Why This Family Physician Became a Belly Dancing, Bachata Loving, Seeker of Joy

I’d always known I’d be a Doctor;  that my calling was to heal, to nurture and to care for my fellowman.

There was this deep unwavering conviction that was at my core.

And so it was, 23 years ago, I became a Family Physician.

An old-fashioned one, who put patient care first, and cared for their bodies, minds, and even their spirit.

I’d been taught that Medicine was a science and that was how I approached my work.

In a cool, scientific, matter of fact way.

Somewhere along the way, something felt off.

I was dealing with people; humans with hearts and souls, with thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams.

How could I be matter of fact as I presented them with life altering diagnoses? Of cancer, of chronic illnesses, of life paths suddenly changed.

Each one of them had their unique story, their families, and I had to deal with all of this – in a scientific, matter of fact way?

This was not a game of science. This was Life. This was Real.

I slowly lost my zeal for this career, and became soul weary.

Something had to change.

On a whim, I signed up for a belly dance class. As I learned to hip sway and shimmy and to use my hands and shoulders, something shifted.

I found a new sense of self-love - love of my full hips and Caribbean bottom and all its perceived flaws.

I learned how to truly listen to the music, each strain stirring my soul.

I need those full hips, strong legs and stable core to move to this sensual art form.

And so, for 60 minutes twice a week, I left the scientific world behind and used the other half of my brain.

There was no thought of patient management, or disease, or plans for the future.

There was just me, here and now, my body shaking, swaying and shimmying.

And what a joy it was. I lived for these classes.

As with everything, life took over, the course ended, and I went back to using the other side of my brain.

In the coming years, there were even more diagnoses to be given. And it hit even closer to home - family members, close friends.

I attended far too many patients at their end of life crossings, and perhaps, as a way of coping, the scientific brain simply took over.

Perhaps, it was easier to do so.

Enter Latin dance class. After being enticed by a colleague to join, I plunged right in.

And so I learned the basics of Salsa

1, 2, 3 - 4 is silent

5, 6, 7 - 8 is silent

LA style, Cuban style, cumbia step, cucaracha, ladies right turn.

I learned that the man will usually lead, and that I must simply follow!

“Just let go”, I was told so many times.

“Stop thinking, just feel.”

Leave the scientific brain behind. Surrender.

What bliss – no need to make a decision, or plan or diagnosis.

I simply followed my partners’ lead and I danced.

Week 3 – we learn Bachata, what I like to refer to as the blues of Latin dance.

I felt alive as I moved to the sweet, soul stirring strains.

1, 2, 3, tap

4, 5, 6, tap

Front, back, sideways, turns and twists

Always being led, allowing my creative brain to take over.

And as I moved to the sweet, soul stirring strains, I felt it - JOY ??.

It was as if a bottle of fine champagne had been popped open inside, and there were these tiny bubbles of JOY coursing through my body.

There must be a lesson here I thought.

I realized that Life was meant to be lived fully, to think AND to feel.

To use both sides of my brain to create a full, well-lived Life.

And so I chose to dance the Bachata of Life.

There would still be diagnoses to be given, and treatment plans to be decided, but I could do this with as much compassion, and caring and feeling as I could.

So together, I will dance with my patients, my family, myself.

I will dance with Life.

And as with any new dance, there will be missteps, but the music will play on and there WILL be moments of JOY – only if we allow ourselves to surrender, to allow ourselves to be led by the Great Divine.

1, 2, 3 tap

4, 5, 6 tap