Treat your goals like your garden
The connection between cultivating grapevines and a uniquely individual hygiene career might not seem that obvious. But let me explain. Grapes are hardy; their roots are tethered to the ground; their vines are tenacious. Their history is persistent and diverse: they overcame prohibition, survived droughts, produced fruit without fail, and continued to drive their roots deeper into the earth, weathered, yet more resilient than ever. I can think of no better way to describe my personal and professional journey.
In a pivotal moment 3 years ago, as I sat in my private office, surrounded by degrees and accolades with a full-time faculty appointment, my perspective shifted. From the outside, I was fully accomplished. On the inside, I wanted more. I submitted my resignation, packed my boxes, and not only moved out of education but into an uncertain future. I had no job opportunity. Graduate school loan repayments were about to begin. Quite frankly, I had no plan.
I began by purchasing a guided journal. The first question was: “If you could do anything you wanted for the rest of your life, and money didn’t matter, what would you do?” Without hesitation, I wrote, “I would drink wine, talk about dental hygiene, and save homeless animals.” As soon as I wrote it, I realized how absurd that response was. No one could generate an income by drinking wine, talking about dental hygiene, and saving homeless animals!
Fast forward to today: I have cultivated my own successful business as The Dental WINEgenist, in which I deliver unique dental educational programs while utilizing my certification as a level 1 sommelier to deliver wine tasting experiences. I have also developed partnerships with local non-profit organizations and our state veterinary board to (of course) save homeless animals.
To be clear: my business was certainly not established easily. Rather, it was grown in the soil of grit and tenacity. Its trellis was constructed on countless “complimentary” offerings, paying my own way to events, hiring coaches I couldn’t afford, and putting portfolio services on credit cards. Its character was rooted in late nights and early mornings, red-eye flights, PowerPoints over lunch breaks, and overbooked schedules. Like many small businesses, it ripened on saying “yes” first, then figuring it out later; on remaining humble and grounded; on staying honest and authentic; and on making sure I still called home every day.
Looking back on this journey, I realize that I am far from the finish line. Yet the resilience is stronger than ever. The late nights and early mornings are what keep me humble and calling home to Dad is still the highlight of my day. As I pour my next glass of wine and continue building content to the acoustic pitter patter of my four-legged rescue entourage, I can think of no better life worth nurturing. Cheers.
This article is dedicated to Marianne Dryer, RDH, MEd, who knows how to make life sparkle with her charisma and continually reminds me that I am capable of making my dreams come true.