This month's Specialist Spotlight is extra special because it’s Recovery Month! Meet Heather, a peer recovery coach who truly values the importance of the recovery community. Learn about Heather’s inspiration behind becoming a coach and what Recovery Month means to her. PS - She shares her not-so-secret obsession with a 3-toed animal…
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a person in long-term recovery, and what that means to me is that I have not had to use drugs or alcohol since 2017. It also means that I am able to be my most authentic self in my everyday life, and finally, give back to the community that I was absent from for so long. I enjoy being outdoors and exploring everything that life has to offer. I am always excited to go through new experiences because I feel that I missed out on so much while I was active in my addiction.
How did you decide to become a recovery coach?
I feel like getting into recovery coaching was a pretty natural transition that I didn't have to think too hard about. When I first got into recovery, I was working at a little restaurant and it was eating up all my time. While I was working there I started to miss the recovery community and that was when I knew my heart was within that community. A friend of mine introduced me to Minnesota Recovery Corps where I served as a navigator for the Minnesota Association of Sober Homes, and from that point on, everything just kind of fell into place.
What skills have you found the most useful as a recovery coach?
I've lived through a lot of experiences which has provided me with a lot of empathy and a gentle heart. So, naturally when someone is coming to me with an issue they may have, my first instinct is to jump in and help them. But through my experiences working with others, I have learned that the easiest and most efficient skill for myself, is simply just to listen. I have learned that listening and showing up for people on both their good days and their hard days goes a long way.
What do you find most rewarding about being a recovery coach?
Watching people find themselves. We can talk, brainstorm ideas, and share experiences, but there's an indescribable thing that happens when somebody walks in to meet with you, and the light in them is shining again. I've tried to come up with an accurate description of this occurrence many times, but there are simply no words to describe it. It's a pretty magical thing to watch somebody start living a life that they are happy with and excited for.
September is National Recovery Month, what does it mean to you?
Ummm.. the world? It means the world to me! I think it is so cool to have a whole month that we are able to really bring all the recovery movements to the forefront for a few week. We can only raise awareness about who we are and celebrate all the people and their own individual recovery stories. Recovery is so stigmatized. Everyone has their own story and their own pathway to recovery, and it is most definitely something to be celebrated.
This year's Recovery Month theme is "Together we are Stronger." How have others impacted your recovery journey?
Looking back, I had gone to treatment more than a few times. I would get out, and go right back to the same routine with the same people mostly because I was lonely or bored. This time however, I was in a long term IOP program that required you to get out and active in the community. If it weren't for all the amazing people that I connected within the first year, I truly don't know where I would be. My community has cared for me and taught me to be the person I am today. Now I get to pass that on to others who are looking for connections.
What is something that others might be surprised to learn about you?
I am a crazy sloth lady! I love watching documentaries and reading about them. I collect anything sloth related or with a sloth on it. All my friends are constantly tagging me in any related articles or pictures, it's pretty comical actually! But really though, in a dream world, I would move to Costa Rica and devote my life to rescuing and rehabilitating sloths at one of their many animal sanctuaries. I just love them! P.S. My favorite is the pygmy 3-toed sloths that are critically endangered. #savethesloths