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Strong • Genuine • Reflective

Her Story

Heather Ray

Mom, Water Protector, Green(ish) Thumb – water programs manager at GreenUP

Heather's Story :

I am not special. I am not inherently more skilled, capable, or passionate than any other women within this community. What I am is a woman who continues to show up, to learn, and to try.
Looking back on who I thought I would be, I find it interesting how life doesn’t turn out how you plan, but can become better.

A country girl at heart and upbringing, my early days were filled with getting lost in my imagination within the forest, catching frogs by the pond, leaning over the sides of boardwalks to observe the wetland, and working hard on the farm. In my youth I embarked upon an academic adventure with only my intuition and a student loan to guide me, determined to transform into a force that would single-handedly change the world. I dreamed of shedding my ‘country’ ways as I embraced environmental law, dramatic courtroom victories, and international negotiations. Despite being told and made to feel that I would never achieve by wildest dreams, that women are meant to make pies not pie charts, or that my top-notch poetry structure must have been an error, I proved it to myself that I can. I was on the path of my dreams, a path I am grateful and proud of, but I am also thankful my life took another path.

I believe there is something to be learned within each mis-step, within each vulnerable moment, and within each lost opportunity; it is this learning that I strive to bring forward into each new day.

When I found myself unsuccessful at feeling happy, struggling with the hardships I felt deeply after having my first child, such as lost professional opportunities, being financially dependent
upon my partner, and unable to process the world through the fog of post-partum depression, I felt lost. Each day I made the difficult choice to show up, to try, and to learn. And each day brought me closer and closer to my childhood friendship with water and my true self.

My connection to water is unbreakable; water teaches me, water keeps me alive, and water leads me toward local actions that bring waves of water protection and celebration. Unplanned paths I have taken in life allow me to see things from angles that otherwise would not have been visible to me, to feel things more deeply, to empathize, and to trust in the journey. I am now a different kind of force, one that will continue to show up, to learn, and to try; a force that will continue to make waves for years to come. There is no perfect path, but there is your path – so make it perfectly yours.