Bare Naked

I woke today in need of a really good chuckle. A belly laugh would be best. I searched my archives and found the following:


Did it work? It perfectly captured my sentiments. After this week I’m feeling old, rusty, and a bit saggy. I mean my brain, but still…I’m feeling rather exposed.

I started a new adventure and I’m not sure whether I’ve bit off more than I can chew (pun intended!). I told you about my new adventure last week; I began as a volunteer dental hygiene instructor at a community college. You can read about thatย here if you like. I now have a full two days under my belt. TWO DAYS, and…does anyone know where I can order a portable oxygen tank?

My role (newly defined as of yesterday morning) includes BEING BACK IN THE MOUTH. Yikes! Not only am I allowed in the mouth, I may help with instrumentation and placing films for the full series (18 individual films), a pano (where the machine goes around your head), 0r bite wings (the 4 you bite on at your re-care appointment). As a volunteer I may not grade them–Thank the plaque Gods above!–but I am allowed to dive in and help if needed. My biggest concern is my back; this is why I hung up my scalers a year ago.

Well, I dove, and, while there were a few retakes in radiology, now I know their system and what the lead instructor expects. I stood directly behind her as she assessed the full mouth series I helped a student take and I learned those expectations. In the real world as you may guess, it’s a whole new ball game, and the doctor may want a specific angle or just the root tip on a certain film. Here, in school right now, the expectations are different–indeed the bar is higher and slightly different–exactly how it should be. Now is the time to perfect the basics. Later, they may use the tricks I am showing them now.

  • My sudden “ah, ha” moment: Part of my role is I am there to help them think. They are learning one technique, but I bring years of experience. It’s all good.
  • My new revelation? In spite ofย last week’s experience in radiology, I LOVED BEING THERE THIS WEEK. I was shocked, but I ENJOYED HELPING THEM PLACE FILMS. Maybe they’ll let me park myself back there and mainly help in radiology. I would LOVE that.

As I left the clinic last evening and began my drive home, I felt shaky. Rusty. A complete and incompetent outsider. I felt so alone! That was eventually countered by feelings of, “But, Karen, this is your thing!” and “You KNOW this!” and “You’re being FAR too hard on yourself,” and “You need to chill, woman!”

There were some very nice moments from yesterday:

  • I was greeted with warm student smiles on my second day in clinic.
  • Out of the blue, a student thanked me for donating my time on Fridays.
  • Another thanked me for helping her use the ultrasonic scaler in a tough spot in the posterior teeth.
  • An instructor and I had a very nice chat about hygienists, our level of education, how our profession has been held back in several ways, what obstacles lie ahead. This is big as we are not self-regulated; we are regulated by dentists and one of the very few health professions not self-regulated).
  • I shared my experience with the same instructor about trying to bridge Oral Health and Gerontology with those in my master’s program (who were not overly receptive at the time). She stated an article needs to be written about this.

As I continued to drive, the next thing was, “How would YOU feel were you a student now?”ย  Well, since I can’t grade them, and since they don’t know me yet, I sense they’re holding back from asking for my help. I get that, and I might do the same thing were I in their place. What I’ve done is PUSH MYSELF to start talking with them, ask them about their day, what’s on their schedule, and how it went with their last patient. I need to earn their trust.

And, do you know how UNCOMFORTABLE that is for me? Holy Buckets! This is NOT my default setting. It feels as though I am naked, that the 20 students, the five hygiene instructors, and the one dentist are staring at me (never mind talking about me when I’m not looking). Sigh….

“If the door closes, quit banging on it! Whatever was behind it, wasn’t meant for you. Consider the fact that maybe the door was closed because you were worth so much more than what was on the other side.”

~ Author Unknown

While I can’t say that I know volunteering here is meant for me, or that what I’ve left behind (private practice) is behind me permanently, I can say I need to push forward, difficult as that may be. I simply don’t know what’s in store. And that feels like I’m teetering, bare naked, high on a cliff….


I know you tried. ๐Ÿ™‚

And, today is a new day. I’ve slept well and feel much better after I’ve had a chance to rest my battered brain. It’s a great feeling to tackle a new day. That feeling was only enhanced by the following post when I opened up my Reader.

I saw this from my friend Carola at her blog My Dear Yellow World. The post is called “Go deep. You are not alone” (accessed hereย, and oozes with positive affirmations. It is worth the read. Here is her first paragraph:

“Iยดll never be content with the surface of things. So often we hold ourselves from going deep because we are scared it may be more than we can handle or worry what people might think. But we will grow so much more from it. Exposing our hearts is not weakness. Itยดs bravery. Itยดs authenticity. Itยดs love.”

And the last:

“You are my people. I see you. I believe in you. So tell me anything. Tell me everything. I am not in this world to make small talk. Talk real to me. I am here for you. I want to be a reminder that it is okay to share what you are feeling inside. Your voice is needed and it matters. A lot.ย ๐Ÿ’›

How fabulous is that?

As the day wore on and as I reflected on yesterday, I relaxed after re-reading Carola’s words of affirmation, her request to share, her knowledge we are not alone as I’d been feeling. This is what blogging is all about. Thank you. It is the push I need right now.


โค I feel a little less exposed. โค

  34 comments for “Bare Naked

  1. February 20, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Oh Karen – well done for pushing through your barriers – how amazing. You’ve faced a challenge and gone with it and finding inner strength and determination. It matters not if you decide this is or isn’t right for your life, what matters is that you’ve risen to the challenge and driven through that block.. You’re on an adventure! Amazing xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 20, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      I’ve risen but I may need a bit more yeast. This has been incredibly difficult in many ways, and while I can say I did it, I pushed through, I now feel that it may not be for me. Many reasons, and I’m still deciding. But, you are right: I met that challenge and it has been an adventure. โค Thank you for your thoughts. โค

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 20, 2017 at 5:04 pm

        Sometime we think we want something only to discover when we try it that it’s not what we wanted at all.. That’s good because you have discovered what you don’t want so that you can release the energy to try something different instead… It’s all part of life’s adventure… discovering who we really are… xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 21, 2017 at 2:33 pm

          Exactly! This is the realization I’ve been coming to over the past few weeks. Thanks for echoing my sentiments. โค

          Liked by 1 person

          • February 21, 2017 at 2:35 pm

            You’re welcome Karen.. I hope you’ve had a great day! xx

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Cherie Tomlin
    February 15, 2017 at 9:14 am

    What a great article Karen!! I am so proud of you for following through and sticking with it!! The waters are always murky at first but then will eventually clear. Hang in there until you can swim!! Life is always an adventure…choose to be brave and step out to experience it or choose to be safe and not. You know this “stuff” its been part of your life for over 30 years! Remember no matter what path you take its your journey and it will be ok!! Again I am so proud of you for trying something new!!๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 15, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Thank you so much, Miss Cheryl Ann. Yes, you and I have been in dental for over 30 years–hard to believe–but it’s a big part of us even after retirement. Thank you for listening and your wonderful words of encouragement. You know I was never a very good swimmer…but I can dog paddle with the best of them. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  3. February 12, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Karen, you are so brave and authentic! Having left a more intense practice setting for awhile and now considering returning to that sort of environment again, I could almost feel the shakiness that you described on your drive home. I love the way you describe talking yourself down from your feelings of insecurity. Sometimes, I feel like I am doing this constantly with myself. Even though I repeat the words, actually believing them is another matter, entirely. I am so encouraged by your bold, courageous steps forward. Every new experience builds us up and prepares us for the next thing, whatever that may be. Wishing you continued strength and wisdom for your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      The bold, authentic, brave and courageous woman you described HAS to be someone other than me…as that is not how I feel at the moment. As I watched the other instructors help students in Radiology, I stood there mumbling to myself, “Gee, Karen, YOU KNOW THIS,” or, “I could have done THAT.” I hear myself say it but until I do it and improve it, I may continue to feel inadequate. I need to give it more time, allow myself to make mistakes, and just hope the students and instructors are forgiving. โค Thank you for your wonderful kindness. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 21, 2017 at 6:17 pm

        We are so good at short-selling ourselves. Even though I don’t know you personally, I’m willing to bet that you are, indeed, bold, authentic, brave, and courageous! Someone asked me the other day how I would know if I was relapsing when I was early in my recovery, and after thinking about it, I replied, “Well, my brain can trick me into thinking just about anything, so I relied on the people around me to help me figure out how I was doing and if I was starting to have problems.” The same is true when it comes to strengths. Maybe you ARE actually doing much more than you are able to see for yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm

          What a great perspective; thank you for sharing. I do think we are sometimes blind to ourselves and quite often do not give ourselves enough credit. “I am my own worst critic”applies to me. I’ve been thinking long and hard about this new venture, and once I’ve decided for sure, I’ll share. For now, thank you for your astute perspective. Have a great week, Lulu. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • February 22, 2017 at 1:03 pm

            Looking forward to reading more! Have a great week, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

            Liked by 1 person

  4. February 12, 2017 at 8:51 am

    I’m glad you are feeling better about what you are doing. The long days of standing and back strain will be your toughest challenge next to insecurity. Why are we all plagued by that little demon? I love the quotes you included here. Thanks for the giggle too. Yes, I had to see if we breathe with our tongues out. :)) Keep doing what you’re doing until it’s not fun anymore. You are a VOLUNTEER! Cut yourself some slack. You have a lot to offer and they are lucky you are willing to give your time and expertise. Have a wonderfilled Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 12, 2017 at 11:30 am

      Hi, Marlene. As usual, you hit the nail on the head. It’s my back I’m most concerned about, and not being able to do anything (if it flares up as it did Friday) at this point except walk away. It takes so little even after a year to set it off. It’s how hygienists must sit at chair side while treating patients that fried my back. Bent over, turned to the right, with arms up….not good over a 33 year period. And, yes, I feel insecure. That will dissipate over time, but if this back pain continues, I will either have to walk away or ask to be in radiology where I must stand all day (better for my back than sitting). I AM volunteering and that is a great thing–I’ve always wanted to give back somehow–but not at the expense of my back. Thanks for your astute comments. โค Have a great Sunday! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. February 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Being new is so hard, whatever new thing you are trying. I’m glad you are pushing forward, and really believe that things will get easier! Hang in there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 12, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Thanks, Ann. I’ve NEVER been one to love the spotlight; on the contrary, I would much rather hide. This makes all of that forced upon me, with all of these new folks looking at me, talking about me, wondering just who the heck I am. I know it will get easier as it always does; this is far from the first time I’ve been the new kid. I just wish I could wear the lead apron and a mask all day long….or crawl under a desk. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  6. February 12, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Can I just say… HUGE gold stars for making dental work funny again! (I guess since we’re part of the WordPress reader world it’s Orange Stars, but you know what I’m saying.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 12, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Thank you ever so much! Orange star accepted. ๐Ÿ™‚ There have been so many hilarious moments through the years…would be a great series here, if for no other reason than to let the world know what goes on behind the scenes so to speak. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Shall I begin with how I once turned someone’s dentures orange, or how I caught my hair in a piece of equipment?

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 13, 2017 at 3:43 am

        Ha! orange dentures… I hope the color could be bleached out.

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 13, 2017 at 12:24 pm

          Bleached? No. Scrubbed frantically while my patient and doctor waited on me, the woman who mysteriously disappeared for a long time in the lab? Uh, huh…

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy
    February 12, 2017 at 5:34 am

    Taking risks and doing new things is what keeps us from feeling old!

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 12, 2017 at 11:11 am

      It also causes profuse sweating and a severe lack of sleep…but, you are right. I will persevere a bit longer. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. February 12, 2017 at 3:41 am

    It sure is good to know that we’re not alone Karen, I totally agree with you there. Blogging and connecting with other like minded writers is awesome for that. Hope next week goes well. Take care. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • February 12, 2017 at 11:10 am

      Don’t you wish we could all gather for a sit in at some lovely beach and get to know one another in person? I love having met so many nice people here, but fear we’ll never meet in person. That somehow makes me a bit sad. It’s all about the connection. โค

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 12, 2017 at 1:10 pm

        Oh Karen, I feel exactly the same way. BUT I’m so excited because this morning here in Melbourne, in under two hours, I’m meeting a blogger that I’ve been following for a long time for coffee. So it can happen. ๐Ÿ˜Š

        Liked by 1 person

        • February 12, 2017 at 3:32 pm

          You may be meeting right now, and oh, that makes me SMILE. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Please share the details if you can. โค

          Liked by 1 person

          • February 12, 2017 at 7:20 pm

            It’s been wonderful Karen. Just home now but spent a lovely few hours in her company and feeling like I’d known her for ever. I guess that’s the joy and beauty of blogging. And yes, I’ll no doubt be sharing my experience in a future blog. x โค๏ธ

            Liked by 1 person

            • February 13, 2017 at 12:23 pm

              Still smiling. ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

            • February 13, 2017 at 1:02 pm

              I’m glad. I’ll be posting about it tonight. ๐Ÿ˜Š

              Liked by 1 person

            • February 13, 2017 at 1:14 pm



  9. February 12, 2017 at 1:24 am

    Keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

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