Whether it be a broken heart, being let go from a job, the death of a loved one… or something as unimaginable like…losing your two front teeth, life constantly supplies us with situations where we are forced to make a choice on how to respond to an unwanted and unplanned circumstance. We go through stages, our mind can’t resist chatting with our ego, our emotions and our overall attitude. For me, I typically start with the WHY ME, followed by the WHAT COULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY and eventually embracing the… WHAT NEXT. Embracing what life has thrown my way IS my way of life. I’ve talked about my MS Diagnosis, the death of best friends, job changes, etc, but THIS accident, hit a whole new level.
5 Lessons Learned… from Losing my Teeth.
5) Freak Accidents Happen. Â I think back to the day. Could I have done anything differently? Did I have any warning signs? No. I casually hopped on my bike to head to the Denver Broncos Football Game. Only 3 miles away, the beautiful October afternoon provided the perfect backdrop for what was to be… a happy day. You see, life had been really tough the weeks prior and I was very excited about a Sunday Funday. Only, my bike had a different agenda. First, it started to make a loud annoying noise. Within minutes, my frame and front wheel locked, catapulting me over my handlebars in airplane pose (Yogis – you know this visual), causing me to face plant the pavement at 10 MPH, hitting so hard that my glasses land 15 yards away, followed by my legs coming over my back (Scorpion-ing – Snowboarders – you know this visual) so that when I finally stopped, I was looking straight up, feet pointing in the direction I was biking. I had no idea what had happened. Completely panicked having witnessed my fall, my boyfriend rushed to me, fearing the worst, that I broke my neck. Luckily, I was in so much shock I couldn’t feel the pain as I sat up to attempt to talk to him. Â Unluckily, I felt a huge hole between my completely shredded lips and then felt my shattered lost teeth embedded into the roof of my mouth. As I slowly laid back on the street, surrendering both my mind and my body to what was happening, all I could do was stare into the cloudless blue sky… then reality sunk in. I heard the ambulance sirens. Was I going to be OK? Why, why of all days did this happen to me? I knew I wasn’t making it to the football game. I had eaten a light lunch, saving room for stadium food. There would be no nachos for me that day. In fact, not for a while. As they say, “it is what it is”. Accidents Happen.
within 10 days, my face healed fast
4) Love Heals With a brace secured around my neck, laying in the ER for the results of my brain and spine scans, the last thing I thought to do was “check myself in” on Facebook, announcing my arrival to the hospital. However, being very concerned and believing in the power of positive thoughts and prayer, my Mom’s reaction was different; she posted a picture on Facebook of the two of us smiling, sharing the news of my accident and questionable condition with our friends and family. At first, I was very angry. My blood pressure soared. My privacy felt violated. I didn’t want to draw attention to my injuries. Or make people worry and feel obligated to reach out. But, almost instantly, my phone was blowing up! Calls from concerned friends around the country wishing me well. Text messages sending me support. FB posts, some from people I didn’t know, letting me know that I was beautiful no matter what. Friends, some I hadn’t heard from in years, reminding me of my strength and perseverance, having no doubt I would overcome this new obstacle. I was overwhelmed with the response, the love I could feel being shared with me by way of words, flowers, cards, homemade soup — even a letter from the Tooth Fairy with $2 included! It took a few days for the silver lining to sink in, but no longer was I angry with my Mom’s post… in fact, I appreciated it. Letting people know I was in need of extra TLC resulted in an outpouring of love I’m convinced helped me heal. Within the first few days, with so many friends wanting updates on my condition, I decided to step out of my comfort zone one step further. I went “public” with photos of myself, some pretty graphic with a broken nose and busted up face. I wanted everyone to know their LOVE was working- Â my face seemed to be healing, Â much faster than I expected. The days I felt so bad I didn’t want to look at myself in the mirror, my loved ones reminded me that no one could steal my smile, it came from my inside out. They checked in on me so I never felt alone in the process of discovering my new normal, without teeth. The love I’ve been gifted over the past 7 months has been nothing short of medicine for my soul. I firmly believe my body healed faster from the outpouring of awesomeness I generously received from my friends and family.
‘Tis the Season… to Smile!
3) SMILE… Even if you Don’t Have Teeth My accident happened two weeks before Halloween. While laying in the ER, my initial response was to start listing the various costume ideas to take advantage of my new smile. A Hockey Player? A Jack-O-Lantern? A Hillbilly? Even the idea of a Meth Head came up in conversation! I thought all of these were brilliant; until the idea of wearing a Christmas Onesie and going as “All I Want For Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” popped into my mind. I couldn’t wait to dress up. I put my hair in pig tails and rocked my Boston Red Sox slippers. And the best part: people believed I had makeup on my teeth- never thinking I’d actually lost them! I LOVED their reaction to the realization that I… had no teeth. Of course, I was limited on my candy consumption, stealing all the Reece’s Cups from the bowl. Having such a blast embracing my toothless grin on Halloween, I decided to ’tis the season and take my smile one step further. I invited a friend to go to the Mall to visit Santa and have some Christmas fun! Again, I wore my hair in pig tails, eager to ask him for my “two front teeth”. I don’t know what made me laugh more, sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time (I’m Jewish) or seeing the reaction of all the parents (many my age) in line with their little ones. From day one, my attitude has been to make the most of my crooked smile. No way was the loss of two teeth going to get the best of me… if anything, it has forced me to stop sweating the small stuff, bringing out the best in me, by way of my silly smile.
2) Don’t Assume Anything About Anyone. The day after my accident was by far the worst. I’ll never forget the first time I looked in the mirror, my face so swollen I literally didn’t recognize myself. Â With a broken nose, lips destroyed from the street and a face sore with scabs, I began to sob, a hard cry, that came from a scared place in my soul. My flowing tears had to create their own pathway down my scratched up cheeks. Would I ever look like my old self? I felt defeated. SO, what did I do? I picked my head up as high as I could and insisted on going to the grocery store to pick out the soup I would need to eat through a straw for the next few weeks. Arm in arm with my boyfriend (who I convinced to support my crazy decision to go out in public) I quickly realized I should have worn a T-Shirt with an arrow pointing to him that said “I Swear He Didn’t Do It”. We got glances. I got stares. For the first time I felt what it was like to be someone that didn’t choose my looks but appeared ugly and deformed, someone that people talked about. I stepped into the role of what it might feel like to want to hide your face. And, it felt awful. I’ll say that there were other people upfront with me, asking me what happened. For these folks I was more than happy to ease their curiosity. I’d rather someone know the truth than assume anything. Over the next few months, I got more comfortable with my new normal and announcing the loss of my teeth took a back seat to just… being me. For example, after my face had healed, I was in a personal essay writing class for 8 weeks, sharing stories, building friendships. To celebrate our final class, we all went out for food and drinks. This was the first time I’d taken out my teeth. To see their reaction, the “Oh my god, I would never have known” when I popped my teeth out, was the same I got from most who were surprised by my party trick. Of course they didn’t know, why would someone think a pretty girl with a bright smile would be toothless? Many, if not most, of us, have gone through something in life that has changed us, making us who we are today. We often don’t wear our uniqueness on our sleeve. Fortunately, I have not taken anyone’s assumptions, or lack of, personally. If anything, I’ve been happy to create the awareness that what you see isn’t always what you get. That saying “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” couldn’t be more true. Be mindful that everyone is fighting their own battles, whether you can see them or not.
1) Smile Flippers are Flipping Awesome I can’t eat with my fake teeth. Drinking a wine or coffee tastes different with a plastic retainer in, too. Every day, I take my teeth out in public. And, the surprise reaction of a 36 year old gal missing her two front teeth, well, to me, is priceless. I’ve heard from many friends and strangers to friends I’ve met since loosing my teeth. Majority applaud my attitude, saying if it were them, they wouldn’t want anyone to know. They’d be embarrassed and to look different. This wasn’t something I chose. This was something that happened. And it was up to me how to handle it. I could never imagine hiding my smile… it is something I am proud to wear every single day! Brene Brown is famous for saying, “Vulnerability is the New Black” and I couldn’t agree more. Owning our path while choosing confidence and optimism is much more sexy and appealing than attaching to shame, guilt or embarrassment. It takes more energy to intentionally hide my smile than flash my tooth hole for the world to see. If I want to chew gum, I’m gonna pop my teeth out! If I want to eat hot wings, even if it means getting a little messy, I’m gonna pop my teeth out. If I conformed to society and adopted the idea that because I looked different, somehow I was not as worthy of enjoying these things, then I would be living against all I believe in, for everyone on the planet. Make peace with your situation. It could be worse. Feel grateful you are alive with a smile to share. Life is too short to hide your shine.
Smile… even if you don’t have teeth.
In addition to what I learned from within, I also gained knowledge on a process completely foreign to me before my accident. Replacing teeth is ridiculously expensive (an entirely different blog post of how unfair it is that teeth are considered cosmetic) and I’m beyond grateful for the support from my Mom. And, it’s a long process to get permanent implants… up to A YEAR! I’m 7 months into my recovery. In 2 weeks my Dentist from https://dentistinperth.com.au/ will replace my smile flipper with a bridge, glued in to reshape my gum line. 3 months from then, the bridge will be replaced with my porcelain implants and I’ll only be required to visit with my Oral Surgeon for friendly follow ups. As crazy as it sounds, I’m actually going to miss “Rocking Out with me Teeth Out” aka, feeling proud of my One-of-a-Kind smile. It’s created a unique awareness of the food I eat. I brush my teeth… and my retainer. I fall asleep with my teeth out and put them back when I wake in the morning. I’m completely comfortable with my new normal and anyone that knows me will agree that I’ve had fun with my loss. Missing teeth is a catalyst for all kinds of conversations. It’s helped me befriending a toothless homeless vet, a gal at a sandwich shop in Boston who also wore a “smile flipper” and of course, the countless waitstaff that I’ve surprised with my spaced smile when they return to fill my water glass. I even scored a free dessert from my lack of chompers! But, the people that presented themselves on my path that I will inevitably remember and appreciate most, are my Dentist and Oral Surgeon, my favorite Strangers To Friends of this experience, true Silver Linings. Both of them showed up serendipitously, amazing men who have made a painful experience, as painless as possible.
My question to you is, what are YOUR two front teeth? What have you been forced to accept?? How has your perceived setback actually been a stepping stone? What have you learned about yourself? Of others? Any fears overcome? My intention for writing this is to bring awareness to our choices, our attitude option and our ability to find the good in the bad, whether in the moment or months later. I encourage you to please share this post with anyone that needs help embracing their own “setback” in hopes my story inspires them to want smile from their inside out, too.
Scroll down to leave comments or share your story. Thank you 🙂
5 years ago I stumbled upon a 12 week class teachings of the book, The Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering your Creative Self. Feeling the flow of my personal journey, I immediately signed up, excited to dive deep and learn more about myself. One of the weekly exercises given to us: blow bubbles in a place that one would normally never blow bubbles. At first I thought this was a joke, I mean, my task was to blow bubbles? How could learning be so fun??? Our assignment: to take notes of how it effected not only ourselves, but those around us. I was all over this Â challenge and could hardly wait! Where to go? What would the outcome be? Little did I knowÂ this assignment would not only change my life for the better but also become a beautiful way for me to Turn Strangers Into Friends.
I tossed my yellow bubbles bottle in my tote bag and headed to a coffee shop near the beach. It wasn’t crowded, only 5 people in the shop, all in their own worlds, unaware of each other, playing on their lap tops, reading a book or writing a paper. Â I specifically chose a table in the middle of the room, sat down with my notebook, pulled the my bubbles out of my bag, slowly brought the wand to my mouth — and- oh….wait…what was this feeling in the pit of my stomach? Why was I hesitating? I glanced around the room. No one was looking at me. But, for a split second and had to gather my thoughts and take a deep breath, I mean, I was about to blow bubbles inside a quiet coffee shop! It felt a tad awkward.
But then… I blew!
…and immediately the bubbles blew back in and smacked me in the face! Why? Because I failed to notice the ceiling fan overhead! That is, until the guy sitting across the room who happen to see me in my bubble blowing attempt pointed it out, suggesting I turn around to avoid the breeze. I quickly wrote down this response. Then, as I spun around in my chair giggling, blowing again, the older gentleman to my now front looked up from his paper and squealed, “You are so cute! Are you writing a book?”
And so it began: Bubbles Bringing Everybody Together.
Before I knew it, everyone in the shop was involved with the conversation, volunteering stories, asking thought provoking questions, enjoying each other’s company. The coffee shop was filled to the brim with life and fun story swapping! Turns out one guy actually brought bubbles with him while he traveled to poverty stricken countries to share with the children of families he would stay with. HOW COOL! Â As I continued to write about my own experience, my own happiness continued to bubble up inside of me.
In this moment I realized: Bubbles Bring out the Best in Everyone.Â
The following week in class, we took turns telling our bubble tales. One gal blew hers in an elevator (awesome!) another while shopping in Target (I’m sure the kids got a kick out of that!). But on the flip side, a few blew them in their car during traffic or more surprising to me, Â two people could not find the time to blow their bubbles. How could that be? ItÂ made me sad, knowing how much joy the bubbles brought me. It was then my teacher explained that the act of “blowing bubbles” and drawing attention to ourselves was really an exercise in overcoming FEAR. Â AH… now I got it. Stepping out of our comfort zone, embracing the unknown. I smiled knowing I passed this test with flying colors… or rather, flying bubbles!
FEAR, as he explained it means: F*CK EVERYTHING AND RUN – or- FACE EVERYTHING AND RECOVER!Â Life is a constant flow of choices based on either love or fear. Had I chose to hide from being seen with bubbles I’d have missed out on a memory making moment, meeting amazing people, an experience powerful enough to share with all of you. Fortunately, I made my decision based on LOVE, from a place in my heart. I did not see it as fear vs success but rather living in the moment. I didn’t believe my actions could hurt anyone. My inner child embraced the idea and my soul smiled. Â Many times when we are scared to do something we create an excuse, one we will defend with honor, and our ego will justify until we are blue in the face. Our job is to step through our perceived set back so our spirit can shine!
The year I discovered that bubbles make everything better, 2010
Rather than spend your energy convincing yourself why not to do something, TRY IT, step out of your box, embrace the bubbles in YOUR life!
To this day, I carry bubbles in my purse wherever I go 🙂
Now it’s your turn:
What you need:Â Bubbles. Party City has an excellent supply.
What you will do:Â Blow them
What will happen:Â People will laugh, smile, look at you strangely, ask you if you are doing a social experiment, ask to blow them with you and even start telling you their favorite bubble story.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN:
Easy:Â Bubbles Make Everything Better
Have you ever seen an angry person blowing bubbles? NO. Because… they make people happy. AND, what is the best way to meet people: make them happy!
When it comes to blowing bubbles, the sky is the limit (yes, pun intended) but here are a few suggestions on where practice your Bubble Blowing Skills!
â€¢Â Â Â Â The ZooÂ (little kids love itâ€”but so do the parents!)
â€¢Â Â Â Â Favorite Coffee ShopÂ (everyone needs a break from the computer screen)
â€¢Â Â Â Â A BarÂ (an EASY way to meet someone, and usually you find a birthday boy or gal that wants in on the fun!)
â€¢Â Â Â Â While taking a strollÂ around the park, the city, the campus, the grocery store (you will intrigue others while intriguing yourself)
â€¢Â Â Â Â On a Patio: I like to think that any time we are outside in fresh air, we are enjoying life! Spark a smile & watch your bubbles dance to the sky.
â€¢Â Â Â Â Parties:Â ever go to a party and not know a soul? Fear no more! Be the one to show up with Bubblesâ€¦ and you are an instant Party Favor Pal!
â€¢Â Â Â Â Paradesâ€”by the end of the day, you have formed your own line of followers
â€¢Â Â Â Â TRAVELING/AT THE AIRPORT: pack them in your day sack, your back pack or buy the 2 oz bottles & carry them in your purse or pocket. While waiting on a lay over, catching a train or sight seeing in a new cityâ€¦ you and your bubbles will leave a lasting impression.
***The hardest part of this exercise is not deciding where or when to blow the bubbles; the hardest part is overcoming the fear of doing something out of the ordinary to draw attention to youâ€¦ in a positive way!***
My Challenge: BLOW BUBBLES!
Grab a bottle and start blowing! Who did you meet? Anything fun happen as a result? Take pictures and share your Bubble Buddy Makin’ Story and I will post it here. Send to firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ
Since everything happens for a reason, OF COURSE the weekendÂ I decide to start blogging about the fascinating people that represent the puzzle pieces of my lifeâ€¦ it is also the birthday weekend of my best friend whose death taught me the depths of a single friendshipâ€“ and that all it takes is one person to truly change/influence/guide/inspire/ the path of our life 🙂
Marge and Me: Eastside High School Graduation, May 1996
On Feb 13, 1978, my best friend, Margaret Stewart, was born. On July 26, 1998, she died in a tragic car accident.Â I will never forget the day I lost herâ€¦ but more importantly, I will always remember the day we met. It was the 1st day of 6th Grade at Greenville Middle School. My elementary and her elementary school combined so that lots of kids got to meet for the first time. Which meant, I finally got to make my own- NEW- friends. Since we both has an â€œSâ€ last name we were assigned to the same homeroom.Â As I recall, I was wearing a bright yellow cotton skirt with colorful designs, a red t shirt with rolled up sleeves revealing the yellow on the flip side, and bright, white KEDS. And yes. I thought I was cool. Butâ€¦ then I saw this freckled girl to my right wearing gummy-like big, green, fish dangling earrings and I was totally in awe.Â I soon discovered they had names: Fred and Ted. And yup, thatâ€™s how it began.Â An alphabetic blessing for 2 girls that loved kick starting the new school year off in the style!!!
By the time 12th grade rolled around and we were â€œleaving behindâ€ our Last Wills to our Senior Class,Â Marge made it a point NOT to leave me her â€˜good luckâ€™â€¦ because she thought she was super unlucky (for those that knew her, feel free to laugh with me!) . I never forgot that. So, 6 months after her death, to honor how lucky I was to have shared so many AMAZING years creating endless memories and lifetimes of laughter with her by my side and to permanently make her my Good Luck Charm, I had a Shamrock with the letter â€œMâ€ tattooed on my lower back.Â Best part: I had this done in Dublin, Ireland, the day after St. Patrickâ€™s Day!!!!Â Imagineâ€“ me, in Dublin- Guinness one hand, Irish flag in the other. It was EPIC (not to mention days after my 21st birthdayâ€¦)Â But more important than staying at a hostel that happened to have a tattoo covered employee to point me in the right direction or traveling with Erin Schael who would hold my hand while the deed was done (I’ll discuss Erin in a future blog) was what I learned that day:Â Not only was I lucky to have her in life, but I was already experiencing the luck she brought my world after her death.Â I was beginning to understand that silver linings did exist! From my sadness and depression came an amazing experience: a semester studying in London, England. I knew that had Margaret not died I would not have felt so compelled to live for the both of us- thus landing myself in Ireland with a Guinness in hand, on St. Patrick’s Day.
Meredith, Me and Margaret: Eastside High Prom, Margaret’s Backyard… the good ol’ days!
It was extremely hard to grasp this concept at the age of 20.Â I feel like I was forced to grow up way too fast. You see, Margaret was not my first friend to die. This story would NOT be complete without mentioning our other best friend, Meredith Hendley. Meredith died 9 months before Margaret. Not only that, but Margaret had been the one to call me to tell me Meredith died. And, now they laid buried side by side in a cemetery.Â It was unheard of.Â Words can not begin to describe what happens when everything you consider to be stable is completely shaken to the core.Â Now all of our stories were only to be told from my point of view! What if I didn’t tell them correctly? I felt a lot of pressure to represent all of us. Its hard for me to describe now what I went through back then as I tip toed through life on egg shells, trying to grasp on to smallest chance of feeling whole, but the evidence is clear how it effected my relationships with people and life.Â Back then I felt guilty seeing the rainbow through the rain. I didn’t want to believe in a “brighter side”. BUT- that is just it.. THE LESSON I was meant to not only embody but then share with every person I met. And, step by step, place by place.Â Friend by friend. I did. I have. I still am. It didn’t take me long to realize I would not have decided to travel to London to study for the Semester had Margaret not passed away.Â BUT- it was something I needed to for myself. A choice.Â To clear my headâ€¦ and discover my true zest: learning life hands on and TRAVELING. As crazy as it might sound to someone that has never experienced the loss of a friend, she helped give me the strength to do it.Â Already I was living my life with more passion and purpose. It was the beginning of my own journeyâ€“ because I wanted to live life to the fullestâ€“ for all of us!Â Margaret’s friendship 100% continues to influence me. THAT is the meaning of true friendship. That is the power the simple act of Turning a Stranger Into a Friend can have on you 🙂
Summer after our Freshman Year in College
The synchronicity of this being the weekend I am launching my blog and it also being the weekend to honor her birthâ€¦ well, lets just say itâ€™s the BEST birthday present I can think to give herâ€“ and at the same time, her inspiration guided me hereâ€¦ the best gift she could have ever given me! Ahâ€¦ it sure does make me smile.
I wonder what ever happened to Fred and Tedâ€¦Â Iâ€™d totally rock those earrings now!
Happy Birthday, Marge!!!