Be the change

“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.”

~ Maya Angelou

From my yard to yours:

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Pink Bloomers
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Lavender cascade
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For drying and holiday decorating
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Hard at work, helping
spring foxglove
Speckled bells
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Burst of sunshine

And, some not from my yard:

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Lavender and coral beauties
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Feast for the eyes

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

~ Gandhi

Crises in ice cream

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.”

~ Elizabeth Edwards

Who said retirement was fabulous? Who said it would be easy? I want names and numbers (so I can wring their slimy little necks and give them a piece of my mind….).

Yeah, you read that correctly. I’ve had a bit of a struggle. For nearly 35 years, I’ve been part of a group, a dental group, and now, suddenly, I am not. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve said goodbye to saliva, bid my farewells to calculus (which often landed in my hair). I’ve also said adios to my achy back (and backstabbing as well). Yes, there are certain aspects of working in dentistry that I gladly left behind. But, then comes the “What’s next?” question and the identity crisis. Can I really find MEANING in dusting? Is there reward in a sparkly toilet bowl?

I’ve been reflecting lately, thinking about life, what mine means, how I now fit. While I don’t know yet where I’ll land, or whether I need to land anywhere, I’m reminded of a strategy I often used in the past when in the midst of turmoil.

When in doubt, do nothing.

Sometimes making decisions hastily leads to more turmoil. I’ve learned that taking my time, letting the answers come on their own–allowing due process to thoughts and feelings, quiet time, and all factors involved–brings peace.

Breathe. Be in the moment. Smell the roses. Stop fretting. Do nothing.

Yeah, I like that. Those. This thinking. Why must I be in a hurry to decide where or what is next? Why can’t I just be? Can’t I be good to me by allowing myself some latitude here? I have earned quiet time, I deserve to ponder in the quiet of my home, surrounded by things I love.

Certain things like simple beauty propel me forward:

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Last year’s Foxglove…


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…which is taller than all of us.

Simple gardening, enjoying the flowers that I planted last year that have resurfaced, along with the new.

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Top to bottom: wild flowers, thyme, basil, spinach, lettuce, wildflowers

And, who can resist these:

OK, stop laughing! Yes, that’s my voice and my daughter’s over our astonishment that there are not four, not five, but SIX kittens in this bunch. (I said stop!)

We can only get so close to the “nest” while mamma is away. We are worried she’ll come back while we’re trying to take a look. (Mamma Cat is not ours; she’s feral but has adopted us. We do not feed her, or any cats, outside. Still, she likes our home and has decided to stay. By the time we realized she was pregnant, it was too late to catch her–the plan once she’s finished nursing–so she can be fixed and released.)  In the meantime, I’m Mamma Cat’s self-appointed Mother-in-Charge of her and her babies.

I caught her in the act yesterday while she was moving her clan to a safer place. She hissed and growled at me. I’m dealing with it. I’ll be fine. Really. Sniff, sniff…

I also realized after I officially retired (on Feb. 23, 2016) that I had not been very good to me. Yep, that is correct. I had fallen away from good self care: enough sleep, enough water every day, the best food, enough exercise…..and so forth. As we moms often do, we rarely put ourselves first–and looking back, I’d put myself last again, for my family–but I hadn’t fully realized until I retired that I hadn’t helped myself one iota by the lifestyle I had adopted over the years.

I decided to start with some basics: food and simple nutrition. I cannot run this engine properly without the best fuel. I am Somersizing for those who are unfamiliar with this way of eating. After cutting out sugar and all processed food, it’s lots of fresh foods eaten in proper combinations to promote the best digestion. I’ve never eaten so well. I began April 1, and I’m down 6 1/2 pounds and several inches (I did not think to measure when I started). I feel so much better.

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Other basics: I’m trying to push the water, make myself MOVE every day, and get enough sleep. It’s amazing how the body responds positively when it’s treated right.

Not to forget emotional health, I came across this book recently.

quaker book of wisdom (2)I have never been overly religious and prefer to keep my beliefs to myself, but I will say that I agree with many aspects of this type of thinking. I found the following in the back:

1. Seize the present
2. Love yourself, whatever faults you have, and love the world, however bad it is.
3. Stop talking and listen to what you really know.
4. Play soccer! (Or whatever team sport you love)
5. Accept the fact that our lives are only partly in our own hands.
6. Believe in the perfectibility of yourself and society.
7. Make your love visible in the world through your work.
8. Seek justice in the world, but not in your own life.
9. Look for the light of God in every person.
10. Let your life speak.

If nothing, it gives me food for thought, let’s me pause when I need time to reflect. I may not have a “job” right now, not one in the traditional sense, but I am part of something (letting go of dental hygiene is harder than I thought–until I recall plaque). I’ve peacefully rediscovered my sense of belonging. I am part of this family, this household, this blogging world, my genealogy friends, and with #7 in mind, those flowers and kittens out there.

Retirement is not an event. It’s a process. No one told me that; rather, it had been painted as glee and glory. It can certainly be glee and glory, but for some, it brings to a close something that was pretty darned good for many years. To me that was a devastating loss.

My daughter whispered today to my husband to buy ice cream. Hmmm. If the only crisis I now face is which delectable dessert to buy or make, I say, Bring it!

elizabeth edwards quote_she stood in the storm and when the wind

It’s time for funky

“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring is finally here. We have color in the yard. I’ve been waiting.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy!

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Beauteous. My father called them “weeds.”
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The first of many to bloom. See that hedge back there? All Rhodies.
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Our beautiful Vinca
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Oops…how did that get in here?! (To be truthful, winter was SO long this year…I’ll take any color.)
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Began with cleaning up my greenhouse. Those weeds below are GONE!
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And look what I found. Hundreds of them, on both sides. They come inside and even though the door is open–in fact, there is no door–they can’t get out (or choose not to).
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Signs of activity, then and now. The favorite tree for Woodpeckers.
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Yep, part of my trail. It was worse.
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Aging green houses, and part of my coveted trail.
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Guess who with her favorite tree?
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Only ONE of our green houses took a hit in Portland’s recent wind storm. One.

And, the best for last. Can you tell what this is?

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These were just the ticket, the boost I needed, to get back outside. They are parked safely inside the kitchen door, ready for me at a moment’s notice. They bring out the funky in me. It’s been a very long winter, but I’m ready to get my fingers dirty.

If you can’t find me, I’ll be out back. 😉

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”

~ Robin Williams

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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 that 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 of 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?”  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. 🙂

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 here, and oozes with positive affirmations. It is worth the read. Here is her first paragraph:

“I´ll 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. It´s bravery. It´s authenticity. It´s 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. 💛

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.


❤ I feel a little less exposed. ❤