After trying my luck in improvisational continuing dental education in Atlanta the week before, I was happy to learn I would be back in my home state speaking on a presentation that was not only loaded onto my computer but was also loaded onto many other computers.
I am honored and humbled to have had the ability to collaborate with the Central Arizona Dental Hygienists’ Association in their 2nd annual Wine Retreat & CE Event. What started last year as a “trial run” in which we loaded a coach bus with 40 dental hygienists has now evolved into an annual event that the hygienists of Arizona very much look forward to. As The Dental WINEgenist, THIS is my ultimate continuing education experience and the opportunity I dreamed of when I started my business: the ability to deliver high level continuing dental education course content to like-minded, fun, witty and energetic hygienists, then sipping wine and networking together.
What’s more: the event grew and as such, I needed to bring on a colleague. I am so eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to deliver this course content alongside Marianne Dryer, RDH, M.Ed, a goddess when it comes to the 2018 AAP Classifications and the self-proclaimed “Ultrasonic Whisperer”
I felt confident: I’m good to go now! I’ve got my presentation, the topic is solid and I’m feeling prepared! What could go wrong?
…I swear I must have done something to upset the “Presentation Gods”
Through a stream of funky occurrences, I learned (48 hours before the event) that I would need to completely gut and re-write my ENTIRE presentation.
How does this keep happening to me? I mean… seriously!
This is where the story turns. You see, although being an entrepreneur can be very isolating from time to time, there are incredible moments where we, as female entrepreneurs, look to each other for incredible support. I got on the phone and called my Fairy Godmother (literally) who was preparing to fly in for the event. “Marianne – we’ve got a problem”.
Through good humor, grace and a sliver of tough love, Marianne Dryer simply said “no worries, baby, we’ve got this”. She and I spent the better part of the next 24 hours squishing together a four-hour course presentation and resource for distribution to the participants. I don’t know if I’ve hugged anyone harder than the moment I picked Marianne up at the Phoenix airport.
Over a few glasses of wine (Marianne loves buttery Chardonnay and I enjoyed a clean Pinot Blanc), we reviewed our slides and prepared for the next day.
With the morning Phoenix sun came our departure. Nearly 60 hygienists loaded into a double-decker bus and over the next two hours, Marianne and I co-presented course content on the 2018 AAP Periodontal Classifications. Through witty banter and an incredible amount of collective experience in unpacking these classifications, Marianne and I delivered part 1 of an engaging and humorous course.
With 2 CE credits already under our belt, we arrived in Cottonwood, Arizona where we enjoyed lunch and listened to Danette Ocegueda from Phillips Sonicare deliver course content on Forensic Odontology and Designing Healthy Smiles. After a few shots of espresso and 5 CE credits of high-level, collaborative and interactive continuing education course content that morning, we checked in to our hotels and began our day of wine-tasting.
Inclusive in the trip was a hotel stay at either the Iron Horse Inn (the party hotel) or The Tavern Hotel (the boutique hotel) – pick your poison. I was shacking up with Marianne for the evening and the two of us simply couldn’t wait to get our wine tasting on! We enjoyed wines from AZStrongHold (although we missed Penny, one of our favorite tasting room managers!), Burning Tree Cellars and Merkin Vineyards while bumping in to hygienists along the way.
We met in the courtyard of the Iron Horse Inn for sponsored pizza and a 1 hour CE round table in which we opened bottles of wine and shared our favorite products and techniques in dentistry.
Seriously – that day we drank wine and collected 6 CE hours in incredible content while collaborating, networking, laughing and connecting with colleagues – THIS is what CE is all about!
While I promised many people that their names and the events of the evening would remain out of my blog, I want to be clear: Arizona has some of the most fun-loving, charismatic, kind, funny and enthusiastic hygienists with the BEST dance moves I’ve ever seen! Although we all went our separate ways throughout Downtown Cottonwood, we all somehow found each other again at “Kactus Kates”, a local dive bar with a mediocre cover band and strong drinks.
You know how they say “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” Let’s just say, the same should be true of Cottonwood, Arizona.
It was a blur as to how everyone made it back to their hotel rooms, and needless to say, sunrise yoga always sounds good at the time but the morning after hanging out with women like Melinda Kennedy, Pam Larabee and Debi Dencek, you’re bound to wake up licking your wounds. A fresh-faced and energetic Allison Zora from the incredible team of Dentsply Sirona who DELIVERED for this event met us at the lobby of The Tavern Hotel to provide complimentary custom yoga mats for every participant. We met along the Cottonwood River and received another 1 CE credit in which we learned about stretches and postures to help us remain ergonomically sound. We each grabbed a complimentary bottle of kombucha compliments of Debi Dencek from CordEze and grabbed breakfast.
As Marianne and I scurried to pack up our bags to get back on the bus in time, I had to simply take a moment to reflect: what a beautiful opportunity it is to have experienced this. You see, during this event, new graduates were sitting down with seasoned hygienists; hygienists from all cultures, diversities, political backgrounds, trainings and practice philosophies came together, shared ideas, supported each other and empowered each other. There was NO drama, no ego, no unkindness: just love and support. I honestly cannot imagine a more beautiful, honest and raw way to walk through your career than to know you have the unwavering support of colleagues like the ones I got to meet, speak with, sip wine with and sing 80’s cover songs off-key with.
The bus ride back down to Phoenix allotted us two more CE credits as Marianne and I concluded our talk on the 2018 AAP Staging & Grading content… for those of you who were keeping count we walked away with 9 CE credits, a hotel stay, three wine tasting flights, lunch and dinner, a complimentary yoga mat, swag bag and kombucha thanks to the incredible organization of the amazing Melinda Kennedy who thinks she is retiring from this event someday but I just don’t see it.
From the absolute bottom of my heart, I have SO many people to thank for this incredible event. To Ian Miller with PlaqueHD and Debi Dencek with CordEze: you are so absolutely amazing for supporting dental hygienists in their growth and development. To Danette and her incredible team with Philips for their amazing generosity, for their wisdom and for the memories – y’all are incredible humans. Melinda Kennedy and her magnificent crew: you ladies are the ones who put in the time, supported us, elevated us, dreamed outside the box and brought this entire event to life – Thank you just does NOT say enough. To Marianne Dryer, The Ultrasonic Whisperer and truly my Fairy Godmother – my mentor, my pulse, my kind soul, my “ride or die”, I absolutely couldn’t have done this without you, and standing next to you to deliver this content to my esteemed colleagues while heading up to one of my favorite places on earth was the thrill of a lifetime – I love you to the moon and back.
To Allison Zora who literally flew across the country just so she could be present, to meet all of us, to be amongst us and to gift us these incredible yoga mats – you’re absolutely one of a kind. To her side kick Joe Goldstone who seriously just wants to support hygienists to the ends of the earth, who uses his brilliant mind to think creatively about how he can empower us to rise and is tireless in his pursuits for innovation – Marianne and I simply cannot thank you enough – you have no idea what this means to us. And to the incredible team of Dentsply Sirona who endlessly supports dental hygienists as leaders and influencers in the industry, thank you for all you do!
Finally, to the participants – the colleagues, previous students, friends, previous faculty and new friends – turned life-long buddies: thank you for trusting us with this event. Thank you for taking your weekend away from your families to sip wine and unpack hygiene content and do so with bright smiles and open hearts and enthusiasm and joy – YOU are why I scramble to put together content in the last minute of the last hour, then sit backwards on a coach bus for two hours screaming into a microphone – thank you for always providing me with the inspiration I need to keep raising my standards and my wine glass.