We are well on our way into the new year, with the page turning on the first month of 2019 with a speed that is, quite frankly, shocking to me.
There is snow on the mountaintops, I’ve finally got my studded snow tires on (I play a dangerous waiting game every winter called “But Can I Still Drive?”) and I have a precious few hours ahead of me before I go get dental work done.
Going to the dentist has long been a daunting ordeal for me, due to some poor experiences in childhood. I am reduced to a fearful plate of pale green Jello in the face of orthodontia.
I’m one of those people who you will likely see quivering and ever-so-slightly panic stricken, trying to compress myself into the corner of the chair and somehow shrink away from the sound of the drill.
I have tried everything from deep breathing to counting ceiling tiles — anything to take down the pre-event anxiety and plain fear. I have tried to avoid and deny that the dentist needs to be any part of my life.
At the beginning of 2019, when the majority of people were setting and sharing their New Year’s resolutions, I decided to try something radical — setting reasonable goals, rather than resolutions, and committing to changing my perspective.
I decided to start viewing difficult tasks in a different light. Suddenly, my forays into the dental chair took on a new persona called self-care.
Don’t get me wrong; I have always viewed self-care as something typically more enjoyable (think massage, sauna time, or beach trip).
However, when I break down the concept of self-care, it really points to the fact that I need to take care of myself, whether that means making space for a mind-clearing hike in the woods or, in this case, caring for an unresolved dental issue that ultimately affects my quality of life.
As I was forming this novel idea for this new take on self-care, I came across a quote from American essayist Anne Lamott that piqued my interest.
“It’s good to do uncomfortable things. It’s weight training for life,” Lamott opines. I couldn’t agree more. There will always, always be uncomfortable things to do. The discomfort forces inspirational growth if we can make it through the fear factor.
While getting more physical exercise will always be something I work on, right now, I think I could use a little “weight training for life.” Life gets heavy and takes endurance. We all have to face those things we fear and find a way to triumph despite the many curveballs thrown our way.
I can’t say that I am ecstatic about getting in the dental chair today, but I can say that I am taking care of myself — the one precious self that I am grateful to wake up to every morning that I’m given.