Sunday, November 28, 2010

Strength to Transition

Despite our best efforts, it seems that the world is in a constant state of transition. At the moment, new leaders are preparing to take office, new screening guidelines are being instituted at airports and a princess-in-waiting is preparing to wear her new tiara.

Transitions are a part of life, and can often be the result of something positive. But even though we know that the new job is a promotion, or the new house is bigger or the new city has more to offer, there will be many great memories and safety associated with the old. So where do we find the courage and patience to battle the insecurities and fear of transitioning into something new? Where do we find the strength?

Several years ago, I worked for a uniform company in Chicago. I learned a tremendous amount from the company and had many great experiences in the city. But after two and a half years of driving to the same office everyday, to face the same challenges, I grew anxious and was ready for something completely new.

I was thirty years old when I quit my job without a clue about what to do next. My action was impulsive, but was sparked by an overwhelming concern that my youth and passions were being stolen by security and fear.

After literally beating my head against a doorframe, I made a decision to move to New York to study writing. I thought it would be easier to become the new me if I was far away from the old. I knew the transition would be painful, but hoped it would be short and quick.

For almost three months, I continued to work at the same job and live in Chicago while I planned my new life. Each day, I crossed a date off of the calendar with great anticipation of my future. The closer I got to my departure though, the more my old self tightened around me.

It wasn’t just a job and city I was leaving. There were relationships, favorite restaurants, Lake Michigan, architectural marvels and Mid-Western knowledge. I was not only departing a place that had captured my heart, but like a family, also made me feel safe and comfortable. Knowing that I was leaving it, made the desire to stay that much stronger.

I thought that once I unloaded the moving truck in Manhattan, all of my doubt and insecurities would be gone. I had physically transitioned, but was mentally stuck somewhere between the old and new, the familiar and strange, the safety and freedom.

While in New York, I never stopped changing. There were many different apartments, jobs and relationships, new doctors, barbers and favorite hangouts, experimental haircuts, clothes and shoes.

It took seven years before I felt like I had arrived in my New York life. Ironically, it was the day I decided to leave. This is when I stopped doubting myself for moving there. It was a long transition process, but it hadn’t completely changed the old me. It had only educated me.

As the end of the year gets closer, we will all be transitioning into something new; we’ll replace calendars, write resolutions, prepare 2011 budgets; we’ll adjust to new members of family and grieve the loss of others; we’ll move into new homes, open new businesses, and fight off the comfort and security of the old as we attempt to grow with the excitement but unknown nature of the new; in other words, we’ll live what’s known as, ‘life.’

There is nothing wrong with being completely happy and content with every aspect of your life. But as the world spins around, change arrives whether we’re ready for it or not. Using pass experiences, knowledge and faith will help us through transitions. Remembering that life is a constant state of learning through living will bring us strength.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Classic Designs- The Christmas Store

Twas the month before Christmas
And all through my house
Not a decoration was found
Only a dead mouse

So I grabbed my wallet
And dashed through the door
To Classic Designs
The Christmas Store!!!

Located in Abbeville, Classic Designs-The Christmas Store, is owned by Keffer Delina and Brent Griffin. The retail space is opened from September to Mardi Gras every year and specializes in decorations and accessories for the holiday season.

“The most challenging part of this business is setting up every year,” says Delina. “The best part is seeing the reaction of the children to all of the decorations. They are in awe.”

In addition to holiday merchandise like wreaths, pre-lit Christmas trees and Santa Claus items, Classic Designs sells a variety of religious plaques and statues, and gifts such as Fitz and Floyd figurines. Ornaments come in every color, shape and style including angels, picture frames, candy canes, Mardi Gras masks, fleur de lis themed and animals such as dogs, pigs, bears, reindeer, butterflies, birds and fish. Additional decorations include garland, beaded fruit, glittered branches and peacock feathers, both real and artificial.

“We have thirteen different themed trees and over 1300 different styles of ornaments,” says Delina. “Our customers are from throughout Louisiana.”

Delina and Griffin are also the owners of Jim’s Flowers in Abbeville. They opened Classic Designs ten years ago because they wanted to offer a larger selection of seasonal merchandise. According to Delina, both men showed signs of artistic interests and talent at an early age.

“I always wanted to work at a nursery or with flowers,” says Delina. “People have told me that even when I was four or five year old, I was always touching flowers.”

Delina says that when decorating a tree, it is best to start with lights, then garland or ribbon. Next, hang your larger ornaments on the inside branches, then your medium sized and then your small. He suggests beginning from the inside of the tree first and gradually working out.

“I love spending time with our customers and offering them decorating tips,” says Delina. “When they buy branches, I show them how to cut them. When they buy feathers, I show them all of the different ways to use them.“

I recently visited
The Christmas Store
A statue of Santa
Stood by the door

The front window case
Was filled with reindeer
They were mirrored and shiny
Full of holiday cheer

The inside was brilliant
Shiny and bright
Decorated with Christmas
And packed with delight!

Classic Designs-The Christmas Store is located at 112 South State Street in Abbeville. For more information on their products, call 337-898-9350.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Strength to Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. A day to spend with friends and family, and give thanks for all of life’s love, pleasures and accomplishments.

But sometimes our moods are not compatible with the joyous day. Sometimes when we search for something to be thankful for, we come up empty. So where do we find the smiles and insight to be gracious for the unseen, while simultaneously basting a turkey? Where do we find the strength?

A few months after I graduated from college, I moved to Atlanta and attained a job in retail management. I’d thought that having a degree would make the rest of my life fall into place, creating some sort of yellow brick road that led to happiness and strength.

But after the first few months of being a college graduate and having a “real job,” my mind and spirit were scattered and weak. I was uncertain about my career choice, my friends were all somewhere else, and I’d just come to the acceptance that my dad would be dead from cancer within a year.

I had to work the Wednesday before and the Friday after Thanksgiving, so I stayed in Atlanta rather than coming back to Louisiana for the holiday. I didn’t know anyone in the city, and therefore planned to spend the day of thanks alone watching television.

But the only programs playing were about people celebrating, and eating turkey. Even though I was alone, I had to the urge to be away from the holiday, but mostly away from the civilization that created it.

So I packed a knapsack with food, water and matches, jumped in my truck and drove to the North Georgia Mountains. I’d worked at a camp in Connecticut the summer before, and fallen in love with the outdoors. It seemed to be one of the few places quiet enough for me to think or let my mind go blank and not think at all.

I hiked about an hour up a trail into the forest, and then set up a fire ring on a small clearing. I made a campfire, and then cooked a hamburger and potatoes in aluminum foil. I said grace to give thanks for the food, but nothing else. My mind, spirit and sight were too blinded by reality and pity to see anything for which to be gracious.

During my meal, an older gentleman, who looked to be in his sixties, walked up the trail and stopped by my campfire. We talked a few minutes about the beautiful day, and he asked how my Thanksgiving was going.

“Okay, I guess,” I responded while trying to fake a smile.

It wasn’t the truth, but seemed to be a proper and polite answer for the stranger. But I could see on his slightly tensed face that he didn’t believe me or buy that I believed it myself.

“I was just about to hike up to a clearing with great views,” the stranger said. “Would you like to join me?’

My first thought was to say, “no,” because it seemed that the only thing worse than spending the holiday alone, was spending it with a stranger who felt sorry for me. But I also had the urge to move; to leave a spot of loneliness, and head somewhere, anywhere, regardless of the destination.

We walked for about an hour through the forest, slowly heading up the mountain that seemed to go on forever. The stranger asked me questions about my family, job and other details of my life along the way. I was hesitant at first to start a conversation, but the more and more we climbed, the more and more I spoke.

I was able to get out most of my frustrations about life, but when we finally reached the top, I stopped speaking. It was a flat clearing with a pond right in the center, and in every direction were peaks of mountains shooting up towards the heavens.

It was picturesque like a postcard, and I wanted to share it with someone I loved. The first person I thought about was my dad, and I imagined him standing right next to me holding my hand. But instead of being a twenty-something college graduate, I was five years old on my first day of school, and my dad was telling me that everything was going to be okay.

“Thanks,” I said to the stranger. “You’ve given me something to be thankful for.”

It has been almost twenty years since that day, but I think of it often. It reminds me that there will be many times when my world seems confusing, lonely and thankless. But if we face and accept the challenges of life, we will be blessed with beautiful moments. If we keep searching within ourselves and climbing upwards, we will find strength.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

US K9 Unlimited



Roger Abshire was in fourth grade when he won a first place 4-H title in dog obedience. This sparked his interests in working with animals, and career and life aspirations for something much larger.

“I used to read every book I could find on dog training,” says Abshire. “I would knock on people’s doors and ask them if I could train their dogs. I’d read some more then apply the techniques. Every time I learned something new, I found another dog to train.”

Abshire is the owner and president of US K9 Unlimited located in Kaplan. The academy trains police dogs for personal protection, security patrol, arson investigation, and narcotics and explosives detection. Their customers are law enforcement agencies, corporate security, interdiction enterprises and the private sector.

“There is a national standard that this industry abides by,” says Abshire. “There are a lot of mandatory classes and licenses needed to run this business.”

In addition to training dogs and handlers at the local level, Abshire is a canine consultant for the government and law enforcement agencies worldwide. He is a regular contributor to 008 Magazine, offering expert advice on dog behavior problems. He has received specialized education throughout the world, including European police service canine training from both the Royal Dutch and German Police.

“It’s a joy for me to work with dogs,” says Abshire. “My most memorable moment in this career was when I was able to turn something I loved into my profession.”

Abshire routinely flies to Europe to purchase dogs he feels have the qualities needed to go through his training program. Although he has trained many different breeds, most of the dogs he selects are German Shepherds and Belgium Malinois.

“The dogs are usually between one and three years old,” says Abshire. “Before one, a dog doesn’t have the focus needed to be trained for a team. It’s no harder to teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s not a great investment.”

According to Abshire, a person can begin informal training such as sitting and positive reinforcement with a puppy under six months of age. After six months, a dog can begin a formal training process.

“The biggest mistake people make with their dogs is trying to communicate with them in human terms,” says Abshire. “Dogs don’t learn like we do. They don’t have the same reasoning.”

I recently visited Abshire at US K9 Unlimited. The facility is approximately one and a half acres and is divided into different areas such as training stations, and an abandoned house used to create scenarios. It helps the dog being trained become accustomed to running through houses to tract someone, or to search for explosives and narcotics.

“We try to train the dogs in as many scenarios as possible,” says Abshire. “The community has been very helpful by offering up their property. We’re always looking for different locations to train.”

Abshire gave me a tour of his academy, and demonstrated some of his training devices. He invented many of them himself, and also has proprietor techniques deemed trade secrets by the U.S. Government.

When I asked Abshire if he’d ever been bitten, he smiled and responded, “Through my career, I’ve been bitten so many times that when I drink water, I leak.”

Abshire said this to me just before I was supposed to have a picture taken of a dog attacking me. Although he offered me a sleeve with a metal pipe inside to wear on my arm, I was more interested in a baseball cup to protect something else.

It was pretty intimidating to have a man shout attack words and then release a trained German Shepherd to bite me. My impulse was to run, but there was another man with a camera only a few feet away, and I didn’t want any pictures of me jumping over a fence to show up on Facebook.

So I braced my legs as the police dog latched onto my arm. We stared at each other as the man with the camera told us to hold still for the picture. It was probably the longest ten seconds of my life, but when the German Shepherd rested his claws on my knee, I knew it was just as uncomfortable for him.

Aside from a few tense moments, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at US K9 Unlimited. Not only because Abshire gave me free advice on training my own dogs, but because of his story. His specialized training and extraordinary experiences are very impressive, but it’s his love and passion for his career that makes him so dog gone good.

For more information on US K9 Unlimited call 337-316-0477 or check out their website


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Strength for Flying Birds

At one point in our life, we’ve all probably had a friend and or family member who came to us for a listening ear. We waited patiently until we knew enough information to form an opinion and give advice. But what if the person talking was only looking to be heard?

So where do we get the patience to listen and hear instead of promoting our own thoughts and feelings? Where do we get the strength?

Several years ago, in a completely different life, I thought about becoming a therapist. I’d imagine sitting in a leather chair in my office while a patient lied on a sofa and told me his problems. Without hesitation, I’d tell the patient how to fix all of them, and then to please pay the secretary on the way out.

It seemed that easy to me, and I was ready to set up a practice and become the next Freud, only better looking and with nicer suits. But unfortunately, bureaucracy frowned at my idea. It said I had to get a degree first, and before I could do that, I had to do volunteer work that was related to mental health.

So I got a job at a suicide hotline, where I went through several weeks of training with other newly hired phone counselors. We were taught a process of listening called, “active listening.” It involved listening, but instead of giving advice, only repeating what the caller was saying. Below are some examples:

Caller: I feel hot and want to punch something.
Actively Listening Counselor: I hear that you’re angry

Caller: I don’t have a job, and owe more money on my house than it’s worth.
Counselor: I hear that you’re overwhelmed.

Caller: I don’t have any friends or family to care about.
Counselor: I hear that you’re lonely.

The concept of active listening is to give callers an opportunity to vocalize their issues without harsh interruptions like judgment or advice. When the counselor repeats what was said, the callers not only realize that someone is listening, but is also allowed to hear what they themselves are saying and feeling.

During the training, the newly hired phone counselors would role-play with each other to practice active listening. It took some time to block the impulse to give advice. But what was more difficult was truly hearing what the caller was saying so that I could repeat it to confirm that I had heard.

Active listening got easier with practice and time, and before long I was ready to answer phones and listen to real callers with real problems. The method worked with many of the callers, and at the end of our conversation, I felt like I’d really helped them. It amazed me that I was able to help by just listening and not giving advice.

One of my most unusual calls was from a man who was depressed because a bird flying through the air hit him in the head. To protect the privacy of this caller, I can’t share the details of our conversation. I can say however, that the experience traumatized him and he was near tears while talking.

I used active listening, and although the caller seemed grateful, I got the sense that he was still distraught after our phone call ended. Perhaps the reasoning is that I hadn’t truly heard what he’d said, and perhaps the reasoning for that is because I’d judged him.

It seemed so odd to me that a person could be depressed just because a bird had flown into his head. The situation sounded annoying, but also slightly amusing.

A few weeks after the call, I asked a friend what he thought about it. He was a French attorney, and always had interesting perspectives and opinions on situations.

“The man feels like he doesn’t exist,” said my friend. “Not even birds flying through the air know that he’s alive.”

The theory seemed farfetched, and I wondered if I should give my friend the phone number to speak to a phone counselor. But I soon realized that I was judging him, and that maybe he was right about my caller; maybe the man wanted to know that someone or something knew he was alive and cared about his existence; maybe he had questioned his self worth, something I myself had done and continue to do on many occasions.

As my time at the suicide hotline went by, I realized that the harsh reality of the mental health profession wasn’t a good fit for me. Instead of applying to graduate school and buying a sofa for potential patients to rest on, I dedicated my attention to writing.

But I will always value my education in active listening. I use the process often when speaking to family and friends who are only looking for an ear instead of advice. It has helped me to be less selfish during conversations, and built trust and stronger relationships. Listening to and commenting on people’s problems is instinctive. But blocking out our own agenda to truly hear what they are saying will bring us strength.

Starched and Pressed for Success


Many people are in their careers as a result of actively pursuing them. Others are born into them, and others just happen to be at the right place at the right time. But Verly Langlinais started her career in 1989 at Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaing because her husband went on an errand.

“Noicy brought his suit to be cleaned and came back home and said he was buying a business,” says Mrs. Langlinais. “At the time, he didn’t even know how to turn on a washing machine.”

Mr. and Mrs. Langlinais’ son, Tracy Langlinais, joined Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaning and the three of them learned about the laundry industry from employees and chemical vendors. They also took classes and joined a dry cleaning association.

“The people who taught us the most were our competitors,” says Tracy Langlinais. “We’re a close knit industry and help each other out when we can.”

Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaning, located in Abbeville, launders, dry cleans, folds, steams, starches and presses clothing and other fabric products like drapes, curtains, sheets, comforters and rugs. Other services include alterations, shoe repair (Repaired by Musso’s in Lafayette) and heirlooming wedding dresses, a process that involves sealing the product in an acid free box to prevent fabric from yellowing.

“The best part of this business is meeting and talking to the customers,” says Mrs. Langlinais. “Some of them have been coming here since we opened for business. I know their names, family and even their clothes.”

Some of Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaning’s large volume customers include doctor’s clinics, and boating and offshore companies. According to Tracy Langlinais, one of the most interesting jobs was cleaning industrial laundry infested with bugs. The employees had to wear mask, gloves and protective clothing during the cleaning process.

“Our most memorable experience was a fire that burnt the business down to the ground in 1992,” says Mr. Langlinais. “We reopened because we felt we couldn’t let our customers down. They cried with us and then helped us rebuild. One of them even gave us a stuffed Dalmatian to protect us from any future fires.”

Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaning offers a fifty percent discount to police officers and fire personnel on their uniforms. Everyone can save five percent if they prepay, ten percent by picking up clothes on Tuesday or Thursday, and for the month of November, receive a twenty percent discount on all cleaning of sweaters and heavy coats. Limit one special per visit.

“We really try to make it affordable for the community,” says Mrs. Langlinais. “They’ve supported us all of these years, and we want to give back a little of what we received.”

Mrs. Langlinais was with a customer when I entered Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaning, but a sensor doorbell announced my arrival. She acknowledged me immediately and assured me that she’d assist me momentarily.

“The person who works the front counter is who makes or breaks your business,” said Mr. Langlinais. “They have to be able to please the customers. They can’t say, “no,” unless it’s, “no problem.”

Mr. Langlinais and his mother gave me a tour of the back of the building where all of the laundry is cleaned. I learned that there are different irons for laundered and dry cleaned items, and that a dry cleaning machine is very similar to a washing machine except that it uses chemicals instead of water, and also dries the fabric.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing laundry is putting something stained into a dryer,” says Mr. Langlinais. “This sets the stain and ruins the fabric. It’s okay to hang dry it if you’re not sure if the stain is completely out.”

The Langlinais let me help do the laundry by feeding a sheet (with the assistance of employee, Mary Zeller) into a flat work ironer. It was a large machine that pulled wrinkled fabric into one end and produced a pressed product at the other.

Some careers are attained by pursuit, coincidence or when your husband goes out to get his suit cleaned. But as I learned at Acadiana Cleaners and Dry Cleaning, in order to be successful in any career, there are consistent practices that must be followed; believe in yourself, build relationships in the industry, give back to the community and always greet customers just as soon as the sensor doorbell announces their arrival.

Acadiana Laundry and Dry Cleaning is located at 213 Donald Frederick Boulevard. For more information on their services, call 337-893-2472. Tracy Langlinais is also the owner of Langlinais Computer Systems which specializes in virus removal and system restoration. For more info call 337-422-4801 or visit

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Strength to go Bald

I was on a train from Denmark to Sweden when I first noticed it. To be exact, I was in the bathroom on a train. I was washing my hands and was thinking about the good times of the trip, and how much I was enjoying life at that moment.

Then my eyes caught the back of my head in the mirror above the sink that was reflecting into a mirror on the wall behind me. It was the first time I saw my halo of baldness.

I’d feared that moment since my teens when someone made a comment that I had a high forehead. In college, my hairline pushed back further and further increasing my chances of someone, somewhere, someday describing me as bald. Any reminder of this fact put me in a bad mood, and could easily ruin a day or weekend.

I fought as hard as I could against male pattern baldness. I tried the special sprays, shampoos and vitamins. I wasn’t even thirty-years old before I considered having surgery. Fortunately for my unhealthy vanity, at the time I didn’t have the money.

When I moved to New York, I met a barber named Dr. Mike, who referred to himself as a doctor of hairology. On my first visit, he scolded me because I’d been getting my hair cut wrong.

“You’re poor right here, and you’re rich right there,” he said pointing to my hair with a comb. “When the poor is right next to the rich, it looks even poorer. The only way to make the poor look richer is by making the rich look poorer. You have to own what you have, young man.”

Dr. Mike was basically telling me that I couldn’t compensate for thinning patches of my hair by letting other areas stay full and thick. It’s a concept that holds true for many situations in life, but seemed especially pertinent when hearing it from a doctor of hairology.

The doctor/barber gave me the best haircuts of my life (for under $20) and inspired a new strategy for my vanity. Instead of trying to grow lush rice crops in an obvious desert fit only for cacti and tumbleweeds, I focused on farming potatoes and pumpkins on my biceps and chest. My intention was to keep people focused on the richness of my body, instead of the poorness of my head.

In my imagination, this worked for several years. But in reality was only another example of unhealthy vanity. Instead of building real strength in my mind and spirit where it mattered, I was attempting to create an illusion of a strong being.

Not long after I moved back to Louisiana, I went to my twentieth high school class reunion. It was great to see friends from my past, some of whom I hadn’t seen since graduation night. But I was still nervous that people who hadn’t seen me in twenty years would notice the wrinkles on my almost forty-year-old face, and the small patches of thinning hair on my equally aged head.

I’d worked out hard before that night, running five miles daily and spending several days a week at the gym. I pushed my body to its limits, hoping to reveal strength, while simultaneously hiding weakness.

My plan seemed to work for the first hour of the class reunion, mostly because it was dark. But one of my biggest fears came to life when I least expected it.

I was speaking to a classmate’s husband, who I’d met for the first time that night. During our conversation, a different classmate walked up to us.

“Look, Jacques,” she said. “You have a bald spot.”

She said it like she wanted me to do something about it. But it wasn’t a crumb that could be brushed off, or a rip that could be sewn up or a stain that could be removed with Shout. It was missing hair that despite my best efforts had moved on to my brush and shower drain.

Not sure how to respond, I simply replied, “Thank you.”

The classmate hurried away as quickly as she’d arrived, as if she’d only approached me to deliver the bad news. It felt like I’d been in a drive-by shooting, and my impulse was to run and take care of my wounds. But the gentleman I’d been talking to laughed, and then passed his hand over his almost completely baldhead.

“It used to bother me a lot when people started making bald jokes about me,” he said. “But the way I look at it is this. If the worst thing I have going wrong for me is losing my hair, then I’m doing all right. There are a lot more people with much bigger problems.”

The man made a lot of sense, and within a few minutes of talking with him, the years of angst carried in my mind and body began to slowly drift away. I wasn’t ready to stand under a florescent light at the reunion so everyone could see my bald spots, but I wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be about someone noticing my imperfections.

I was in the bathroom on a train going from Denmark to Sweden when I noticed it; that my insecurities can creep from out of nowhere and ruin a wonderful moment. But through the years, I’ve accepted my flaws and learned a valuable lesson; it’s okay to try and look your best until it becomes obsessive and blinds you with weakness. Building your mind and spirit is what will make you stronger. Forgetting vanity to focus on the bigger picture of life will bring you strength.

The Dexterous Dentist

There are many professions where a person’s physical abilities play a large role. Strength and endurance for example, are job requirements for most athletes, and dexterous hands are viable assets for musicians, sculptors and dentists.

“I’ve always loved working with my hands,” says Abbeville dentist, Jerry Baudin. “It’s very important to have control in this profession. Part of the application for dental school is a physical test that assesses the dexterity of hands.”

Baudin pursued dentistry not only because he enjoyed working with his hands, but also because he had an interest in the medical field. His father, Gerald Baudin, also played an influential role.

“Since my dad is a dentist, I had the opportunity to see what the profession involved,” says Baudin. “Getting to work with my dad now is very special. He’s taught me a lot of things that come with experience.”

Jerry Baudin received a bachelors of Science from University of Louisiana, and completed four years at the LSU School of Dentistry in New Orleans. He has been practicing general dentistry for six years, and his services include cleanings, teeth whitening, extractions, fillings, root canals, crowns, dentures and bridges.

“It means a lot to me if I can help someone reduce their pain and restore their ability to eat,” says Baudin. “The best part of being a dentist is working with people and helping them improve their quality of life.”

Baudin recommends brushing your teeth in the morning and evening. He also suggests flossing once a day and using mouthwash twice. He says that sipping on a sugary drink like a soda or juice for an extended period of time is very damaging is to the teeth.

“The bacteria in the mouth consumes the sugar and excretes it as an acid which can cause cavities in the teeth,” says Baudin. “Parents should avoid putting a baby with any teeth to bed with juice or milk because they both have sugar and can cause cavities.”

According to Baudin, poor dental hygiene can cause pain, gum disease, tooth loss, and inflammation in the mouth that can have a negative effect on diabetes and heart disease. He suggests using soft or extra soft toothbrushes because harder bristles can cause gum recession, remove tooth structure and notch the tooth along the gum line.

“Everyone should visit a dentist every six months to a year for a cleaning and check up,” says Baudin. “A lot of problems in the mouth can be found and fixed within a six month time period. Any longer, can be more difficult.”

I recently visited Baudin at his Abbeville office to find out more about the profession of dentistry. He introduced me to the different members of his team, whose roles range from office assistant/ receptionist to dental assistant to dental hygienist.

“I couldn’t run this business without our associates,” says Baudin. “They contribute to the success of this practice.”

Jyi Abshire, an expanded duty dental assistant, usually assists Baudin with the patients. But on the day of my visit, she played the patient and I took over her role. I got to put a small round mirror in her mouth and get a closer look at her teeth and gum line. The best part of that was that I got to sit on a really cool round stool with wheels on the bottom.

I learned a tremendous amount about the dental profession during my interview at Gerald A. Baudin II DDS. I am especially grateful for the reminder about the importance of good dental hygiene, and am thankful to all of them for staying after work to meet with me.

When I was taking the picture of Baudin and his associates, my hands kept shaking, causing the images on my camera to blur. I knew I could never be a dentist without a good lawyer. But fortunately my ten fingers are perfect for typing, which gave me the opportunity to write the story about a professional dental staff and a dexterous dentist.