As someone who constantly pushed herself as a career woman, mum, wife, daughter and friend, Heather got lost along the way. In 2013/2014 she burnt out and was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue. She describes that as the greatest gift she could ever be given and is here to tell other women that you can indeed find your way back to an ever greater and happier version of YOU.
Today, we asked Heather to share some of her story, including her morning routine, the purpose that drives her, and the unexpected gift her burnout gave her…
What do you do?
I take women on transformational walking experiences along ancient paths like the Camino de Santiago and the Pilgrim’s Way tapping into the energy, the wisdom and stories of those who have gone before and using the learnings to tap into our own knowledge and wisdom and to bring forth our own stories.
On the path is a great place to find peace and calm; time to be and an escape from our day to day routines. It’s where we can being to re-discover ourselves and to re-connect.
Many of my clients are at a crossroads in life and are not clear of the way forward, they are wondering ‘is this it?’ and mourning the woman they seem to have lost in the busyness and stress of modern life.
I work with them on and off the path, in small groups and one to one to find their way back to their true selves and the life that they want to jump out of bed for every day.
As well as my practical coaching work, I also write and speak. I became a published author in 2019 when I was one of 20 authors featured in a book called ‘My Camino Walk’.
Give us the big “why” you do what you do?
My big why is to give women permission to invest in themselves, especially from a health and wellbeing perspective. I help them understand that by doing that and having their own needs met, that they will be in a much better place to give to others and be at their best as a result.
Walking was my saviour on so many occasions and played a huge role in my recovery from burnout and adrenal fatigue. I know that to truly give women time to focus on themselves, I need to take them away from distractions be this for a few hours, a day or longer.
Walking is movement and being in the fresh air has a way of expanding creativity, making decision making easier and for slowing down the pace and developing a connection to something much bigger. My walking is about so much more than just walking, it’s about self-love and self-care, health and wellbeing. I want to help women bring a halt to the risks of ongoing stress, overwhelm and burnout and prepare them for a long healthy, vibrant life.
Give us your typical daily routine (or a normal day in the life of you)…
I wake and do my Morning pages as I sip a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Then I do 20 minutes of yoga and 20 minutes of visualisation and guided meditation. I have a large glass of freshly juiced celery juice and go for a 30-minute walk on days when I know I am not going to get out later otherwise I build it in later. When I get back I shower and have breakfast and then get into my day.
I do not have a standard day. I have office based writing days and once a month a money day. I have a networking day monthly and a networking evening monthly. I have client days when I am coaching on zoom; face to face or out walking with clients and once a month I have a day of walking with my walking women. In Spring and Autumn, I lead a Camino Experience spending a week in France and/or Spain and I also do my own walking exploration trying out new paths but also ensuring that I am continually walking my talk.
On some evenings I may be on calls or networking but as much as possible I build in family and friends time and down time with as much importance as my work. It is all about balance and I now live in tune with the cycles of nature so winter is my hibernation time when I slow down, spend time doing inner work, create, write and think. I do my own walking and run local walks but no big Walk Experiences.
What demands do you balance every day in conjunction with your work?
The demands of being a wife, friend, mother and daughter. My daughter is back living at home after graduating and is in her first job. She is very self-sufficient but I am still mum! I am blessed with a husband who likes to cook so we share that and the shopping.
How do you feel about women’s “lot” these days?
I still come across many women doing equal to a partner but more, as many of the home tasks still fall on them. I see women still striving to be ‘superwoman’ and pushing and driving themselves using all that masculine energy.
I believe that among stressed, overwhelmed, busy women we have a hidden epidemic of adrenal fatigue but I am also seeing this in men who would like more balance.
I see some companies much more attuned to health and wellbeing for all, but not enough yet.
I have great hope for the younger generation, many of whom care passionately about equality and feminism and positive body image etc but many are still brought up in a less than positive way about many of these things. I have hope, but I would love to see change happening faster.
How do femininity and Soft Power feature in your business/ career?
It features in ‘time for me and investment in me’. My morning routine is all about starting the day off positively and putting me first, taking care of my needs which results in a more productive day.
It features in not overloading my to-do list, in realistic planning and saying no.
In regular breaks for long weekends with friends and or my husband and in ensuring holidays are taken. Walking, over and above what I do daily, is also how this features and time to connect with people. Regular soft power dates, reading, the cinema and eating out.
Do you think you people around you (on social media, and face to face) understand who you authentically are?
Yes, especially those who have known me for a while, those I network with and those who have read my blogs and my book and have heard me speak.
How important do you think vulnerability is in life and career?
It’s part of being authentic, of being who I am and my journey so far has made me fairly comfortable at being vulnerable. It doesn’t scare me as I have nothing to hide. This is me.
What’s one “breakthrough” you have had in your life, that shifted the way you saw things – how did it impact those around you?
It has to be my burnout and diagnosis of Adrenal Fatigue which I have seen as the biggest gift and I guess now a breakthrough. This forced me to face up to what was going on and how I was living my life and gave me a choice as to whether to continue or change things. I had known that things weren’t right for quite a while. Now the time was right to take action but if this hadn’t happened I might have gone on as I was.
I did a complete audit of all aspects of my life looking for the stress and starting to take action to change things. The first time I took Lead the Change coincided with this and that programme complimented what I was already doing.
Going through my recovery resulted in a softer, less angry and irritable me and my family really benefited from this. Clients and others probably had not seen that woman because I would have put the performing mask on. I also learnt that I didn’t love me and now I do and that has changed so much. My mind-body connection is so much stronger and as a mentor, coach and walk leader the woman I am now, is able to provide a much better service and be a better role model to my clients. I am stronger in my purpose and more confident.
Who do you look up to as a woman?
Michelle Obama; Fabienne Fredrickson; Brené Brown
Where do you look for hope? (What are your sources of inspirations?)
In nature where the magic she weaves is all around I feel grounded and a sense of belonging. I cannot come back from a walk in a bad mood! In books such as Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach which I read annually and I learn something new every time I read it and in music especially music that gets me into a high vibration.
What do you tell yourself when times are tough (What’s your mantra)?
‘I am who I am and who I am is wonderful’ and I also love the quote by Carl Bard which says “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”
What are you doing to help elevate the women of developing nations?
One of my first clients as a coach was a guy who had left his job in a big corporate as he had issues with their ethics. Through our work he set up a charity in Kenya from scratch building sand dams and these had a huge impact on the entire community but especially the young women who now no longer have to spend most of they day fetching water, They can now go to school and because of the sand dams tree nurseries are planted and crops grown, enough for the family and to sell at market so there is more money. This is one of the charities I personally support.
Thanks so much, Heather! If you’d like to get in touch and find out more about Heather’s work you can find her on her Facebook page, Women Walking Women Talking, or at her website: www.womenwalkingwomentalking.com.