacy is not infrequent.

And yet, I am thinking about laundry and grocery shopping. I am recalling articles I’ve read and impending schedules. I am worried about why my youngest child went to bed grumpy or whether or not my oldest child and I reconciled our differences from earlier in the day. I am sorting ideas in my head, wondering why in the world I can’t seem to get motivated to get things done in a more timely manner. And sometimes, I am so caught up in my head, not present in the moment, that I will spontaneously blurt out the most ridiculous things.

“I talked to your mom today, her appointment with the gastroenterologist went well.”

It’s kind of a mood killer, talking about your mother-in-law, and her problems with acid reflux, while you are in the middle of foreplay.

There are days I know he wants me, maybe even needs me, but I am so overwhelmed with my own self-inflicted drama that I change clothes in our walk-in closet, hoping that by avoiding being naked in front of him, he will not pursue me. He will forget that he had his hand on my butt as we walked up the stairs for the night.

And yet, part of me could really use a hug. That’s all.

I want to want him more often, be the pursuer and the initiator. Make him feel just as important as he makes me. Love him in a way that speaks to him.

In the mean time, I’ll try not to talk so much.


New Spaces in Old Places

This week, we were asked to share a memoir featuring hope, expressed in 400 words or less.


I stood in the center of my moss-green and brown living room, staring at the custom floral sofa my mother bought as a house-warming gift. We spent hours shopping for it, agonizing over swatches and textiles. The next big choice was a paint color called “Crocodile Tears”, an exact match to the green in the sofa. My best friend spent her vacation helping me paint. The earthy under tones create a sense of serenity even on the most hectic days. The muted hue subtly showcasing my collection of wall crosses. My writing desk, the same drop-leafed table I ate every childhood meal, nested in front of a window facing the yard, drowning in natural sunlight. This room was my sanctuary, my escape and inspiration.

It was my space.

When I’m home schooled next year, where will I work?” asked The Hare.

“Well, I hadn’t really thought about it,” I replied, “but a lap top works anywhere.”

“Yeah, but I want to be where you are,” she said.

“Here? In the living room?” I asked, surprised.

“Of course, where else would I want to be?” she asked, anxiety oozing.

My heart reluctantly calculated the available space. Two desks could never fit in the room as it was currently configured. It primarily functioned as a quiet place to drink my coffee, write, practice my oboe or get lost in a good book. It was not an office or a family work room. It was not a place I shared often, but it was the one place that my child envisioned herself learning, the one place she felt like she could retreat next year and feel safe. The Hare was excited but still nervous about our decision to keep her home. Part of her anxiety was not being able to visualize what school was going to look like now. She could only picture rows of classroom tables surrounded by movable walls and cork boards. She couldn’t see past the floral sofa in our living room.

“Then we better create a space for you too in this room,” I responded.

With the help of Ikea and my sweet husband, we have now transformed our living room into a work room for two. When the room was complete, The Hare stood in awe of her new space, smiling, eyes filled with relief.

My heart filled with hope.

Our new home office - The Tortoise has the desk by the windows
My floral sofa had to find a new home too.