How Did I Get Here? Journey Beyond My Dental Hygienist Role

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Journey of a dental hygienist and beyond.

High School Dreams

When I was in high school, I already had my entire life planned out. I was going to be married by 25 years old. Have 2 kids. Own a grey house on 2 acres (very specific, I know!). Work as a dental hygienist. Be married to a wonderful husband. And of course live the fairytale dream of vacations, tons of money, and extreme happiness.

Actual Life Story in a Nutshell

How did that work out for me? Well, I did marry by 25. But my husband turned out to be an alcoholic, and I divorced by age 30. I did work as a dental hygienist, but I wanted out. So the best part of my real story is my beautiful son who has always brought me extreme happiness.

What I discovered through the real life journey is that expectations and reality do not always match. My life turned out to be nothing like what I had envisioned. And guess what? The more people I talk to, the more I realize this is a common story. I am not alone in asking myself, “How did I get here?

How I Became a Dental Hygienist

Let’s fast forward to today. Here I am writing this blog post  a business owner, living in Arizona, drinking coffee as I contemplate my next steps and reflect on how the choices I have made impacted all aspects of my life. And maybe how the choices of those before me impacted my life as well. My grandmother was a dental hygienist for 50 years. My aunt was a hygienist for 35 years. So getting into dental hygiene seemed like a logical choice.

What else motivated me to go for the dental hygienist role? The profession seemed to offer flexibility and good pay. And I wanted to be in a role that allowed me to care for people. It didn’t hurt that a hygienist’s degree doesn’t require too much math and you get a diploma in 2 years. (Remember, I had those dreams I was working toward and wanted everything to fall into place perfectly.)

Amy and Colby

Moving Forward

After working in a private practice 6 days a week for a year and a half, I realized that I didn’t have the sense of purpose I wanted. So I went back to school part-time to get my bachelor’s in Health Science. I was still maturing and trying to find purpose and happiness, and I thought a career change would make the difference. But the way it turned out? I did earn my bachelor’s, but I did not change careers.

That’s because when I graduated in May of 1999, I was pregnant with my son. He was born that July. The timing of a career change at that point did not seem like a good idea. So I continued working in private practice, caring for patients, and going through the motions of life.

When my son was about 3 years old, I decided to go back to school  again, This time to get my bachelor’s in education. Once again, I was trying to fill some sort of hole in my life. I kept thinking, “There’s got to be more.

Really, There’s Got to Be More

All through the internal struggles of those years, I kept up an appearance of positivity, drive, motivation, enthusiasm, and having it all together. People who knew me often complimented me on my hard work, determination, and constant smile. If they only knew! I working full-time, going to school, teaching 3 fitness classes a week, and raising a toddler. That alone was overkill. But bigger than all of it? I was dealing with personal anguish and living in fear because of an alcoholic husband.

All along, I was making new “life plans,” trying to put the pieces together in a way that “worked.” Even though none of my plans were coming to fruition as expected, I still felt comfort in having a plan. It gave me at least a perceived sense of control. Kind of like going to the grocery store with your list and knowing you got everything you need opposed to wandering around, grabbing what you feel like having, but forgetting the essentials.

Moving On

I have always had a heart to help at-risk youth, homeless families, and people who are struggling emotionally and financially. So when an opportunity came up to work in a Federally Qualified Health Care Facility as a dental hygienist in a school setting, my heart jumped for joy! This was the perfect setting for me, and I loved it.

However, our careers are only one segment of our lives. The home segment was still a major problem. It was clear that my son and I needed to move to Arizona and start fresh. Best. Decision. Ever. Actually, it was the first time in my life that I didn’t have a plan. Scary! But at the same time, freeing and exciting. I had a peace that everything would be okay, and I knew it was where I needed to be.

Moving Above and Beyond Dental Hygienist

We were making friends, my son and I. He was doing great in school. I was developing relationships with my new dental community. And the weather was perfect! Starting fresh brings new opportunities. Sometimes, even when you aren’t looking for them.

I was at the fitness center one morning, and a gentleman next to me overheard me talking about being a dental hygienist. It turned out his consulting firm was looking for a dental consultant. Yes, please! I was immediately interested, went for an interview, and got the job!

Believe me, I loved it. The knowledge and background I had gained while earning my bachelors’ degrees really paid off in my new role. So, even though I hadn’t pursued a career change back then, the effort was worthwhile.

However, the business model of the company changed, the travel increased, and I was gone every week. Also, by this time, my son was a teenager and struggling with teenage challenges. I changed to another consulting firm in Arizona, developed new technological skills, and formed new relationships.

Joy in the Journey

But my longing for fulfillment was back; I knew something was missing. After long consideration and many prayers, I made a big decision. The time had come to start my own consulting and speaking business was. Bridge the Gap Consulting Services was established in March of 2018. It has been a stressful, fun, exciting, and fulfilling year. And I’m looking forward to what the next year brings.

To wrap this up, I want to encourage anyone who is feeling like their plan isn’t working. Maybe you’re afraid of making the “wrong” choice. Take a leap of faith. I truly believe everything works out the way it is supposed to. All of our experiences, positive and negative, shape us into who we are.

What we go through gives us insight to grow. It teaches us to get back up when we fail. And it gives us the tools to be able to help others on their journeys. The biggest lesson I learned in all of this is that of letting go. When I stopped trying to control every aspect of my life and started to trust that God is good and He has a better plan for me, my life changed.

My tagline is Intention. Purpose. Results. Join me to live and pursue your dreams with intention, for a purpose to get results!

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Over 25 years in the industry has given me direct insight and experience to the changes, trends and inherent needs with in the dental profession. As I am creating, customizing and facilitating training sessions, I am sensitive to the fact that change is difficult for most people. Effectively communicating the purpose of the change through team building exercises, collaboration and learning a healthy way to manage conflict is key to enhancing team alignment and a sense of ownership. One of my strengths is to analyze the big picture, break down the needs into bit size pieces, and align the team with a plan of action. My trainings include real-life scenarios and practical steps to have an intentional focus on your desired outcome. With a sense of humor, guidance and learning how to implement specific techniques and strategies, you will have a renewed energy for your profession! Education:  Associate’s degree in Dental Hygiene from the University of Vermont  Bachelors of Science degree with a concentration in Health Science Magma cum Laude from Johnson State College in Vermont.  Bachelors of Arts in Education Magma cum Laude from Johnson State College in Vermont. I have held leadership roles in my church, work and in the fitness industry. I have been a certified group fitness instructor since 1991 which has inspired my love of public speaking, helped to motivate and inspire others, and to have energy, enthusiasm and gratitude for life. Community Service:  Missions Ministry trips to build houses  Arizona MOM (Mission of Mercy)-Volunteered as RDH  Compassion Queen Creek-Volunteered as RDH  Volunteer at a boys’ Foster Care Group Home  Volunteer with “Acts of Hope” a homeless ministry  Women’s Bible Study Leader Hobbies: In my spare time I like to spend time with family, hike, listen to music, run, workout, read or listen to books. Favorite Quote: “Everything you do in life is a reflection of a choice that you have made. If you want a different result make different choices.”

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