For the final week of July I wanted to focus on my career journey - the path I walk everyday, finding creativity in the most unexpected places. This journey was the manifestation of our mantra this month ‘It’s all about the journey.” That phrase got me through my undergrad, the professional exam sittings and the dark times finding my way into the path of pedorthics.
As a dancer, cross training was introduced to us as a way to keep our bodies healthy and strong, becoming a main focus for me in school where I took a phys-ed each year of high school, weight training and first found kinesiology. When it came time to apply for post-secondary I was torn between my two passions - dance already being ruled out as a viable career path - writing and English or kinesiology. Through dance injuries and my encounters with physiotherapists and other paramedical professionals who didn’t truly know how to treat dancers, as any other athlete has a back to play plan and not told ‘just don’t compete’, I knew I wanted to go into a field that could give me the tools to work with dancers to train and heal. At the time I also didn’t see a creative life as a viable way to survive; and I didn’t want to hate reading by being forced to engage with it for grades.
I started at Niagara College and will always be grateful for going through the college program because it gave me a true appreciation for working with clients, coming up with creative, yet practical solutions to real life scenarios and engage with the material in a hands on way that was lacking when I transitioned to the university setting and the others in my fourth year lab had never taken blood pressure, let alone worked with a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope to do so.
Having gone into the applied sciences I discovered that all of the problem solving, client centered approaches and unique program designs of my trade were, in fact, creativity masquerading as practical sense. This discovery in a world of science and research papers was exciting; to feel like you get to play in your profession is exhilarating, and that’s what really drove me to become a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I started in an MMA gym and moved to the YMCA. In both spaces programming for groups was by far my favourite. I loved challenging a group, feeling community build before my eyes was a wonderful experience. The bigger challenge came with personal training. I got to meet some incredible people who impacted my life far beyond the gym and challenge me professionally. One client required a mix of dry training and sessions in the pool; a form of exercise I was familiar with in aquafit class settings, but not in the one on one world.
The growth from my time as a trainer was incredible, and that’s actually where I met my husband. Eventually, the exhaustion of odd shifts and back to back classes takes its toll, at least it did for me. This road to burnout was the push I needed to come back and sit for my professional certification exam to become a Registered Kinesiologist, currently R. Kin (inactive). That exam was the most difficult professional exam I had undertaken, the previous one being the CSEP CPT certification process. Getting to return to studying and create the space to revise and review my journey and knowledge up to that point was a wonderfully creative process, and that work paid off in my next step on this path.
Transitioning out of such an active role was hard, but getting to move more into specific programming for seniors and supporting the delivery of these community based classes was another huge learning curve that gave me the administrative tools to transition into my current role as a pedorthic apprentice, getting ready to sit for my third round of professional exams. This career path is incredibly gratifying in its creative energy requirements. Not only is there the assessment component, but in my place of work, we actually hand craft the orthotics ourselves and shape the devices going under people’s feet to relieve pain. Though technology has grown to become a larger part of the process, the form it spits out still needs to be shaped on the grinders, have external additions and, of course, there are always adjustments that require mental gymnastics to merge form and function to solve a very real and impactful problem in someone’s daily life.
Orthotic fabrication is such a creatively rewarding profession, and I know how lucky I am to have stumbled upon it and get to create everyday in a career that I love. Many creatives are not able to merge their creative passions with the drudgery of the day to day, except for those elusive and incredible full time creators, but that’s a narrative to discuss another day. If this step in my kin, and now pedorthic, journey has taught me anything it is that creativity lives everywhere, but we have to search for it and draw it out.
Problem solving is creative. Entrepreneurship is creative. Making something digitally or with your hands is creative. Operating within a group is creative. Living life, every day, open to possibilities and opportunities for wonder is living a creative life, and that can be found in any profession, day job or career, so long as your creative soul is willing to meet it halfway.