Putting in the Work
Seven years ago, Heather Chauvin was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The diagnosis forced her to face her mortality, and Heather was terrified. At first, Heather thought her fear was because she was afraid to die. But while she was in treatment, she had a revelation: She wasn’t afraid of death—She was afraid of dying without having ever truly lived.
Heather was into mindfulness even before her diagnosis. This means she knew the work she had to do, even before her revelation. Equipped with this new frame of mind, however, Heather felt it was imperative to do the work.
How to Feel Alive
She began by asking herself a really important question.
How did she want to feel?
By looking inward, Heather realized that she wanted to feel connected, energized, and authentic. She wanted to move her body and share time with the people she loves. In her words, Heather wanted to feel “alive.”
She started to incorporate new habits based on what she saw alive people do. Cancer made these new habits small but meaningful—Stuff like getting out of bed and taking a shower. What’s more, her new habits didn’t immediately make her feel alive. Instead, she felt everything that she repressed: Emotions like guilt, fear, shame, and anger. There was no instant gratification, and that frustrated her.
Uncomfortable, Not Hard
Heather says these new habits weren’t necessarily hard; It’s more accurate to say they made her feel uncomfortable because true growth is uncomfortable. Heather chooses to say she does “uncomfortable things” rather than “hard things” because she doesn’t want to feed into the Western obsession with what’s excessively difficult. “We’re a culture that’s addicted to hard and busy,” she says. While challenges are part of living, Heather doesn’t believe that we should suffer through our lives.
After she went through traditional treatment, Heather kept challenging herself every day. Her wellness journey after remission is largely self-directed; the healthcare system doesn’t cover life after remission. But Heather didn’t just want to survive her cancer. She wants to live completely and without reservation.
The Balancing Act of Parenting
Nowadays, Heather challenges herself to feel uncomfortable at home and at work. She’s a mother and a life coach who specializes in helping working mothers feel aligned and alive. Though she calls herself a “parenting expert” in her bio, Heather doesn’t consider herself the authority on parenting. Her oldest child is a teenager, which means she’s striking a balance between being a caregiver and allowing for independence.
Heather’s parenting philosophy since her oldest child’s birth is to lead by example. Composer Benjamin Zander once said that “we don’t give children a name as an expectation to live up to—we give children a name as a possibility to live into.” Heather agrees that example is more powerful than expectation. Still, she’s human, and she’s self-aware enough to know that she’s still trying to figure out who she is. That means the example she sets isn’t perfect, and it changes every day.
Dying to be a Good Mother
This March, Heather published a book called Dying to Be a Good Mother about her how motherhood broke her down and built her back up again. She also has a free downloadable workbook to go along with the book.
Despite her accomplishments, Heather’s still working on the art of celebration. For a long time, she didn’t know how to feel good, and she’s still in recovery for that. When she does celebrate, she likes to celebrate by giving to others.
Get to know Heather
Heather Chauvin helps ambitious women become leaders at work and at home. Her book, Dying to be a Good Mother, chronicles how her cancer diagnosis gave her permission to take care of herself. Now, she inspires others to shift their worldview through her podcast, Moms In Control, as well as through her coaching work. Be sure to follow her on Facebook and Instagram.