Friday, January 31, 2014


I accomplished a major personal goal this week and as silly as it is, I'm incredibly proud and happy about it.  Accomplished?  I don't know if that is actually the right word.  Maybe completed?  Finished?  Survived?  I'm not sure...

Six months ago I tore a tendon in my foot and missed six weeks of work.  This was my third major injury to my left foot in four years.  I was completely devastated because I was convinced I'd have to quit the job I love.  I did tons of research looking into other careers and even took a few seminars at Illinois Central College about changing careers, writing resumes and cover letters and an hours-long aptitude test.  I talked to countless people and got countless ideas, but the bottom line was that I wanted to remain a zoo keeper.  I find my job to be incredibly fulfilling and meaningful and I can't imagine anything else being as personally satisfying.  I not only love the animals, but I also love the work itself and especially finding solutions to the constant challenges that arise in working with the unpredictable and always changing animals and situations.  I love working outside and am usually not bothered by the weather (though this winter of extreme cold and never ending snow is getting on my last nerve.)  Anyway, I eventually decided that I will work as a zoo keeper until I absolutely can't do it anymore.  I don't know if that will be 2 weeks or 20 years, but I'm going to make the most of whatever time I have left and more importantly, enjoy it.  I will constantly keep my eyes and ears open for my Plan B, but I'm not going to actively seek another job until I have to.

My first major goal was to make it to my anniversary date of January 30th.  This was an important goal if only because this was the year my retirement became fully vested.  It was also a big deal because I was out of sick time and low on vacation time so I couldn't miss more work.  Over time, this deadline somehow became more and more important.  I had a scary setback in late October and November when an entrapped nerve in the same foot required me to have a series of weekly alcohol injections that became increasingly painful to the point I was terrible to be around.  Not only was I in agony, I was also terrified I wasn't going to make my goal.  I finished the injections and the pain slowly subsided.  By late November, I was doing a daily countdown.  I knew exactly the day I could make it to my anniversary date with full pay if I had to miss work again.  I mentally crossed off every day, rejoiced when January finally came and then groaned as it dragged on and on.

I guess it seems kind of dumb and not like much of an actual accomplishment, but my happiness at the arrival of January 30th was comparable to it finally being the day of a major event.  I'm not usually much of a celebratory person- I couldn't care less about making a big deal of my birthday- but I actually took treats to work.  Almost no one knew what they were for and no one but me could have understood how significant the day was, but I was so happy and relieved.  I made it!

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