10 with a 10: heather stephen

10 with a 10 is a weekly interview series featuring strong women who run their gigs like a boss.

I've posed 10 questions, stopped laughing and crying long enough to snap a Polaroid and put their interviews up every Monday to promote their hustle with a wide community that should know about them.

This week, a recent export of Toronto to Halifax, Heather Stephen, who I used to share regular breakfasts and overpriced OJ with in Edmonton, the only person who can get away with talking about sparkly unicorns convincingly and who has an actual, undeniable heart of gold. 

1. What do you do and what does it give to people?

Currently, I am a substitute teacher.
What does it give to people? It gives regular teachers a break! 

Substitute teaching is like grand parenting, you get to be a part of the kid's lives for a day and then *whoosh* you fly away and go do other fun stuff while a regular teacher has to deal with the grading and long-term discipline.

Teaching is great because you get the opportunity to impact a very large group of people all at once. You can either uplift or tear down and I choose to be uplifting. I try to be the smile in kid's lives, especially to those who feel like there is nothing to smile about. I'm realizing that the part of teaching that I really love is the mentoring part. I love helping people to see that life is beautiful and that there is hope!

My husband and I also have some creative business endeavours that we are working towards, too. Venturing into the business world is something we both want to do together. So, I choose to continue subbing because it gives me more flexibility to focus on other endeavours and goals.

2. What's a piece of advice you consistently find yourself giving out but find hard to take yourself?

Lately, the piece of advice I am giving consistently is, "Be patient", "Time is of the essence" (this one always makes me laugh...what does it even mean, what "essence"?), "God's timing is best!", that sort of thing.

Truth is, I've always been a sprinter in life.
I like things to happen straight out of the blocks. So, waiting can be hard for me. My husbands got the Caribbean blood in him and so he's often telling me to relax and go with the flow. I like the flow, 
but I also love to make things happen NOW. However, I've realized that without the waiting, everything would all happen at once and there would be no journey, no story. The story is where the adventure is stored, so there are treasures found in the waiting.

I tell people often that God's timing is best and to be patient because these things are true and have shown themselves to be true in my life. I feel like when people give advice, it should come from a relatable place. 

Often when I give advice it is because I am reminding myself about it, too.

3. How do you rely on others to make you better?

Interesting question.
I rely on people to give me positive feedback or affirmation quite often. For example, I recently cut my hair and it's taken some time to get used to it. My husband will say that it looks great! But I'm often like, "Thanks, but...
tell me in detail WHY it looks great?" Haha! We laugh about this. I need details and intricate little pieces of positivity to make me feel like it truly does look great. At the end of the day, I am enjoying the new cut, but I am looking forward to a speedy hair growth spurt any day now. Look, there I am being a sprinter again.
I believe that everyone has love languages and one of mine is encouragement, so I suppose I really gain confidence and power through the support of my husband, family, and friends
in this way. That being said, if I was all alone in the world, just me and one little hummingbird chilling out, I would have enough umph to be encouraged because I know how God feels about me and that's enough.
I often remind myself of that.

4. Someone gives you 50 mill. What's the FIRST way your life changes?

First things first, I'd pay off stuff like the mortgage and I'd want to give my family moola to help them with anything they might need right away.

First things second, I would purchase a castle in a beautiful historical town in Italy, Scotland or England, and revamp it into a bed and breakfast/home for my husband and I.
Then, I'd say, "Here you go Alexander, go and purchase the car of your dreams!", one in Canada and one to stay at the castle. 

I'd also install a hot tub at the top of the best turret of the castle!!! Not a gross hot tub, with slimy castle stairs to climb, but like the best hot tub EVER, with non-grime stairs and the most glorious view of the stars in the sky.

Oh, and I would install a 400m track near the castle, a track with a gorgeous view. Heavenly.

This question is so much fun to answer.

5. What has compelled you forward more than anything else?

I would say that success and discipline, mixed with a dash of attention, have compelled me forward in life. I see this when I look at my involvement in sports. I was always quite athletic and involved in competitive sport growing up and I loved it! I loved the community aspect of it, the hard workouts that we had to power through, the joy of racing, and not just the joy of winning, but the glory found in receiving personal bests. Track was a HUGE part of my life and it led me to being able to compete for Canada in bobsleigh. My involvement in track and sport in general, really gave me that drive to want to continue being successful reaching my personal bests.

Track is not a part of my life as much anymore, and it is hard to not have that focus, but now I can use that same drive and focus on other things. "Life is BIG", my mom says.

6. Do you like when people ask you, "Where do you want to be in 5 years?" 

The classic question, but it actually is a helpful one. I like it because it lets you dream, envision, and explore the possibilities of what is to come in your life. I think it's fun and important to make goals for yourself, yet maintain a flexible attitude that will allow you to adjust to whatever circumstances come your way. I also like it because you get to share with others as to where you would like to see yourself and then others can do the same thing with you. It helps to communicate ideas and goals with good friends because then you've got accountability.

How fun to explore the possibilities! 

7. If someone was handed a script of your inner dialogue this week, what would it say?

I am smiling as I think about this one.
I feel like my inner dialogue sometimes can be mixed with songs. For example, I'll be at the kettle making up some tea and the music from my virtual spin classes that I do (like the intense electronic, souped-up version of
Black Velvet), will pop into my head followed by: "If you came to get Sweats...." and "Big shoulder roll..." I have been doing a lot of virtual spin classes lately and I feel like the repetitive songs and dialogue that I hear get stuck in my head for most of the day after. It's a type of brain washing resulting in this phrase stuck in the noggin: "If you came to get sweats" (said by a guy with a thick Swiss accent and who tries to sing/lip-sync the words but totally butchers it). Oh, how this humours me every time I do the spin class and as it echoes in my head.

Also, other dialogue would be : "Let it go-do not dwell on it!", "Thank you Lord!", "Wow, he is so hot." (re: my husband), "Fairies really might exist near the stream down there...", "We have dominion, so it's okay to kill this ant."(while still feeling sorry for it). All of this mixed with other random stuff that would make no sense if I wrote it down. 

8. Are you spontaneous?

Yes!!!! I like to cliff jump (only if it is not too high and proven to be a safe location) in the middle of cool, crisp, turquoise lakes after a long hike as long as there is a bonfire with smores waiting for me afterward.

YES!!! I would like to go on a trip for a month or year to a remote village in Italy and wing it!!!

No!!! I will not shave my head or get strange painful piercings or tattoos just to YOLO!!!

9. Are you failing differently each time?

This question is kind of tough for me, mostly because I don't like the word fail.  I feel like as humans it's part of our make up to not hit the mark.
But what is the mark?
What is it we are trying so hard to achieve or reach?  No one is perfect 
and I tell myself that a lot. I truly aim to see setbacks as motivators to do better each day.  To choose love over bitterness, to choose to think highly of people when I want to harbour anger, and so I just take one day at a time.

Setbacks have motivated me to learn and do better next time, but to also give myself grace. God gives us grace and love and sometimes we need to give it to ourselves, too. We can only do our best.

When I reflect on setbacks and failures in life, I realize that the attitude of my heart plays into my next step in a huge way.

10. Paul Newman or Robert Redford?

Paul Newman.
Not only for his incredible selection of salad dressings, but also because he's got those blue eyes. He also kind of reminds me of my Gramps. Maybe he reminds a lot of people of their Gramps though. Robert Redford needs to smile more,
I just want to make him smile!