It’s Not You, It’s Me

Feature article from the DeW Life Magazine Spring 2020

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I am very sorry to tell you this, but I need to move this relationship in a different direction. I know we have been together for 20+ years. You have provided for me. You have always been there for me, and I know it is very hard, but it is time to move on. I want to experience new things. I can no longer be your employee. I am leaving you to be an entrepreneur.

How did we get to this point and at this time in my life? Well, I need to be honest with you, it has always been there. Since I was a young child, I have wanted to be a business owner. My father was a self-employed carpenter and had a home office. He also liked to throw parties often in our home; therefore, he built a bar in the finished basement. I would flirt with business ownership by taking Dad’s carbon paper, making bar menus and playing restaurant with my friends. My other crush was to be Mary Hart. I would dream of being on “Entertainment Tonight.” I wanted to be an on-air anchor and TV personality. If there ever was a spirit animal, Mary was it.

I knew I had to get myself out there.

After finishing high school, I was enrolled at Ohio University with plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. It was during the summer break before college began when you walked into my life and swept me off my feet. It was a serendipitous moment, and I remember it vividly. I was at my parents’ house, and they weren’t home. The doorbell rang. I answered it. There you were, being delivered by a UPS man of all things. I have heard of mail-order brides, but you were different.

To my disappointment, you weren’t even at the right house, but I took you into my life regardless and signed for you because I knew where you belonged. I promised to get you home safely as soon as my next-door neighbor arrived home. That evening I took you to my neighbor; and, to my surprise, he showed me the package. It wasn’t just an ordinary package; it was bigger than that. After some time talking, getting to know each other better, I found out what all the fuss was.

He was a dentist.

Don’t think less of me, but I was enticed by you and desired more. I became a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and then an Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary (EFDA), and still currently practice in Ohio. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences of being a very hands-on clinician in a state that licenses EFDAs and allows such a progressive skill set. My experiences have brought me many skills that others dream of having.

One of my favorite tricks is that I can look inside your mouth and tell what sort of decay you have. There are so many, and I don’t want you to judge me as “that type of girl”, but I can identify soda decay, drug decay, cancer-treatment decay, cough-drop-addiction decay and my nemesis: I’m-too-lazy-to-brush decay. You see those people at an amusement park who can guess your weight for a prize? I’m the one who can determine the bad habit that is causing decay, and I hate to tell you, there is no prize to be won.

I’ve heard the line that you cannot change people, and it is bad for relationships to try and change someone. I disagree with you. I am trying to make you a better person. Having worked in pediatrics twice in my career it is heartbreaking to see children where their dental health has been neglected. These poor kids come in with pain and are scared to see me, a total stranger. I desperately try to console them and let them know I will make it better… all of this over something completely preventable! I also would like to see the financial burden of dental care be eliminated. The difficulties and shame of an unhealthy smile should be a thing of the past.

I had to do something.

Each day at my office, I would educate my clients about ways to prevent tooth decay. I would inform them of the benefits of brushing and flossing daily. I would also teach them about what foods and drinks work against that glowing smile. Somewhere deep inside me I wished to share my knowledge with everyone through other means than by walking into my dental office and sitting in my chair.

In our relationship, something happened of which I am not proud. I found myself miserably comfortable with you. You gave me nice office hours, good pay, 5 weeks of vacation and the convenience that got in the way of my true happiness.

Things changed when you told me that my dentist sold his practice to a Dental Service Organization. You called me in and told me that the company was going in a different direction. At least you said it to my face and didn’t send it via a text. It was time for us to move on anyway. At that moment I was free of you; I was no longer claimed by anyone. You gave me the opportunity to explore other relationships and don’t be jealous that I have.

I started this next chapter on a bumpy road.

My mother was fighting cancer and losing her battle. It is hard to follow your dreams when the person who deserves to be on this journey, too, can’t. Hard to focus on dreams when a hospital room becomes a home. Hard to grow your dream when holding the hand of a loved one is more important. I did not lose sight though. I have remained resilient.

Shortly after my mother’s funeral, I went to her house to pack up her bedroom, and I stumbled across a book about “Grandma” that was left for my daughter. It was a question-and-answer book, like a baby book. The question asked was, “What is your best advice about life?”

“Never say, ‘I wish I would have.’ Try to fulfill your dreams.”

That resonated within me deeply. It is time to answer my destiny. I have taken the two loves of my life, dentistry and social outlets, to create a non-profit organization called The Dental Oral Care Project.

The DOC Project.

My audience is the general public, and my focus is on education. I’m going back to my desire to be an on-air personality by focusing more on the media aspect of attention. I will work with others to make a global change. My business plan is to work with both the dental and medical communities by providing educational tools to deliver oral health care starting before birth through geriatrics.

I have ideas worth sharing that will not only educate individuals of all ages but also provide continuing education credits to providers and profitability to their practices. I firmly believe that it is possible to significantly reduce dental disease. People are simply not being educated on proper tooth care. It’s not just for dentistry anymore!

It is emotionally draining, devastating and frightening to put myself back out there. I have had to learn how to work around the family dynamics of raising an active 7-year-old daughter and maintain the role I chose as a wife. Though, I decided to invest in myself. I attended self-improvement seminars and workshops, hired a business coach, and joined local entrepreneur clubs and used my contacts to network and grow my contact list. As with any long-term breakup, it is a difficult journey. But you will find that my resiliency is even stronger, and I refuse to mope around because I am one tough woman.

I am here to live my dreams, so I am moving on with my “happily ever after.” Entrepreneurship can be scary, and it surely gets me out of my comfort zone; but don’t be upset about it because it’s not about you, it’s about me. Lynda 2.0.

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Lynda Sherman is an Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary who practices in Columbus, Ohio. Though she initially attended school for broadcast journalism, her next-door neighbor introduced her to dentistry. Not only did that change her career path, but she also found her purpose. Lynda’s innovative approaches to the placement of direct restorations make her a master clinician. She has also collaborated as Clinical Manager for a DSO. She has been working on growing her dental consulting company this past year, but her passion for dental disease prevention has taken over the direction of her future. Noticing that dental disease is still as prevalent today as it was 10, 20, and even 40 years ago, if not worse, she is using her influence to inspire the dental industry to shift their thinking from treatment and replacement to prevention instead. She is utilizing her speaking skills to make an impact by advocating at the medical level for dental education intervention. And she is pushing for national media recognition to get the word out that this disease is 100% preventable. Lynda would call herself an activist, as she is on the journey to eradicate tooth decay. You can follow The Dental Oral Care Project (The DOC Project) on Facebook and Instagram @thedentaloralcareproject.

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