Heather has always known what her purpose was: to rescue and care for animals. So much so, that she says, “I literally think I came out the womb in love with animals.” This mission in life was shared by her mother, who helped instill in her family the values of kindness, gentleness and respect towards other living creatures.
“My mom would rescue and rehab any and every animal that needed her,” Heather said. “She taught me everything I know about raising and caring for all types of critters.” Her house was always filled with animals from the typical – dogs, cats, and fish, to the not-so-typical – rabbits, guinea pigs, raccoons, squirrels, reptiles, and even a hawk.”
Eventually her parents bought 80 acres of land, and were able to rescue even more animals, including chickens, pigs, horses, owls, and more. Heather loved and cared deeply for every animal that crossed her path.
Her compassion doesn’t stop with animals, but extends to anyone in need. She dedicated her working career to helping others.
“I spent most of my working career educating children and adults on the prevention of child sexual abuse,” Heather shared. “You could also find me in a special needs classroom teaching behavior modification to children with developmental disabilities or counseling children with emotional trauma.”
In 2012, Heather was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia and later developed adrenal failure, bursitis, and osteoporosis. Her life completely changed: she stopped working, socializing, cooking, walking, taking her dog to the dog park, kayaking, etc. She began to feel that any purpose in her life was gone. She became depressed during this challenging time and sometimes didn’t even get out of bed.
After three years of disease management and isolation, she asked herself – “is this how I am going to live the rest of my life?” She decided she couldn’t let this disease, or the pain it caused, control her life. She needed a reason to get out of bed every day.
She needed to rediscover her purpose.
Scrolling through Facebook, she saw a protest for animal rights nearby. Even though she was tired and in pain, she forced herself to go. She was so glad she did. She realized she may not be able to rescue animals on the large scale like in the past, but she could still help through causes, protests and education.
She also met like-minded activists and discovered a passion for veganism. “I could literally save animals lives just by the choices I made in my diet, in using products not tested on animals, by not wearing animals on my body,” Heather explained. “I now had a reason to get out of bed and feel purposeful, every day!” Through this process, she lost 54 pounds, lowered her cholesterol, and improved her overall health with her lifestyle change.
Since choosing to embrace life again, becoming an activist, and adopting a vegan lifestyle, she has felt more empowered and purposeful than ever before. Now she wants to share her purpose with others – both fur friends and humans alike!
“Life can be full of changes. Changes in our work, our family and our health which can lead to a change in our purpose. Having a purpose doesn’t go away — sometimes it just needs to evolve,” Heather shared. “Rediscover what you’re passionate about. Rediscover what fills you with joy. Each day is a new opportunity to make the best of a bad situation and an opportunity to find a new path of purpose.”