"I just kept listening for the Yes or the No. If it was a no? I turned a different direction."
Heather day, 30
OCCUPATION: Lifestyle Consultant & Yoga Teacher
COLLEGE MAJOR: Sociology & Gender Studies (undergrad), Environmental Studies (grad)
Ruth: Welcome, Heather! How long have you loved what you do?
Heather: It’s been quite a journey! Three years back I finally said Yes to expressing what my heart knew I had to do in the world…serve as a guide. With teaching yoga and lifestyle consulting I’ve found my vehicle, and as I slowly let myself come through more and more clearly, it just gets better and better. I’ve lived in Costa Rica for just over a year now, and that was the biggest (and scariest) leap of them all.
R: How did you feel and what did you do before now?
H: I worked a lot of different jobs along the way to here -- and every one of them had some role in preparing me for this. I see that clearly in retrospect. After college I worked seasonally for an environmental nonprofit in the northeast of the US, which was actually amazing -- I got paid to play in the woods with kids, to hike a lot, to camp a ton, to talk to visitors about what I loved. So I got a graduate degree in Environmental Science (logical, right?), and took a job with a national nonprofit before I’d even finished school. But that wasn’t it, either.
When I look back, the later years of my life have been pretty darn full of leaps and risks and uncertainty. I moved every 3-6 months for a while. I kept trying new things, and more new things, until I found something that resonated. And that was scary as hell to be honest, because it meant I had to be really committed to making it work -- no more of this half-ass commitment stuff. I remember crying to my partner one day, in a complete panicked place of fear and desperation because I wanted so badly to have it all figured out and not need to make another career shift. He knelt down on the floor in front of me and said, “If you don’t do it now, when? Do you want to spend your life wondering what would’ve happened if you tried?”
So I jumped into the unknown. And I keep doing it, every day.
R: When was the first time you realized that you love what you do?
H: The first time I got off a call with a client and felt completely high. Completely flying. I think I was so excited I had to literally run around the house and do a happy dance to discharge a little energy. THAT is how I want my work to feel! The same happens when I teach yoga -- when the students are rolling up their mats completely blissed out, I feel so much gratitude for the opportunity to do this. Even though it’s “work” to hold the space for my students, or for a client, I am so nourished and fed by the opportunity to witness such transformation and opening. I hear the “F-Yeah!” trumpets every time I get to witness a breakthrough, an opening, or even an angry resolution to do something different.
R: Describe what you do now and what a typical day looks like.
H: At the moment, it’s kind of all over the place! I live in a commune in northwest Costa Rica and do all of my work from here, and that also includes the work I do as a part of the community. So generally I’m up early for a yoga practice, breakfast, and checking in online for a bit of both personal and professional social media time. Then I head to the office here for a bit in the morning -- I do the social media and marketing writing, so it’s creative and always provides a new challenge.
After lunch, it’s usually client time. I have sessions, answer emails, write blog pieces or newsletters (I love to write!), do interviews for my podcast, or edit the ones I’ve already done… It’s general creative time. In the evening the community gets together for silent meditation and usually some sort of evening gathering, and that’s a wrap for my day.
And on the weekends you better believe this pale chica of Northern European descent hits the playa. Real, honest time off is SO crucial to being fully juiced up on Monday.
R: What were the steps you took that got you to loving what you do?
H: I listened to that instinct that said, “Nope, this isn’t it,” and I did something about it. Even though that meant I was poor as hell for a while. Even though that meant I spent two months couch hopping. Even if that meant putting my work and writing and teaching out into the world long before I felt like I was “ready”. I just kept listening for the Yes or the No. If it was a no? I turned a different direction.
And the Yes isn’t always totally clear, either. For me it came in bits and pieces- YES I want to serve people in finding their own highest good. YES I want to create my own schedule. YES I need to find somewhere that supports an alternative lifestyle. YES I want to share yoga… String them all together, and a picture starts to form of what I love to do.
From there, it became all about tenacity and trust. Equal parts of each I think -- the tenacity to keep trying even when things seemed hard, or unlikely, and the trust that even though I couldn’t see the practicality of how everything would work out, it would. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve prayed over the past years for strength and trust, strength and trust. They’re easy to talk about, but challenging to really live.
R: Is there something about your work that makes you feel like you're contributing to a greater good?
H: Honestly a lot of it boils down to trust. I’ve received enough emails, heard enough stories, and seen enough anecdotes from clients, friends, and family to know that what I do is making an impact -- in small ways, in big ways, and in roundabout funny ways. I’ve inspired people to make big changes. They’ve written to me about the risks they’ve taken, and what it has brought into their lives. They send me messages on Facebook telling me that they’ve been quietly building their own courage and confidence because I’ve shared my stories.
The “greater good”, in my case, starts with one person. And from there, its inevitable that it’ll spread.
R: Do you have any advice for others on their way to loving what they do?
H: You know a lot more than you think you do -- about yourself, about what you want, and about how to do it. And the more you can trust in your own capabilities and talents, the bigger you’re going to be able to make this thing.
R: If you could whittle it down, what was the ONE most important thing you did to begin loving what you do?
H: I keep trusting my WHY. Even though sometimes I can’t see how it’ll pan out more than one step in front of me, I know wholly and completely why I’m doing it. And that’s what carries me through the tough times and the good ones.