On Wednesday of this week, one of my best friends in the world became a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
Her name is Kristi Mason, and she is 46 years old. I met her along with her husband Chris “Ox” Mason (who is also my business partner and one of my best friends) while I was in college at Appalachian State University. I was the wild one, and they were in love. We did everything together.
Our History Together
The three of us trained together at Appalachian Fitness Center. It was the heyday of my lifting career. They were into bodybuilding at the time, but we supported each other through it all. I went to their shows and they traveled with me to my competitions. It was one of the best times of my life. I look back on those times, and all I remember is loving every second of it. I had found a sport that was giving me everything I had been missing in life – stability and two friends who supported me and loved me (the real me) unconditionally.
One day after an amazing training session, we were sitting around together and talking about our love of the barbell. I explained that it gave me back everything I put into it. The harder I worked, the stronger I became. If I wanted to get stronger, I lifted heavy and often. If I wanted to get jacked, I added in accessory work for the pump. As I was explaining all of this to Kristi and Chris, I started crying uncontrollably like a baby. It was at this moment I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted in life. It was moments like this that Kristi and Chris shared with me, and that’s why they know aspects of me no one else will ever understand.
They were there during my time at the Olympic Training Center, and they were there during my climb to the top of powerlifting. They were there for every Gold Medal and every World Record. They were there when it was all over as well. That was the darkest time of my life, and they were there. They have always been there for me. When most people deserted me, they stayed by my side. For that, I will always love them both until the lights go out.
Working for the Dream
About six years ago, Kristi decided to begin the long journey of becoming a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She was over 40 years old when she decided to begin the impossible. It wasn’t only Kristi’s journey – Chris was now solely responsible for paying the bills and taking care of their 10-acre ranch. He had just started a new business: Training for Warriors Winston-Salem. They had both been pharmaceutical sales reps making hefty salaries with great benefits, and now Chris was making the only salary and providing his own benefits. Now are you seeing there are two heroes in this story? I watched it all from afar with admiration for them both.
People love to dream. They love to talk about what they would like to do or what they should do. Nothing drives me crazier than listening to people talk about “could have” and “should have.” Nothing is more dysfunctional than those phrases. However this isn’t a story about people mumbling those phrases, growing old, and dying with regrets.
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In this story, our heroes dream an amazing dream, make a plan, and commit to that plan. She started out taking prerequisites and retaking a few classes that she didn’t do so well in while at college. She was crushing it. Then it was time to apply. This was a scary time in our story because veterinary school is harder to get into than medical school. However, she did get in, and the first step of her dream was now a reality.
Now it was time for the work to begin. Kristi spent all of her time going to class and studying. One thing I didn’t mention was that the vet school was four hours away. Not only was Chris taking care of the ranch and working to pay all the bills, but also he was alone. Their ranch is totally secluded with no visible neighbors. That solitude is great when your wife is with you, but it can get pretty old day-in and day-out.
He held it together the best he could. He battled depression, and he battled a volatile economy with a risky business. He wanted to quit, but he didn’t want to let his wife down. He had the weight of the world on his shoulder, but this past Wednesday that weight was lifted. Kristi passed her boards and became Dr. Kristi Mason. I have never been more proud of anyone, and I am referencing both of them because this was dream realized by the two of them acting as one. We can all stand to learn from this amazing task.
Let’s look at a few of the things we should learn from this grand achievement:
- Marriage is teamwork. If you find yourself saying I, me, and mine too much, you somehow missed the point of marriage. We are supposed to love and support each other. It’s not about winning arguments, or your partner making you happy. If you focus on loving your wife, I promise you will always get tenfold in return.
- Dreams are meant to become reality. There isn’t an age limit on dreams. Sometimes people act like nothing amazing happens after 30. When we’re young, nothing is impossible. However the older we get, the more restrictions we put on ourselves. Why? My life gets more exciting each decade, and your life can too. The key is having the courage to go over the things in life. I think of it like this. God created the universe. He put the Earth just far enough from the sun and moon to maintain everything. He created the human body with such complexity that I am amazed each day studying Anatomy and Physiology. If He created us in His image, do you really think He designed us to be cowards? No way.
- Why are you afraid? Have you ever asked yourself that simple question? What’s the worst case scenario? It might not work. So what? You sure won’t be lying in your deathbed talking about what you could have done and should have done. Instead you will be lying there telling your grandkids about living a life of adventure and excitement. Existing isn’t living – at least in my world!
Kristi and Chris did a thing. They are living their lives. They are inspiring every single person around them, including me. It’s Kristi who first put the idea of getting my PhD in my head. She inspired her crazy friend, and now she will live a life that she has been dreaming about because she wasn’t afraid to go for it. I see a lot of so-called ‘influencers’ talking about living a courageous life. Kristi didn’t talk about it. She just went out there and did it.
And to Kristi, this is my way of saying I am so proud of you and your hubby. I love you both very much, and I hope that you both realize you have inspired me to be a better person for over two decades. Now that I have shared you with the world, you can inspire the world as well.