Halfway to DVM – What have I learned?

Second-year of veterinary school was a whirlwind of emotions. I ended my relationship of over four years and called off our wedding. I began another relationship that forced me to evaluate the way in which I express and receive love, and that too ended. This year, I discovered more about myself than I can even express in words. Many tears were shed, new friendships were made, and hard lessons were learned. I think it is important that I take a moment to look back at this monumental year for what it was – chaos in the most beautiful way.

In a way, this past year has shown me just how strong I am. I used to hate being referred to as “strong”. I assumed that because I was strong, I was not allowed to show weakness. The flaw in this argument is that in our weakest moments, we find strength. We discover just how resilient we truly are. Today, I am taking a moment to reflect and express gratitude for the amazing opportunities and experiences over the past year.

I became a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Instructor

Not only that, but I am actually teaching yoga regularly. I taught weekly at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and have thus far taught three goat yoga classes. I have watched my students gain confidence in their practice, and at the same time, I gained a family at my home studio, M3Yoga. The community that Nick and Matt (the owners of M3) have built is without a doubt one of the most amazing communities that I have been a part of. I am so thankful for the warmth of the instructors and students, as well as the fundamental teachings of self-acceptance. Through my Yoga Teacher Training, I have dived deep into the philosophies of yoga and continue to share the knowledge I have acquired not just in teaching, but in my everyday life. If you are interested in learning more about yoga, click here.

I wrote a Literature Review to *hopefully* be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Now that is truly something. When I began my research under Dr. Branson Ritchie, the amount of required reading was overwhelming.  It was one of the toughest endeavors of veterinary school thus far, especially balancing research meetings with exams and yoga teacher training. This summer, I will continue my research by creating reference intervals for green sea turtles to use in Clinical Pathology. I am working with a veterinarian who is fundamental in the fight against plastic waste, and I could not be more proud.

In Dr. Ritchie and his right-hand woman, Kat Gilmore, I have found a support system of faculty that will do anything to ensure my success. I even have the opportunity to travel to the Cayman Islands and draw blood on sea turtles for an externship. What you dream about, comes about, and working with sea turtles and marine life is a dream I have had for as long as I can remember.

I went to Portland with all of my best friends.

Not just my high school friends, but college and veterinary school friends as well! Originally, that weekend was supposed to be my bachelorette party, but it turned into a “Girls’ Trip” with all my favorite people in the same house. It was my first trip to Oregon and I was so happy to see the city that my best friend Page now calls home.

I went to Park City, Utah for Spring Break.

Another travel first! I took a trip to celebrate another one of my best friend’s birthdays over my Spring Break. We stayed in a beautiful house, explored Park City and Salt Lake City, and I went snowmobiling and snowshoeing for the first time. The added bonus was all of my best friends from Denver were there! I am so grateful that I was able to see many of them twice in one year. Now that we are older, the time we spend together is few and far between. These trips do wonders for my mental health. These individuals have been with me since the beginning. Many of them were sitting on my bed with me the night my dad passed away. I can’t even begin to express how much I value each and every one of them.

Additionally:

  • I was awarded one of the only exotic animal scholarships that the University of Georgia offers.
  • I have the opportunity to extern at the veterinary school in Paris, France this summer and will be going for three weeks in July. In the same trip, I will be able to visit my French family in Toulon, where I spent a year of my life and travel to Oslo, Norway to visit one of my closest friends from that time.
  • I have the opportunity to become certified in Small Animal Acupuncture and I cannot wait to see where this leads my career.
  • I started going to therapy again, and am once more reminded how beneficial talking to an unbiased party can be.
  • My second year of veterinary school is over and I finished in flying colors. I am so proud of how well I have done academically during this stressful period.
  • I learned how to say “no” and eliminated some unnecessary leadership positions that caused me additional stress.
  • In a few weeks, I will travel to Florida to see my aunts and cousins at my late grandpa’s house.
  • Currently, I am fostering two baby kittens. This is one of my favorite things to do! I love watching them grow into their personalities.
  • I have amazing neighbors who have become a little family.
  • Apollo survived an ibuprofen overdose back in November. I am so thankful to the team at the University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hosptial for saving his life.
  • AND Apollo is doing so much better with his anxiety. This is in huge part thanks to Dr. Ainsley Bone of Purina who subsidized the cost of his behavioral evaluation.

But most of all…

I am so grateful for my mom. Our relationship has had its ups and downs throughout the course of my life. Despite everything, she has been my one constant, full of encouragement and realism. She represents authenticity and chooses to speak her truth even if it is not what I want to hear.



The other day in yoga, the instructor asked us to reflect on the feeling of home. At that moment I saw my mom’s face and felt warmth radiate through my body. The meditation continued, asking us what emotions we felt when reflecting on “home”. Love and support were what immediately came to mind. Love and support are what she provides. Always.

I spend a lot of time talking about the loss of my dad and how that impacted me. What gets left in the shadows is how much my mom has impacted my life. Her strength to persevere, to overcome all obstacles in her path, and to constantly take care of her loved ones is astounding. She is the definition of resiliency. She is my hero.

Mom, Traveling Dogtor, College Graduation, Veterinary school

My mom and I at my college graduation.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ― Melody Beattie

Love & Light to you my friends,

Shelby

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