Heather Zoromski

I recently saw a quote that said, “Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you chose your life, you didn’t settle for it.” I don’t know who said it, and since I saw it on social media, it may have been created by a bot somewhere to steal my person information. Who knows? However, bot or not, it resonated with me as it really sums up how I strive to live my life … now. I wasn’t always so intentional. Ten-year-old me would’ve been an Olympic gymnast, while 16-year old me would have been an artist, and college me, well, college me had no idea what I was doing with my life.

words + photographs HEATHER ZOROMSKI

Expectations from my Dad would have me be a better athlete and good at math like my sister. My mom pushed me to do my best in whatever I chose. I had no idea what I was good at besides being social and often chose the easiest path well within my comfort zone.

So, I went to college to be a graphic artist and realized I was not very good at art. I changed my major to child and family development because I like kids, and it seemed easy. I had plans to work at the hospital but fell (i.e. easy path) into an internship and future job with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, where I met amazing families and children facing chronic and sometimes terminal health issues. It was always rewarding but also completely heart breaking. I was career focused and thought if I didn’t spend the entirety of my career there, it would be because I had bigger opportunities to move up the career ladder. However, if you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans, right?

In 2002, my Dad got really sick. He had a chronic liver disease exacerbated by prescription pain medication and alcohol use. Treatment required a liver transplant that he received in 2004, but it was too late. His health had deteriorated and there were too many complications. On Aug. 14, 2004, we had to make a gut-wrenching decision to take him off life support.

Following this life-altering event, I felt I needed to prove myself, but I’m not sure to who. Myself? My Dad? The world? I enrolled in graduate school and felt like for the first time, I had found something I was really good at and enjoyed. At work, I began writing grants and felt like I was really good at that too. In the meantime, I got married and had a baby. Working with terminally ill children after the birth of my own baby proved to be too much strain on my heart. I decided to make a career move and began writing grants full time, still with the intention of moving up the career ladder within my new organization. I was well-poised to do so, until a supervisor told me I couldn’t have a real career while I was so busy playing mom. I. Was. Floored.

I encourage you to choose your path to run and never, ever settle.

THIS was the moment when I decided I was done settling in life and was going to begin choosing my own path. Between the loss of my Dad, working at CMNH, and the birth of my own children, I was hyperaware of how fragile life is. While I needed a job, I was done compromising life for work. I was going to find a job that would allow me to be a mom, or I would just work for myself, and thankfully I found that at the Darr Family Foundation. I get to work in grant-making, philanthropy, and do what I am truly passionate about and feel I was created to do.

Darr gift to establish agriculture magnet school, expand companion animal program. Photograph by Kevin White/Missouri State University.

At home, I am the purveyor of more experiences and less things. I exhaust my husband with it and can often be heard telling him to have more “YOLO in his soul-O.” He knows where my heart is though and supports the chosen path I have decided to run. I encourage you to choose your path to run and never, ever settle. HZ 

Heather Zoromski is a lifelong resident of southwest Missouri, mom to three boys and married to Nathan. She loves cheering others on toward discovering their purpose.

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