Lots of Changes Old Max, Lots of Changes

My cat Oreo during his most recent health crisis, titled “in which we discovered our newest cat has major kidney and bladder issues that will require months of treatment and very costly special food for the rest of his life”. Sigh. That’s a story for another day.

So in my Epic Quest post, I listed becoming a veterinarian as one of my ultimate goals.  When I listed it less than 2 weeks ago it was a pipe dream.  A remnant left that I couldn’t let go of.  

As a child, it was the life I dreamed of – well-past the point of “every little girl wants to be a vet”.  In Grade 7, I gave my final speech on James Herriot – my idol as both an aspiring author and future (so I thought) veterinarian. My teacher told me I would have done better if I’d chosen a topic that was of interest to anyone but me (like a hockey player, apparently).  Incidentally, James Herriot (real name Alfred Wight) died while I was writing my speech.  It went from being a biography to being a tribute, and I wanted more than ever to follow in his footsteps.

I was off to a good start – I loved animals of all kinds, as well as science.  I even won the science award at my grade 8 graduation.   Then I got to high school, and I became terrified of science – what if I had to dissect something? (Don’t worry, I’m past that now).  I started looking into other options.  I was going to be either a lawyer or an architect.  Law interested me, as did psychology,  and I figured the two went well together.  Architecture fascinated me.  I did an independent study course, involving building a website on ancient architecture,  photography, a sketchbook, and a scale model of my house.  

When it came time for university,  I didn’t have the math or physics grades to get into architecture.   My overall average would have been more than enough, but calculus had stumped me (despite hiring a tutor), and so I settled for psychology.   I was going to be a youth counselor,  then a psychologist or a lawyer.

After my first year of the bachelor of arts program in psychology I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I found psychology fascinating, but I still wanted to be a vet.  I changed schools, switched to a bachelor of Science in psychology, and began taking biology electives. Unfortunately,  I was going through some diffcult health issues at the time, and I didn’t have the energy or focus to put into it.  I passed most of my courses, but not with the grades I needed to pursue anything further – not vet school, not teaching, not my Masters in psych – nothing.  I had shot myself in the foot, and it didn’t even matter that it wasn’t entirely my fault.

I walked away again.  Finished my degree, went to college, and got my diploma in social service work. I didn’t like where that took me either.

I went back to college for architectural technology, hoping to get into a university architecture program after that, and discovered that I just didn’t have the artistic ability. I left the program, and worked in child care for a bit.

Eventually,  I went back to school for the paralegal program, and thought maybe I had found my way into law school.  I was offered a job as a receptionist in a law firm after my fist year, and left the program to take the job.  I worked there for four years, and went nowhere.   A few jobs later, I work retail part-time, and I have a far better understanding of what giving up a dream will cost you.  

Through everything I’ve done, every other career goal I’ve had, I have still always wanted vet school – I just never thought it could happen.  Not since I messed up in university. Every time I walk into a vet’s office, it’s like a punch in the gut.  A little voice says “could have been you”, but I shake my head and ignore it.  Then when I sat down to work on my Epic Quest list, it came unbidden.  What would my life look like at Level 50?  I would be a vet.  My own practice, a successful writing career, and a house on the lake.  

Oh. 

Nothing short of that will get me to my ultimate life, and I will never be happy if I don’t try.

I told my partner,  who has always been incredibly supportive, and got an even better response than the one I had hoped for. “I was just waiting for you to make the decision.”  So we started planning.

For the next 3-4 years, we are going to save like crazy – enough at the very least to pay for my first semester at Guelph.  Then my partner will find a job there, and I will get my store to transfer me to their Guelph location, and we will move.  We’ll rent a house or apartment there, and I will go back to school.  Because I have a degree already, I can take two years of general study, get the prerequisites and the grades I need, and apply for the DVM program after those two years.

This is going to be extremely difficult.  I’m going to have to be frugal, and more than that, I’m going to have to study.  HARD (I’ve already started taking free online courses to prepare me so that I can get the grades I need when I start the classes).  But in the end, it will all be worth it.  This is what I’m supposed to do.  I’ve always known it.

Time to stop dreaming and start DOING.

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My “Epic Quest”

Because Nerd Fitness is structured like a video game, there are experience points (XP) associated with quests.  While the program has a huge number of pre-set quests to choose from, one of the first activities is to encourage people to create their own “Epic Quests” – what would the best version of themselves do?  What would their ultimate goals be (No matter how crazy they seem now) and what are the steps needed to get there?  Each quest is assigned XP between 1 and 100, based on importance and difficulty. 

 I have started to add mine, this is what I have so far:

Work Quests

  • Sell a design (my partner and I are starting a side screen-printing business)     15 XP
  • Get a full time job working with animals     35 XP
  • Sell a novel     50 XP
  • Volunteer at a vet clinic     15 XP
  • Write a 50,000 word novel    30 XP

Freedom Quests

  • Pay off debts    50 XP 
  • Save up enough money to cover 2 semesters of university courses   25 XP
  • Own my own home    50 XP
  • Work from home    40 XP
  • Bring in $2500/month from blogs and websites    25 XP

Physical Quests

  • Work out/run 3x a week for 1 year     40 XP
  • Work out/run 3x a week for 6 months    20 XP
  • Work out/run 3x a week for 3 months   10 XP
  • Run a Marathon    60 XP
  • Run a Half-Marathon    40 XP
  • Run Dopey   75 XP
  • Run the Boston Marathon    75 XP

Master Quests

  • Have or adopt a child  100 XP
  • Design and build my dream home on the beach   90 XP
  • Complete an Ironman   100 XP
  • Make a living as a writer  100 XP
  • Become a veterinarian    90 XP

Adventure Quests

  • Complete a tree walking excursion    25 XP
  • See the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba    25 XP
  • Stay in a haunted castle in Scotland    50 XP
  • Climb an ancient temple (Aztec/Mayan)     50 XP
  • Explore an Egyptian pyramid    40 XP
  • Photograph a Galapagos tortoise in its natural habitat   50 XP
  • Scuba dive the Great Blue Hole in Belize    50 XP
  • Climb Mt. Killimanjaro    75 XP
  • Swim in a natural pool at the foot of a waterfall    25 XP
  • Snorkel the Mossman River in Qld. Australia    50 XP

Legacy Quests

  • Buy old cars for my kids and help them fix them   65 XP
  • Run a Marathon with my grandchildren    85 XP
  • Have a photograph in an art gallery    65 XP
  • Completely pay for my children’s educations  70 XP
  • Write a New York Times bestselling book    100 XP

Courage Quests

  • Get my nipples pierced    5 XP
  • Do a new boudoir photo shoot  15 XP
  • Sing at an open mic night    20 XP
  • Wear a bikini on a public beach    20 XP
  • Teach a competitive swimming class    45 XP

Gratitude Quests

  • Pay off my parents’ house    55 XP
  • Participate in and raise $1000 for the Ride to Conquer Cancer    15 XP
  • Volunteer at a camp for kids with illnesses    40 XP
  • Foster a child    35 XP
  • Volunteer 1,000 hours at Foster Forest    30 XP
  • Volunteer 100 hours at Foster Forest    15 XP
  • Build a Habitat for Humanity house    30 XP
  • Donate $100,000 to animal rescues    75 XP

Mental Quests

  • Get my scuba diving certification    20 XP
  • Go to veterinary school    70 XP
  • Get my degree in biology, natural resources, or environmental studies    40 XP
  • Take a trip to France, speak only French to the native-speakers   40 XP
  • Take six months of weekly guitar lessons    15 XP

Fun Quests

  • Have a swimming pool    20 XP
  • Go to Disney    20 XP
  • Travel to Ireland    25 XP
  • Visit Platform 9 3/4    25 XP
  • Camp at Kakabeka Falls provincial park    10 XP

I’ll add to the list as I go, I know there are a lot more things that belong on it, but this is a start.  It’s a great tool for visualizing where my priorities lie and where I’m going.