We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Winston and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for them?
This. I am so glad you asked. Because THIS? This is the thing that I am most proud of in all of my accomplishments so far in my life. My newfound relationships with my three children through the trials and tribulations of divorce, starting your own business, and sobriety.
If you would have asked me this question prior to 2017, I probably would have said something like I was on the PTA and Team Mom for every sport. In reality, I was a pretty shitty parent. I was an alcoholic, had very little self esteem, and had no idea how much I was traumatizing my children through my unhealthy relationship with their father. I was extremely toxic, chemically dependent, and looking for love in all the wrong places. Including my own children, through faking being the perfect Mom.
I have pretty much been on my own since I was a teenager and I have made a string of bad decisions in my life. All of which, I’ve learned through taking accountability for my actions, have all been my fault. Every single one. When you grow up in such a way where you are not taught the value of yourself as an individual, it can lead to people pleasing and addiction type behaviors as an adult. Bringing children into existence by parents that don’t even know the meaning of the word happy, truly, isn’t the most responsible thing. Yet it happens every single day. All over the world. As the true saying goes : The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. Meaning if you get dealt a crap hand, you have the ability to find a new family and create new traditions. Not the way most people think – Blood is thicker than water. Which is bullshit, to be honest.
Keeping in line with the poor choices and generational trauma though, I had a child at 23 as a single mom, met my just as toxic ex husband at 25 and had two more kids at 29 and 31. I am so truly blessed and in awe at how amazing my kids are turning out, despite the trauma and scars that I have caused them. A lot of it has to do with the changes that I have made over the last four years. I like to look at it positively. Like I have always been a good soul and meant well, I was just blinded by insecurities and addiction. I think most of us deal with this in some form or fashion. It is how we were raised and what we are exposed to by society as a whole every single day. From the music us and our children listen to, which is filled with drugs, sex, alcohol, and the Devil. To the TV and Movies we watch, which furthers the narcissistic, misogynistic, male-dominated, abusive type behavior we find in American workplaces and homes all across the country today. Furthering the generational trauma that our parents caused us, and that we now all are causing our own kids.
Things were really bad towards the end of my marriage, and my kids were the ones who suffered. I do remember what caused me to finally snap and leave, but that is a conversation for another day. The point is I did. And I survived. The courage that I gained and the respect that I developed for myself to make the choice and leave the unhealthy situation to try and better my life for my kids, gave me a new opinion of myself. One that had not ever been high. At least not genuinely. It felt good. I was proud of myself. I had never really been proud of ME before. Not really. So what did I do to reward myself for doing the hard thing?
Start the even harder journey of Self Employment. Not only did I leave my marriage, but I walked away from my eight year’s in, cushy comfortable steady paycheck. I completely transformed my life and who I was as a person. I have been on my own and out of the “Corporate America” workforce for over four years now. It has been difficult, but extremely rewarding. Due to my past and my personality type, I am not built for that lifestyle model. Get good grades in high school, go to a University, maybe Grad School, and then right into a career for 40 or so years. To feel guilty constantly for being away from my kids and make someone else money. While I waste mine on material things like houses, cars and boats. To impress a bunch of people who really don’t give a shit, in my opinion. That was just never for me. I lived that already through my parents. Conformity.
I have always been a hustler and have extreme intelligence which started to come out in full force when I moved from “married with a two person income” to having only myself to rely on financially. Talk about the fight or flight part of your brain working in overdrive. The good thing was, with every obstacle I had to overcome to put food on the table, it gave me a heightened sense of Self. A sense of pride, in a way. I was doing it. I was doing it on my own. And my kids were watching.
Over the last four years, I have upgraded our home, used social media to develop a platform in order to build my referral based health insurance business, gotten monetized on said platforms, and started a second side hustle business with my kids making stone beaded bracelets and earrings to bring awareness to something we are very passionate about, which is ending child trafficking worldwide. It is a rabbit hole too far to go down now, but it is a serious issue, especially here in Georgia. This is the number 2 region in the United States for trafficking kids.
I also went through sobriety. I quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey on 4/9/2018, after 20 years and my last ever drink of alcohol was on 1/20/2020. Right before COVID. Things really do happen for a reason.
With every positive change in my life, the positivity has remained in my heart, my head, and in our home. My children have had a front row seat to every thing I just wrote about. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. They have seen first hand the effects of severe bipolar depression, anxiety, alcoholism, the PTSD that can develop from sobriety, mood disorders, sleepless nights, suicidal ideations. They have also seen how you can pick yourself back up, no matter what life throws at you, and by simply using daily affirmations, practicing mindfulness, meditation, self-care and positive self-talk, you can get yourself into a place where you are accomplishing things you’ve never even imagined. You CAN do hard things. You can actually build so much value in yourself where you get to a place that you truly DO NOT care about what other people think about you. You love yourself and are in such alignment with your conscious and inner child, that you can be better than what you came from and truly be happy. It is not easy, but neither is life. Life is hard. It will throw you the ugliest of uglies. But what you have to understand, and the legacy I want to leave instilled in my kids, is that it’s not what happens to you that defines who you are, but how you handle it that speaks to your character. I say to my kids all the time – Vibe High. When you Vibe High, the haters will come for you trying to dim your light, but you always just vibe high. People can’t stand to see you happy. So when they come, kill ’em with kindness kiddos. Hurt people hurt people. Healed people heal people. My kids and I, we’re on a mission to heal the world. One heartbreak and uphill battle at a time. If you can master the ability to control your emotions and always vibe high no matter what happens to you, now that is true happiness. Enlightenment. We have a great life and it’s getting better every day.
We have grown together through struggle, and have a newfound respect for each other. My kids are individuals, with their own thoughts, experiences, opinions, that all make up their unique personalities. I don’t force anything on my children and I truly let them be who they are. My oldest is a straight A student and an amazing athlete who just made the high school baseball team as an upcoming Freshman. My middle son’s brilliance is beyond measure. His musical ability and singing talents, along with his flair for the content creation, has me so excited to see where his future will take him. And my daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world. Inside and out. A pure kind heart, with such love and energy. There is nothing so far, that she has not been able to do and excel in.
So to answer the question first posed, the most important thing that I believe that I am doing as a parent for my children, is teaching them to be better human beings than I ever have been. To learn from your mistakes and not be too hard on yourself. Never give up. Fight hate with love. Show kindness. Do the right thing no matter what. Be HONEST. Always. And for whatever life wants to throw at you, VIBE HIGH. Never let them see you not smiling.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I have been in the health insurance business for four years. I am a captive agent, which means I contract with one company. It is a major carrier. We provide benefits for Individuals, Families and Small Businesses. Programs with Nationwide coverage, customizable for each individual’s needs. I started as a 1099 Employee, and for obvious tax reasons, went to LLC and then eventually an S Corp. I have built a steady client base on which I make residuals. This industry has been very rewarding financially and has really helped me put my family into a better situation.
What sets me apart from the other 3,000 agents in my company is how I approached my business from the get-go. I started this venture right after I split with my ex, and like myself, it’s grown. I have always been a fan of work smart, not hard, so I went with what I knew. I worked in Corporate America in Marketing for almost 10 years and I had experience bartending all through my late teens and early twenties. Being a millennial, I had an extensive social media network already from my personal and professional experiences. I started advertising on Facebook as being the go-to person for health insurance. My network grew from there.
Being licensed, I had to do a lot of educational courses on the American Healthcare System prior to stepping into this line of work. It was not easy learning the entire background of US Health Insurance. I am glad I did. My thirst for knowledge and my don’t take no for an answer attitude was the perfect combination and recipe for my success. I marketed to everyone. Technically, I can only retain healthy self-employed folks as clients. There are a lot of sick people. By marketing to everyone and being extremely empathetic, I learned so many tips and tricks on how to work the system by helping people figure out what I couldn’t help them with through what I had to offer. From the cheapest way to have a kid, to best practices for blood work or MRI’s based on what type of insurance policy you had. I learned everything. So I taught what I learned. I have worked for free. A LOT. In doing so, though, I have been able to build a referral based business and grow an extremely large following on several of my social media platforms. I was recently monetized on Tiktok.
I have spent the last four years paying it forward and humiliating myself online to make people laugh, educate, and bring humor to a very depressing and expensive topic. Teaching my kids along the way that you can win by doing the right thing. We can make a living by being honest and working hard. Just vibe high and it will all work out.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Here in Ga? Well first we would hit Sawnee Mountain to watch the sunset in the Indian Seats. The kids and I hike to the seats after dinner often to walk off the food and enjoy the view. It’s remarkable.
We would definitely spend most of the time in the city. Atlanta is life. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Orange County, CA. I moved to Georgia in 95. I definitely have my Cali roots but I am pretty southern fried.
From Little Five Points to the Tabernable. The old Masquerade where I used to party in Heaven at all the Raves. I would drive by the old Backstreet club that’s not there anymore. Atlanta’s only 24/7 club. You could literally get whatever you wanted at 9am on a Tuesday. Terminal West is an awesome music venue we would check out. If my friend is under 25, we will hit Buckhead.. lol
Centennial Olympic Park and the Chattahoochee River for sure. We would avoid Lake Lanier of course. IYKYK.
I really love Atlanta. From Outkast to the Dirty Birds. Atlanta United. I had all three of my kids ITP. Northside ATL. I’ve eaten at Waffle House with Usher and Whitney and Bobby were my bar regulars for years. The culture and the melting pot of backgrounds just makes the city such an amazing place. AtownDown. Atlien for life.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my story to my kids. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here. Literally. They are my shining light on the darkest days. Best thing I ever did. So excited to watch them grow and to see what they accomplish. I couldn’t be prouder to be their Mom.
Other: Pinterest : @HealthGuruHeath TikTok : @HealthGuruHeath Snapchat : @hnt0207