License to Play

I have been so fortunate in my life to never have felt that any job I have held has been work. Whether it was wrapping hotdogs like a mad kid at Taylor Field, costumer service for the RCMP training cadets, serving at restaurants in university, being a dentist and business owner, or being a dance performer, choreographer, and teacher, my “work” has always felt like play.

How does this happen when some dread the work they attend to daily? Maybe it’s because I have always approached life as a game. When I was growing up, it allowed me to navigated my home situation. In school, it was how I navigated high academic demands, in my teens it was how I survived severe bullying and abuse. I’ve always liked figuring out the rules of the game and playing to best myself, no matter the beauty or ugliness of the game.

How does that turn “work” into play? First off, I love busy-ness. My two careers happened to be the two loves of my life. At 24, I was a full-time dentist and dancer. Dentistry – well, I played dentist in my parents’ car since I was two. Dentistry was a dream career. Why I loved teeth and everything about the mouth was beyond my parent’s comprehension – there was nothing but blue collar and nurses in my family. However, it was something that I just fell in love with. I remember in high school, going to the U of S for Discover UofS day. I came out of the day having seen the physiotherapy, medicine and dental departments. In the dental department, I was handed a dental drill to work on a life-size plastic tooth which they allowed me to pocket and take home – I actually still have the thing in my jewelry box. I remember shaking that little tooth at my mother saying, “dentistry, I still love dentistry”, and that was that. I didn’t look at any other options after that day in grade 11.

I went from playing dentist as an imaginative child to developing my artistic side. I loved drawing – not colouring, but creating my own art. Since people didn’t really appreciate my untrained hands poking in their mouth past a certain age, it started to be about creating dance and theatrical works in my friends’ basement. We put up sheets as curtains that could be drawn, created scripts with dance interludes (I was a gymnast not a dancer, but the idea intrigued me).

So maybe I was intuitively drawn to these two occupations and had the energy to develop both? I do consider myself absolutely lucky that I have had the opportunity to live out two amazing occupations simultaneously and on their own at certain points. I am also super lucky that when clinical (hands-on) dentistry was no longer an option, I had already developed enough to fully transition back into a full-time dance career with a body that was built for heavy manual labour according to my permanent disability assessing physiotherapist. Lucky me. Truly.

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