It’s Getting Real!


Last night after work, I went to pick up the dental equipment that my other team members and I will be responsible for taking with us to Nicaragua. We each have a big black suitcase type container to haul down there. Mine contains a cavitron, which is basically a portable dental hand piece (or “drill” as most people call it.)

The man I met up with is a dentist here in Calgary and he has done eight Kindness in Action trips! He had nothing but good to say about his experiences and also about Nicaragua. It gave me a little excitement boost. This is happening!

– Christy


Crunch Time!


In five days, I will be on a plane headed for Nicaragua. I can't believe it! It is going to be a trip like no other.

Yesterday, my sister Sarah and brother in law Curtis gave me a going away gift – an awesome black traveling bag with a thousand pockets and compartments, and they didn't stop there. It was full of all kinds of things that I might need on my trip – Pepto Bismol, Tylenol, shoes for the airport, sandals, a journal, Lara bars, Eatmore bars, gum, sunscreen..and more. They seriously thought of everything. It was such a surprise and so thoughtful of them!

– Christy

January 17, 1924


This past Friday, January 17th, my dear grandma turned 90! If you met her, you might guess she was only 75 or 80, and if you asked her how old she feels, she'd probably say the same thing (or even younger!).

My sister and I spent so much of our childhood at her house, she pretty much raised us, and I feel so proud to call her grandma.

If there were more people like her in this world, it would be a much better place.

She's one of those rare, kind souls who when you talk to her, she makes you feel like you're the most important person she knows. She has this gift of always finding the very best in a person or situation, even at times when it would be completely understandable if she focused on the negative. She has strong faith in God, and this faith is extremely important to her, but yet she would be the last person to judge someone else for anything.

And man, can she tell a story. Some of my most fond memories are of us all sitting around a dinner table or living room, just hearing about the old days. Her memory is unbelievable; the stories she tells are still so vivid and interesting, with so much detail sprinkled throughout.

I really cherish her and I feel so lucky. That she was blessed with 90 amazing years, but also that she is still going so strong. She really illustrates to me how important having a good attitude and positive outlook on life are.

I love you!

– Christy



Un Mes


I hope everyone had a really great Christmas. Just wanted to take a moment to point out than in (less than) one month, we leave for Nicaragua! Ahhh!

– Christy




Anyone who has done a yoga class will probably remember the savasana pose. Most classes start and end with this pose and although appears very simple, it can also be quite difficult to completely master.

Savasana is the corpse pose; you lie on your back, arms and legs straight and relaxed, eyes closed. Stillness. Savasana at the beginning of the class is meant to help you shut off your mind and forget the busyness and stress of the day. Savasana at the end of class is meant to absorb all the benefits of the yoga practice you just completed, and to focus your intentions for the rest of your day. Two different reasons, both very important.

Rest is important. This is something I have ignored for this past year. Today was my last day of work until the new year and tomorrow is the first day of “vacation” I have had all year. It feels like I am finally breathing in again.

I'm not really sure why I worked so hard and so endlessly this year. I guess part of the reason is money, and the other is that I took on a lot of responsibility at work and felt like I couldn't take time off. I felt like I wasn't able to. All excuses, I guess. Maybe I also wore it as a badge of honor, in a way, the fact that I “worked longer/harder/more” than everyone else. I don't know. All I know is, never again. As this year comes to a close, I realize I have never felt more burnt out or unhappy. As I drove home from work today, I cried. A happy cry, I think, just from knowing that finally, finally, I could just breathe.

It is important and healthy to take time for yourself to rest and recharge. Next year (and every year) I promise myself I will remember that.

– Christy



I'm going to speak from my heart for a little bit.

I've been in the dental field for over 7 years, and in that time, I've learned a lot. In dental assisting school, we gained a lot of knowledge. We crammed so much information into 10 months worth of school and became professional memorizers. We learned not only how a cavity forms but also the entire process of how a tooth forms (hello, Biology!). We memorized the age that each tooth comes into your mouth (no small task, considering humans have one set of 20 teeth that take several years to come in, in a very specific order, and a second set of 32 that take over a decade to fully arrive.)

We were taught every detail of any dental procedure the dentist might need to do – all of the materials he or she might need, the step-by-step order of these procedures (the how), the reason for doing the procedures (the why).

Then we all got into the real world and realized how little we all actually knew. We were all surprised to find out that the specific list of materials required for a filling, the list we had all so carefully memorized, was only used by a few dentists. Everyone else had their own, slightly different (or drastically different) list. It's so hard when you think you've prepared well for something and find out that it means nothing.

But, you adapt. We all did. After enough “real world” experience, we all learned pretty quickly that each dentist has their own favorite way of doing everything, and you just learn to keep up. Dental assistants are pretty amazing that way.

However, the one thing we aren't taught in school is the person to person interaction part. The psychology of how differently patients will act – towards us, towards the dentist, towards the front end staff whom they have to pay. (I think this is probably because there would be so much material, it would take 10 years to cover, instead of 10 months!).

Some days are hard. I think healthcare jobs tend to attract a lot of caring, empathetic people. People like this are gifted with strengths such as warmth and compassion, and are usually very nurturing.

I'm a very sensitive, empathetic person. I think for a long time, I've tried not to be. Often, sensitivity is confused for weakness and I've even felt that myself. However, they aren't the same thing. Sensitivity means a greater awareness of senses. Sensitive people are just more in tune with the nuances. A tiny flicker of sadness on someone's face. Minor changes in light or temperature. Flavors of food. I think it is an asset to be more aware of these things, and it allows me to be more careful of how other people may be feeling.

The problem with empathy is that, for me at least, you tend to absorb other people's moods and feelings a little bit. While this is good in one sense (it helps when you need to show compassion or understanding in a situation), it can be hard to shake. Less sensitive, less empathetic people can have an encounter with a negative, mean person and just “shake it off”. I don't know how to do that. As a defense mechanism, I've found that I've learned to kind of build up a guarded exterior. While this does help to protect my soft heart, I don't think this is healthy. It's something I'm working on.

This past week at work has been rough. It's December now, which means Christmas is on everyone's minds. It's supposed to be a joyful time but I know it's also a really stressful time for many. Money is supposed to stretch so far during this season, and it can often feel like there's never enough. It's also the end of the year for a lot of people's insurance plans, so there's a lot of urgency felt by us as people scramble to use up their insurance benefits before they lose them.

Today I was screamed at by three different people on the phone. Not strangers, patients – actual people I have talked to face to face. I know three isn't a lot, telemarketers should probably call this a good day, but I don't think it's something you get used to. The worst part is that each of these people was screaming at me because their insurance won't cover something….meaning, something that is not at all my fault or in my control. I truly felt for all three of these people, I understand how tight money is, especially this time of year, but it's so unfair to put that onto my shoulders. I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence but it's not. Most days I honestly just block it out. To the point that if you ask me about my day, and what happened, I have to think hard to remember anything that happened. I think I suppress it, or something. Again, not healthy.

– Christy

All in the Details


We got an email today with some details about our trip schedule. Two full days of our trip will be spent either in the air or airports – we'll be arriving in Nicaragua very late on January 25th and we leave for home very early on February 1st. That still leaves us with six full days to spend in Nicaragua!

Our first full day there – January 26th – it looks like we will be spending a lot of time just sightseeing around the region of Leon and Chinandega. We will stay here in Chinandega for two days and nights.

On the 27th, we will set up for our first clinic in a region called Somotillo.

We will have our second clinic day on the 28th in Somotillo again, then head to Leon to spend the night.

Our third and fourth clinics on the 29th and 30th will be in Posoltega. Both of these nights, we will stay in Suyapa Beach.

We will spend our last full day – January 31 – relaxing on Suyapa Beach and then travelling back to Managua where we will stay the night.

The morning of February 1st we will head to the airport to fly back home!

I am SO excited to find out as much as I can about these places before we go. Nicaragua looks beautiful and the people look amazing. I can't wait 🙂

– Christy


Paid in Full


Our group's final payment was processed yesterday! It's weird, now that everything has been paid in full, it feels so much more real that this is actually happening. Now all that's left to do is wait. (And learn Spanish. Which, is still going really well! I'm at Level 8 now….out of about 5000, I'm guessing?! Haha.)

– Christy



So, we just found out our final payment for the trip is due b yNovember 1st. In one week. A bit of a change, considering that the original timeline said our last installment would be due sometime in December! Eep. One more reason, to be very, very thankful for all of my financial supporters; without it, this news would definitely have been a deal breaker. I really hope there aren't any other team members who have been impacted by this change of events…

– Christy

Yo Hablo Espanol!


In my last blog post, I told you I had downloaded the app Duolingo in an attempt to learn Spanish. Well, I have just been hooked on this app. It is so awesome. I'm already learning so much and it's only been about two weeks!

So far I have learned Basics, like sí, no, hola, buenos días (yes, no, hello, goodbye); Simple Verbs like como, bebo, soy (I eat, I drink, I am); and Foods. My next new skills are laid out like upcoming levels in a game, so I can always check out what is next on the agenda. It looks like I will soon be learning Animals, then Possessives (my, your, his/hers) and after that, Questions. I still have a long way to go but it has been a lot of fun so far!

– Christy