It’s a Big Small World: The Carlyn Connection in Bali

Having lived life “turning strangers into friends” for the last decade,  you can imagine the countless times I’ve called my Mom, slightly hysterical with a, “Holy Moly, you’re never going to believe this strangers to friends story!”. But after 10 years of me spewing tales of synchronicity, she’s never really surprised. Because…it’s me. And this is the story of my life. BUT, this story in particular, how I unknowingly created connection on November 20, 2018, took my “Holy Moly, Mom!”… to the next level.

Why?

I wasn’t even there!

This is the Story of 2 Women, Bali, Indonesia, Intuition and Crazy Synchronicity. Oh yea…and Me.

First, meet Marcy Morrison:

In 2009, after working for 4 years as a Travel RN Recruiter in San Diego,  I put all my energy and intention into manifesting my job layoff.. and it worked. This inspired two things: the “invention” of my first Strangers To Friends card… and… the questioning of “My Purpose”. Turned out, a RN Recruiting Co Worker had a son who was best friends with a boy who had a Mom, who was the Founder of Careers With Wings, so she connected us. Cue in Marcy. In 2010, Marcy became the first ‘Coach” I ever worked with, before everyone had a coach, but divinely on time. You see, this was the point in my life I began to recognize I had a gift of connection which opened myself to explore more passion in “what do I want to do”. Though I’d go onto accept another RN recruiting job a year later. I also, like the previous one, realized it no longer served and believe it or not, once again, manifested my layoff. With another “window of opportunity” to pursue my “purpose” of turning strangers into friends, I decided to leave San Diego and take on a 6 week, 15 city, cross country road trip and move to Wilmington, NC. This photo of Me & Marcy was snapped at my “Going Away” Party days before I hit the road! Fast forward 8 years:  though we don’t regularly keep in touch, we’ve literally been each others “cheerleaders” from afar. If nothing else, never missing a “Happy Birthday”. That’s how I knew, via Facebook, Marcy chose to celebrate her 50th this year in Bali, Indonesia!

Next, meet Sarah Leger:

January 2018, promoting an upcoming STF Experience, I sent a newsletter to the Strangers To Friends Meetup, announcing giveaways at the event from one of my favorite Colorado Local Businesses (another Strangers To Friends Story), Be Hippy. (PS: Enter code “Friends” to receive 10% off) The next day, I got a Meetup Message from a gal in Fort Collins asking to be connected with the owner of the company to inquire about sponsorship for her retreat! So, I connected them… and you guessed it, they agreed to partner! But it wasn’t this success that sparked my excitement. As Sarah and I moved from Meetup to Facebook, I asked questions! Turns out she’d recently relocated to Colorado via Boston (where I was born) and I was already friends with the gal speaking at her retreat! Small World! Clearly, we were meant to meet. This photo of Sarah was taken on Jan 16, 2018, the we sat for hours story swapping and salvaging over our synchronicity– and this slice of lemon cake ! (Side Note: the man behind us overheard our conversation… and us eyeing his piece of cake… and surprised us with a huge slice to share!) But, the real story: this coffee date was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  For the last year, she and I have coached each other, collaborated with each other and even helped each other move. Moments she “needs” someone, I’m her go to. The moment I need  a “pick me up”, she seems to know.  That’s why I was so excited she was off to Bali, Indonesia for the month of November for the trip of a lifetime.  The next photo was taken Jan 20, 2019 unaware it was our 1 Year Friendaversary!

Nowthe REAL STORY BEGINS:

An 18 hour time difference text message pops up from Sarah, “You’re not going to believe this, but I channeled my “inner Carlyn” and met a friend of yours in Bali!”

Wait, what is she talking about??? Who do I know in Bali?

Here’s the CRAZY “small world” story:

After traveling for 2 weeks in Asia with her job as the Alumni Events Director for Semester At Sea, Sarah was on the last leg of trip, now waiting in the Bali Airport to get picked up to head to her Uncle’s Home in Ubud. Feeling all the feels from a day of travel, she craved connection with someone friendly, perhaps an American Woman,  someone with whom she could relate. Have you ever thought to “randomly” talk so someone across the room? Though I know Sarah as a leader, I also know, she isn’t the gal who typically jumps up to head across the room and strike up “stranger” conversations. That is, until the “What Would Carlyn Do?” thoughts popped into her mind!

As she shared with me, she glanced around the airport and spotted a blonde woman by herself, who she did a double take on because the thought looked just like me! She sat thinking, “I bet Carlyn would walk up to her and stranger to friend her!”And with that thought, she inspired herself to walk up to her and initiate a conversation. Per her story, they immediately fell into a comfortable flow and realizing they shared a lot of small world stories! Both are in the “coaching” world. Both have a passion for travel. Both are spiritual.  But it wasn’t so much what the had in common but, per Sarah, how she felt: at ease. An instant connection. AND the connection boosted her confidence and self trust, knowing her intuition was spot on! Knowing Sarah’s family would be there shortly to pick her up, they began to  wrap up their conversation. Thats when the story went from good to… you’ve got to be kidding me! Without thinking anything of it, Sarah casually said, “I’m so happy I came and said hi! You really do remind me of my friend, Carlyn”.  Cue Marcy looking at her a little funny. Without skipping a beat, she replied, “Wait, Carlyn Shaw?”. Marcy knew Sarah lived in Colorado, I lived in Colorado and how many Carlyn’s in Colorado could there be?

—–record scratch—-

Think about this: Sarah thought “what would Carlyn Do?”, spots a woman who she think LOOKS LIKE ME (on the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD), in a small airport, builds up the courage to practice what “Carlyn Preaches”, and as a reward…. the universe hands her MY FRIEND! Imagine if she’d allowed the little bit of fear or resistance to talk her out of saying hello. What a heartbreaking thought!!! It always comes down to the moment we decide to say YES TO CONNECT that the magic happens! Second guessing due to threat is one thing but doubting due to fear of a story you make up in your mind is another. I still shake my head in disbelief: I wasn’t physically there yet my spirit kick started a stranger to friend story, in Bali. I’m beaming with pride.

So, since both of them know the power of “the follow up” they exchanged contact info to connect again in Bali! Now, I don’t know what I love more about this story: how my words of wisdom helped inspired action– or the fact she thought we looked so much alike and THAT’S what ultimately made her go say “Hi”. You see, everything’s connected. People. Places. Timing. Thoughts. All of it. here’s proof: 

The Post Epic Story Follow UP

Best part about their connection is it reconnected me & Marcy, too! Having not spoken face to face in several years, she couldn’t wait to tell me her side of the story. So, she asked if I’d like to hop on a Zoom Chat and be interviewed for her new show, The Passion Purpose Academy. Just think, 10 years after I hired her as my “Purpose” Coach and she’s interviewing me to learn about Strangers To Friends. Talk about a Big, Small, World.  Check us out below!

Do you have a favorite Small World Travel Story? I’d LOVE to hear your tales of synchronicity and connection! Send a photo if you have it & your story and I’ll share on Instagram and Facebook! to Carlyn@StrangersToFriends.com 

The Space In-Between: The Silver Lining of a Toothless Smile

There are countless ways, every day, we have an opportunity to do something we feel called to do, having no clue of how far that act will carry on into the life of someone else. This story begins with the blog I wrote in May 2014, “Top 5 Lessons Learned from Losing my Two Front Teeth” written with hopes to shine some light (and laughter) on the loss of my two front teeth. Since I referenced Brene Brown and her book, “The Gift of Imperfection” in my story, I tweeted it to Brene, fingers crossed she would read it. Not only did she praise me for my strength but she graciously re-tweeted to it all her followers! As a result, a number of people around the world found my story and reached out to thank me for my vulnerability. Talk about a “Gift” coming from my “Imperfection”. As I always say, people tend to show up as Silver Linings in our life. The story below was written by Kim Haller, (@xperiencelife22), a 43 year old Denver Resident who is one of Brene’s twitter followers that connected with my toothless smile.

“Just a over two months ago I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came across a post from well-known speaker and author Brene Brown with a link to a blog entitled “Lessons Learned From Losing My Two Front Teeth.” I was immediately intrigued as I myself lost my two front teeth to a softball injury in the late 1990’s. I clicked the link expecting mostly an interesting read – it turned into something much more meaningful. After reading the story twice, I was struck at how Carlyn turned a traumatic injury and healing process into something positive and fun! Since my injury, I’ve felt embarrassed- like I was abnormal and have tried to hide the fact that I wear a partial. Carlyn’s story touched something deep in my heart…perhaps it was time for me to have a change in attitude as well. After all, my missing teeth are a part of me, part of who I am. Just for kicks, I opened Carlyn’s Twitter profile and was amazed to see she lives in Denver! I mean, really – what are the odds?!? I sent her a message and shared that I was also missing my teeth. She immediately suggested we meet and take a picture of our toothless smiles. In a total out of character response I said, “I’m game!” We made plans to meet the night before she got her permanent bridge, the last night she would eat with her teeth out.

I’ve been wearing a partial for 17 years. The dental work is very expensive and I’ve lacked motivation to make it a priority. Only now I realize that I held a deep belief that I wasn’t beautiful before I lost my teeth, so why bother to get them fixed. On the day before we met, I took a toothless selfie and sent it to Carlyn. Her response – “OMG UR AMAZING – & Beautiful!” and that part blew my mind. I’ve been journeying towards accepting that I am beautiful – her response was like the final flip of the switch, I actually began to believe it and to accept it in my own heart.

Not a risk taker by nature, meeting Carlyn in person was very much out of my comfort zone. However, my anxieties were put to rest as she greeted me with her big smile and hug. After just a few minutes she no longer felt like a stranger. Her vivacious spirit and love for life are contagious! She suggested grabbing $1 tacos around the corner, which gave us time to get to know each other and eat good food, her’s with her teeth out. As we were getting ready to leave, I did something I’d never done on purpose in public – I removed my partial (my temporary two front teeth)! We took a beautiful picture both toothless and with teeth in!

I left that evening feeling inspired, accepted, encouraged and filled in my spirit.
Anais Nin said: “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Carlyn is no longer a stranger, but a friend. A friend brought into my life by the space in between my two eye teeth 🙂 Her arrival in my life has indeed helped open a new part of my world. We’ve only known one another a couple months, but I know we will continue to be less stranger and more friend…
Thank you, Carlyn for the courage to share your story. It has inspired in me the courage to share mine.

There is a lot to learn from this story. First, I learned that by gifting the world with my story, I received the gift of amazing friendship (s) in return. What if I had allowed FEAR to hold me back from writing my blog? Would we have met? Another beautiful reminder is that we connect with people for a purpose & it is always on time. I had no idea the transformation process Kim had begun only months before our meeting and I’m honored to be a part of her journey. Finally, just like the act of living true to myself pushed me into the lives of those that were meant to read my story, the same can be said for the small act of encouraging another and how it can (gently) push them outside their perceived limitations to take on challenges they never thought possible. I thank Kim for surprising me with this beautiful- and vulnerable story. However, I am even more proud that through this experience, she is realizing that only her mind holds her back her from being the version of herself she wishes to be. Telling ourselves we “can’t” is a sure way to feel unworthy and keep us from accomplishing a goal. So… I was amazed when Kim, someone who is a tad shy and working hard to shed some weight, decided to sign up for my HIKE MS event, a hike up Keystone Mountain (over 10K ft in elevation) to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis, a cause close to my heart due to a personal diagnosis 16 years ago. There were a couple hikes to choose from and Kim chose to do the 2 miler route believing this was all she could handle. But through the encouragement of me and my awesome team mates, not only did she conquer the 6 mile route, she did it all by herself, never giving up on what she knew, deep down, she could achieve, no matter how long it took her, no matter how hard it seemed!

Cheers to the Silver Lining of a Toothless Smile!

Giving = Receiving

“For it is in giving that we receive.” ― St. Francis of Assisi

I love helping others. I especially love helping others without them asking for it. It fills me with joy to take the initiative and choose to make a difference. Whether I surprise someone with a smile, or simply give because it feels like the human thing to do, many times my soul feels called to be a part of a change that another person wishes to create. Sometimes I make an $18 donation to a bike ride or race, sometimes it’s reaching out to offer support because I feel when an individual need extra TLC. For others, it means spreading their word of a mission or passion while even better, connecting them together with a friend working towards the same end result. It’s all about intention and my intention is always: LOVE.
It's Not How Much You Give

This brings me to an email I received this morning from my friend, Russ Bates. Russ & I met in 2009 at the MS 50 Mile Challenge Walk in San Diego, CA. This 3 day event raises money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis. MS is near and dear to me due to my own diagnosis in 1998 and for all the incredible friends I’ve made over the years (my strangers to friends, my silver lining) that either themselves live with it or fight to help on behalf of a loved one. Russ was a member of the Crew Team. He assisted setting up the course, delivering luggage, water, all the behind the scene work that made the weekend possible. You see, Russ’s wife, Nancy, was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in 1994 and passed away in April, 2006. He participated in 8 Challenge Walks to support her. Nancy went from a lively young woman to being bed ridden, but never lost her strong will and positive attitude. She never let MS get the best of her. Every year she rocked her smile and cheered on the walkers along the route. It was knowing their story, his love & commitment to the cause, even after her death, that called my spirit to support him.

For the past 3 years we have been in touch via Facebook. He constantly cheers on my crazy endeavors and I check in to see how he is doing. You see, Russ has had major health issues for the past few years. I can’t make him strong and healthy but I can try to make him smile. A few weeks ago, after reading a link he posted on his page, I realized I could possibly help Russ a little more than I had in the past. Here is his own version, his story, that he sent to me as a THANK YOU Today. I’m honored to share with you…

My friend, Russ Bates

My friend, Russ Bates


Strangers into friends…

“When you first meet someone you never know how they are going to affect your life. Such was my initial introduction to Carlyn Shaw. We knew of each other from a previous event in which we had both participated, but were officially introduced at an organizational meeting for San Diego’s Annual 50 Mile Challenge Walk for MS in 2009. I was smitten with her effervescent positive attitude toward life, even in the face of having a potentially debilitating disease from which (as for now) has no definite cure. That years walk turned out to be very special for me as it turned out to be my last, after 8 years of participation. Carlyn’s enthusiasm for life was on display all that weekend as her team of walkers provided humor, fun and friendship for everyone. Later that year I moved away from CA and lost touch with Carlyn.
We reconnected on Facebook in 2011 as she was traveling across the country, on what I jokingly called her “Stranger into Friends, USA tour”. We have not seen each other since our walk days, but we do maintain communication on FB to this day. Her various posts are always uplifting and positive, even as she deals with her own daily trials.
Over the last 3 years my health has had several major downturns (a stroke & 2 heart attacks) yet Carlyn has continued to post messages on FB that lift me up and always make me feel better about myself and my situation. After my most recent heart attack this past month (June), I realized how lucky I was to still be alive. Immediately I felt the need to go see my family (my Mom and Sisters in CA and my Daughter in Seattle). I had a fear that I may never get another chance to see them.
Being extremely broke and with no extra cash in sight in order to make the trip, I turned to a site on the Internet (GoFundMe) designed to help people raise money for any need they might have. I shared my story on FB and almost immediately Carlyn popped up and said she would forward my story and request to her friends. She literally did so and within 12 hours I had already raised more than half of my goal ($800) through responses from her good friends, most of which are the result of her Strangers into Friends efforts. I don’t know how to repay her other than to say THANK YOU and continue to spread the good word about her efforts to spread friendship and love throughout the world. She is a great friend and someone that I am truly blessed to have met.”

An enlightened perspective from Jeff Maziarek in “Spirituality Simplified”

“Remember that every cause you initiate leads to an effect. So, when you give from the heart, you set energy into motion that must in turn find its way back to you in some form. I say in some form, because there is no telling how or when the effect may show up.”

Choosing to share his page with others made complete sense at the time of sending.
1) I suggested $10, a small amount but when added up makes a big difference. Plus, who doesn’t love the awesome feeling we instantly receive knowing we helped someone in need (I know I sure do!)
2) Money is tight for me right now. I knew that alone I could not fund his trip. The idea literally popped into my head that I had a chance to REALLY make a difference if I shared his story rather than simply donate $20. And, usually I simply donate. But good thing I listened to my intuition… because it was right! My awesome friends/family together donated $510– FAR MORE THAN I EVER IMAGINED! – for their own reasons, Portia, Rabiah and My Mom, Susie, chose to carry the torch and keep the ripple in motion. I love them so much for their selflessness. I can’t begin to describe the pride I felt in their contribution, knowing they were touched by his story and my effort to support him. AND…I’m thrilled to say not only did he accomplish his goal but his flights are booked and he will leave from Kansas to see his family very soon.

The point of this post is to highlight that GIVING = RECEIVING. Not only will Russ visit his family… but now his family receiving in the hugs they will share. Not only did my sharing of his letter come from a place of hope & love… but the end results surpassed my expectations! Not only did it make me happy inside just knowing I extended a little extra help to him… but receiving this email, validating my simple effort even that much more, well friends, THAT is the greatest gift of all. LOVE & FRIENDSHIP. And… WOW, what a PERFECT display of Strangers Turned Friends helping each other. Like I always say, we are ALL connected… somehow, someway. 🙂

Today I challenge you to think how your giving is being received. How will YOU create a ripple effect? I’ve shown that it doesn’t take money to make a difference. Sometimes it’s a matter of stepping up when you feel called to do so. Not being afraid to stand out for someone else. If your intention is to spread love & light, I promise you, that love & light will be received. Sometimes from strangers meant to be friends.

Namaste Friends, the light in me bows to the light in you. 🙂

(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.

 

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- Â 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:  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. 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” – Me

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 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.