Braces of Life

My daughter finally got her braces off this week!  She was extremely excited for the unveiling of her new set of pearly whites!  I was excited because of her excitement.  She couldn’t wait to eat certain foods again and most of all she was thrilled not to have food stuck in her teeth after every meal.

As the dental assistant quickly removed the braces to show us her new straightened teeth, I was amazed at the quick transition.  In two years, these two little wires moved things around precisely to have every incisor, canine, premolar and molar tooth perfectly positioned.  I never had braces myself so this process totally awed me!

I couldn’t understand the anguish and pain that my daughter was going through during these two years of braces because I never got to experience this myself.  I did see her having to take Advil after they got adjusted or after she had to wear new elastics.  I hated that my daughter had to be exposed to this needless pain just to have straight teeth, but it is something that she wanted and something that would serve her well for the rest of her life.  This pain, was just something she had to go through and there was nothing I could do to change that!

As I spend more time myself making my trips around the sun each year, I am realizing so much!  I find my children supply me with a great amount of wisdom.  Through this braces experience, and as my children age and are faced with some adult decisions and trials, I’m realizing that we are really all put on this earth to have our braces put on our teeth of life so that we can be straightened out.

We are all faced with getting our braces tightened every day.  We have challenges face us daily.  Some people are faced with more than others, but we are all being slowly shuffled around in our mouths of life so that over time we are straightened out to the place in our mouths where we belong.  A perfect smile of life.

My daughter was lucky.  She didn’t have her braces on for the expected two years.  That is because she was obsessive about the directions that the orthodontist gave her.  She made sure that she wore her elastics when she was supposed to.  If a brace broke she was at me to make an appointment and get it fixed immediately.

My son on the other hand was a total different story.  He never wore his elastics as directed by the orthodontist.  When I would encourage him to follow orders, he would remind me that it wasn’t him that wanted these braces it was me, and didn’t care if he ever got them off.  His attitude with this mouth full of metal was totally different than my daughter’s.  Due to his neglect, he had his braces on much longer than was expected.  Geeze.  I have an athlete I coach that has to have her braces on for five years because her jaw, teeth and bite are so messed up.

We are all going to have a different experience here on Earth, just like all children have a different experience with their journey in braces.  We can be like my daughter and be diligent about every little thing the orthodontist tells her so that her experience with this mouthful of metal is as painless as possible or we can be like my son, and not care about what happens to us and not learn from the wisdom of those who are directing our steps.

This is totally up to the individual.  Either way, we are going to come in to contact with these metal wires in our lifetime.  What we choose to do about them is our free will.  .  Just like I hated that my daughter was exposed to this needless pain of braces, it is hard to watch our children or any loved one experience the other pains of life.   We are all experiencing peer pressure, bullies, broken hearts, failures, and disappointments and this is hard to watch when it is someone you deeply love.  Especially our own flesh and blood.  If you are anything like me, you just want to just fix things for them, but you have to understand that that doesn’t teach them the strategies of life.  It is the person going through the turmoil that has to make the adjustments, and do the work themselves.  Parents can only be like the orthodontist and give them suggestions on what they can do to help this process move along faster.  Whether they listen to us or not is then their choice.  They have to make the effort to take direction and move forward.

If I can teach anything to my children or any loved one, as they are going through their painful time of  life’s braces and straightening out their moral compass of life it would be a quote from William Shakespeare, “Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you.”

We are all going to experience the pain of having our “braces of life” on, but it is all part of our straightening out process for our souls.  Use your pain for your good.  Don’t forget the pain, but forgive the situation and learn from what it teaches you.  Try not to make the same mistake again.  If you do repeat the process.  Forget.  Forgive.  Learn.  And most importantly move on.  Eventually, whether it takes you a lifetime of braces or just a few years, you will eventually have the most beautiful and straightest smile of your life!

We all deserve this, but only you can make it happen!


Emotional Eruptions

I have thoroughly enjoyed all the stages of my children’s development, but I am thinking the teenage stage is probably one of my favorite.  I love how they think they know more than their elders, make fun of our dispositions and actions, and most of all, I think it is funny how they are getting used to the adult life.

My beautiful daughter is learning how important it is to take good care of your face to prevent any acne from surfacing from her pores.  She is now on a fifteen minute routine that she performs morning and night to ensure her face remains clean, oil and blemish free.

I think it is fantastic that she devotes this time to the prevention of these nasty buggers.  We all know that pimples are excess oil, dead skin cells and bacteria that get overloaded in our pores and cause this hard, inflamed part on our skin.  It actually comes from the Greek word that means “skin eruption”.  Funny part of the puzzle I think!

As I listen to her perform this lengthy routine every day, it makes me think about the importance of our own emotional health.  We really should be doing the same with our emotional well-being as my daughter is doing with her facial well-being.  She is taking a half hour out of her day to prevent these “skin eruptions” but so many of us should really be taking thirty minutes out of our day to prevent “emotional eruptions”.

Why do we worry about what is on the surface of our bodies, but not what’s going on deep inside of our souls?  Our mental pimples come from the dirty bacteria of our life experiences, the oil of bitterness and dead dream-cells that get plugged up in our minds and cause hard, inflamed parts in our souls.  Emotional pimples so to speak.  They fester in our thoughts and make emotional eruptions just like on our skin’s surface.

I’m sure my daughter isn’t the only one that spends time on making sure her face is acne-free.  Geeze, most women are definitely guilty of this!  Spending tons of their daily time on what their face looks like.  Make-up application isn’t a speedy affair and most woman spend tons of time making sure all their blemishes and imperfections are perfectly hidden under all that foundation, highlighter, blush, mascara, etc.  Meanwhile, their insides are totally falling apart.  They are ready to explode or take a mental breakdown, but they still look good on the surface.

If we spend the time on what our face looks like, shouldn’t it be more important to focus on our emotional pores?  Our emotional imperfections?  If we don’t want things to plug our emotional pores, then we really have to take the time to do the work that is needed to make sure we don’t have emotional eruptions either.

If you have time in your day to spend on pampering your face, feet, hands and even eyelashes, you surely can find time to pamper your soul.  Even if it is just 20 minutes a day to sit and meditate.  You can do a guided meditation, or sit in silence.  The important part is that you devote time to something incredibly more valuable than your face, your mental health!

The excuse, “I don’t have time” doesn’t fly with me.  We all have choices and if you choose to spend hours on making sure your outward appearance is great for all the world to see, than you have time to work on your inner appearance.  In all reality, this is what makes a person attractive, not what they look like on the outside!

Try multitasking.  Use your time wisely.  While you are in the shower, listen to something spiritual that you find touches your soul, or that educates you on the importance of meditation.  While you are putting on your face in the morning and taking it off at night, again, play an audiobook that will teach you the importance of pampering your inner appearance.  This is actually the part of you that people will eventually find the most attractive anyway!

I love the Buddha quote that says, “You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.”  My daughter can help control her skin eruptions to a certain extent if she spends the time nursing this area of her face, but we can always control our emotional eruptions if we spend time fostering our insides.  I recommend everyone read “Conquest of the Mind” by one of my favorite authors, Eknath Easwaran!  This book will help you take charge of your thoughts and reshape your life, if you are ready to put energy into this part of yourself.

It is time for everyone to realize that their inner health and well-being is more important than their outer appearances.  Spend your valuable time cleaning up the inner you.  I can’t stress the importance of this part of yourself.  Happiness is always found on the inside, not on the outside, so pamper that inner you to give you the happiness you deserve!  Nobody wants Emotional Eruptions, just like nobody wants pimples all over their face.  Clean up yours today!


Strengthening Struggles

Facebook is a funny thing.  I love posting on it, mostly because I get to see these posts as memories years from now.  This is really my motivation to post, but recently I shared a post that my daughter made the top 12 gymnastics provincial team.  The following day, the roster was released from Baseball NB that my son made the U17 team and I also shared that.

It’s very kind that people post congratulations on these posts, and comments such as what athletic children we have, but all I want to reply with is that all children are created equal and my children are just fortunate that they found sports that they enjoy and work hard at.

I love that my children are involved in sport, not to be recognized as making provincial teams, but for what sport teaches them.  Sport teaches that you strengthen through your struggles.  I’ve witness my daughter fight fears in gymnastics to finally concur them and continue to move forward.  I’ve been through shoulder rehab with my son so that he could be a successful pitcher again. Through sports, I’ve watched my children struggle and become stronger and more successful.  Their push and success through these pains and setbacks is what I’m most proud of…not their actual accomplishments in their chosen sport!

These sporting struggles eventually lead them to be stronger in their chosen sport.  Just like the struggles of their lives are making them stronger, more successful human beings, more prepared to move forward successfully in life from what they learned during their difficult times.

What people don’t see on my Facebook posts are my children’s life struggles.  Just because I don’t post them doesn’t mean they don’t exist.  Every Facebooker is experiencing personal struggles, but most of us never share this part of our lives with the Facebook world.

My daughter went through a horrible winter.  She was put on a hit list of another student in her school.  Actually her very close friend, who even texted her the date they planned to kill her.  “April 13 is going to be a blast!”  This hit our family hard, but we took this struggle and we attacked it like we would our sporting lives.  We knew that it was just a bump in our training and it was eventually going to make us all stronger!  A torn Achilles one may say.  Fortunately, it gave me an opportunity to practice what I preach and to work with her through her fear, anxiety, broken heart and devastation.

The entire time I kept explaining to her that this person just needs love, and we would take time out of our days to do just that.  Send this person love.  I talk about it to her when she brings it up.  She saw this individual lately and of course it stirred up many emotions in her, but I explained to her that this is all things she has to work through to make her stronger for whatever life is going to throw her way next.

Another big life lesson that this situation opened the door for me was to teach her to not take anything personally.  This is the other person’s problem, not hers.  She is just being caught in the cross fire of their inner issues.  Any time my children feel like they are being attacked in some way, I stress that it isn’t their problem and they shouldn’t take it personally.  This is the second of the “Four Agreements” found in the book “Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz taken from the Ancient Mexican Toltec wisdom.  If you are looking for a great book on freeing yourself from this crazy world, I definitely recommend this one.

My son is no different.  He has his life struggles too, and we work through them the same as I do with my daughter.  I have made both of them listen to the Four Agreements that are found on Youtube, and hopefully they keep this ancient wisdom in their brains as a strengthening tool for their life to come.  My mission is to give them as many strengthening tools as I possibly can!

The Universe sends us many strengthening tools, just like we use in sports.  I’m sure everyone is familiar with the basic bench press?  This is a strengthening tool created to strengthen our chest muscles…or pectoral muscles to be exact!  Well, life gives us many bench presses in the run of our lives to help strengthen ourselves as human beings.  As parents we are going to watch our children struggle under the weight of the bench press, but we have to let them bench press it themselves.  We can stand and maybe spot them through it if they need us, but we can’t bench press it for them.  We have to let them get sore from their attempts and try the bench press again.

Nothing is more rewarding than watching your child increase their ability to press more weight on the bench press as they strengthen through their constant struggles.  The same is true with life.  We all have to struggle with the weight of the bench press to strengthen ourselves and move forward in this world.

There is a great quote that I am sure you’ve all heard before, “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” That quote is attributed to the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, who Netflix did a great episode on in “Geniuses of the Ancient World” which I recommend you watching too.  Actually, he said it much more eloquently: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” And, if you look at life like a sport and our struggles as a bench press, surprisingly this man is right!