Lips Together, Teeth Apart

Ok, I know it’s the title of a play, but it was my mantra last night…..all night.

If you’ve followed my blog for a long while, you’ll remember I have a terrible problem with my teeth. Bad nutrition for years set in a bad case of periodontitis. I’ve been told by dentists for years that I should take special care, and if I do, I’ll be able to hold onto my smile for maybe another 5 years. Maybe. Usually, once a year, my face flairs up, blows up to the size of a grapefruit. I take the antibiotics, whimper for a week, then when all has cleared and the dust settles, I’m able to go back to my daily routine, my life, my smile. And part of what perpetuates the problem is a terrible habit of grinding my teeth at night. Anyone who has ever slept anywhere near me at night will comment in the morning, “DAMN! That was LOUD!” I often wake myself up in the middle of the night. But, I get it. It’s related to stress.

Last I woke more than usual with an acute pain centered around my right upper molars. That’s the usual spot where my flair up occurs. Apparently, I had been grinding my teeth so bad that I had pushed one molar well up into my gums and the searing pain had me waking and moaning. And that’s when I started on my chant. “Lips together, teeth apart.” And it does work. An hour or two later and I was at it again, waking with a moan and a pain, but would rest my head back down on the pillow repeating over and over, “Lips together…..teeth apart.”

And the last time I did that was somewhere around 4am. I decided to sit up for a minute, scratch Mario’s back who was laying beside me, and pop on some old school. (“Murder, She Wrote”). As I lay there I decided to consider the stress factor, for that’s where the grinding teeth come from. It didn’t take an entire episode to realize where it comes from.

It’s not easy being an independent artist, or writer, or knitter. It’s not easy waiting each day to see if I’ve made a sale to see if I’ll be able to pay the rent, or eat. But, don’t forget for even a moment, that these were the decisions I made. I started all this when I was homeless. I used my hands and my talents with a set of knitting needles to get myself out of it, and it took a few years, but it gladly happened. Happily happened….but, something is missing.

And as I lay there, I realized I was focusing on the wrong stress. It wasn’t a fear of not selling and being homeless again, no it was more philosophical. It wasn’t a fear of failure….it was a fear of not living to my potential.

I have value, and thanks to all of you, I have purpose. I have a life that I never would have thought possible five years ago. When I sold my first bear, I was only hoping to buy a bag of groceries. Now? Now, I get to hear your stories, be a part of your lives, smile with you, morn with you, share ideas with you, I get to sleep in a real bed after having a nice bowl of chili stuck to my gut. And the real stress, I discovered, was that I could do more, but haven’t. I could do more for this community of knitters, but haven’t. So worried about surviving, I wasn’t thinking enough about thriving, and in turn, doing the same for anyone who comes across this blog.

I can do so much more for all of us. I know I can. And I just have to remember when I go to bed, that I’m no longer doing this for myself. I’m doing it for everyone that has read my work and felt a need to say hello, to email me, to contact me with kindness and joy and understanding.

I have all ideas I’m gonna sleep tonight with lips together, teeth apart…and the grinding will stop. I get it now. I get it now. Everything I’ve been working for isn’t just so I can pay rent and buy food….it’s something bigger. There’s something bigger that’s going to happen. And it won’t because of me, but because of us. All of us, side by side like a couple of knitting ninjas with needles in hand, not only surviving….but, all of us thriving. Finally, thriving….

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  1. you need to sleep with an dental appliance. that should help you from grinding your teeth. your dentist can make one, which will cost a pretty penny, or Walmart sells a plastic guard in the toothpaste isle. please look into this, you’ll sleep much better with one less thing to worry about

  2. you definitely need one of those guards to sleep for your teeth. do you have a dental college near you? they would do dental work at a very reduced price. i know because i am going to nova dental school to have a mouthful of work done. and no matter what you are no failure. you have touched many peoples lives with your talent and your blog

  3. This post resonates with me so much. Not been homeless but definitely existing well below the bread line and, lately, things seem to have got harder rather than easier. Like you, paying my rent is a struggle every month and cheese and crackers get very tired after a But I love your mantra, strive to thrive…my next knitting design is almost ready and you have inspired me to stop procrastinating and pull my digit out and try to thrive too…thank you hunny..and I wish you every success in your ventures …. hope your teggy trouble abates also! x

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