Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 Scholarship Winners!

Congratulations to the three winners of our 2018 Graf Orthodontics scholarships! 

We are very proud of these high school seniors and their educational accomplishments so far, and can't wait to see what the future brings!

Here are the winning essays:


Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 Scholarship Winners

to our $1,000 scholarship winners!!

We are proud to invest in your futures
and believe that you will go far!

Read the winning essays below:

A Smile Can Change the World
By Dylan Verbanatz

            Since as far back as I can remember, I have had a desire to change the world for the better.  Countless times I have said to my mom, “Mom, I’m going to change the world one day.”  She would just smile and say something like, “I know you will, but you’ve already changed my world for the better” or something nice that moms say.  I still have that strong desire to change the world for good, but have realized that many times we can change the world by small means such as a smile.  I do believe that a smile can change the world since smiling can make a difference in yourself; it makes a difference in those around you that you smile at; and a smile is a universal sign of goodwill.
            First, a smile can make a difference in yourself since it can make you happier and healthier.  In the article “A Smile Can Change the World” by Megan Bailey, Bailey quotes a study saying, “Smiling lets your brain release endorphins and serotonin, also known as your ‘feel-good’ hormones. These help keep stress at bay. Smiling seems to give us the same happiness that exercising induces in terms of how our brain responds. Other benefits of smiling include living longer, increasing your pain threshold, reducing aggression, and having a strong immune system.”  In other words, smiling has many benefits on our own physical and emotional wellbeing.  These benefits help make the world a better place since boosting health and wellness for the individual enables them to be the best they can be without illness, and it reduces healthcare costs.  Furthermore, individuals are less stressful, less aggressive, and happier, which creates a more peaceful world to live in.
            Second, not only do you benefit when you smile, but others that you smile at are happier as well. Doctor Alina Baciu, MD in general surgery and medicine and chief editor of Try Healthy, wrote an article entitled, “How can a smile make a difference?”  Baciu states, “Smiling is contagious. The cingulated cortex is area of your brain where the act of smiling or mimicking a smile takes place. It is an area that operates by unconscious automatic response.”  In other words, our smile makes others smile back giving them all the benefits that we experience when we smile.  Dr. Baciu goes on to reveal a study that involved participants looking at faces portraying different emotions.  The participants were asked to frown every time they saw a smiling face.  The researches found that the participant’s first reaction was to smile and then would have to make a conscious effort to frown. This shows that smiles are infectious so that when we smile at others, others smile back.  I have had the chance to serve our high school’s student body on student council this year.  At the beginning of the school year, I made a goal to smile more to friends, acquaintances, and strangers at school and school events.  I have found that when I smile, I almost always get a smile back.  This has made me feel happier because I feel it is making others feel accepted and more a part of our school.  I have seen what a strong powerful tool smiling is in changing the climate in just my high school let alone the world.  Due to its contagious nature, if we could all smile more, happiness could be spread across the globe causing all the happy benefits that smiling creates.
            Finally, a smile is universal sign of goodwill.  It is the universal language that speaks to all people across the globe.  It speaks love, friendship, warmth, and kindness.  It is the one thing that can connect us instantly with a total stranger from anywhere in the world.  No matter what our age, color, nationality, or language is, a smile can communicate goodwill.  I had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic to do humanitarian work with a dental group called AYUDA.  I was working on my Eagle project and collected 750 dental kits from donations I received from local dentists including Dr. Graf.  I was able to take these kits to the D.R. and lead a team in the dental hygiene section and teach children and adults how to properly care for their teeth. I also was able to assist the dentists and doctors while they were working on filling cavities, extracting teeth, and putting in prosthetics that were made by one of our volunteer doctors.  I loved it so much that I went back to serve two years later.  I will always remember one patient in particular that we helped.  It was a lady that had two front teeth that were decayed, very long with points on the ends, and pointed out in opposite directions overlapping her bottom lip even when her mouth was closed.  When she came in, she didn’t smile and seemed very embarrassed by her smile as she kept her mouth closed and looked down at first.  The dentists worked on her for a long time using prosthetics, crowns, etc., and were able make her teeth look beautiful.  When they were done, we handed her a mirror.  I will never forget the tears of joy that streamed down her face as she looked at her new smile in the mirror. She was beyond grateful and smiled so brightly.  She now had the confidence to smile and bring joy to herself and others around her.  She certainly rocked my world when her smile lit up the room.  It was so inspiring to see how serving someone that couldn’t fix their smile on their own, changed their life for good and in return could change the lives of others. She spoke Spanish and I spoke English, but the connection I made with her will last a lifetime through the universal language of a smile. 
            In conclusion, something as simple as a smile can change the world due to the facts that smiling benefits ourselves, others we smile at, and the world at large due to its universal nature.  I have seen how the power of a smile has affected my own life, and I will strive to help others find their smile in return, which due to my experiences in serving, now includes the possibilities of becoming a dentist or orthodontist to create that spread of happiness to others.

Can a Smile Change the World?
By Taylei Williams

To smile, according to the Oxford Dictionary, “is to form one's features into a pleased, kind, or amused expression, typically with the corners of the mouth turned up and the front teeth exposed.” Smiling is a common gesture among society and even more frequent in myself. Since I was a little girl, I have not been afraid to show off my smile. Anytime my mother and I look through our old photographs and scrapbooks, I am grinning from ear to ear showing every tooth. Beginning when I was that small, grinning, little girl, the power of smiling changed not only my world but also the world of those around me.
To start, I am a softball player and not just a girl that plays a little catch every spring. I have put blood, sweat, and tears into this game since I was eight years old. My softball career began when I played on a city-league team. I, being a talented athlete and the coach’s daughter, earned myself a spot as the pitcher. Since this was not a skill I had developed, one of my fondest and most painful memories of softball was in Lake Powell.
Family vacation on the dazzling blue water of Lake Powell was a time I looked forward to every year; but because my city-league tournament was right after our trip, the softball gear obviously made it on the boat. My competitive father was driven to win the title, so put nicely, I worked my guts out. We pitched everyday on the sand under the blazing sun which sizzled the sweat dripping down my forehead. As stated, I was not developed or a primed pitcher by any means, so my accuracy was extremely rough. In order to fix this, my dad forced me to throw ten pitches in a row perfectly to his mitt before I could finish pitching and jump in the refreshing lake. Seems pretty fair, but it was the most challenging thing I had ever done in my life. I would work for hours before I somehow magically managed to control my frustrated tears and sweaty palms to throw my ten pitches. Softball seemed like the worst sport in the world, and every day I dreaded the exhausting workout. Little did I know my narrow perspective was about to completely change.
The tournament came, and as my team won game by game, we found ourselves in the championship. The opposing, rival team had the biggest and finest softball players on their roster. Pitch by pitch I threw that game, doing everything in my power to hit the targeted mitt. Between every ball I hurled, I would whisper into my mitt, “I can do this.” After a tight, nail-biting game, my underdog team WON! The smile of utter pleasure my proud father gave me as he plucked me off the ground completely melted my heart. As we tightly embraced, I realized my love for softball and became greedy for the feeling I felt at the moment we won and my dad smiled at me. All the miserable hard work was completely forgotten when my satisfied father gave me such a token of happiness, a smile.
Since that special experience, softball has become my world. For the past ten years, I have played all year long on four different teams and learned so much along the way. This game has formed a marvelous relationship between my father and myself for which I couldn’t be more grateful. I have been blessed through incredible coaches and family support to continue my softball career at Southern Utah University. Additionally, this past year, I was honored to receive the Utah Softball Gatorade Player of the Year award. One smile, offered by my father literally changed the course of my life. Smiling has not only changed my world, but I have seen its effect in the lives of those around me. In my mother’s room, there is a decoration that reads “Smiles are free, don’t save them.” One goal I have set throughout my high school career is to smile and be friendly to my peers. This last fall I met an amazing special needs boy who has become an absolute favorite person for me to be around.
Around Halloween, I was walking through the crowded hall when I passed a cute boy with simple glasses and worn cowboy boots. I gave him a smile and friendly hello as we made eye contact. His eyes brightened as he started grinning. Within the next ten seconds, I discovered his name was Brody, he loved the Fast and Furious movie series, his favorite football team was the Green Bay Packers, and I was his girlfriend. I was a little taken aback, but I took a liking to this cheerful boy. Every day after that, he would not fail to find me in the hall and give me a giant hug and smile. We became friends, and I looked forward to talking daily with this humorous kid.
His sixteenth birthday was October 24, and I being his “girlfriend” asked him on a date for Halloween night. When I pulled into Brody’s driveway, he was pacing the porch waiting for my arrival. He hustled to the car grinning with so much excitement I couldn’t help but smile back. Needless to say, it was the most memorable date of my life. Brody knew every song title and the first and last name of every artist that played on the country radio station. Every time we got in the car he opened my door before letting himself in. When we ate at Costa Vida, it took him an hour to eat because he politely wiped his mouth with a different napkin between every bite. Brody eventually played my bowling turns because he didn’t have the patience to contain his joy in rolling the ball at the pins. Countless times he loudly yelled, “This is the BEST DATE EVER.”
I was so grateful I choose to give him a kind smile so I could experience being his friend. I also realized how much power was behind that simple smile. It had the power to change his world by building our friendship which led to his first date. I am positive that experience was a highlight in his life because he spent the next week entertaining the school with details about our date. I can only imagine how important it made him feel, because I felt incredible. I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing at Brody’s extraordinary personality. A kind smile, changed Brody’s and my world by creating a friendship that otherwise would have never happened.
As you can see, smiling has changed my world in many ways. It planted a seed leading to success and formed a relationship of a lifetime between a daddy and his little girl. A small grin also changed the world of my good friend, Brody. He has in no doubt changed my life, making it filled with magnificent smiles and amused laughter. For me, smiling has definitely lived up to its definition.
Thanks again Graf Orthodontics for giving me such beautiful teeth and encouraging my choice to smile regularly. In a way, the impeccable work you do gives people the opportunity to change theirs or someone else's world, one smile at a time.

Can a Smile Change the World?
By Lexi Reeves

Your smile changes a lot as you move through life.  A crooked and patchy grin when you lose your first baby tooth. A shy and hopeful curve on the first day of 7th grade. A confident and glowing beam as you accept your diploma. A smile can show acceptance to a friend, love to a sibling, or kindness to a stranger. We smile at puppies and babies, jokes and memories. It’s what we do. But can a smile really change the world?
A year ago I might have said no. I love my smile and I wouldn’t change my braces experience for anything... but the change the world? The big world outside my little family and circle of friends? No, probably not. It wasn’t until something changed that I began to see a smile for what it truly is.
This school year I decided to join a club named Operation Smile. I didn’t know much about this particular club, but since I had already decided to join at least three service organization during my senior year, I gave it a go. My nonchalant attitude quickly changed after the first meeting. Mr. Vandik, a chemistry teacher who dedicates his free time to this club, started off by showing a video of children in 3rd world countries who suffer from severe cleft palates and cleft lips.The definition of a cleft palate is a “congenital split in the roof of the mouth.” But you don’t need to know the definition to tell that something is very wrong. These kids have obvious facial deformities- a large, open split connect the mouth to the nose and teeth twist out at odd angles. All of them struggle with speech, and the most severe cases require a feeding tube to avoid choking.
A baby born in a United States hospital has immediate access to the relatively easy surgery. But the children in these countries do not share these same health opportunities. Surgery is expensive, and most parents struggle to make ends meet anyway. Hundreds of kids around the world are left with no choice but to live with their cleft palate- suffering health complications, brutal rejection, and unfair embarrassment their entire lives. Their families desperately wishing for the $240, 45 minute operation that we would get in a heartbeat.
This video was extremely eye opening. I thought MY life was hard when I had an overbite! My heart began to break for these little kids and their families. But then I learned about Operation Smile and their purpose. As a Nationwide organization, Operation Smile raises 100,000 of dollars each year to provide safe cleft palate surgeries by experienced Doctors!
Mr Vandik then explained the schools annual “Miles for Smiles” fundraiser. For two months we would make hundreds of paper smiley faces, and assign each grade in the school a different color. Seniors = Red, Juniors = Yellow, Sophomores = Green, Faculty = Blue. Each smile was $1 and if you bought one you could write your name on it and hang it up in the hallway. I worked hard to raise all the money I possibly could. I asked friends, family members, and teachers. I bought smiley faces to support the cause. By the end of the fundraiser our hallways were covered in smiles. It really did seem like we’d covered miles for smiles. However, when I learned that we had raised enough money for only 10 surgeries I couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of children who still would suffer. It seemed to me that we hadn’t done very much to change the world...until Mr. Vandik showed us a documentary about a young boy’s personal experience with Operation Smile. The clip began by showing a huge group of people applying for a cleft palate surgery. Operation Smile can only provide as many surgeries as our donations will cover
. After applying, the families had to wait...and wait… and wait...hoping that their name would be called. Praying that their child would be blessed with the chance for a better life. After many hours the list was called out. The ones who were called wept tears of gladness alongside those who cried tears of rejection. One name on the list was that of little toddler, and his single mother could not believe they had actually done it. As the surgeons filled out a medical report the mother thanked them over and over again with tears streaming down her face. Watching this reaction made me do a complete 180. We HAD changed the world. This boy and his family would never forget the kindness shown to them. Their lives were changed! I decided then to focus on the lives of the 10 people we had blessed, and let the lives of the hundreds of others fuel me towards helping and raising more.
I’ve thought a lot about my smile experience since I joined Operation Smile. Although having braces a few times (yes, a few times) didn’t drastically change my health like receiving a cleft palate surgery, it did change my self confidence and self image. Growing up I really struggled with my speech. I was embarrassed every time I met someone new. I hated talking in front of groups or reading in front of class. All I could focus on was how my words did not sound like my friends words...and my overbite didn’t help my pronunciation or my self confidence. But by Doctor Grafs care and my hours at therapy, I eventually grew into a girl who loved to share her ideas and smile. Today I can confidently give presentations and I frequently volunteer in my classes. It’s easy to forget about the timid and  awkward girl I used to be. But since I joined Operation Smile I have been extremely grateful my smile and how it has changed MY world! I am so lucky to grow up in a place where I could find treatment and help for my personal trails. I am going to continue working for Operation Smile so I can help others like me reach their full potential. I believe that smiles can change the world and I want to be a part of the change!

Monday, October 24, 2016

No more gagging, messy impressions!

Have you ever had an impression of your mouth taken?

For many years in orthodontics, we have been required to take impressions in order to make all types of appliances.

Many patients have absolutely no problem with impressions, but some find them extremely difficult and uncomfortable. It requires the patient to sit very still and wait 30 or more seconds for the material to set and occasionally, the gag reflex is not a fan of this experience! Say goodbye to invasive, messy, gagging impressions…

We are so excited to introduce to you… the iTero Element!

The iTero Element is a digital scanner that is revolutionizing the way we obtain a model of your mouth to create retainers, appliances, mouth guards, and so much more! 

The latest technology in 3D imaging allows us to scan your mouth using a handheld wand to capture images of each of your teeth (6,000 frames per second!), which are then combined into a composite 3D image of your entire smile.

What are the benefits of the iTero Element scanner?
  • Incredible accuracy
  • Quick (view 3D scans on screen immediately)
  • Clean
  • More comfortable
  • Fewer appointments
  • Digital storage and transmission (models are securely saved)
We have loved the results of this new technology and can’t wait for each of you to experience how well it works! Be sure to watch for the iTero scanner at your next visit.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Lasers in Orthodontics

What on Earth do lasers have to do with orthodontics??

Lasers have actually been used in medical and dental offices for many years. Common uses you may have heard of are to treat cold sores or resolve lip and tongue ties. 

At Graf Orthodontics, these concentrated beams of energy can provide faster orthodontic treatment for you!

Some benefits and uses for this nearly painless procedure:
  • Removes specific oral soft tissues in a quick, clean, non-invasive way. 
  • No shots needed and no bleeding!
  • Any mild discomfort post-procedure can be easily managed with Ibuprofen or Tylenol
  • Helps us expose stubborn permanent teeth, making it possible to place brackets sooner.
  • Create a more aesthetic, uniform gumline.
  • And so much more! Just ask us!
Dr. Graf and our highly skilled staff have been using lasers in our office for more than 15 years! Staying on the cutting edge of technology is very important to us and this allows us to achieve the best results for your treatment on a daily basis.

Over the summer we upgraded our laser to the new Opal Gemini and could not be more pleased with this faster, smoother, and more efficient machine. Not to mention it looks pretty darn awesome! 

Try to spot it at your next appointment!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

25 years

Congratulations to Dr. Graf on 25 wonderful years in practice as an orthodontist. 

Thanks for making us smile!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Scholarship Contest Winners 2016

A big congratulations to our three Graf Orthodontics scholarship winners! We are proud to invest in your futures and know you will go far.

Here are the winning essays!

The Power of a Smile
By Autumn K
"We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do." This is one of the quotes that Mother Teresa is widely known for. She believed a smile was an expression of love and a precious gift. Mother Teresa was a Roman Catholic nun. She concentrated her efforts on helping the poor and needy. She was given various amounts of awards for her charitable deeds including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Mother Teresa founded an organization called the Missionaries of Charity who devoted attentions to those in great need. Mother Teresa knew that there was great power in a smile. So how can such a common and simple thing such as a smile resonate so much power? The truth is, smiling has a huge effect on many vital aspects of human life. Smiling has an immense impact on physical health, mental health, and the opinions of those around.
It is not unreasonably surprising that smiling directs our physical health. Scientists have found that when face muscles move during a smile, endorphins are released. Endorphins make us feel happy and relaxed. Smiling literally makes us feel good. Specialists say that smiling makes us feel better than if we had just eaten a bar of chocolate. It doesn’t matter if the smile is fake or real, endorphins are released either way. Not only do endorphins promote happiness, but endorphins also help us to feel less pain when we are injured. Smiling, in itself, is a natural pain killer medicine. This is why some people naturally try to laugh off pain. Another way that smiling shapes our physical health, is that it reduces the amount of cortisol being released. Cortisol is the hormone of stress and anxiety. Therefore, smiling reduces stress and negative feelings. Another health benefit of smiling is that it actually helps one to live longer. On average, someone who smiles will live seven years longer than if they didn’t smile. In a study about professional baseball players, researchers found that the athletes who smiled on their baseball cards accounted for thirty-five percent of the total variability in the player’s survival chances. There is also evidence that smiling reduces blood pressure. Unarguably, smiling improves physical health.
Smiling also improves mental health. It can help you think more positively about yourself. It then starts a wonderful cycle of smiling, thinking positive thoughts, and then smiling again. Not only is smiling good for self happiness, but it strongly affects the health of people around. Smiling is contagious. It is very hard to hold back a smile when looking at someone else who is smiling. When you smile at someone, it brightens their day and makes them feel better about themself. I remember one day I was feeling lonely and despondent. I was walking through the halls of my high school looking down at my sorry shoes, with nobody but myself for company. I was reflecting on all the bad things about myself, and in effect, making myself feel worse. I was a tremendous bundle of miserableness radiating shafts of negativity. As I walked through the hall towards the library, I looked up into the faces of the people streaming past me on their way to class. I expected everyone to ignore my gaze and walk by without any notice of me. I was right for three painful seconds. Then, a cheerful looking girl caught my eye and flashed me a pretty smile. Immediately after seeing her spectacular smile, a rush of happiness fluttered through my very core. I felt a smile of my own make its way to my face. In an instant, my day had suddenly changed from downcast to jovial. Her smile was meant simply as an exchange of greeting to a stranger in the hall. To me, her smile was an acknowledgement of my importance as a fellow human being. It melted my sour attitude like butter on a frying pan. Not only will smiling improve your spirits, but there is a strong correlation between smiling and success in marriage. Psychologists performed an experiment in which they rated smiles in a yearbook by strength. They investigated whether the people with stronger smiles had success in their marriage or not. They found that only eleven percent of strong smilers had been divorced, while thirty-one percent of people who had a weaker smile had the experience of a broken marriage. Smiling definitely produces a healthy mentality.
The way someone views another person is through their facial expressions. When I see someone smiling, I am more drawn to them because they look happy. I feel like I would be welcome as their friend. I can also talk more easily to people who smile because they look more involved in the conversation, and I feel encouraged to express my own opinions. I am not alone in how I feel about people who smile. In business sales, people are more likely to close a deal if the salesman is smiling. A smiling salesman increases the trust of their customers. Scientists have copiously studied the effect of making a sale by using a smile. They discovered that there is a strong correlation between positive business outcomes and smiling. Scientists refer to this circumstance as the emotional contagion. Smiling also crosses the language and age boundary. We do not need to understand what someone is saying in order to know that they are happy. An old grandma may not understand the ways of teenagers in today’s world, but a smile means the same thing in both generations. It connects both worlds as if there were no age difference. The same phenomenon applies to language differences. Facial expressions such as smiling tell us that the person likes us, that they are encouraging us, or that they are simply happy. Smiling is a big key in communication and in influencing the opinions of others.
Smiling is over all a desirable instrument. It greatly impacts physical health, mental health, and the perspectives of other people. The power of a smile extends further than the business deals, the extra seven years of life, and the successful marriage. It goes beyond anything we can imagine, and as Mother Teresa once said, “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do." 

The Power of a Smile
By Carly A
            I made my way into the middle of the group, turned up my music, and cleared my head. I hardly missed a day of training during the last few months so I knew I could easily do this. The gun fired and I started to move my legs. Although I was nervous at the beginning, just simply smiling helped me start out my run on a positive note. I smiled as I thought about how much work I had put in to get to this point, and how I soon would feel the accomplishment of finishing. I began finding my place in the midst of all the other runners, and reminded myself that I had trained for this moment for months. The first few miles flew by with people cheering me on along the way. I knew when I signed up for this half marathon that it would take quite a bit of hard work, but I hoped that it would prove worth it in the end. As I approached mile nine, I slowly started hitting the dreaded wall. At this point in the race, running up the hill straight ahead seemed impossible, and I felt that I could not make it. Again, I smiled as I thought about having a medal placed around my neck when I crossed the finish line, and that motivated me to keep going. As I approached the last quarter mile, there were spectators lining the sides of the course. They all smiled at me as they encouraged me for the last stretch of my race. As they called my name when I crossed the finish line, I felt the great accomplishment of finally reaching my goal. I always knew that if I gave my full effort, it would pay off.
            But as wonderful as my feeling of accomplishment felt, nothing compared to seeing my mom waiting for me at the end with a huge smile on her face, congratulating me for my hard work. Seeing her reassuring grin gave me the added confidence in myself and helped me to fully appreciate this big achievement. We waited together for a few minutes before my sister came running through the finish line with my dad right behind her. As we all caught our breath and walked over to an empty table to sit down, we all looked at each other with big smiles on our faces realizing what we had just accomplished. All of those months of waking up early to train, increasing our mileage every few days, trying out energy gels, and icing our muscles all became worth it when we crossed the finish line. Beaming, we stood together and smiled for a picture. I kept repeating to my dad and sister, “We did it!” The feeling of achieving something you have been working a long time for beats almost every other feeling, especially when someone you look up to and respect gives you a smile of approval, just as my mother did.
            As I look back on my accomplishments, my past successes have motivated me to do my best in all aspects of life. When I first started training for the half marathon, it seemed almost too challenging. I am not much of a runner so I did not look forward to it at all in the first few weeks. Yet the more I worked at it, the more I improved. The more I improved, the more I enjoyed getting up early to run. Even just putting a simple smile on my face increased my desire to go out and run, and helped me get through the harder running days. Sometimes we get so focused on an end goal that we fail to realize how important the journey can be to our success. But by changing our attitude and thinking positively, we are able to achieve so much more than we could otherwise.
            Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” If we focus on the positive and go through life with a smile on our face, we can accomplish whatever we set our mind to. But no matter what reward we earn, no reward is more powerful than an approving smile from someone you love and respect.
When asked what they first notice about someone else, most people will answer with “their smile.” If a smile is the number one thing people notice, it is important to smile around everyone you meet. Smiling shows friendliness, happiness, and approval, and indicates a positive disposition. They say that just a smile can make someone’s day. If just a simple can turn somebody’s whole day around, that is pretty powerful. Walking down the halls of high school, I notice that when I smile at someone or someone smiles at me, it gives me an extra boost of happiness and confidence to get through the rest of the day, just through that simple gesture. If we have the power it takes to make other people happy just by turning up the corners of our mouth, we should always look to use that power to make someone’s day better. Because a smile of approval means so much to us and makes us feel valued and accepted, like my mom’s smile as I finished my race, we should smile all the time, because we never know how much it can help someone else. When life gets difficult, if we just simply smile we can have a more positive outlook for how everything will turn out. Before my race started, I felt nervous, not sure what to expect. But by starting out with a smile on my face, I was able to enjoy the run and appreciate the race that much more. A smile is a powerful thing. Whether we smile to make someone else’s day or help us improve our outlook on life events, a simple smile can go a long way.

The Power to Reach Across Divides
By Gaby B
My step-mom is from Thailand and throughout the years we have struggled to have a good relationship due to natural divides. The major barriers between the two of us are the differences in our cultures and backgrounds. She is soft spoken and submissive, whereas I am often loud and opinionated. Due to being raised in different cultures, not only do we have different expectations of certain situations and interactions, but we also have different personalities and perspectives. Perspective plays a significant role in how we each see the world and I find that we often have different perspectives on both unique and routine situations. Despite the barrier of mine and my step-mom’s natural differences, we do our best to show each other our love. Many of the most vivid memories I have when I connected with my step-mom include when we made eye contact and simply smiled at one another. If only for a moment, it feels to me as if a smile has the power to break down any and all barriers between us. Throughout my life this lesson has been a significant one; smiles truly can and do break down barriers between individuals and let us reach across all divides.    
Throughout our lives we will face experiences that make us feel out of place or even foreign. There will always be barriers that divide one individual from another, one group from another, or one culture from another; however, some of these barriers are more evident than others. From speaking a different language to being in a different high school clique, we are surrounded by and constantly placed in situations that create natural divides. They are simply inevitable. Many times when faced with such a divide, one may shy away, too intimidated to find a solution to break past the barrier, or perhaps not willing to put forth the effort.
To further illustrate one common example of this could be found in the hallway of a high school. Two girls in different social circles, with different interests, different friends, different personalities, and seemingly nothing in common pass each other in the hallway. These natural barriers divide the two girls, nothing that they are at fault for, but a barrier nevertheless. Many times the two girls go on their own way, ignoring the other, but in a rare circumstance one may choose to break the barrier. She smiles softly at the other as they pass and receives a smile back. No words were exchanged, not much was seemingly changed, however, something was now different.
A little boy from a small village in Argentina gapes in awe as he watches a group of American tourists pass by his humble home. The tourists are in such wonder themselves that they glance past the boy without a second thought. But one tourist sees the boy and considers all the differences between them: they look different, they have different personalities, different social and economic circumstances, and they speak different languages. But the tourist stops and smiles. The boy feels his heart warm and instinctively smiles back. No words were spoken, no gifts were given, however, something was now different.
In the busy streets of New York City recognition of others often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of the city. People coming, people going. Bumping of shoulders without an apology or even a glance. Taxi rides stripped of any friendly communication. Always in a hurry to get from one place to another, worried about the past or the future and not always seeing the situations and people of the present. Individuals in circumstances like these are not only separated by natural divides but they are often building walls subconsciously. A friendly smile offers a moment to share happiness and love with others. Even in the busiest of cities, finding the time to smile at one another can break down the walls which have been built and can begin to open their eyes to the beauty that surrounds them. No words need to be spoken, no time consuming act committed, yet something would be different.
William Arthur Ward, a famous American author and poet, declared, “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness”. We go day to day often not recognizing the power we each hold to reach across divides, and sometimes we even neglect to notice that there are divides at all. We remain content in the world we live. Content to remain. Content to be unchanged. But if we choose to remain unchanged we will not grow nor become better than we were yesterday. Change comes when we reach out of our comfort zones and learn to show love to others. The universal gift and tool to change and to reach across divides is a smile. Simple and easy, yet so very powerful. I believe we tend to underestimate the power a smile holds – the power to bring joy and light into the lives of those around us, including our own, without much effort at all.
Not only does a smile have the power to quickly reach across divides into the lives of others, but it allows us to reach across divides within ourselves, to break down barriers we may have built around and inside of ourselves. When we truly smile at others we are sending them the gift of joy. We are sending them the gift of comfort. We are sending them the gift of love.
Smiling is easy, yet a true smile can make a world of difference to those around you and yourself. Just like I have noticed in my personal life and relationships (such as the example with my step-mom) a smile can change a moment, it can change a memory, and perhaps even more. Smiles are infinite. Smiles are universal. Smiles have the power to reach across divides and if we let them, smiles can change the world.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pool Party 2015

Thanks to everyone who came out to our patient appreciation pool party this year. We partied it up with swimming, cotton candy, shaved ice, contests, and our giant prize wheel of course! Just our way of saying thank you for so many years of shared smiles together. Our patients truly are are #1!