That's What She Said

Episode 68: Visiting with Heidi Esther and her story “Sleepless in Champaign”

woman in yellow tank top holding a microphone on stage

Heidi Esther That's What She Said

                                    SSPP ep. 68 HEIDI ESTHER “SLEEPLESS IN CHAMPAIGN” 
Episode 68: Visiting with Heidi Esther and her story “Sleepless in Champaign”

Heidi Esther joins our hosts Kerry and Jenette for some laughter, some reflection, and some serious joy. In her story, "Sleepless in Champaign" Heidi told the audience in Champaign, IL about the fears and doubts she faced on her wedding night. 

ANNOUNCER 00:00 Raising women's voices. One story at a time.
Welcome to The She Said Project Podcast.

[Music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]

Friends, we are rolling on another episode of The She Said Project Podcast. Welcome and thank you for joining us. I'm Jenette Jurczyk, your host, National Director of The She Said Project.
And I'm Kerry Rossow, Co-Founder and Jenette tagalong.
JENETTE  00:39  Tagalong? Kerry, you are the leader, you are the-you are the woman I aspire to be when I grow up,
KERRY  00:44  Oh well, you need to get out more. I will say, it all comes around because today's guest is exactly who I aspire to be. I find her so endearing her energy, everything about her. I'm always just, like, liking everything of hers on social media or just tagging along like nodding like, "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh."
JENETTE  01:01  I love that you put it that way because when you think of this woman, the word that comes to mind is joy. And I think that's intentional, because she has built kind of a reputation for herself around inspiring joy. And she does that in a number of ways, and she was able to do that as part of The She Said Project onstage in That's What She Said. We're talking about none other than our guest today, Heidi Esther. Welcome, Heidi, to the She Said Studio.
HEIDI ESTHER  01:26  Thank you so much for having me. I'm just like beaming right now, I can-
JENETTE  01:31  Are you excited?
HEIDI  01:32  I'm twinklin from my toes to my throws.
KERRY - 01:36  Yeah, you're on the other side. It's like podcast role reversal for you. You're usually the one on the other side of this.
HEIDI  01:42  Yes, I get to connect with so many beautiful souls-in-progress about, you know, kind of like the "lemons into lemonade" moments of joy in their lives. And so in addition to sharing my story, I get to just gently hold people and bring them into the light with me.
JENETTE  02:00  Tell our listeners how you get to do that.
HEIDI  02:02 So I have a, I have a podcast called Joyfully Ever After with Heidi Esther. It's on summer break right now, but it'll probably be back by this Fall. We just kind of get into the nitty gritty with it. And I've been so blessed to share my life starting, just walking alongside people one-on-one. It was like joy coaching and doing funny workshops where we throw beach balls around and, and we do like super Superman poses which, I know, Jenette, you are a big fan of.
KERRY  02:37  [giggles]
JENETTE  02:37
We throw a lot of... ah, I'm just gonna say it, we throw a lot of balls around in our workshop process.
HEIDI  02:42  There's a lot of balls!
JENETTE  02:42  But ours are imaginary. We play catch and play improv games.
KERRY  02:46  Whatever it takes.
JENETTE  02:46  I'm not sure where that was gonna go with Kerry in the room, but I tried.
HEIDI  02:51  I keep my balls inflated.
KERRY  02:53  [laughing] Nothing worse than deflated balls.
JENETTE  02:56  You know, "If you stay ready, you don't gotta get ready."
HEIDI  02:58  Yeah
JENETTE  02:58  So...
KERRY  02:59  [laughing] That's a good one, Jurczyk!
JENETTE  03:01  I may have borrowed that from RuPaul's Drag Race. But, um... I gotta give credit where credit is due. But Heidi, when you say a joy coach, Joyfully Ever After, helping people find their joy. How do you do that? What do you-what do you look for? What do you try to pull out of them?
HEIDI  03:17  So it's not unlike the start of our journey in the She Said sphere of just talking about what our story is, and, and digging into all of-all of the- all of those pieces and sometimes those pieces come out. And, like, I could say, "Oh my God, when I was growing up, it was like all academics and so focused and like, I had to like work out all the time, because I have a heart murmur. And so my parents were like, 'you have to do all the sports all the time!' And then I was like, so exhausted." Or I could say that my parents helped me strengthen my heart when I grew up, because they knew I was so heart-centered, and then it would just, like, blend right into what I'm doing and help me achieve my goals. And so a lot of it's- right? Like, how we, how we reframe, right? Our stories so that we can have like..
JENETTE  04:08  Shifting a mindset.
HEIDI  04:09  Yes.
JENETTE  04:10  Love that.
HEIDI  04:10  Yes, yes. Not like, "Oh my god, someone's coming with criticism about my project." Like, we can say, "Oh, what can I learn today? What can I lean into today? Where's my growth edge on this?" Like, can we, as women, who take care of the world, can we bypass the shame? We have so- we're just built for like this- I was built as like a shame sponge. And so it was always like this, I call it a "shame layer on my feelings parfait". And so every time I had a feeling, there was like, "I shouldn't have that feeling. Shame!" And then, and then you know, so I just kind of like bury it down there and, and so we just walk around with these giant, giant parfaits that are just like really sad when we can...We can just be speaking, authentically, our truth in walking bravely..
JENETTE  04:11  I am very interested in purchasing the Heidi Esther Dictionary, like, the vocabulary that you're using- you have these very unique phrases that really conjure up an image and get you thinking very quickly. But I know you've spent time developing your process. But these phrases that you use-
KERRY 05:15 That's my love language, you're talking parfaits I'm like, ah man, ah man, you got me. I'm sure it's purposeful. But there have got to be days when you're facedown in a parfait. And just, everybody sucks. Is there ever a time when you really- what's your go to when it-
KERRY  05:16  First of all, it has to happen to you too, right?
HEIDI  05:30 Yeah!
HEIDI  05:31  Yeah, we-we all have feelings, right? Stuff happens. Nobody's living in a bubble. So when stuff happens, I-I come back to, come back to this one question. And then I kinda- I kinda just focus in on it, like, like, I've just got the big telescope, but I'm-I'm gonna like zero in on the moon and say, like, "Alright, that's my target. How can I take care of myself today?" What do I need now that is missing- that maybe I got triggered, maybe there's a big reaction, maybe I'm, you know, in a pile. And then sometimes, I just have peanut butter toast and a nap. And I just start from there and I say, like, "I'm gonna let all the other stuff just kind of go away. I'm just gonna wrap myself in self-acceptance for being a big pile of mush right now." Right? Because if we can't love ourselves, we can't let other people know how to radically take care of this divine soul and package that we were given, right? That's where it starts.
KERRY  05:31 Jenette and I, we're- our heads are about to fall off of our shoulders.
HEIDI  06:04  [laughs]
KERRY  06:10  We're just nodding so hard, like "uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh."
JENETTE  06:35 Yeah, like, my eyes are so wide, like deer in headlights. Like, just all of these phrases and-and concepts are just very brilliant. And also, you are reminding me of a moment in time that you shared with us that turned into your story for That's What She Said. There was a time, and I'm sure there have been many, but there was a very distinct time where you had to bundle yourself up on a couch in a pile of feelings, eat some fried chicken and-and reassess if you were where you were supposed to be, and if you were who you were supposed to be. And so I think this is a perfect time to take a moment and listen to your story that you shared, because there's so much there to unpack that we can, we can talk about, but I don't want to give it all away yet. So get yourself comfortable, get yourself a glass of wine or tea, whatever. Take a listen, this is really, really fun. Heidi Esther was on stage in Champaign, Illinois earlier in 2023. And this is her story, Sleepless in Champaign. 

(originally performed and recorded on February 25, 2023 at the Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL) 
HEIDI ESTHER  07:56  I closed my eyes and could hear my love making tiny baby snores next to me. She was so done after what we just went through. I was surrounded by Kleenexes, beer, and chicken. Instead of the usual wedding night fare of lacy panties and champane flutes; though, I will say my love and I both wore matching white cotton Hanes panties with little black hearts on 'em, which I thought was pretty fancy.
08:34  It was well after midnight, and I was sitting up in my bed, in my hotel suite, staring at a half empty bucket of fried chicken
08:34  My wedding night.
[harder laughter, some cheers]
08:34  Sexy chicken.

08:34  Like my love, I should totally have been sleeping. But I couldn't. I had been crying with enough sprinkles of frustration in there to keep me up well past my bedtime. Maybe it's all the emotions of the day trying to get out of me. Or maybe it's this new phase of life that I'm in: divorce, remarriage... Or maybe it was too much chicken.

09:05  Honestly, my wedding was glorious. We got married on a prairie. I wore a peach dress and carried daisies down a grassy aisle. It was sweaty and perfect. We each made one vow to each other: I vowed I'd always write what's in my heart, and she vowed she'd always sing what's in hers. Why just the one vow? Our three years of courtship was something out of a, mmmm,  progressive Hallmark movie.
09:42 It all started with a kiss on a tire swing that set me on fire, utterly and completely. And we kindled that flame in the back seat of our cars, sharing grapes, Cheetos, and cheese. I started sharing some poems, penned by yours truly, and she started serenading me with righteous chick rock songs on her blue guitar. We had picnics in the mottled shade at Hessel Park, concerts in Monical’s parking lot on Valentine's Day, and poetic, mmm, tipsy walks around Allerton. So the one vow seemed appropriate. Me vowing to always write what's in my heart, she vowing always to sing what's in hers. But sitting up in bed, staring at that chicken, thinking of our vows, my face grew hotter than Mars. One word flashed in my brain like I just nailed it on Family Feud. "Survey says... Betrayal. Ding, ding, ding."
11:11  We actually had one more vow on our wedding day: we promised each other there'd be no surprises, which meant no bad poetry from me. And no songs from her. But guess what? She sang anyway. Get this, so right in the middle of the ceremony, she just drops my hands and nonchalantly walks- no, struts into the prairie, picks up her blue guitar, which apparently was hiding there, throws the strap over her shoulder and signals to the pianist, a co-conspirator and someone I thought was my friend.
11:59  And she starts singing, but not just any song. She sang our song. I couldn't believe it, I thought we had a deal! But I held my cool, tried to feel happy- as my wedding and all- and I pasted on this smile. [forces an awkward smile]  From then, until she peacefully drifted off to sleep a few hours ago. Must be nice, all that sleeping. I rubbed my eyes and wondered if I would ever forgive her. Or if I would ever sleep again! Even without all these emotional thunderstorms, sleep and I have an on again off again relationship. So before I had kids, I slept like a mummy. I woke up for nothing, not actual thunderstorms, not my college roommate and her boyfriend. Thank God for bunk beds.

13:02  Not my husband snoring, nothing. So I would put my clothes in a neat pile next to the bed. So the next morning, I would just roll out of bed and make it... like I wasn't even there. When I had kids, sleep and I formally hit the rocks. I always had one ear to the baby monitor and one leg hanging outta bed... and R.I.P. that neat clothes pile- it was like Mount Vesuvius erupted all over my floor... in the form of dirty tracksuits. (A lot of velour in my wardrobe.)
13:40  I really did try to sleep. But I also tried to make everything perfect. Perfect, like my mom's red, glossy, shiny fingernails that never break. That perfect sleep and motherhood, all went to war. Motherhood meant no sleep and messing up all the time. I made dry mashed potatoes, I leaned on Baby Einstein like a nanny, and I bribed in my toddlers with so many Dunkin Donut holes to that like one more errand in... it was like a powder sugar bomb went off in the back of my car. It's horrible. Try to vacuum that up. I just adjusted my sleep to try to make perfect for my hubby, for my babies, for my parents, and for my community. Then my world started melting down and I realized I wasn't safe. Nor was I happy. Nor was I, as it turns out, straight. So a friend strongly suggested to me that I might a lesbian. In the midst of my marriage meltdown, this hit me like gas on the burning fire of my life. But I didn't put it out. I knew it was true. Even though I'd never kissed a girl. Yep, this woman was built for the ladies.
[applause] [cheering]
15:34  I should have listened to my nails all these years. They always break, like, right before you get to the end, never as long, glossy, and shiny as my Mama's. But that story of shame, and apparently fingernails, growth and acceptance- that's for another time. And with all this hot mess of a life going on, I messed up even more. And then I gave up and I let go of perfect. I found and confided in real friends, hallelujah! I started writing what would become my bad courtship poetry, get all those feelings out. And I stood up for my happiness for the first time.
16:35  And even though things were hard and confusing, I received so many gifts... in one of the best, glorious sleep. So, during the divorce, I slept in the guest room and with no one in bed next to me, sometimes in the morning, I would find myself diagonal across the bed, swaddled in a blankie tornado. And I had a new sleep... enhancer? Hmmmmm, accessory? Buddy? Friend? That I was brave enough to keep next to my bed and sometimes even kinda by my pillow? My teddy bear, Mr. Bear.
[nervous laughter] [applause] [cheering]
17:26  Yeah, you thought I was going over to the vibrator category? That story's for another time too. With Mr. Bear at my side, I slept even better than when I was in mummy mode. I started to take up space in my bed. And in my life. Then I met this beautiful woman and we had this progressive Hallmark movie courtship. And she asked me to marry her.
17:27  And I said no. I mean, how could I? I could not sleep when we were together. When she turned, I turned. When she snored, I woke up. When she got up, I asked her if she was okay. [sigh] And sometimes I would even wake up when she was sleeping to make sure she had enough covers and enough room. I was adjusting all over again. And it was exhausting. To make matters worse, not only was I not able to do my diagonal blankie tornado, something even more insidious was going on... She wouldn't big spoon me. (big exhale)
18:00  And she was the first person I wanted to actually cuddle up with at night. I wanted her to be the big spoon. However, she said she like sleeping away from me. And she wanted me to hold her? So we played this game where she would hold me for, like, the first five minutes, and I would like furiously try to sleep. But inevitably, when that didn't work, I would be laying flat on my back, looking at that ceiling, probably wondering if I should be bringing out my accessory that you thought I was using.

19:26 But I would have this whole battle in my head and I would wonder if I was woman enough to be the big spoon. The worst part? I was embarrassed to tell her about Mr. Bear. So he went back in my closet to sleep with the dust bunnies. It's very sad. I've had to vacuum him a lot. This sleeplessness went on for about a year. But I decided I love her more than I love sleep. So I said yes. I know, I couldn't believe she stuck around for that year either.
20:05  But now I'm sitting here on my wedding night, sad and pissed. Maybe having kids and being married is like a sleepless death sentence for me. Maybe I'll never be able to take up spaces myself if I'm always adjusting for everybody else. Maybe I'm meant to sleep alone... Maybe I'm meant to be alone. I looked over at my new wife and sighed. And that's when the idea hit me. Maybe, I could just write some of my bad poetry and get to the bottom of this sleepless wedding night fiasco. I rolled out of bed, I nabbed the hotel pen and paper, I unearthed Mr. Bear from my suitcase, and blankie tornadoed myself on the couch. I took a deep breath. It's got about but 10 pages, I got this. Page one: "Dearest Stacey, today you sang your heart out, my brave love, open in front of friends, new family. Blessed to call you my wife, now and forever." Hm. So I'm not mad because she upstaged me. Page two: "Your openness a surprise, your love sung aloud, my heart listening." No chance to speak. Okay, I am pissed because she upstage me. Page three: "No response, left feeling alone and gagged." Okay, this is more about me than about her. Page four: "For you, a love to shout from the mountaintops. I yell and all that is heard is silence." Page five: "I feel like I ruined my own very blessed day." Page six: "Codependence, workaholism,  perfectionism, starving my joy once again." Page seven: "No chance to rewind and make my case and state my love for you." Page eight: "My beautiful rock star, shining and radiant today. And always." Page nine: "I love you."
22:30  There's movement in the bedroom. I pause. My love rolls over. Of course, away from me. Page ten: "The only vow I made on my wedding day, I couldn't keep. I am ashamed of myself, and I don't deserve your love." I crumpled in a ball on the couch and cried for a while. I felt some of the regret leave, like clouds parting after a storm. And in its place, like a seashell gifted overnight from the bottom of the ocean, was my truth. I turned over the back of the notepad and scribbled. Page eleven, amendment: "At the prairie, you sang love into my heart, a no-strings-attached equal, for now I know, not because of what I say or what I do or how or if or when I adjust. I am worthy of love because I am." I walked over and put the notepad on the table next to my love, snuggled Mr. Bear under my arm, encircled my wife with my big spoon arms and fell fast asleep. Thank you.
[laughter and applause] ###
JENETTE  24:06  We forgot to mention what a poet Heidi is. Heidi doesn't just tell stories, she speaks in poetry. Right?
KERRY  24:13  But, I will say, so before I actually met Heidi, I had read some of her stuff and loved it. But what a difference in, it-it really spoke to the energy you bring to everything because it's one thing to read these nuggets, but then, like, the first time I saw you, I didn't think you were reading your words. You were just interacting and like engaging with other people. And it was like holy- like my sister used to always send me stuff about the joy-ologists from Saturday Night Live. And I was like, "It's another joy-ologist!" Like you just... are joyful in ev- in how you interact with everybody. And then, and then I had the same feeling when I watched your piece. It was not just the words I'd read, It was this amazing energy you put. You lit the words on fire. It was amazing.
HEIDI  24:56  Thank you. Thank you and I'd like to say like, like joy isn't something... Like, you got to go through that parfait, you got to go through like that puddle to get to the joy. So it's not just gonna happen. Yeah, you can't have the light without the dark.
JENETTE  25:09  And that's what you did in your story is you literally took the audience through the layers, that you took us to one moment in time, which Kerry and I are always a fan of when we can find a really powerful moment. Um, and then you took us through your internal process, and how you had to decode, you know, everything that happened that day with your wife and your feelings and your, your whole life kind of unfolded before your eyes. And then you found your peace in poetry, in your own words, in your own gift that you use to kind of unravel or unlayer your own parfait. And so like you, you practice what you preach.
HEIDI  25:50  Oh, thanks. And I want to say that, in that moment, like I was a real hot mess. It wasn't like I was like, dabbin' the corners in my eyes. I was like, really snottin' out and like, you know, all sorts of- all sorts of like, you know, you don't want to have any pictures taken in that moment. And during, during that night, and... and yeah, so like there's, you know, the tra-transformation and change, it takes a lot of energy, to-to at least, at least, you know, when you're acknowledging those feelings and letting them out, just getting them out. So then you're in a place where you can kind of like, be like, "Alright, I just got rid of all these Legos. What do they mean? What can I build? What's the plan?" And, and so only from that place of like, calm, right? We can't rebuild the ship in the middle of the storm, right? We gotta, we gotta do it. Like, you know, wait until- wait- yeah, wait until we have dry land in sight.
KERRY  26:46  Well, I love that. I think that all the time. I'm, um.. I'm an instant gratification kind of person. And so I want to fix it right now, I want it. And that is something that I've really been trying to work on and be purposeful about. It doesn't have to be fixed today. Like, just sit with it. Just sit with it. And if I've learned anything, like I'm gonna feel very differently tomorrow, next week. Just chill out, sis, you don't have to do it all right now. Yeah.
HEIDI 27:09  Just being with it and at some point, you get to a point where you're like, Oh, my God. I h- I, uh, I work, I work with women to cultivate this thing called the Compassionate Copilot, and so I giveaway little toy cars, because that's, you know, part of the fun. And so, to be able to sit next to ourselves in those puddle moments, right? And just be compassionate there, right? Just being in the middle, middle of the mess and then saying, like, you know, "Maybe, maybe tomorrow we'll go for a drive. But today, we're just going to sit here the rest stop, and it's going to be okay. And we're accepting that we're just going to eat Doritos and be at the restaurant." And it's fine.
JENETTE  27:48  Did you ever confront your wife about her choices that day?
HEID 27:53   I can't even say how many times I did.
KERRY  27:56  I think you mentioned it!
HEIDI  27:56  So at first it started out and I might have learned some indirect communication. And so it came on in little, snarky bits. And then I was like, "Alright, Heidi let's pull out the Compassionate Copilot and be kind." And I'd be like, "All right, so what's the deal, Stacey? Like, what, what? What's going on?" And what I received back was like, a genuine love for me. And then I was like, Okay, I can't do anything with this because it's not anything that- [laughs]
JENETTE  27:56 [laughs]
JENETTE  27:57  How can you get angry at that?
HEIDI  28:04  You can't! You can't get angry at someone who's, just, professing their love to you. And-
JENETTE  28:04  [overlapping] In the only way they knew how-
HEIDI  28:29  [overlapping] Yeah, in the only way she knew how-
JENETTE  28:34  Ding ding ding!
HEIDI 28:35  And so I, I was like, "Alright, I'm gonna let this rest, I'm gonna let her be her." But there is a secret backstory to- part of my story that I never shared.
KERRY  28:47  Today?
HEIDI  28:48  Yeah, I was like-
HEIDI  28:49  I was, I was thinking I was like, "Oh, maybe I can share today." So, like, it can take a while to process all the feelings and to get the lessons. So... the 11th page in my 11th poem was not written until months after my wedding. I did not get to a place where I felt good about myself in my marriage until months after. So I remember going back into my house the next day, my parents had hosted a rager at my house with my entire extended family, cigarettes and beer cans in the bushes, months later. They- [sigh]
KERRY  28:49  Today-today's the day.
KERRY  29:17 [laughs]
HEIDI  29:31  So many words there...
KERRY  29:32  I like these people.
HEIDI  29:34  I-I yeah, I love my parents, and they host great parties. And there was just one at my house without me. I mean, they did have really good Italian beef, they're from Chicago. So yeah, so I remember walking into the house and be like, "I'm going to be spending eight hours today cleaning up my house from a party I didn't even enjoy," and I still felt crappy. So it takes a while. Sometimes it takes a while. But I did still wrap my arms around my, my wife.
JENETTE  30:02  [overlapping] And snuggle-
HEIDI  30:03  [overlapping] And snuggled-
JENETTE  30:04  With her that night.
HEIDI  30:04  Yes.
JENETTE  30:05  How's your sleep now?
HEIDI  30:07  I would say our sleep is great. We've got this adjustable bed now, where you move the end ups to relieve, you know- say you're a middle aged woman, and you have back pain.
JENETTE  30:16  I have no idea what that's like.
HEIDI ESTHER  30:19  [laughing]
KERRY  30:19  You girls better not turn around and look at me like- Okay, go ahead. So-so for some people that are middle-aged.
HEIDI  30:24  Yeah, yeah. And we still do the thing where I will hold her for a little bit, but then I turn away. So everything has its seasons. I'm joyfully enjoying a new bed and a new, more comfortable dynamic.
KERRY  30:38  Okay, so after the show, what kind of feedback did you get?
HEIDI  30:41  People have kind of like, run up to me, and they're like, "Blankie Tornado!! That was you, right?" And I was like, yeah-I'm like, yeah. So one of the things that I love, absolutely love about storytelling, we authentically share our stories. And then we are seen as our powerful selves, and that gives us, I think, more agency than so many other ways to go about this. To walk forward confidently as who we are. And so that's what I think I've had a big shift in my life that I'm- "Oh, this is what I'm going to do next." And I've have found that feeling forward has become so incredibly fast for me, because I share my authentic story, I'm validated, I don't, though, I don't need other people's validation. It's just like, part of contributing to the world, like, yes, I'm here as myself and I'm helping in the only way I can. And if that has to do with blankie tornados and fried chicken, that's what I'm gonna do.
JENETTE  31:47  You can only share what you have gone through or what you know. You can't make stuff up. But you authentically shared your side of the story, your life lessons, and you've been a lifelong storyteller- this isn't your first rodeo, we both know. You've published a book, you've shared your stories on stages before. This was just one more opportunity to find the piece that needed to be told at this time as you go on and continue to develop your joy coaching and your programs. You speak, you do workshops. You want, you truly, sincerely want women and others, but mostly women, to-to feel that same sense of joy and peace from within.
HEIDI 32:26  Yeah, that is-
JENETTE  32:28  That drives you-
HEIDI  32:28  Defining joy on our own terms?
JENETTE  32:31  Ding ding ding!
HEIDI  32:31  That was like the Joy Holy Grail!
JENETTE  32:35  [laughs]
HEIDI  32:35  Like I can- I can have it my way? What? It's not just for Burger King? Okay, let's do this.
JENETTE  32:44 “Let's do this.” It's kind of one of our taglines. "Let's do this!"
KERRY  32:47  Let's do this. Well, I love- I think any kind of storytelling, no matter what the story content is, no matter what platform, a book, a podcast, a show, the more things are dedicated to storytelling, it just says to everybody stories are valuable and we value them, they value them and then, hopefully, they are going to walk out and on the way to the car, they're telling somebody "Oh my gosh, I've got a story that was similar," and whatever or maybe the next day or whatever, it opens the floodgates for storytelling as valuable.
HEIDI   33:15 That's a universal language.
KERRY  33:17   Yep.
HEIDI  33:18  Their stories...
JENETTE  33:19  It's very primal. It's something everyone can do, everyone has done. Like, you always say Kerry, we didn't invent storytelling, we didn't write the book, but we certainly have created a platform where women get to exchange stories in this way, they get to be seen and be heard exactly as they already are. And so, Heidi, thanks for coming alongside and, in sharing your story on the She Said Stage. Have you felt, have you felt, you know, like, your life is completely different now that-
KERRY  33:49  [overlapping] Now that you're/we're in your life
JENETTE  33:50  [overlapping] you're part of the sisterhood?
HEIDI 33:51  Well, I-I did wear my She Said hat-
JENETTE  33:53  [gasp] I see that
HEIDI  33:54  Today.
JENETTE  33:55  Today. On brand, very nice. Very nice.
HEIDI  33:57  Yes, I authentically feel grateful just to be part of this community and it has such a rich authenticity to it. She Sisters... you call them on the phone and they're going to pick up.
JENETTE  34:10  And they find each other. I've seen you interview and interact with a number of your fellow speakers.
HEIDI  34:16  Yeah, I'm conspiring with some now on what's coming up next year.
JENETTE  34:19  I might be…
KERRY  34:20  She'll be back!
JENETTE  34:21  I-I, yeah, I might be familiar with one or two little-
KERRY  34:24  Well, I'm not.
JENETTE  34:25  -upcoming events.
KERRY  34:25  We're gonna, like, close this show down and then you're gonna tell me everything!
HEIDI  34:30  [laughs]
KERRY  34:30  That can be left out.
JENETTE  34:31  Absolutely not. What I love, Heidi, is you have figured out exactly who you are, exactly what gift you have to bring and there is nothing getting in your way. You are growing in the exact right direction and bringing along friends and sisters as you go.
HEIDI  34:47  There's this meditation I do, it's called the One of One - "We are One of One experience". And she says, "Sit like royalty." I always put a hand out to my side because I am meant to bring everybody with me. I don't… I don't lead from the back, I'm not a servant leader, and I don't lead from the front, I'm not a big megaphone, but I lead from the middle because I think we all can use a hand.
KERRY  35:09  Yeah, you are, if I could put a face to somebody, the social media meme that was going around of somebody pulling women up behind while somebody's pulling them. That's you. Like, you know, it's all the things.
JENETTE  35:21  Right there in the middle.
KERRY  35:22  Reach back but also know when to reach forward for someone else's hand.
JENETTE  35:25  Excellent. Well, I hope that our listeners enjoyed our chatty chat today and have gotten to know Heidi a little bit better. Where can our listeners find you if they want more?
HEIDI  35:33  You can always go to, or you can, you know, if you want to get to know me, you can always go to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). It's my email.
JENETTE  35:41  Yeah, and you can find out what she's up to and all the dish on what's coming down the road that Kerry doesn't know.
KERRY  35:47  Yeah. Just for a few more seconds.
JENETTE  35:49  Right, until we're ready to say over and out. So here we go. Thank you for joining us, thank you to our partners in crime here at Illinois Public Media and to our sponsors, Sterling Wealth Management, Carle Health and Health Alliance. And thank you to our listeners for showing up each week and sharing our stories here on The She Said Project Podcast!
KERRY  36:29  Over and out.


[Music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]

ANNOUNCER 36:11 Thank you for listening to The She Said Project Podcast in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in the podcast for the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That’s What She Said, LLC. For more information on our live shows go to [url=][/url]
This podcast was made possible with support from Carle and Health Alliance and presented by Sterling Wealth Management, empowering women to live their best lives.


HEIDI  36:38 [clapping] that was so fun!

JENETTE  40:04  It was perfection!


Heidi Esther joins our hosts Kerry and Jenette for some laughter, some reflection, and some serious joy. In her story, "Sleepless in Champaign" Heidi told the audience in Champaign, IL about the fears and doubts she faced on her wedding night.

The She Said Project Podcast is recorded in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in this podcast are the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That's What She Said, LLC. Learn more at