I haven’t met anyone in my travels who embraces her work with the unabated joy Lilly Wakim has for her job – as a dentist. Lilly (and her two dogs) met Kyle Arriba (and his black lab puppy) at a dog park while she was at dental school in Kansas City. After dating over a year they decided to live together when Lilly took her first professional position in Colorado Springs, a place they chose because of the mountains and reasonable cost of living. In the three months since they arrived, things have fallen into place for both of them quite well.
Although Lilly’s father is a dentist in Wichita, she decided to join a young practice affiliated with the Pacific Dental group. “I think this office is wonderful. My boss is terrific. He’s a perfectionist, but good about it.” Lilly sees new patients and performs a variety of procedures, but has easy access to more experienced dentists when she needs guidance. Her general dentistry practice contracts with a variety of specialists – orthodontia, periodontal, and others – to work from Pacific Dental’s office once a week. “This model makes sense. It provides a comprehensive patient experience.”
The only thing that perturbs Lilly is how often they use nitrous oxide. “People coming in for a general check-up are so anxious they need nitrous. At one point today, we had four patients on nitrous. It speaks to the fear and anxiety in our culture.”
Moving to Colorado Springs has turned out positive for Kyle as well. When they met, Kyle had completed a Master’s in Geography at Kansas State University. “Geography is a state of mind. You study other places and you want to know about the people who live there.” His first job was project manager for an engineering firm. “My dad was a project manager. I always thought I wanted to do it as well. Then I realized I didn’t like the work; I didn’t like the travel. Turns out my dad doesn’t like it either; he just never told me that.”
Kyle is considering pursuing a PhD in Geography and a life of teaching, or switching gears to become a dentist. Colorado Springs provides options to explore both. Kyle works part-time in a dental lab and, next semester, will tech geography at the local community college.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of their move is Kyle’s opportunity to step up his passion: triathlons. He’s part of a master’s swimming class that practices at the Olympic Training Center pool and is training under the former US Olympic Triathlon coach.
Triathlons require rigorous logistics and strategy. They usually start at 7:00 a.m. and have to be completed by midnight. The sequence is 2.4 mile open water swim followed by 112 mile bike ride, capped by a 26.2 mile run. “You eat maybe 200 calories an hour. None during the swim, gels and bars during the bike ride and run. Hydrating during the bike ride is key. You don’t try to balance your intake and your output. I usually lose about fifteen pounds during a triathlon. Afterwards you feel so weird. Your stomach is knotted. You’re not really hungry and can’t really eat.”
“So why do you do it?” Lilly asks.
“Our lives have gotten too easy. You have to challenge yourself. People used to work so hard; life was hard. There’s benefit to pushing ourselves to the limits. When I get into flow, I hardly feel what my body is doing. It’s an elevated state.”
How will we live tomorrow?
“I think the world will move toward greater love. There is so much access to education and communication. People are waking up from fear. It’s going to be a good place. ” – Kyle