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Continuing with my theme around Celebrating Success and Cheerleading, I am going to be talking to Heather Waring today who has recently launched her new business around walking and transformational walking experiences.  The walking experiences focus on providing you wonderful women with space and time to reflect on the life you want to be living – hence ‘Walk to the Rhythm of Your Heart’.

I first met Heather at a networking event several years ago when she was working as a Business Coach.  She is a woman with many strings to her bow and I find her incredibly warm and engaging.

As well as being a brilliant Business Coach, Heather has always had a great passion for walking.  One of her pursuits has been walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostella from Le Puy en Velay in Central France.  Heather has walked a section every year since 2008 with a fellow walker.

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What I really love about your story Heather is that you are bringing together your skills and passions and turning this into your work.  A perfect combination for success.  You must be feeling really excited about sharing this?

It’s a really exciting time and so heartening to see it all come together at last.  I’ve had many parts of this plan for a long time but a number of issues have stopped it coming together before.  One of the biggest issues was myself standing in my way and not allowing my passion for walking and the difference it could make shine through.  I believe this is true of many of us women.  Our self belief is not always as apparent to ourselves as it is to others.  I ran myself into the ground a few years ago through helping everyone else but not myself.  Through that recovery, I found out so much about myself.   It also enabled me to see very clearly how many other women are the same and how I can help them become the best version of themselves. Walking is my sanity, it allows me time and space and the health benefits are enormous.  By knowing my values and then using walking as the vehicle, everything has fallen into place, it’s all aligned with my top values and I get to do what I love with people I love, every day and I get to make a difference too.

Your story perfectly encapsulates the message in my recent blog about celebrating success, I talked about how it can be difficult going it alone, getting an idea off the ground and keeping it going.   You have done this very well – any cheerleaders?

Working for yourself isn’t for everyone as it can be lonely and that’s not something you should ignore.  If you need a team, then perhaps working from your kitchen table is not for you. I actually like the space and peace that I get from working on my own but that’s because I have built a number of support systems. For example I am in my 10th year as a member a women’s networking organisation which meets monthly and the women I have got to know there are like a family. These friends are the people I can pick up the phone to which is really important when I’ve had a bad day and need to sound off or get advice.   Equally useful when you have something to celebrate and want to share good news.   We support each other reciprocally.

I have other communities too which provide support and opportunities such as my speaker colleagues and most importantly my Mastermind group.  My current Mastermind group consists of 5 women (myself included) and we know each other inside out.  We have no need for pretence or  anything other than openness and honesty.  They are probably my top cheerleaders and I love them to bits.

As regards celebrating success,  this is one of my big things.  In my family it’s any excuse for a celebration and that’s something I encourage, and often insist, my clients do. It doesn’t have to be expensive or take a long time but it does have to be a celebration (however large or small).

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Of course the theme that runs throughout this series is not just about being a business owner.  It’s about allowing ourselves to have a go at doing the things we have always wanted to do.    That can be tough for women with so many conflicting priorities.  How did you make time for ‘your thing’

The first thing I did was to ensure I married a man who knew that freedom was important to me and that I needed my space. I was older when I got married so maybe this helped but it’s really important to know your values and what makes you who you are and then to build from there. You need to honour your values so creating an environment for this to happen is crucial and communication is important. 

Although I’d always walked, my passion for it started to build at a very difficult time in my life when I was being bullied in the workplace and my daughter was a toddler. I took on many personal walking challenges and when I was training, that walking gave me a break from all that was stressing me. On top of a mountain, life does show you perspective!

It’s really important to make time for you and what you love and to find a way to make that happen. 

I had to be a little selfish, which is a word with so many negative connotations, and something we women find so hard but when your needs are met you are so much more able to help others. I would just encourage you to really strive to do what you want to do, what you need to do and find that balance in the family that allows you to see that through.  Everyone will benefit. Don’t be put off, stay strong, you deserve to forge your path.

And the inevitable ‘shoulds’ that often stand in the way?

‘Shoulds’ are someone else’s agenda not your own. Just think about it and when you say ‘I should’, see it for what it is.

I should go to the gym” for instance – who says? 

You don’t want to otherwise you would go so it’s probably you feeling guilty or wondering what others will say if you don’t show.

“I should get it touch with…….”

Do you want to?  Sometimes we need to cull people in our lives and I would suggest that if there are people we don’t enjoy seeing then it’s time for a cull. By getting rid of some people, we make room for new people who bring us joy.  Please don’t think I am absent of ‘should’s’.  They crop up in my life but over the years there are a lot less and now, in most cases, I recognise them for what they are. There is a lot of guilt in our lives, this fuels the ‘shoulds’.  Changing this isn’t necessarily easy but it can be changed, remember that and next time you find a ‘should’ creeping in, analyse it a little and take appropriate action.

 

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Many people reading this will be parents.  You’ve been able to do all of this while raising your daughter.  That’s not without its challenges is it?

Being a mum is one of the hardest jobs and you don’t always get the recognition or the rewards you deserve so living the life you want while being a parent is indeed challenging.

I go back to something I said earlier about the kind of man I married, as well as knowing that freedom was important to me, I also needed someone who could be a true partner. From the time our daughter was born, he stepped up to the role being a father.  We found our balance which is never a flat surface but always in flux. He travels a great deal so on many occasions it was Ellie and I at home and I felt a little like a single parent (and have great admiration for parents bringing up children on their own).  I need my space.  It’s finding the way forward that suits you and your situation. It’s give and take. It’s important though to have your voice and make sure it’s heard. This isn’t always easy and at times I had to battle that.

You also need wider family or friends that you can depend on to pick up, do a school run, have your child for a sleepover and share the work load with…and also to sit down and open a bottle of wine with. Now our daughter is at University and we have so much freedom but we still plan the times together and the space to do our own things in parallel. The journey never ends, it just changes. 

Walking is a really popular fitness pursuit.  Walking and talking is a wonderful combination.   I imagine you have already had a lot of interest.  When are you hoping to get started with the sessions? 

Walking has been called the ‘near perfect’ exercise because of the benefits it brings; because you need little gear to get going and you can do it from your own front door. You can also do it anywhere so it’s an easy form of exercise to fit in when you travel, great for me.

Many people find talking about personal issues difficult and this is where walking and talking is so great because when you are walking you don’t have to keep eye contact with the person you walk with and this helps so many people open up. There’s also something about walking in the fresh air that expands your creativity and thinking and I find it so much easier to develop solutions and come up with ideas when walking both for myself and for clients. It also takes you away from the people and the environment that may be causing the stress, overwhelm or trauma in people’s lives and again that makes it easier to get clarity and see the way forward.

My transformational walking experiences take women away so that they have time for themselves. Through the walking experiences we exercise every day in a natural environment and learn how to appreciate being in the moment.  There will be the support of others as well as time just for you so that you come away feeling clearer, with a plan to make the changes they want and with new friends and support.  The first of these weeks away will be happening in May and another in late September/early October.

I have also just launched an initiative called Women Walking: Women Talking which is a monthly networking event where women give themselves the gift of a day to walk with others, explore, build relationships and recharge. 

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Heather, thank you so much for sharing.  I am so excited for you, I can see this really being a great success.

Your story perfectly illustrates many of the points I have raised around success in this series.  You have also touched on some very important topics here that helped to shape your direction that I am sure many readers will identify with.

I recommend taking a look at Heather’s website where you can read more of her story and find out more details about the walking experiences.

Please feel free to comment below if you wish to.  All comments are gratefully received and responded to.

Next week I shall be talking to another local entrepreneur about her story.

Thank you for reading.

Nicky

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