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It took me a long time to believe that every human being has bad breath at some point – and often – in their lives! Yes, bad breath!

I’m not talking about the tooth infection, gum disease, or sinus-related variety or the after-effect of ingesting that delectable spicy food with a heart-disease preventing dose of garlic. I mean plain good ol’ noticeably unpleasant odors.  

This is my journey to that sober discovery!

Growing up in a close-knit family that prided itself in being prim-and-proper AT ALL TIMES, most especially when in public, the seeds of perfectionism were innocently and unconsciously sown at an early age.

My dad swirled around in the Military with a dizzying amount of foreign missions, and also dutifully traversed the length and breadth of the globe as a Diplomat even before I was a twinkle in my mother’s eye.

Mom, as clearly as I can remember, worked at an office that controlled the money; the bastion of Accounting and funds allocation for the whole Nation. I never fully understood why she swore an Oath of Secrecy just to work there.

They met and got married outside of Ghana, an orchestration of my mom’s aunt, whose husband was also a Diplomat, serving outside the country.

My loving grandmother (on mom’s side) never failed to expose us to our historical roots every single chance she got. Stories abound in my head, pointing to a pedigree with class. I vividly remember the coded songs and royal passwords she passed on.

We arrived at night on one of our numerous visits to grandma, and were tucked into bed. In the morning when I awoke, grandma was sitting next to me on the bed. I happily jumped into her arms. My mom, who was nearby issued her usual instructive reminder about freshening up BEFORE stepping out in the ‘open’.

Lost in the ecstasy of grandma’s embrace and looking for an excuse not to heed what I saw as mom’s restrictive activities of daily living, I recount rambling many things to subtly remind her that I was in ‘freedomland’, in grandma’s house, including something like,

“don’t I look clean and my breath as fresh as_________ ” (filling the blank with a group of people I naively thought did not have bad breath).

Grandma agreed, and to me at that age, that was a solid affirmation of my clean fresh mouth even in the morning at wake-up time.

As I matured and interacted with different groups of people from all walks of life – including those I presumed at an early age that, they did not have bad breath – I was pleasantly surprised that bad breath was and still is a common affliction in the lives of all human beings. But with my background, I was not going to allow this little life’s imperfection tarnish my image.

Working at being perfect is an unachievable feat! At worst, it is deceptive and wickedly burdensome.

For years, I relentless brushed my teeth and scrubbed my tongue with the latest powerful dental and mouth care products. I needlessly avoided eating some foods especially when I knew beforehand that I would be in close proximity to people.

I was on first name basis with all my dentists and all their staff. I would NEVER be caught without a variety of breath mints; sprays, drops and even pills that supposedly killed the germs the cause bad breath ‘at the source’.

Name them . . . .  I have been there, done that, and got tattoos in my mouth to prove it – well, not quite! But you get my drift. I chewed gums (contributing to the current size of my head); Wrigley’s Doublemint was my favorite. I had Tic Tacs at every corner and crevice. When I discovered Altoids, I was drawn to their curiously strong mint and it became my best ally.

Had I invest all that money in some stocks, I would have made Warren Buffet very proud.

I’m recovering from this symptom of perfectionism.

Now, I just maintain a good and consistent habit of regular dental and mouth care. I still use mints – hardly gums – but only strategically.  And when I ‘slip’ at managing the common halitosis, I don’t have nightmares.

Because I know, I’ll NEVER be perfect! I gave that up! It easier to work at being EXCELLENT.

Wrigley’s Doublemint, Tic Tac, or not!


What ‘PERFECTIONISTIC’ symptoms have you identified and worked on, or are still working on in your life?