Road to Renewal: Heidi Cannon

Renewal is my favorite topic. I talk about it constantly. I bend the ear of anyone I’m around to help them understand how amazing I feel, even when I don’t feel good, to the point that I exhaust myself. If you don’t know me, strap yourself in, because I’m not one to short change how I feel on a topic I’m passionate about

There are three things I have to outline in order to make this complete:

One. This will be a very candid account of where I was, how I got to the point of a successful transitional period in my life, and where I am currently. Transparency is key.

Two. I was a notorious flake in every aspect of my life. I was unable to actively do what I said I would do, not because I didn’t want to, but because I was too scattered to allow myself. The old “I want to do everything so instead I truly accomplish nothing” some of us, I’m sure, are familiar with.

Three. I am in recovery. I practice a substance free, solution based lifestyle without which none of my current life would be possible.

With that being said, Hello! My name is Heidi Cannon and I currently reside in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I lived in West Virginia between Logan and Huntington for a few of the most formative years of my life. That time period is when I met Kayla, the heartbeat behind Boss Babes WV, and why I am so honored to be writing a blog for this movement. I am a self-taught embroidery artist currently reworking my business model while also reworking my mental and spiritual wiring. Spirituality, not to be confused with religion, and my “journey” to integrate it harmoniously into every facet of my life is the most important aspect of my day-to-day. Without that self-work I’m certain my goals would not be accomplished. I’m going to outline in this my journey to general wellness and my path to success, how I got here, and how I intend to stay here while continuing to grow. I am not an authority on anything, this is my personal experience, this is what works for me, and it is important to add that everyone has (and is able to find) their own formula of living that will allow them to live optimally.

I spent a lot of years very concerned about the validation of others. I wanted desperately to be cool. Even if I didn’t realize that was my first thought, my actions told me otherwise. I wanted to play every instrument, be every kind of artist, find self-worth through relationships, and be liked by everyone. I’m sure you can all imagine how successful I was with this. I was lost. How could I know what I wanted to do if I wasn’t sure of who I was? We all go there, we’ve all been there. What seems like one existential question of “so what’s next?” turns into what feels like a lifetime of uncertainty and doubt. Before you know it you’re sitting on your couch at six in the morning blowing lines of coke wondering how the hell you got there. Or maybe not, maybe you were exhausted by the standard high school question of “what will your next five years be like?” and couldn’t relate to that form of structure. Or maybe you want more for yourself and your potential and you have no idea how to get it. Or maybe I’m wrong again and you haven’t questioned anything and your life is pretty smooth sailing (in which case, hell yea, keep doing what you’re doing).

I dropped out of college after my first semester. A series of events over the course of a year and a half led me to leaving West Virginia and moving to New York City. I didn’t know where my life was going in a smaller town, so I figured immersing myself in the exact opposite would yield different results. I was young and naïve and immediately fell into a party atmosphere akin to Party Monster but slightly less glamorous. I got a lot of help from a lot of new friends while there, but I again thought a change of scenery would give me the change I wanted for myself. I packed up my car in the middle of a blizzard and headed to Philadelphia February 2011.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I was a bit insane. I immediately cashed in on the first sightings of friendship. I made mistakes, they made mistakes, I found a new group of friends, repeat, repeat, repeat. Not to get too far off course or lead you astray, this is not a confession. This is an incredibly compressed detailing of my repetitive lifestyle before any changes occurred. I woke up one day, looked around and I didn’t like what I saw. I was 24, working in a bar, no real goals set into place but I had a lot of ambition. Misplaced ambition is a dangerous game. I had no focus, I kind of felt like I was floating downstream without an oar. I was aimlessly going through life and constantly feeling guilty for not having enough follow-through to truly accomplish any goals. I picked up embroidery as a hobby to pass the time with no intention of taking it more seriously than that and continued to suppress those general feelings for two more years. I had dialogue set up that allowed me to justify my actions. I’d tell myself I’m in my early twenties I’m SUPPOSED to act this way or everyone around me is doing it so it is obviously normal behavior.

I moved to a different part of the city in February of 2017, which as you can tell is a pattern with me. Discomfort leads to uprooting myself whether it be a few blocks or a few states away.  I began surrounding myself with truly incredible women with goals and ambition that I couldn’t fathom. I was a starry-eyed little kid in the body of a 26 year old woman. One artist collective in particular stood out to me. The ladies there welcomed me with open arms. They talked with me about spirituality and holistic healing (something I had always thought was kind of corny because I didn’t understand it). They nurtured my craft and let my potential grow - I’d like to add that throughout this time I had somehow managed to stay consistent enough with embroidery to vastly improve and begin getting noticed by people other than my direct friend group (you mean to tell me with practice and drive you can accomplish your goals? Wild).

It was a woman within that artist collective that first pointed out my narrative at the time, that narrative being me constantly saying I didn’t want to drink, or I was hungover and didn’t want to go out, but would go out anyway. I was nothing if not consistent with that. She took me to a meeting, I immediately identified, felt relief wash over me and admitted I had allowed my life to become unmanageable.  I wasn’t always a mess outwardly, but that didn’t change the way I felt, and I’ve gotta tell you – when you feel like shit in your heart it doesn’t do anything to be smiling on the outside.

I’m not trying to sell anyone on a program. The purpose behind this is to explain that every single person has some aspect of their life they let control them negatively. It doesn’t have to be a substance - it can be money, sex, food, relationships, friendships, a negative narrative, etc etc etc. We can easily get in our own way on a daily basis - we can allow the renewal, the new life, the constant opportunities presented to slip away. So how do we stop that from happening? How did I stop that from happening? I became self-aware. Self-awareness is painful at first, especially when you’re not accustomed to diving too deep into it, but it quickly becomes a daily reprieve. What starts as “wow I cannot believe I’m that way” turns into “okay so this is a pattern, what can I do to fix it”. You become-solution oriented. You become comfortable with mediation. You stop feeling that self-care and loving ourselves constantly is corny.

It’s not what shows up at your doorstep that defines how your life goes, it’s your reaction to it. That is my favorite reminder and something I tell myself daily still.

So to get back on track – I stopped drinking, I stopped using any form of drugs. I cut out two things that were very largely getting in my way. That was step one. Step two was allowing myself to find focus. I immediately threw my entire life into embroidery and ran with it. I made mistakes within my business, but I also have had immense triumphs. I started reaching moments of excitement and happiness that were only uncomfortable to me because I had not felt it so genuinely before. I took up yoga, I went vegan (I had tried off and on for years and honestly the only thing that made it stick for me is truly doing it for the animals), I stopped using words that were harmful – I rejected the term “crazy” because I find it to be a blanket statement word that is used largely to invalidate the way women feel. I stopped saying “I will” and began to say “I am!” I decided to shut down the idea of a New Years resolution, and pick up monthly (sometimes daily) intentions. I found a formula that works for me. I write in my planner to keep myself accountable, I reach out to others when I’m feeling down to get out of my own head, I go through a checklist that is so detailed that it asks me if I’ve had enough water today or if I’ve left my house. I don’t follow through with any of this perfectly. I have hiccups and down days, but the difference is I’m less likely to beat myself up over it and way more likely to progress.

My embroidery business is flourishing. I am constantly kept busy by it, but I don’t forget what comes first. I come first. My mental health and personal well-being will always come first. Without that the best version of myself wouldn’t show. 

This all sounds like a lot, but really it came very organically over time. I pinpointed the things and people holding me back and let them go. I pinpointed the things and people nurturing me and giving me advice and guidance and I pulled them closer. When we surround ourselves with light, we reflect that and the world around us is brighter.

Here’s to another bright day


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Heidi Cannon is a BOSS BABE from WV who now lives in Philadelphia, PA. She runs an embroidery business and can be found on Instagram at @americanwastoid.