Thoughts for the holidays

Dec. 1, 2004
It is hard to believe that another year has gone by! Personally, it has been a wonderful year, filled with the love of family and friends, good health, and the joy of meeting...

It is hard to believe that another year has gone by! Personally, it has been a wonderful year, filled with the love of family and friends, good health, and the joy of meeting and working with so many dedicated dental professionals throughout the country.

The holiday season always is a busy time, and it is easy to become overwhelmed. For many people, the frenzy starts after Halloween and ends around Labor Day. Last year, a friend sent me a note with a great reminder message, and I put it on the calendar work board that sits above my desk. It serves as a reminder of what really matters each day.

When a patient thanks you for taking "such good care" of him or her or a loved one, when a team member thanks you for "listening and being there," when a new patient calls to schedule an appointment because he or she has heard you are the best dentist in town, when you think about all the smiles you have restored ... these are the really important things that let you know you have done your job well.

For me, it is a note or an email following a seminar or consultation service saying, "Best course I have taken in a long time - we are following your suggestions and see the changes already!" or "This is the third time I have attended your course, and each time I learn something more!" or "Your consultation with us reminded me of the importance of my work." The icing on the cake for me was when a 66-year-old dentist came up after a recent seminar and said, "I was thinking about retiring, but you've got me all fired up again and I can't wait to get to the office!"

So, with your permission, allow me to digress from our usual and customary "tooth talk" and reprint the special note from my friend which has come to mean so much to me. Watch for the important moments in life and fill up on them; don't let them pass by unnoticed. Or, as a wise sage said, "We grow old too soon and smart too late."

"Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long trip that spans the continent. We are traveling by train. Through the windows, we see scenes of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a railroad crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. Bands will be playing and flags will be waving. Once we get there, our dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Restlessly, we pace the aisles - waiting, waiting for 'The Station.'

When we reach the Station, that will be it!
When I buy my first house ...
When I buy the Mercedes ...
When I put my last child through college ...
When I pay off the mortgage ...
When I reach the age of retirement, I will live happily ever after!

Sooner or later, we must realize that there is no Station, no one place to arrive at. The true joy of life is the trip. The Station is only a dream, and it constantly outdistances us.

It isn't the burdens of today that drive people mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today. So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, and cry less. The Station will come soon enough."

Annette Ashley Linder, BS, RDH, is a recognized leader in the field and an award-winning speaker and consultant. She is a featured speaker at dental meetings and provides in-office consulting services with her team of business and clinical consultants. She may be reached at her Web site at, via email at Annette@, or by phone at (804)745-6015.

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