Life isn’t easy.
This isn’t a statement many people would expect from someone born into privilege.
Heather Thorkelson, born into an upper-middle-class Canadian family, says her life's story is one that reminds us that children can be neglected regardless of socio-economic status. This is often overlooked or forgotten. If you’re one of these children, Heather wants you to know you can find a way out. You are strong! When you survive a traumatic childhood, you build powerful resilience.
Generally, when you hear of neglected children, you think of children in economically challenged communities, or perhaps children in families where addiction is prevalent. Neglect, however, is multifaceted. Heather reminds us that neglect can be physical, emotional, or relational and that she experienced all three.
Neglect can take many forms
At the age of 10, Heather Thorkelson’s parents got divorced and she (sadly) became completely estranged from her mother. Her mother, who was a stay at home mom, didn’t have any resources and consequently lost custody of all her children to their sociopathic father.
Heather’s father moved her and her sisters to Costa Rica when she was 14. At this point, they were completely cut off from all extended family. And it didn't just stop there. Later, she was completely cut off from her sisters and even lifelong friends. Her loneliness was extreme and a devastatingly negative impact on her mental health.
As a kid, Heather was shy, highly introverted, and often sick with stomach aches. For anyone who has experienced neglect, abuse, or trauma – – you may already know that physical symptoms like a bellyache are often a manifestation of our emotional and mental pain. She suffered a lot of anxiety which lasted well into adulthood.
Living in ‘survival mode’
Heather says she and her sisters were always in ‘survival mode.’ Especially around their father. The girls had to learn survival skills in order to endure their traumatic childhood.
In the end, Heather essentially raised herself because her father was an airline pilot who was mostly absent. She was alone in Costa Rica and even worse, she didn’t speak Spanish.
With the passing of years, Heather has realized she had no choice but to choose herself and to show up for herself. Nobody else was going to. But this wasn’t extremely apparent as a child.
Eventually, Heather returned to Canada to attend university. Unfortunately, while there she went into a deep depression. Perhaps from some form of cultural shock. As it turned out, Heather didn’t fit anywhere. She was a foreigner in her own country and was unable to relate to others on campus. As a result, she only stayed at university for two years.
Once she decided to move on, Heather headed to Japan. The was a bold move considering she had no friends or family there, no place to stay and no job lined up! Somehow she managed to pick up a crappy job and continue to save some money. And, as she always had – – Heather survived and even began learning to thrive.
No longer a victim
At some point, Heather realized that she couldn’t change her past. She couldn’t change her father and she realized her only hope for surviving depending solely on herself! So she decided to no longer stay in victim mode. She would figure things out. She would do bold, scary things, and start living her own life on her own terms. Reassuring herself, day after day, that she would be fine.
Now, officially determined not to allow the mistakes or poor choices of her parents dictate and ruin her life!
Good choice Heather!
Resilience is a learned behavior
After earning some financial stability, Heather decided to get out of her corporate job and try something different – – Coaching. She used her resilience skills to create the life and business of her dreams.
In time, Heather had a roster of clients from across the globe. She’s even added international retreats into the mix and has been helping established, high achieving entrepreneurs up-level their businesses and learn to be more resilient.
Her primary business, NO PLAN B, is a coaching and consulting business for incurable entrepreneurs like herself, those who can’t bear to work for others and are self-sufficient.
A surprising turn of events
Eventually, after meeting the man who would become her husband via a Polar expedition, Heather built her second company, Twin Tracks Expeditions. The company is founded with her husband and his twin brother who are both polar expedition leaders. A polar expedition guide, herself, she and her partners take up to 12 people to the Arctic to go see all the cool stuff at the poles.
In all honesty, Heather is a resilient risk-taker! She shares that the more you take risks, the more uncertainty you live with. However, there is bravery in the smallest acts and you can’t truly grow without taking risks. Resilience, which is a learned behavior, is a key factor in success and Heather is a master at picking her self up and pushing through life’s obstacles.
Her brand new book called “No Plan B” will be out this fall. The book speaks directly to how one becomes an entrepreneur that makes real change in the world. And if you're an entrepreneur interested in an incredible meeting of the mind's retreat, keep your eye's peeled because Heather Thorkelson and our host, Heather Vickery, are planning something very big and exciting for 2022!!