Spiritual Connections with Heather Hannam
Heather Hannam is a special soul. She’s a woman of many talents with a deep range of fascinating life experiences. She’s also a lot of fun to talk to!
This episode offers some perspective and insight into the spiritual realm. We start by discussing what it means to be spiritual, not religious. Then we explore some of Heather’s experience with healing, teaching, witnessing others and being an advocate.
We also discuss the impact of generational trauma, which has become a powerful realization in my own life. Heather shares some notions and experiences from navigating different forms of generational trauma with her family and clients.
I appreciate Heather for her spark and service. She’s full of life, which is clear as soon as you meet her. She’s also served humanity in profound ways. I’m grateful to have shared some time with Heather.
[00:00:00] Ali: Welcome back, folks. Today, I have a special guest, Mrs. Heather Hannam, who I met at Companion Camp about a month ago now, Heather? About that, MmHmm. So still pretty fresh, and it was a great experience. We could have a whole conversation about that, but today, we're interested in Heather. Particularly whatever, you feel like sharing, and on this show, you get the honor of introducing yourself. So how would you like to introduce yourself today, Heather?
[00:00:37] Heather: Well, first of all, I have been on the planet, I say heavenly years instead of 70. I just had my 70th birthday. So I'm now heavenly. As opposed to tricksty. I would say I'm a lifelong seeker. I have my fingers in lots of spiritual pies. Although I had one teacher say, Heather, it's all the same pie, which I really, really loved. I've studied with Dr Joe, I've done some Wim Hof, The Way of The Heart, Disciple of Jesus and Mary, so I'm modestly eclectic, even in my spirituality. I decided years ago I didn't want to be religious. I wanted to be spiritual because spirituality transcended all religions.
So even though I'm a practicing Catholic, I can tell you that I can go into any church, any synagogue, any mosque, any sweat lodge, any what's what's left temple and take what helps me to be a better woman of God and leave behind what doesn't.
I am by trade a holistic manual physical therapist. I'm still practicing. I retired from clinic work two years ago and reinspired into a home practice. So I've been a therapist forty-five and a half years now. My specialty is the jaw and the pelvic floor for women and men, which is incredible. My tagline is, "I work the orifices above the neck and below the waist that either starts conversation or ends it," but it rarely, it rarely ends it. And I do distance healing and then I also write poetry, spiritual poetry usually. So those are a few of the things. You know, I'm a mom of five and a grand of seven and a great grand of one. I stay plenty busy.
[00:02:25] Ali: Well first, that's exactly why I let you introduce yourself. I could have never recited all that. I feel like that's just a chunk of your life, a chunk of your experience. It's amazing. Precisely why I just wanted to have fun, exploratory convo with you. And a lot of stuff is in there.
Where I think I'd like to start, even though I have a feeling we're going to just bounce around in a graceful way, is a little bit about how you sort of said, and at least in my brain, I felt emphasis that you decided to become spiritual, not religious.
That's cool, that's powerful, that's flexible, it's malleable, and I say that with my own filter in that I grew up in a Christian church, and now I would also consider myself spiritual, not religious. So what does that mean? What would you want people to know about that?
[00:03:23] Heather: Yes. I feel that we're all called to be saints and I teasingly say I'm not an uppercase, a capital S saint, but we are called to be saints. And so that colors my thought process on that. And I had a teacher, a spiritual teacher tell me that the word religion is re-legion. And so a legion is a lot of people, right?
And so if you consider a legion like a big ocean going cruise line, at some point you're going to go up the tributaries. And have to get off that boat and climb into your own little boat and go up the small tributary to the source. And that was spirituality. That was not religion. That was what transcends what you've been taught.
[00:04:22] Ali: That is fascinating. It's also like a really nice metaphor for just exactly what you described, kind of having the source and then being guided and needing to find your own path. You know what this also kind of segues into, which I'm very curious about, and you shared a little bit with me at Companion Camp, is your trip to Ireland, your recent trip to Ireland, right?
[00:04:45] Heather: Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
[00:04:48] Ali: Let's start with why you went there because that's fun.
[00:04:51] Heather: Well, it was as simple as our local priest was leading a pilgrimage to Ireland. And up until now, I've worked and hadn't been able to go. So, you know, I called out to Gary, "Gary, you want to go on pilgrimage"? And he says, sure. So we signed up.
And as people would ask me, why did I want to go? I realized I wanted to get holier and I'm not sure where that came from, other than maybe a download. But being on pilgrimage, which I have done other pilgrimages was about exploring who I am in the, in the great creative force of the world. What are my gifts? What is my life mission? And how am I to use that in the world?
And so the idea of pilgrimage and to be on different holy sites was fascinating to me. I've been in Mexico in 2011 and I met Mother Mary in a way at Guadalupe that I could never have expected. And I, I didn't know what kind of experience I would have in Ireland, but I just put out the intention to get holier and see what that would be. So that was my intention in going, to get holier.
[00:06:04] Ali: And I remember you telling me that when you got, this is the fun part for me, when you got to the Dublin airport and they asked why you were there. The customs, right? He said...
[00:06:16] Heather: Yes, that was fun. Yeah. The customs agent said, so how long will you be here? And I said about 11 days. And what will you be doing? And I said, I've come to get holier. And he stepped back and he said, "I've never had anybody tell me that before." Stamped my ticket and off I went.
[00:06:35] Ali: Oh, I love it. That is so cool. So what would be just a few highlights of that experience if you feel like sharing.
[00:06:42] Heather: Sure. Um, our 1st holy site was Knock our Lady, uh, brought Joseph and Saint John and Christ in the form of a lamb to a visitation there at Knock, in the early 19's. I'm not going to tell you the dates, and, uh, stayed there without saying anything, which is not common with usually those kind of visions are a message is brought.
There was no overt message, but she stayed there long enough with all with Joseph and John and and the lamb that I think 17 different people came and saw them from young children all the way up into their 70s and they all told the same story, which gives it tremendous credibility.
Anyway, so when I was there and I put my hand on the wall of the church, I just get a wash in energy. What it feels like to me is that my body has become an atom and I might be the, the nucleus, but the electrons are just spinning around me. Excuse the pun, a very electrifying experience and it's one of the ways I know I'm in a deep spiritual place is because I feel that level of energy. So that was one.
And then, you know, we went to lots of castles and I was most intrigued by the cemeteries, quite frankly. The graveyards outside and reading, uh, headstones. And trying to see which, what was the oldest headstone I could find that I could still read it and it would make sense to me. And there was this beautiful one from like 1789 and they spoke of this man, the bereft wife, was missing her husband, who was like a friend to the orphan, a helper of the widowed. I mean, they just listed the beautiful things that I think were called to do to give into the world. That was a really, really sweet time.
And then, when I put my hand on several of the, the Celtic crosses and some of them are like 12, I think the, the largest, maybe 14 feet high, and I would put my hand on them and the vibration was compelling and visceral. There was times I had to look up because it felt like my hand was rocking like three to four inches side to side.
But when I opened my eyes, it was just my hand was just solid against this Celtic cross and my whole body resonated with the resonance and the energy beneath that. So those were probably highlights. And then I come to find out the Taggart, which is my surname, my grandmother's surname means son of the priest. Mm hmm. There's got to be a story there. And it wasn't it wasn't until the last day that I even saw a establishment that had the word Taggart on it, you know, I certainly took a picture of that.
[00:09:55] Ali: Totally. Oh, my goodness. Wow. That's a lot. Those are three extraordinary experiences. And one of the things we talked about when you first shared this with me, Heather, is the energetic power of Ireland.
And this might not be true for everyone, but like you, I've had a few experiences there, not quite the same, but where my body, mind, my heart and my soul were very at peace and it's hard to describe. But it's a place that really cultivates energy out of me that I don't feel in other parts of the world, and I've traveled quite a bit, so I can say that with some degree of certainty.
What's also interesting about Ireland is, I shared with you, after the second trip there, I did a DNA test and realized that I was over half Irish British, which shocked me. I would have thought it was a lot more European mix and then my Iranian heritage, but it was the majority. And so that kind of gave me some assurance. And I feel like you too have quite a bit of Irish lineage, correct?
[00:11:10] Heather: I do. My Grandmother and grandfather were full Irish. I have English as well. And as I shared with you, it had always been a more of a joke than a, um, a coming home to that had my sister, my older sister and younger sister and had any of us been a boy, our names would have been Taggart Patrick.
And I could never understand that because we named our dogs Tag and Tag was a dog's name. And that's what I, you know, when I thought of Taggart, I said, gosh, you're going to call me a dog's name. So it always became a joke. Ah, you know, every March 17th that I've been a boy, my name would have been Taggart Patrick.
But being on that soil, I came home in a way I could not have told you. I ended up grieving. I spent a day just in tears and sobbing at what was done to the Irish people, what they lived through in the famines. And I read Trinity and a few other books, to have some background as well.
But there was, there was just a homecoming. I have British as well. And I felt badly being British, being a descendant of people that wreaked havoc on my other people and then to settle in so well and feel that vibration. And old rocks that just, it just spoke to me in a way.
I just came home in a way that I could never have expected, which is, I think the paradox of, of even going on some of these trips. I expected something to happen. I just didn't know what it was. And so the beauty of that was I came home in a way I could never have guessed.
The country just spoke to me, the colors, the heather, the amount of heather on the hills. You know, I always thought of heather as scotch, but oh my gosh, the hills and hills of that beautiful red heather. So I have lots of pictures of me standing in front of that.
[00:13:08] Ali: Yeah, it's a beautiful place. That's another thing is that it's a beautiful place. It's alive. It's, it's surrounded by the ocean, which makes it interesting. Just the volatility of the weather. So, yes, I feel you. I feel that there is a part of me when I go there, it feels like being home. That's a great way to describe it.
Is that enough pilgrimage for now? Or is there another pilgrimage in the future?
[00:13:37] Heather: Well, we're thinking of going to the Holy Land next year, but I'm not sure that's going to happen. Okay, right, not right now. But absolutely, absolutely, I want to do more pilgrimage.
[00:13:47] Ali: Very cool. Yeah, a buddy of mine is walking the, the...
[00:13:52] Heather: El Camino Trail.
[00:13:53] Ali: El Camino. Yeah, uh huh. He's walking that and it looks like such an epic experience. So I love tying this back. I love the curiosity to go somewhere to get holier. To go on a pilgrimage for whatever spiritual desires fulfill you. Like we talked about earlier, it doesn't necessarily have to be mapped to a specific faith, but rather to just invest in your spirituality. I think that's beautiful.
It lends into something else you shared with me that I'm curious about. So when we had a nice chat previously, you shared that your life mission is to be a healer, teacher, advocate, and witness. Those are four powerful words. What do you want to start with?
[00:14:36] Heather: Well, healer certainly comes first as a physical therapist. I knew age 8, 9, 10 that I wanted medicine. My dad would bring home time magazine and I would always go to medicine and science. So I have that appreciation that I was to do something in that and my grandmother probably fed into that. I didn't like it at the time because while all my other cousins were out playing, grandma would ask me to rub her legs because I had the nicest hands. I had the best hands.
So I missed cousin time. And, you know, I've decided based on Dr Kelly's, I've given up regret, but it still saddens me that I. Yeah. Well, I was young and ignorant. I didn't know, but I was resentful at times. And yet I was obedient and I always did the best I could on her legs.
So I have those two strong advocacies that got me into healer and as a physical therapist. What I now know is it's holistic. I see body, mind, spirit. I can't separate them. I've heard too many stories in dark rooms where people are somaticizing their grief. Their woundedness. And I get to be the first one to witness to them.
And that's part of that witness piece. Not only learning to witness to my own woundedness, but to sit in presence and be a witness to someone else. Whether it be joy filled or grief work or anger or anything else. And I think it's best done by people who have done a lot of their own personal work, which I have.
So it's easier to do, and just hold space for space. Have a container big enough. There was a, I don't know, 17th century monk who said something about turning the river of compassion inward. So I often tell my clients, get a big bowl of compassion and make sure you're sitting in the middle of it. And sometimes I'll say, I'll sit there with you because I have the same woundedness. So, that's a piece of the witness.
Teacher as a physical therapist. I teach people how to take good care of themselves. I teach them how to stay away from the behaviors, the body mechanics that produced the pain that brought them to me. I love teaching how to do physiologic quieting. How do you get quiet within yourself? I think there's a ton of stress out there. I would say so many people are on fight or flight. They're not even aware of it. You know, I had a East Indian pediatrician as a client. And one of the things that was sweet is he would come in and sit in my, you know, you know, the little round stools that physicians and therapists sit in.
I would come into the room and he'd be sitting on my stool. I'd have to go sit in the chair. It's kind of sweet. But we were doing physiologic quieting breath work and watching it on screen, biofeedback. And he was breathing 28 times a minute. That is incredibly fast. That's the fastest that I've had many people in their 20s, high 20s, 28 breaths per minute.
And yet outwardly, very calm, very, very calm. And he came back the next week, he says, Heather, you are right. I'm breathing 28 times a minute. So teaching people how to come home to themselves, how to drop in, get out of their head and drop into their bodies so they can access their wisdom, their ability to take good care of themselves.
I call it hauling people off the edge because things they've done in their past that helped them get through hard times are no longer serving them. And so teaching the esoterics there, and I loved teaching physiologic quieting to sophomores. I did that for about 15 years while my kids were in school. And kids are hungry. They are hungry to know about themselves, to recognize stress in themselves and others and have tools with which to deal with that. And so that was incredibly rewarding.
One day every semester I'd teach like four sophomore health classes. And I would teach them not only about stress. How do you recognize stress in yourself? How do you recognize stress in your parents and your siblings and your friends? How do you know when Ms. Kentz comes in and it's not a good day for her, you know? And then what can you do? And it was incredibly gratifying because people would stop me in the hallway and tell me, Mrs. Hannam, Mrs. Hannam, I'm doing that thing. I recognize this. They're hungry.
And I was 34 ready to walk away from a marriage and four children before I really had to take care and realize how I'd been living my life and how things that had helped me survive my childhood were, were drowning me. And so to be able to give that back to younger people.
And I told that story because that was my truth. So that I said, you don't have to wait till you're 34 with four children underneath your belt to look around and go, life is not working for me.
So the teaching and then advocate. I'm a one on the Enneagram. You're probably familiar with the Enneagram. And I'm a one and I have a really strong justice wing. Every day I say generosity, kindness, faith, hope, strength, truth, justice, love. So I want to stand up for those people who don't have a voice, who are being taken advantage of in the moment, to teach them how to self advocate. So, there.
[00:20:29] Ali: That is awesome. Wow. I think I'm just going to keep saying, wow, as I listen, because those four simple, but powerful words have this beautiful blend and integration of the work you've done in the world, the life you've lived. I imagine we could have a whole conversation about each of those, but some of the things that popped up for me just to start with, like the healer.
And how you actually brought some of the teaching into this is that. It seems to me, Heather, that we're in an era of people waking up to a different type of healing. And let's just say for common language and to use some of your words, like getting back into their body. Learning to feel their feelings, learning to navigate previous trauma, and then to the, what you shared is proactively looking for ways to reduce stress.
Because if nothing else, I feel like part of our need to heal as humans is a response to the massive amounts of stress that is created in our world that we absorb. And one of the things that I see in my home that I want to share with you and then see if it spark something for you is that I've been educated on generational trauma, which I think is real.
And for people who don't have an understanding of that, it's just a concept that if your parent had trauma, then that could be passed on to you via the cellular level or, the body, however, you believe science and and source and some of these things can coexist.
But where it gets interesting, Heather, is that, back to the stress, like I see some things in my children's, particularly my son, my beautiful son, Everest, where he's just, he's go, go, go, just do what's next. What's next? And even to present peace and calmness with him is, is a battle. It's not in a way where he's defiant, but he just isn't interested in that. He wants to go.
And instead of scratching my head and being like, well, where did this come from? It's pretty clear to me that it's the same concept of generational trauma. Because when he was conceived, that's how I was. Go, go, go, go. I couldn't sit still and I was so stressed. I couldn't even see it.
So years later, I've done some healing. I've done a lot of inner work. Started to wake up to these things, but it's interesting because as I look around and go back to the healing, it doesn't seem like it's getting any better. In fact, our youth is susceptible to have even more of this. Because so many adults, so many humans right now are just inundated by stress. Does that land with you, just from the work you've done, the people you've held space for? Or what do you think about that?
[00:23:39] Heather: Oh, yeah. You know, scripturally, they talk about the sins of the parents being visited on the next three generations.
[00:23:45] Ali: Okay. Right. Right.
[00:23:47] Heather: There's that and the Native Americans will tell you it's like 5 to 12 things that are happening here are going to go down the line 5 to 12 or sorry, 7 to 12 generations. Epigenetically, we know that genes can turn on and off. Here's an interesting concept. Your grandmother, when she was pregnant with your mother, in which whose ovary you were an egg, there's three generations in the same field.
Hmm. Right there. Right. So what happened to grandmother and the energy that she's bathing her baby and future grandson in all in the same place. And, you know, we're just a few generations off of the farm, you know, where it was survival. You had as many kids as you could, because you needed them all to survive. Right.
Totally. And we now know that genes can be turned on and off. We know that, people will, I got a lot of this from the German new medicine that I studied as well, it's like, why is this kid afraid of drowning? We don't understand it. Maybe a young adult. And then we come to find out that two generations ago, somebody drowned, you know. How does that get passed on? Epigenetics I think is a good way to explain that.
I had a spiritual teacher who had had lymphoma. She was up on a roof with another of the spiritual teachers that I was with. It was early in her spiritual teaching career and she got hit by lightning. Now, the interesting thing on the other side, lymphoma gone. She was seeking, she was seeking help at the time. Lymphoma gone, her straight hair - curly, brown eyes - blue.
[00:25:36] Ali: All after the lightning, huh?
[00:25:38] Heather: After the lightning. Now we don't all have to get hit by lightning to have those moments where something different is happening. And I think about, when I was working with this counselor, Lorenzo, I realized I needed to ask God what God wanted for me.
And the scary thing about asking God, what God wants from you is that you may get an answer. You will get an answer. So I'm in the arms of my sister not far from my childhood home, sobbing, asking God what you want from me. And what God told me was, I want you to stop perpetuating the evil at 18681 South Redland Road.
Now that meant the shame that had been passed on from generation to generation. I grew up in a home that had all the abuses. We had sexual abuse. We had emotional abuse. We had physical abuse. We had alcoholism. We had it all. Um, and that I was to stop perpetuating the shame that it was the base of that.
Now, at that time, I held Mother Teresa and Billy Graham in high esteem. I thought they were walking their talk. They were doing their work on earth. And what God told me was that their life mission is worldwide and God would give them every grace and blessing they would need in order to do that.
And that even though mine was local, more local, I would be given every grace and blessing I needed to do it. That was very comforting. Here's the kicker though. God said, takes the same amount of courage to say yes, and that I never needed to put anybody else on a pedestal. If someone else is doing their life mission, that's the most important thing.
So I quit putting people like you're better than I am, you know more than I, I mean, there's a lot of people who know more than I am. I don't hold them better. You know, I think we're all called to do our life mission. One of my other spiritual teachers said, if we do not do our life mission, 10, 000 other people can't do theirs because we haven't done ours. We are so intertwined.
And I think there are a lot of people who in the stress of survival, don't have either the wherewithal, the support. I don't know if it's additional gumption. You know, sometimes I look around, go, why me? Except I have three sisters who have all done their work.
That's really uncommon in a family. Usually one person will say all these happened and they get blackball. They get black sheep. They move away. You know, I had sisters that were nodding their head. So that's incredible. But, you know, why is that? I don't know. A lot of times it's the first person who says what happened to my family was not okay. And they're the only one who's saying it and nobody's going to shut him up.
So, when it comes to kids and the amount of stress they're under, I think of all the ADD um, and ADHD I think about pregnant women who are under stress and are bathing those babies from day one in high adrenaline, right? Is that part of that?
And then we just have the stress of the world. How do we live in the moment? I did a lot of personal work. I think you have to do that. We have to grieve what we needed, what we didn't get. And then learn to give it to ourselves. And a lot of people have it in their head. They know they should forgive. They know they should live in peace. They know that they should be kind, but they don't know how to manifest. They can't get it from their head to their heart. So it's not in their day to day walk.
And then parents pass it on to their kids. You know, I passed a crapload on to my kids, that I needed to make amends for and to share with them why they saw me the way they did with their dad. What was that dynamic about? And I was grateful that all my kids were open to hearing that. And I said, you know, daddy's got his own story. This is my story. And then out of that, ask forgiveness on a regular basis. Are there things I say or do that are still hurtful to you and make amends for that and to stop trying to do that?
No, because we're all works in progress, right? Or process. So, that's the witness when I go to schools and I see kids stressed, I make sure I get eyeball to eyeball with them. I make sure I know their names. Even adults classes, I TA, healing the pelvic floor at Esalen every year with Suzanne Skurlock, and I want to know their names by the end of the night.
I want them to know that they've been seen, heard, respected, and supported. Those are the narcissistic needs of children. Alice Miller's work, phenomenal work. If you've. Yeah, Drama of the Gifted Child. If I could have everybody read one book, that would be the book I would have people read. But to be seen, heard, respected and supported. And that comes with the witness and advocate.
[00:30:47] Ali: Wow. So yeah, I was actually going to talk a little bit to the witness piece because one of the things I've noticed is, I think we've known for a while that witnessing in a one in one environment can be powerful, can be healing.
And that's where traditional methods of therapy come from. And not to just to make that simple, not to say that there's anything wrong. I think that one on one therapy is still great. It's a powerful tool, but being witnessed in a group is a whole different dynamic.
And whether you're at a retreat, or whether you're at Companion Camp, or even if you're at a larger environment. Even most people go to church, I think, because they want to be witnessed. And for a variety of other reasons. I'm not saying that's the only reason. Church is a place to be witnessed amongst people with, with high energy and intentions to give, to heal, to feel.
And so this is something again that I think is becoming more prevalent is that yes, there's always space for the one on one witnessing. And I love what you said, looking people in the eyes, cause it's so easy in our distracted world to just like, not actually make eye contact. I always ask my children, we're talking about something of depth, like, hey, let's please look at each other. It's a basic form of body language.
But back to the witnessing, I've experienced some pretty profound things in group environments. And back to something you said, it usually just takes courage. So when you say, why me? I think it's because you're courageous. I think most people are like, no, thanks, nope, I'm not going to go first. But if a Heather goes first, if Ali goes first, then other people are like, oh, cool. I can do that too. Right.
[00:32:38] Heather: I hear you. I decided years ago, if the opportunity to share was there, I would always take it. If I could offer something from my own experience that might be helpful. That I would absolutely take it in groups, powerful groups. I've been in groups of 800 and Dr. Joe Dispenza's, you know, meditation workshops. That was the largest I was ever in, but now he's doing, you know, 18 and 2500 people because the group energy is so powerful, is so powerful.
[00:33:14] Ali: That is cool. Yeah. That piqued my interest too. So it sounds like you participated in a large group meditation. That is awesome.
Back to these words because you've sparked something. You said children want to be seen, heard, respected, and supported. Just the other day, I was toying with something I had been sitting with and writing and sharing with friends where I posted something along the lines of all children or most children want to be seen, heard, and loved.
So very close to what you just described and in some ways I remember when I was like really musing. I like to muse. When I was really musing with this, I was thinking like, loved, connected, but respected and supported are right in that same vicinity of words, of meaning. And so, I am already pretty familiar with why I think children want this. I also think adults want these same four words.
[00:34:19] Heather: Absolutely. We're just grown up little kids.
[00:34:21] Ali: Right. And so an interesting topic is we have this perspective that children want and need these things. And then logically we know that we do too, but then what happens?
How do we lose that? Because most adults hide. I'm going to do the inverse. Instead of being seen, they hide. Instead of being heard, they don't speak their truth. Instead of owning respect, they just kind of dance around and fight and create conflict and all the emotional drama that we create as humans and support it is another one.
It's easy to not step in, to not ask or receive. I have so many friends and even including myself, that have trouble asking for help. So the question becomes, why do adults lose all this?
[00:35:10] Heather: You know, we come into this world, sweet and innocent. And by the time we're like four to six, it gets beat out of us. When I was doing biofeedback with clients, you know, babies come into this world, big, soft belly breathers. Unless they're ill, but generally speaking. But by the time they're 4 to 6, they are upper chest breathers. They are under the stress of the environment. The majority, not all as you know, and so I think parents can only give what they can give.
A powerful piece in recovery is being able to look back and say, I needed this, didn't get it. Learning how to give it to yourself. And then being able to pass it on. My kids were young when I really started. I just had my fourth child and I was a controller by nature.
That was my drug of choice. All my siblings did some alcohol and/or drugs. I did control. I was a collegiate volleyball official, high level. You know, I had my control places and I realized that was five new relationships I had to control and I couldn't do it and that's what put me over an edge.
So that's how I met my edge. I was no longer happy at work. Work was not fulfilling to me. Life was not good. The things that I could, like I mentioned before, wasn't satisfying. So learning to give that to myself and then reflecting it back and having children, a nine year old and a baby. And quite frankly, I think you'll probably be amused at this.
I remember I was two years into group counseling and I'm on Lorenzo's couch going I don't know anything. Oh, my God. I don't know anything here.
We can do some work because we had to dismantle all the limiting belief systems that I had that said when and where I was worthy when I could judge other people to be worthy or not. And it's a process. I don't know that there's a single moment. We just keep having to say yes every day. We've all had that.
I just remember my little 18 month old sitting on the floor and me just being present for him. I'd never done that with my other three children. He called something out in me. He's an old soul. He called something out in me and was my teacher. I think once we understand it, we can see it more easily in ourselves and others.
And once we do that, it's hard to unsee. I think there are people who will work so long and then go back to sleep because it gets too painful. But if you're willing to keep going, I mean, the rewards are incredible. I don't longer fear the future. I know I have every gift and blessing I ever need to handle anything. And we've had ugly stuff in my family. People said, how'd you do it? I said, you know, God said everything would be okay. I don't fear. I know I've got what it takes to do it.
And part of that in my life mission is to share that. In my treatment rooms and with my family. I'm the first one that said what happened in my generation was wrong. I'm the first one who then went to my children and said, what I taught you was wrong. They still have to do their own work because otherwise they'll pass it on. And there's nothing that says they'll pick up the baton and run with it. Gratefully they have, but, you know, it was at different stages. So, I don't know where that fits in, but...
[00:38:47] Ali: It all fits in. It all, it all flows. I feel like there's so much depth, that your stories could just run in a beautiful way. And one of the things you said that really stuck out to me. There is a message I've received and want to continue passing on to other parents in particular is when you describe seeing you're 18 month old and really being with them in a way where they were teaching you.
I think more often than not in this season of life where my children are still pretty young, seven and five at the moment, they truly are teaching me way more than I'm teaching them. And we're practicing life together and failing and I'm owning it more and being like, ah. And I'm telling them, and this is just part of me being more expressive, telling them how I feel and going back on specific things like, you know what daddy apologizes for that because he was really, really sad and didn't even realize it. And so in so many ways, Heather, I balance or dance with this whole (I laugh) because I, I balance and dance with this notion of being like, I need to be more like them.
I need to move through the world, even more curious, even more adventurous with just the ability to just show up and express myself and feel everything. The entirety. I tell people a lot, like if you see a child throwing a tantrum, pay attention. Instead of closing off and getting all scared and projecting about if you were the parent and all the fear and the closeness that comes with like just watch what's happening. It's just this expression, this volcanic eruption of emotion and it's gone.
Whereas we do the opposite. We get extremely scared or angry and just suppress, suppress, suppress. And it stays in us. And then back to what we were talking about, we pass that shit on. We give that to somebody else. And then the cycle continues. So I think it's such a gift if you can truly commit to learning from your children.
[00:40:58] Heather: Oh, absolutely. You know, I was fortunate enough to have grandchildren that I could babysit and get to know. And one of the things I did that I didn't know to do with my own children is to give them an emotional language because they are just one big ball of emotion.
Right? You know, so we did the big four - mad, sad, glad, and afraid. Um, what number is it? Zero to ten. And sometimes we do fingers. How many fingers is it? You know, where is it in your body? Where do you feel it in your body? What color is it? And then I would model that to them as well. And when my grandson said, it's in my heel, I accepted that it was in his heel when they said it was all colors. I accepted that it was all colors. Yeah.
And I think that was helpful. Really, really helpful. In talking with them and, you know, I'd bring up scenarios and say, how you feeling about this? What's this about? And I would, you know, share, as you said, my own in ways that they could hear and hopefully model as they got older.
[00:42:03] Ali: I love that. I'm going to use the colors because we do the same thing. You said mad, sad, glad and afraid. Okay, cool. We focus on anger, fear, sadness and joy, which is the exact same emotions with slightly. It is mine. Just mine. Just rhymes. I like that. I like that. I like that kids like that. And the colors are so good because not only do I love to see the world in shapes and colors and feelings now, but it's just our natural way of being.
Just literally this morning, I'm making breakfast for my kiddos and my five year old Sepia. She's like, Dad, do you want to sit down and color with me? And of course, my serious, task oriented adult brain is like, no girl, I gotta go do this thing. Like there's a lot going on today. I just, I just made them breakfast, but I literally paused today of all days and turned around and said, yeah, let's color.
And so I sit down and again, just like being with her, observing her, like she's so in her element, she's just coloring and she's drawing. And like, I'm sitting there just being still because I'm enjoying this moment and she looks up and she's like sensing I need directions. So she's like dad if you need some colors here, take these and if you if you want me I can help you write the story I just start smiling and laughing. She is so in her element of just being with the colors, being with the art. And then this is the best part, this is the part I love about watching my daughter and young children, is that when she's done, she's done.
She doesn't carry any of that with her, she goes off to the next thing. She might be dancing, she might be brushing her teeth for school. But it's just this way of moving through the world, and not carrying things, because I think that's what gets us into trouble. I think that's, a huge correlation to the stress, to the healing, it's just how much we carry with us.
[00:43:57] Heather: Mm hmm. I would agree.
[00:44:00] Ali: I feel like we could continue this forever. I want to be responsible with the clock since we're getting close to the hour. And if you're up for it, I would love to finish with a few rapid funfire questions.
[00:44:14] Heather: Okay.
[00:44:16] Ali: First, Easy. What's your favorite food?
[00:44:20] Heather: Um, cinnamon rolls. Really good cream cheese frosting and butter in the microwave.
[00:44:26] Ali: Wow. Those are my wife's definitely in her top three favorite foods. For Mother's Day, we make my wife Gabrielle cinnamon rolls. So awesome answer.
Next question. What animal would you be if not human?
[00:44:42] Heather: I think a panther. We did a movement class 1 time where we were big cats and I came right up against this other woman and we each held our own. We looked at each other and then felt within us that there was no competition. There was just our own personal presence and authority. And we turned our back on each other and walked away.
And I still carry that. Who you are is enough. I don't have to defend you and you don't have to defend me. You know what I mean? It's like, we don't have to fight. We can just be present. So that reminds me of the Panther.
[00:45:20] Ali: That is cool. I dig that. Great choice. Wow.
Okay. And final question. What is one of your favorite childhood memories?
[00:45:29] Heather: That's not hard. Camping, family camping. Just the whole experience of it. But I was given a freedom back then. You know, kids don't have nowadays, we don't have cell phones, but I would be gone for hours exploring, walking along the lake, reaching under rocks, looking for salamanders for frogs, not afraid walking into the woods, I remember even playing with fire.
Could, could firework in a jar? Fortunately, I didn't light a big fire. I was thinking, could firework in a jar? Can I put enough matches in a jar? But just the freedom that I remember having those days. You know, s'mores, family camping songs around the campfire.
[00:46:11] Ali: I love that. Camping has so much opportunity beyond nature, which is the one of the most obvious benefits for me for the things you just described to just energize us. We actually just took my kids on their first true camping trip, me and a buddy and his son so their was five of us.
And we drove out pretty far up to this beautiful remote lake. And same thing that you described, like, we're all running around, looking for rocks. Me and my buddy Tim were doing some fishing. The kids are playing, they're exploring, they're so curious about the fire. And it's like, because we don't have these big campfires in our lives every day, but it's such a magnificent form of energy. And I'm sitting there and explaining them. I'm like, guys, this is what people did before TV.
And they're like, what? I'm like, yes. And I'm like, just watch it. And of course it'll entertain you if you just watch a fire, if you're really there with it. I love that answer. Yeah. Camping. It's like one of those things that I hope comes back. I hope people give it more prioritization.
It's easy not to camp these days or to what I say, glamping and make it, you know, where you're not even really away or or with nature. But I truly believe camping, especially in a group of family dynamic offers great. Yes.
Well, that's a perfect place to end. This was a gift. I knew it would be. I think this might be one of future conversations, Heather. You, you are a wealth of wisdom. You're also really fun to talk to.
[00:47:51] Heather: Oh, thank you. This has been a delight.
[00:47:53] Ali: Yeah, I enjoy your energy. You're very spirited. And I feel like we just got the tip of the iceberg with this conversation.
[00:48:02] Heather: Yeah, you know, when I retired, I realized I know a ton. I know a lot.
[00:48:06] Ali: I believe that. So thank you.
[00:48:09] Heather: Thank you Ali, for this beautiful, this beautiful space. And us holding space together. It's all about the space about the space. It's all about the space.
[00:48:21] Ali: Well said that is a beautiful place to end.
Ali is a creator and coach who's passionate about guiding people to their truth. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people realize their most authentic life. He's a family man, entrepreneur, conscious technologist, explorer, podcast host and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.