My Electric Toothbrush — Unplugged

Several of my friends have expressed an almost religious fervor on the subject. Maybe they’d seen my somewhat frayed-bristle, six-month check-up, dentist issued, Oral B in my bathroom. “How could you still use this old thing? You really have to get an electric toothbrush. You’ve got to get into the 21st century.”

Then they’d go on to expound on the virtues of their favorite brand. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. And I can really appreciate many of the arguments for buzzing your way to a gum happy, whiter smile, but — As I understand it, the rapid movements allow the toothbrush to remove plaque AND loosen up mouth crud in those nasty tight spaces between teeth as brushing with a poor lazy arm could never do. Electric toothbrushes can actually help remove coffee stains and, hallelujah, can help remove bacteria that cause bad breath. (The way my friends extolled the incredible properties of these devices, I almost concluded they might slow down global warming as well.) A stat I read on some Internet health site said they reduce gingivitis by 6% over manual brushes, leading to a 17% reduction in gum bleeding. Pretty impressive, I’d say. Some oscillate. Some vibrate on a “sonic” frequency, I learned. Oh wow, I thought, like having nuclear submarine technology in my mouth. Cool beans.

I bought myself a start-up model, a two-speed, battery operated number where you could change these half-sized toothbrushes whenever they got worn out. I brush twice a day, about two minutes at a time …and I’d like to think my mouth wants to thank me.

Truth is, though, many nights, when I brush my teeth before going to bed, when I stumble into the bathroom and make faces at my reflection in the mirror, I squeeze a dab of toothpaste onto my SpinBrush, and I don’t turn the damn thing on. Not even on low-speed. I look at myself in the mirror, and make the motions the old-fashioned way: Up. Down. Up. Down. Or faster. Up-down-up-down-up-down. Or, around-and-around-and-around. Now counter-clockwise. Around-and-around-and-around. How far back can I go?

I love to hear the sound of the brush against my teeth. I could never hear this on either oscillating speed. I like to hear how the sound of the brush changes when the motion I make with my arm changes. I like thinking about cause and effect when I do this. How a simple action can change so many things, intentionally or not, before the action is completed. And, that’s no small thing.

Addition to the "List"

I recently attended Celebrate Your Life, a public expo featuring the world’s leading speakers on new thought. I smiled through talks by Michael Beckwith, Sonia Choquette and Gregg Braden as they encouraged me to ask myself good questions, exercise heart-felt choices in all range of decisions, and to enjoy my fullest expression. Another speaker, Arielle Ford, gave a talk on attracting your soul mate.

I have heard these kinds of talks before. I’d usually laugh inwardly when I’d see a bevy of women circling the author’s table at Borders, post-lecture, eager to pick up the latest signed copy of expert advice on finding Mr. Right. I have long known about dream boards (collages) and games to play with your subconscious mind, supposedly to set the laws of attraction into motion.

All fine and good, I’d think, but…such an experience can’t happen for me.

I decided to release my history and disarm my doubt and play with this anyway. Truth is, I would like a special companion to spend my life with.

So, I cleaned out space in my closet and emptied a couple drawers. I bought a night table from a resale shop, which I will re-finish and put on the “other” side of my bed. I collected pictures from Google “Images” to represent things I would like to do with my partner, like cook, go to ballgames and jazz clubs, host parties. And I contemplated what qualities I would want in my partner. I made my list. Funny, kind, healthy and fit, passionate about his work and other pursuits, really listens to me…I filled up two college-ruled lined pages of notebook paper. (Must be some guy, huh?) Then I got very quiet and asked myself, I asked God if I needed to add anything to my list. I wrote:

My feelings of love grow stronger every day. I am beautiful, desirable, one-of-a-kind, imminently lovable and a pleasure to be with.

Allowing myself to declare wanting something, not stopping myself because I’m afraid of being greedy, disappointed or somehow not asking for the right things in the right way – this was a big deal. And after making out my list, listening to this declaration surfacing from God knows where — such an addendum is no small thing.

The Ripple Effect — Signs From the Universe

Most days, I read the Daily Om, a short meditation on the trials and joys of being human. It is uncanny how often the subject of Madyson Taylor’s e-letter seems aligned with current issues in my life.

So, today, I decided to start recording observations on small things that are anything but small simply because I gave them attention. Lo and behold, the topic for today’s Daily Om is the “ripple effect.” She writes:

In a world of six billion people, it is easy to believe the only way to initiate profound transformation is to take extreme action. Each of us, however, carries within us the capacity to change the world in small ways for better or worse. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives, and their reactions in turn affect others.

She goes on to talk about the potential impact of smiling at a stranger or performing a small act of kindness, reminiscent of the pay it forward principle. Of course, I like hearing about this type of thing, remembering I can feel empowered without a lot of cash or a heavily booked social calendar. But I was extra delighted by today’s meditation.

When I see synchronicities in my life, I feel the world is telling me, “Yes, you are on the right track.” When I call a friend who just happened to be thinking about me or go to the store and unexpectedly discover a favorite item on sale, I develop more confidence to trust myself, to trust my intuition. When I make a concerted effort to pay attention to things that happen in my life and the ways these events are connected to thoughts that have passed through my consciousness, I build trust that the forces of the universe brings people and situations together at the right time. And that’s no small thing.

Thank You — From the Bottom of My Heart

I went to a kirtan Saturday night. A kirtan is a call and response style of devotional chanting from Indian traditions. The musicians sing out a line, usually one of the many names of God, in a simple and beautiful melody, and everyone repeats the line back. It’s amazing how the repetition of simple lines can generate such energy and variety. Krishna Das, the perfect blend of storyteller, tenor, and human being, and probably the most well known kirtankar, guided the packed auditorium at the Irish Heritage Center, along with a violinist, two drummers and a bass player wearing Rastafarian style braids

Okay, I love the incongruity of a nice Jewish boy from Long Island chanting Hindu devotional tunes (a Hind-Jew) at the Irish Heritage Center. Tickling me more was how he revved up the crowd for the old gospel tune “I’ve got a main line to Jesus. Tell him what you want…”

I spent most of the event with my eyes closed and my heart open. I heard the man directly behind me clapping his hands to the beat. I heard women a few rows back exchanging recipes. If I caught the same conversation at a movie theater, I may have “hymph”ed my displeasure under my breath. But I wasn’t bothered. I heard my own voice, imperfect in pitch, stumbling over many Sanskrit phrases, and I didn’t care. I sang louder. This level of self-forgiveness was rare indeed. I can apologize to friends for the bad weather at a baseball game I bought tickets for. Imagine me, singing out loud like this.

How did I get here? This place of compassion?

Krishna Das sings as a form of service. It is liberating to be with people who offer their service so lovingly. And there must be something about making music too, about making sound; to know I can be heard outside of my own internal dialogue. By singing, I declared myself ready to participate, ready to make noise, make mistakes, be touched, be affected.

After the concert, I approached the stage. I don’t know why exactly. I saw a barefoot man with slightly graying hair, wearing brown pants and a brown knit tee. I hugged him. I had nothing to say that he didn’t already know.

Thanking someone from such a deep place is no small thing.