If you want to talk about a rollercoaster ride, this week was absolutely that. We bottomed out, went wayyyy to fast, hit some breath-taking highs, and had some highly suspenseful moments.
We have routine vet days, where a Veterinarian comes on sight and performs routine checks on residents and is able to check up with any sick, injured or new residents, instead of taking them off site and have to drive any cat which is very stressful, especially for the wild born or big cat residents. When our executive director walked by and said "I hope they don't find anything bad", I just knew in my gut that something was going to go wrong.
The radio call that makes everyone sick: "Come to the hospital. We have bad news."
Everyone, caretakers, interns, office staff. We all made our way down. There is one diagnosis that spans across all species, yet still punches the same punch. Cancer. And it's advanced. But the looks on the caretakers faces spoke volumes before words were even exchanged.
Sweet Kasha, one of the very first, if not the first, resident that I photographed here at TWS. She was shy, assertive and in her lush habitat, she had a sense of mystery around her. Mouth cancer that was caught before she was in too much pain or unable to eat comfortably. The decision to help her pass was the best for her. We have heard before with this situation, who are we keeping them here for, us, or their own good?
As we each went in and said our goodbyes to this sweet, petite, 6-pounds of independence while she was under anesthesia, the room was filled with that heaviness that is brought with loss. It was almost as if Mother Nature knew we needed a rainy, dreary day to project our feelings into the environment we were in.
This lowest low, was exchanged the next morning by waking up to the news that I was a National Champ for the first time in my nearing 7 years of membership in FBLA-PBL. Although there was no in person conference, no bright lights, no applause from the masses, the sense of accomplishment still felt true standing under the pine trees at the sanctuary while lions sang their morning carols in the background.
I had reached the pinnacle of the competitive events for the International organization of motivated, talented, and driven young professionals in the Impromptu Speaking contest, and also nabbed a bronze finish for Emerging Business Issues. It makes me reflect on the years spent in Mrs. Eckhoff's classroom, and the rigorous preparation spent reaching for similar goals at the high school level. I also am reminded of the days spent at the rural country elementary school where I got my first taste of public speaking. Research papers with an accompanying presentation was just the tip of the iceberg, but thankfully Mrs. Johnson was there to give me the push. I was most definitely one of the most shy, insecure and nervous presenters. To now look back and see the times I have spoken in front of 500 or more people on occasion reminds me of just how far I have come, thanks to the people around me.
The support system has not changed in college; I was once the big dreaming freshman that was going to bring a new club to a campus I was not even familiar with. I have been blessed with some of the greatest professors and advisors that sat in on countless hours of planning, preparing, practicing and allowing to be a sound board for any of my crazy ideas.
I digress from the walk down memory lane. This week we kicked off another marketing campaign which always bears the weight of added pressure to write a good copy, say the right things on a live post, and engage with supporters in just the right way for them to see how valuable this campaign is and why they should give. On top of that I have a video that is ready to roll out soon, and a second that is under way. I was able to get back to my element and give two interviews (to people, not cats) and use that as an integral part of my productions.
Oh and I slept at work and spent a while in the basement while we were under a tornado warning, did I forget to mention that?
Pics or it didn't happen right? Not many people can say that they spent the night at an animal sanctuary while tornado-like conditions raged on outside. Although the night itself was not what I would call ideal, the sun peaking through the clouds, pouring in through the windows to wake me up before walking out on the deck to a beautiful Minnesotan morning, surrounded by the sounds of lions and tigers is a moment I hope to not soon forget.
Plus, I was CLEARLY in good company! So thankful that my path has crossed with each and every one of these people that work at The Wildcat Sanctuary. Everything happens for a reason, I truly believe that; that saying has been reaffirmed nearly everyday over the course of these weeks I have spent here in Sandstone, Minnesota.
The weekend was extremely relaxing, yet adventurous. I had a long conversation at the farmers market with a season journalism veteran. Shot the breeze about duck hunting with the service man at the tire shop. Took the scenic route to Duluth blaring some classic rock. Ate some of the best street tacos on the sidewalk of Canal Park. While sitting there basking in the sun and ambiance of the Sunday afternoon, I kept thinking "what even is my life."
I still have no answer to that daunting question, but I know this week was simply a rollercoaster.
Buckle up tight friends, thanks for reading.