Meet Heather Breedlove
Heather grew up striving for the perfect life: a fairytale romance, the perfect family and a successful career. But while working her way through the checklist, she found a disconnect. The person she was at home was not the person she was at work nor even the person she is. She's now found excitement in bringing full self to every aspect of her life. Through Shine Your Bright, she hopes you find the peace and courage to do the same.
Can you just tell us a little bit more about what the checklists we all kind of have for our lives are?
I grew up with what I consider a white picket fence family. I met my husband in college, I had my checklist in front of me and I was going to graduate high school, go to college. start my career, married by 25 children by 32. I think a lot of us grew up with our life put before us. And we just worked down the checklist constantly striving to hit that next little notch. And, for me what happened is I made it right up and got married at 25, just like I'd always wanted to do. And we got back from our honeymoon and three weeks later found out that my father had stage four cancer and we were going to lose him. And he was gone by Thanksgiving. And then there was that realization that he wouldn't be around to see most of my adult life, he wouldn't see his grandchildren. And so that kind of hit me with a little bit of a detour in life. Life wasn't the way I pictured it or imagined. And then going forward We found out that we weren't necessarily going to be able to have children. Again that checklist that little girl dreams of her whole life. It didn't happen. So how did I navigate my life? To still have those joys and find out who I was and happiness even though it wasn't necessarily happily ever after? Like I thought I'd be.
Tell us what it means to shine your bright?
I had hit a point where our marriage was super hard. I had grown up with what I said was a white picket fence. Tommy, my husband, had grown up in a more volatile lifestyle. And I guess we both thought that marriage would really mirror what it was for our parents and not necessarily be what we want our marriage to look like. And we went through some marriage counseling we went through really a lot of just trial. And we kept finding out that we had to deal with kind of the way we had grown up in our past. And when we finally got to our breaking point, Tommy had gone to a living center program in Tennessee and spent a week really kind of diving back into his history and working through how he had grown up. I ended up going to the same program. One of the afternoons they did horse therapy, and with the horse therapy, I didn't realize it's such a reflection on how people engage in their life. It's how they interact with these horses. My experience with the horse was I felt like we were almost negotiating with each other and we started kind of building trust as I would lead him around the ring, he would get more comfortable and we were really working together. And what happened is I started to feel this glow in my chest, and I didn't, embarrassingly enough, I didn't necessarily recognize that it was pure joy because it had been so long since I'd been in an equal and balanced relationship. It was a shock when I really started to feel that and it planted a seed. It did make me realize that it's been a minute since I felt that and the visual I had in my head was very much this glow coming from within. And that's how shine your bright was born and I created a movement really around. How can you find joy in yourself and happiness in yourself just in your ordinary, everyday life without necessarily making sure everybody at work is happy, everybody at home is happy and really putting yourself on the back burner. So I think that's what showing your bright means to me.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
My most amazing networking experience, I would say, it's probably what what's coming to mind is being open to just have a conversation. When I've had an open conversation and not really think about the networking of you know what is your job? Can you help me with my job but if you can go down a little deeper and start to understand what a person is excited about, and what are their fears and really take some of the career out of it for me, some of my best relationships have been where business relationships have turned into something more. I think that's where I find the beauty in the networking is when you let all of the career necessarily fall apart and go in a little deeper, and it's more about the whole relationship with people more than getting the work done.
Regardless of the size of your network, it's extremely important to stay in front of and nurture these relationships. How do you go about doing that?
it is so easy to get caught up in your to do list every day and to really forget about your network. I make it a point to reach out and not send text messages I make sure to call someone in my network every day especially now that or when quarantine happened. And that human touch was really missing. Just taking the time to make the phone call have the conversation. What you'll find when you start doing that is most people are shocked that their phones even ringing because text messages so popular right now.
What advice would you offer that business professionals looking to grow their network?
I would say be open. I think you'd be surprised at where you can meet people. And if it is just talking to someone while you're aligned at the coffee shop. Have that conversation. Don't be afraid. Some people might be shocked when you start talking to them. But wherever you are, you never know who you're going to meet. And think of how many people you pass on a daily basis at the grocery store. And if you can just smile and say, Hi, how are you doing and just strike up a conversation. You never know that could be your next big introduction.
Digital networking has been kind of the way of the world fairly recently. But between digital networking and traditional networking, which one do you find more value in?
I think I find a lot more value in the traditional networking and they both work especially now but with myself and Shine Your Bright when we're person to person, there's just that little bit of magic from being face to face that you might not get over digital. And we talk about such sensitive subjects. Sometimes it's a little harder to break that barrier down via digital.
So if you go back to your 20 year old self, what would you tell yourself to do more of less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I think I would take more time for fun in my career, I was what I considered super successful. And when I started working through that checklist in that business life, but I think what was important to me and I'll never forget, my uncle told me one day when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. He goes there'll always be death and taxes. So make sure you're in the healthcare professional, or you're an accountant. Well, blood didn't work for me. So I went the accounting route, and I was super good at it. And it's laid an entire platform out for me from a business perspective. It was the language of business. But what I would do differently is explore my creativity earlier. And really, self-expression and getting to know myself more and from if it's painting or trying something new. I think it's so easy to let some of those things go. And I'll go back to that when we're working our way through the checklist. It is easy to keep striving to that and you might lose yourself while you're doing that.
We've all heard of the 6 degrees of separation, who would be the one person that you'd love to connect with? And do you think you could do it in the sixth degree?
Narrowing that down to just one person. That's been tough for me. I've been thinking about this question for a while. And there are so many amazing people out there. And I know I'm hedging that question. But I think the game I like to play there is if I'm open to the people around me, and I continue to have those conversations and networking. I like to follow the magic and see who I meet. I learned that little ninja trick for my husband. He's met some pretty amazing people just because he's reaching out and he doesn't hesitate to do that.
Do you have any final word of advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
I would start with what's near and dear to my heart is grow and support yourself. And as you start to do that you can build up your confidence because you know really intimately who you are going out and being in the world and starting those conversations will almost be more intriguing because then you can also kind of use those conversations to mirror and learn more about yourself and say, Wow, was I intimidated by this person and why or did I look up to this person and why. So I think the work there with your networking starts within.
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