(Top 5) Lessons Learned from Losing my Two Front Teeth

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. If you follow MindBodyGreen, you know the latest Blog Posts seem to reference a Top 5, 10, etc themes, intended to grab a readers attention. So I figured I’d write my own version 🙂

5 Lessons Learned… from Losing my Teeth.   

5) Freak Accidents Happen.  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.  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

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-  my face seemed to be healing,  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!

‘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:  some 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.  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 in. Drinking a glass of wine or coffee tastes different with a plastic retainer in, too.  Pretty much 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 would not want anyone to know. They’d be embarrassed and didn’t want to look different or draw attention to a deformity. 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 would honestly take more energy for me to intentionally hide my smile than it would for me to 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 usually 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.

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 🙂

Has Social Media Changed the Art of Conversation — PART 2

The other day I wrote a story about bumping into a friend I hadn’t seen in a year – and how being Facebook Friends influenced our initial conversation. My intention was not to cast a shadow over our ability to constantly keep our friends and family up to date on our latest endeavors but rather get you thinking about what ISN’T being said due to the amount of information we post to our people on a daily basis – check it out:  Has Social Media Changed the Art of Conversation

BUT– my attempt to “challenge” the Art of Conversation wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t highlight the flip side of Facebook and how it actually creates topics of conversation, rather than assumptions. You see, the VERY SAME DAY I had the AH HA moment questioning what to ask my friend knowing what she’d shared on FB, I also had another AH HA moment, and that is, sometimes social media opens the flood gates, inviting in facts on friends we would never know, or think to ask, in an initial conversation. Hence, Social Media enhances the Art of Conversation. My story goes like this…

While soaking up the sunshine and bouncing around to the beats at music festival in Denver, CO, I met a girl named Emery.  She was friends with the same girl I wrote about in the first blog. With feathers in her ear and smile on her face, I instantly felt drawn to start chatting with her. Having an organic conversation with a “stranger” is one of my favorite things to do. Literally. I love asking questions, learning people’s stories, exploring a new connection.  She happily told me the story of her recent move from Tampa, FL to Boulder, CO to live closer to her sisters. Ah- Tampa! This opened up room for me to share with her that I have a very dear friend that lived there for years and loved it! I never mentioned the name of my friend that lived in Tampa but me mentioning this opened the conversation for Emery to tell me even more about her experience while living there.  As the songs continued to play, we continued to dance. And then… out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a guy wearing a tie dyed t shirt that said “Ned Fest”….

Side note: I have a cat named Ned. When I moved to Denver I learned of a music festival called Ned Fest. I jokingly said that if they sell tshirts at this festival I need to go just to get one. This was my first “Ned Fest T Shirt Sighting”!   Being the Stranger to Friend Girl, of course I pushed my way through the crowd just to capture his tshirt in a kodak moment, introduced myself and exchanged a laugh. The guy loved it.  Once I made my way back to Emory, I obviously had to explain why I split to take  a picture of a random guy. Feeling giddy, I told her about my cat, Ned–and, that ironically, I adopted him from the very same girlfriend I’d previously spoken about, the one that loved living in Tampa! It was funny, the way the conversation continued to flow. I know this isn’t making much sense yet, but by the end of this story, it will 🙂

At the end of the festival, I was invited to hang out with Emery and our mutual friends. As we walked to their place, I realized we were headed in the same direction as my car. Since I’d gone out solo that day, it was super serendipitous that my car was parked around the corner from their condo. So, when it was time to leave, Emery offered me a ride back so I didn’t have to walk by myself. This gave us the chance to chat, listen to some good tunes and reflection the fun day! When we said goodbye, I knew somehow I would see this girl again because I wanted to be her friend. I gave her my Stranger to Friend card and told her I’d find her on FB. The next day, I friend-ed her.

Within minutes of me friending her, I received a message: “How do you know Ellen?”   Wait, what?? This goes back to my side note 🙂 You see, the girlfriend that lived in Tampa, the one I adopted Ned from,  was in fact a friend of mine for over 10 years, named Ellen. When initially story swapping, I never thought to mention her name during our conversation! Tampa is a big city so I didn’t think to assume she would know my friend,  who actually now lives in North Carolina.  The whole point of my last article was NOT to assume, but rather to ASK. And here I’d done exactly what I was preaching not to do, assume, but on a completely different level. But now, becoming friends on Facebook, Emery was quick to notice Ellen as a mutual friend. What are the odds, right? In learning this, we instantly had a new common connection AND this opened up even more conversation! Plus, both knowing the same person gave more insight into each other because when you share a friend, you usually share a reason to be friends 🙂

Me, Emory's Sister, Dana & Emory

Me, Emory’s Sister, Dana & Emory

Reality is, this Social Media connection wouldn’t have happened had I not taken the opportunity to get to know Emery. This involved ASKING questions, LISTENING to her responses, LEARNING commonalities and SHARING my own thoughts to continue the conversation. Once again, this is a great example of not only Good People Finding Good People…. but that we truly are, all connected.

How many of you have a similar story of a Small World connection as a result of Social Media? I challenge you, the next time you see someone you’d like to meet, whether their smile or their tshirt grabs your attention, take the opportunity to introduce yourself, to ask them about themselves, to share a story or two. You never know where this conversation will lead.

 

Has Social Media Changed the Art of Conversation?

To ask or not to ask? To assume or not to assume?

social-media-conversation

The other day I had this crazy AH HA moment. I was at a music festival in downtown Denver, CO, flowing through the crowd of colorful people when all of a sudden… I bumped into a girl friend I didn’t know would be there that I hadn’t seen in over a year! We both smiled with excitement and totally hugged it out.  Stepping back, I admired how great she looked and then asked the standard question that two friends ask that haven’t hung out in ages:

“How have you been?”

Only in that moment… without her saying a word, a flash flood of facts began to circle my mind.

Not only was I aware of her move 8 months ago , when she followed her heart across the country to be with her love, but I also felt a tad sad for her with the news that the relationship ended, which is why she was back in town . I was in the know about the super fun week-long cruise she went on with a bunch of her closest friends and the concert she recently rocked out at with her local besties. I knew she became a first time home owner last month.  I could even tell her where she ate donuts last week.

How did I know this? Am I psychic?

No. We are friends on Facebook.

And then I began to go deeper. I wondered what she thought when she saw me? Thinking back to what I had given myself the green light to share over the past 12 months. However, only I, as well as the people involved with me on a more personal level, shared my secret in that I did not update my status with every major life event I’d overcome in the past 12 months. Perhaps people thought I did? But really, who shares everything. I only chose to share, based on my personal standards, what I believed was appropriate. SO, who was I to assume I knew what was going on in her life? Most likely, she only posted what personal information she also felt needed no filter.

Reality was, our conversation kick started with an outline of our lives, bullet points of socially shared information.

How many times have you crossed paths with an old co worker or classmate and didn’t ask as many probing questions about their lives because you assumed the answers due to their status updates?   Or you casually ran into an old friend but tip toed around the big, pink elephant in the room, the life-changing event they posted yet you didn’t know how to bring it up without being inappropriate. Or, maybe you are one of those Facebook Friends that rarely tags a picture of family or checks into a restaurant but instead you scroll the feed keeping up to date on what’s going on with your circle of cyberspace buddies. Now what, do you tell them you visit (face stalked) their page even though your page has the same Profile Picture from last Fall, meaning the face to face friend is oblivious to your own life. These scenarios are new realities we deal with as a result of the influence of Social Media. The art of the conversation has a new normal.

About an hour after my friend and I initially started chatting in the beer line, I decided to share with her all these questions that filled my mind as we walked towards the stage to get our groove on. Did it feel a bit awkward? Yes. BUT, I opened our conversation to discuss all the “status update” details we’d skipped over, lifting the veil of assumption. It also pushed the big, pink elephant out of the way, giving us more room to dance in the sunshine and sing to the live tunes that brought us together in the first place.

So I’m curious, do you allow what you read about your friends to be the backbone of conversation? Do you feel a sense of responsibility to address information you know about someone when you see them? Does it embarrass you to acknowledge all that you know of them from their Facebook feed even though they shared knowing all had the ability to read?

Please scroll down to comment below, I’d love to start a Social Media Conversation 🙂