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Let The Adventure Begin!

Today was my last day of work. I am now officially retired!

When thinking about today, one of the things I had planned to do was to have my own playlist of songs to listen to at work. I figured that it was my last day – so, if there were complaints about my music choices, it really wouldn’t matter since I would not be returning to work at the office again. Well, unfortunately, I forgot that my new phone does not have an audio port. And, our office audio system did not have a lightning plug. So, unfortunately, I was unable to play my selected songs.

On my way home, I did start listening to the songs on my list. One of those songs was “Dear Younger Me” by Mercy Me.

When hearing this song today, it prompted me to think about what advice I wish I had been given when I were younger. These thoughts fell into several categories, one being professional advice I would have appreciated hearing when I was younger. After thinking about it a while, I decided to write my thoughts down and post them on a forum for other Pediatric Dentists. Here is what I wrote:

After five years of planning for my retirement, and then a five month delay due to Covid, my last day of work is finally over. Leaving work today, I felt the joy I would have when heading into a week of vacation. It probably won’t really sink in for another week or two that this is more than a vacation. To my long term friends and colleagues in academia and in private practice, thanks for the many good times and I hope there are many more to come. To my colleagues in the middle of their careers, don’t let crabby over demanding parents get you down. Don’t fret over treatment outcomes that are dependent upon things out of our control. Don’t let hypocritical colleagues and/or partners make you feel any less of yourself. For my colleagues who are at the start of your careers, don’t let your finances dictate your happiness. The adage “money doesn’t buy happiness” is very true. Treasure the small victories in your day and leave your frustration behind. Do yourself a favor, find a hobby or two (or more) to give yourself a mental break and creative diversion from work. To all of you, make each day great, look for the good in every experience and in everyone you meet. And, most importantly, thank God for the many blessings he has given you.

I was extremely surprised to see the response my words had. Many younger colleagues commented that they appreciated my words of encouragement and advise. I’m glad someone will benefit from my thoughts!

I now look ahead to what the future will bring. This is truly the first time in my life that I do not have things planned out. Yes, I have lots of things to keep me busy. Yes, I will still keep doing my various hobbies. But, it’s kind of strange to look at my calendar not have my career dictating my schedule. I appreciate everyone who has made an impact on my life and my career. And, I do look forward to figuring out this next phase of my life.

Pam’s Retirement Playlist
Ain’t Got Far To Go – Jordan Smith
At Last – Etta James
Dear Younger Me – MercyMe
Deep Enough To Dream – Chris Rice
Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
Done – The Band Perry
Even If – MercyMe
God of Wonders – Third Day
Goodbye Ordinary – MercyMe
I Dreamed A Dream – Susan Boyle
I Won’t Give Up – Trisha Yearwood
If I Knew Then – Lady A
If Tomorrow Never Comes – Kent Blazy and Garth Brooks
My Way – Frank Sinatra
Never Going Back Again – Fleetwood Mac
New Lease on Life – MercyMe
Oceans(Where Feet May Fail) – Hillsong United
Postcards from Far Away – Coldplay
Teach Your Children Well – Jeff Healey
The Very Next Thing – Casting Crowns
Unchained Melody – Susan Boyle
When We Were Young – Adele

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Hidden Hugs

Image result for inspirational quote of hugs

I read somewhere that hugs may be necessary for survival. While that may not be the case, hugs are definitely important for mental health. Unfortunately, in our social distanced pandemic lifestyles, we have become a fairly touch-deprived society. Hugs are avoided for everyone’s health and safety.

I have many young patients, who, when they arrive at my dental office, are eager to give me a hug. Unfortunately, their parents will now stop them and reprimand them for doing so. I miss that part of my job. It was always a lift to my day, especially when the patient was one who had previous difficulty with going to the dentist.

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So, in this pandemic era, I need to look for other ways to “hug” through words of praise, words of thanks, and words of encouragement.

Tomorrow is National Hug Day. To celebrate the day, I decided to make some treats – Brownies filled with Hershey’s Hugs. To make these, I used my favorite brownie recipe, but any recipe or even a box mix would work. Before baking, place a hug into the batter, bake as normal. After they have cooled, you will have a hidden treat – a Hidden Hug.

So, even though real hugs may not be possible, look for the hidden hugs in your life.

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Love Intentionally & Unconditionally

There is a lot of discord in life and some days it can be overwhelming. Lately that has been the feeling I have had. I don’t think that I have radical or controversial opinions, so when I started writing a blog, I never dreamed that people would send negative, sometimes hateful emails. But, I have received numerous anonymous emails from people condemning me for what I write or how I write.

Too often, people say things behind the guise of anonymity that they would never say in person. So, my suggestion to anyone reading my blog. If you don’t like what I write, just move on to something else. If you are following my blog and don’t like what I write, just unfollow me. And, if you are reading this on Facebook and you don’t like what I write, just unfriend.

This unfortunate state of communication is all too common these days. Too often, people think that if someone doesn’t agree with their thinking, then the other person is wrong and they need to be “put in their place”. There seems to be no room for differences of opinion. This isn’t how it’s supposed to be, and it seems like now more than ever we need a reminder of that.

The way we interact with others can reflect God’s love and bring glory to him. God accepts us, despite our imperfections, our impure actions and motives. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him (John 3:17). God accepts us, despite our messy lives, impure motives, and irritating attitudes.

My thoughts and beliefs may not be the same as yours. Ultimately, which of us is right or wrong is not something to argue and debate about. This is something between each person and God. This means we accept others’ quirks and look past their faults in order to see individuals created in the image of God.

We need to learn how to accept one another unconditionally, just as Christ accepts us unconditionally. The Bible says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7 NIV).

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Flowers, Friendship and Eternity

Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling 'Hula Skirt'

Fifteen months ago, after attending a professional meeting in San Francisco, my eldest son (who lived in SF at the time) and I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. One of the plants I saw there was a very unique and absolutely gorgeous orchid, Miltoniopsis Lennart Karl Gottling also called ‘Hula Skirt’ Orchid.

After seeing it, I search the internet for a source to purchase one, but was unsuccessful. This particular orchid was “out of stock” everywhere. One of the growers did have the ability to indicate if you would like to be notified when the orchid was in stock again. At the time, I filled out the request. But, since then, I had accepted the fact that I would be unable to obtain a plant for myself and thus totally forgot about my search.

Well, on Monday, I received an email from Orchid Web notifying me that the orchid was in stock. Needless to say, I was surprised by the notification and immediately went to their site to order one. When placing the order, I discovered that the store is located in Plymouth, Minnesota, just a few miles from a friend’s dental office. This was fortunate because I could pick the plant up in person, avoid paying shipping, and avoid potential damage to the plant during transit.

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Since I would be driving to Plymouth, I sent my friend a message to see if she would like to get together and whether I could bring her lunch when I came. She responded with an even better offer. For a holiday celebration, she was treating her staff to a catered meal from “Gardens of Salonica”, a Greek restaurant and invited me to join them at her office. This was an offer I could not pass up.

I had a nice lunch comprised of good conversation with an amazing friend and some truly great Greek food!!

Being a member of my professional study club, I had also made her a table/wall quilt over the summer, which she received a few weeks ago.

While she is several years younger than me and will likely not retire for a while, she does have her “pre-retirement” quilt. This quilt was made utilizing the Greek Key quilt pattern. I picked this pattern for several reasons. The obvious one is that she is Greek. But, more importantly, the Greek Key is a symbol for infinity or eternity. This is very fitting because she is a constant friend who is always there for me.

My photo of the front of the quilt is a bit out of focus. But, the photo of the back does highlight the quilting that was done. In particular, quilting clearly shows the continuity of the Greek Keys in the piecing and in the quilting.

These eternal rings symbolic of the eternal love and support we have as friends. And, also a symbol of the love we celebrate this time of year at the birth of our Lord.

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Busy Summer – Yes Indeed!

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Prior to March 13th, my schedule was very predictable.  I had come to expect my week to flow from a day of work, to a day off, to a few more days of work.  This routine schedule allowed for me to focus on some crafts when home, and to focus on patient care when at work.

After a few months off, I am now back at work.  My routine has changed.  I rarely have a weekday off now – I really do miss my free Tuesdays!  Normally, I wake naturally a few minutes before my alarm goes off.  This is really a nice, peaceful way to wake up, without the alarm beeping at me.  However, my body still has not gotten used to having to get up early on Tuesdays. So, every Tuesday, that beep (or on my phone it’s more of a fog-horn sound) startles me awake.

Our summer patient schedule is completely booked.  Several times a day, I am having to figure out how to fit some necessary patient treatment into an already busy schedule, all the while keeping to our office social distancing guidelines and avoiding overworking my awesome staff. At times I feel I am being pulled in all directions.  And, I know my staff feel that way too!  I think the entire office is looking forward to a slightly slower schedule once school resumes.

With the summer rush, I find this song “Breathe” really does describe the craziness of life right now. The chorus of the song goes through my head often each day and helps to calm my mind and remind me to “just breathe”.

Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life
Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel You say just

(chorus)
Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

Third cup of joe just to get me through the day
Wanna make the most of time but I feel it slip away
I wonder if there’s something more to this crazy life
I’m busy, busy, busy, and it’s no surprise to see
That I only have time for me, me, me
There’s gotta be something more to this crazy life
I’m hanging on tight to another wild day
When it starts to fall apart in my heart I hear You say just

(chorus)
Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to take it in fill your lungs
The Peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
Let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what’s good and find what’s best
Just breathe

(chorus)
Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe
Just breathe

Writer(s): Words and Music by Jonny Diaz, Jonathan Smith and Tony Wood

Be At Peace

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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:4-9

Finding meaning and peace in the midst of the chaos of 2020 has brought me to the verses above.

When reading these verses we need to remember that Paul wrote these words while a prisoner in Rome. Wrongfully arrested, he had every reason to complain, yet he focused on rejoicing. Both his teaching and example provide an amazing model. Every believer should seek to rejoice in the Lord despite difficult situations, just as Paul did.

In these verses, he notes believers shouldn’t be “anxious about anything.” This does not imply a complete lack of concern. Nor does this mean believers are going to live a worry-free life. Instead we should focus on God.

God’s peace is supernatural and unexplainable. It is truly amazing how God can and will respond during times of difficulty. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties of life, we should look at what is true, lovely, just, commendable, pure, excellent, honorable, and praiseworthy.

Paul’s instructions are not merely meant to be read, they are meant to be put into action.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.

John 14:27

We need a return to Right & Wrong

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It’s hard to watch the news lately.  It’s hard to read Facebook posts lately.  It’s hard to understand how people can justify wrong-doing.

Wrong is wrong. 

Life is precious at all ages, in all colors, in all cities, all states and all countries.  

O’Lord by Lauren Daigle
 
Though times it seems
Like I’m coming undone
This walk can often feel lonely
No matter what until this race is won
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
Your strength is found
At the end of my road
Your grace it reaches to the hurting
Still through the tears and the questioning why
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
 
Oh, O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face This I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right, right
I will stand my ground
I will stand my ground
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
I will stand my ground where hope can be found
Oh! O’Lord O’Lord I know You hear my cry
Your love is lifting me above all the lies
No matter what I face this I know in time
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right (take all what is wrong)
You’ll take all that is wrong and make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right
(Right, so right)
Make it right, right