In The Rising Podcast

Episode 91 [Interview] Heather Hutchison, Author, Singer & Songwriter -Blind Since Birth

August 17, 2021 Bettina M. Brown
In The Rising Podcast
Episode 91 [Interview] Heather Hutchison, Author, Singer & Songwriter -Blind Since Birth
Show Notes Transcript

What a JOY it was to speak with Heather Hutchison.  We covered topics such as challenges of disabilities, fitting in and finding her voice through writing.

She is an award-winning singer/songwriter and author from Vancouver Island, Canada who has been blind since birth. She is the author of  Holding on By Letting Go, reached number 5 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for memoirs, as well as appearing on several Amazon best sellers lists.

I encourage you to hear her music, as her voice is such a gift!


Heather's Website, Instagram, YouTube, Author



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Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

Welcome to in the rising podcast. My name is Bettina brown, and this is the platform I've chosen to talk about living a life that's really in alignment with your future hopes, dreams, your goals, and what you envision for life, leaving behind shame blame, and the things that brush you down. And I like to start off by saying, I am not a licensed counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, but I am a healthcare professional life coach who really loves to figure out what makes us tick and how can we add value to other people. And one of the wonderful people I got to interview is Heather Hutchinson. She is a phenomenal singer songwriter and author, and she tells her story from her difference of being born blind and having to navigate the world in a different way.

Speaker 3:

So, hello, Heather,

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for being on my show today.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

So I did read your bio. It said you were an award-winning singer, songwriter and author from Vancouver island, Canada. Um, and it says you've been blind since birth and you have a brand new memoir out holding on by letting go it's an Amazon hot release. Why don't you go a little bit into your background and how you got it to

Speaker 3:

Writing this memoir? Yeah. So as you said, I'm, I started as a musician. I'm a singer songwriter and throughout the pandemic, I guess , um, I started writing this book because I just really wanted people to be aware of, I guess it kind of talks about two sort of parallel themes, one being my life as a blind person here in Canada and in Latin America. And then also my struggles with my mental health and how I eventually , um, it led to being hospitalized for psychiatric care during the COVID 19 pandemic and what that was actually like. And that's, there's

Speaker 2:

A lot of vulnerability in sharing your

Speaker 3:

Story. Yeah. Yes . Yeah. And so

Speaker 2:

What, you know, with something like this, what made you feel ? I feel strong enough to write a memoir and then strong enough to even talk, talk about it .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I was actually in the hospital when I first decided that it was something I was going to do and it was, I was laying awake one night and somebody was flown in by air ambulance, a patient , um , to a bigger center for treatment, obviously in critical condition. And after they arrived , there was a code blue. And I was laying there in my hospital bed, kind of listening to all this going on. And I started thinking about that patient's family and just like, wow, their family, their loved ones must be going through the worst night of their lives right now. And I started thinking about my own family and realizing how can I have so much compassion for this person's family while knowing that I want to leave my own family. And I realized that I was kind of being given this chance because I was, this patient was fighting to live and I was fighting to die and I kind of realized fall , would they trade their life from wine if I could. And I realized that I had to find a way to move forward and to try and do something good to help other people , um, you know, make something positive out of a really difficult situation.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes. And, you know, just to have the awareness of your situation in that moment is

Speaker 3:

Huge. Yeah. Yeah. With,

Speaker 2:

With that, you know, the person was fighting to live and you were fighting to die. Was it just a depression through the pandemic that things kind of , um, came to this standstill? Or do you feel like it was something that just was culminating year after year and produced itself last year?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it was definitely a culmination of things. I struggled with mental health probably since I was about seven or eight, we kind of saw the first signs, but back then, I think hopefully it's different now, but in the nineties it was kind of like, oh, you know, she'll grow out of it, which obviously, you know, it didn't happen. So

Speaker 2:

With that, you know, six and seven years old with your parents where, you know, now that when you're, when you're talking to family, were they a little more attuned to you watching these things in hindsight? Or did they feel like no, just she'll grow out of

Speaker 3:

It? I think in hindsight, yeah. They could definitely see that there were struggles. I think they were very surprised when the book came out at just how deep those struggles ran. But I think, yeah, looking back, they would say that they could see something. Okay. And

Speaker 2:

When you're talking to your family after they've read the book, was that like, did you have some sit-down tea time or, you know , longer conversation over dinner after that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. It was challenging because you know, you're writing about people who are still living, so you want to try and do that as respectfully as possible. So they did know that I was writing this book and I had conversations with each of them before it came out. And then when I was right around, ready to publish, I actually let them read it before it came out. And people were actually really positive. They did have a lot of questions. There were some big sit-down kind of talks, but I think they really understood why I felt I needed to do this. And

Speaker 2:

With that positivity, how did you feel after those conversations? Like what were you like this all like this relief off your shoulders and heart, or are you still carrying a lot with you, Heather?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. It was a huge relief. I think the book allowed us to have some conversations that were really things left unsaid for most of my life and conversations that really needed to happen. So it was a huge positive in that way, too, that, that conver those conversations were able to happen. No , I know this is , um,

Speaker 2:

A question that you may not know the answer to, but if you had not written this book, do you feel that you would still be carrying a heavier burden around

Speaker 3:

Family? Yeah, I think so. I think it gave me purpose and it gave me an understanding to really go back to the beginning and see, you know, on paper, how all this played out. And I think it gave me more compassion for certain family members who acted in certain ways and, and a deeper understanding of what they were going through at the time as well. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And that's, you know, you bring up a really good point, Heather, and that we all have a story. Right. And childhood and things that we're trying to deal with and cope with in different generations, but without real awareness, like what you had in that one day, there's limited change that's going to happen.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And when you said, you

Speaker 2:

Know, in , in your bio as well, that you're really big on bringing awareness to mental health , um, and disabilities as a person that lives in the United States. I know that we have very little services here. How is that really for Canada? How, you know, for your neighbors up there?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I can't really speak to the differences cause I don't really know what things are like there, but it's very true here. We don't have a lot of services for disability or mental health. They're really, for sure. Mental health, especially it's very reactionary. So I was in the hospital and I was talking to one of the psych nurses and she was like, you know, this is actually really positive because now you'll be fast-tracked for any psych supports you need in the future. And I was just like, why does it, it, like, it's such a shame that it has to come to this. And she was like, I don't think anybody here would disagree with that. So I think, yeah, there's definitely work to be done. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely. Um, and that's kind of a common theme with many people that I talk to is this reactionary view. And then tell me about this process of writing. So you, you were in the hospital last year, like how, I mean you published a book rather quickly.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So it , it w it actually came together pretty quickly. Like the editing part was the biggest for sure. But the actual telling of the story was especially the part in the hospital, just because it was so fresh. I tried to write everything down when I was in a more positive mindset, but still not far enough out of it that I forgot what I was feeling and thinking at at that time, because I really wanted people who haven't experienced it to understand what it is like to go through that.

Speaker 2:

And you have, you know, you're a musician, you're also a blogger. I read some of your blogs and this one line stood out to me, Heather, because you talked about self care. And that is something that I really love to talk about is taking care of ourselves, not just taking a nice bath, but you wrote, if we can define what self-care means to us. And if we are experienced enough to know the signs that we are spiraling, I like that because we may not know those signs of spiraling. How did it maybe in hindsight now, or in that moment for you, did you know that

Speaker 3:

You were spiraling? Hmm . I think, no, not, not really. I don't know. You know, if I look back on it. Yeah. I can see, but I don't think I really even realized, like, it was just literally getting through the next hour, the next minute. So I don't think I, at the time was like, oh, I need to do something about this. I'm really spiraling, but yeah, I can definitely see it looking back, which will hopefully help me going forward to recognize those signs a lot earlier. Yes,

Speaker 2:

Absolutely. Do you feel that now you would be

Speaker 3:

More attuned to some

Speaker 2:

Changes within yourself if you were feeling anything or thinking anything?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think absolutely. And I think as well, my loved ones are more familiar with what it was like to go through that. So sometimes if I don't catch it, they will even say something to me. Like, are you , are you doing okay? Do you want to maybe work on some of your coping things? Because I think you're spiraling a little bit. Okay. And then with that,

Speaker 2:

How do you take that now? Like, you know, are you more open to hearing such comments from your loved ones?

Speaker 3:

I think generally if they're able to catch it quick enough, because if I get far enough down, then, you know, you don't want to hear that from anybody. But I think if, if they catch me right at the beginning of it, yeah. I can take it positively and address it for the most part. I mean, it definitely takes practice. It's not something that you learned to do overnight, but , um , getting better. Okay ,

Speaker 2:

Good. Good. And so when I was reading your story, I was really interested because you talk about , um, you know, being in Canada and being in Latin America. And I was not really sure how you got to Latin America. What was that for?

Speaker 3:

Honestly , just pretty much adventure. I've spent as much time growing up as possible, kind of surrounded by the Latin community here in Canada. And I've always found them honestly, a lot more open and accepting of my blindness. So I kind of wanted to go there and be like completely immersed in this kind of acceptance and to go there and be different for different reason. You know, I grew up being the blind girl, but when I went there, I was the girl from Canada. Yeah . Yeah. Well, very good. And how long did you stay there a year? A year?

Speaker 2:

Did you stay with a family or did you, you know, what, what were you doing there?

Speaker 3:

I went with my partner. We moved around quite a bit. We did stay with a couple of different families. We were both working teaching English, so, yeah . Okay. Wow. So what

Speaker 2:

A nice adventure. Do you see yourself going back there again?

Speaker 3:

I really hope so. Yes . I would love to. I would love to stay for longer next time. Wow. Okay. Yeah, it

Speaker 2:

Is. It is , uh , it's nice to see a different culture and

Speaker 3:

How , um, how

Speaker 2:

Different culture believes, how , how they perceive us and how we perceive them. Yeah. I really liked that because in the way you mentioned Latin America , uh, so often you can just tell that that held a special place in your heart, you know ? Yes.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think it was the year that I was most me, if that makes any sense. Yes, yes. Now one question

Speaker 2:

I have because I, I , um, and this is not right, but I will admit my own fault. I, I wear such thick glasses. Like I have to put my eyeshadow on with my glasses on. I can't see. And I say, you know, if I don't have my glasses, I truly am essentially blind. I can't see. And I am fearful of losing my glasses within my own home and navigate it. But to, to think that you are blind and you traveled to another country, did fear and or anything of that whole, like, was that a huge part or were you just ready for this adventure?

Speaker 3:

I was really ready. I remember the plane touching down and it just felt like I was a traveler that had finally come home after being away for a really long time.

Speaker 2:

Well, that definitely sounds like that's a place.

Speaker 3:

Yeah . Yeah, totally.

Speaker 2:

So let's talk also about your music. I listened to a video. Um, think it was book of love. Oh yeah, yeah . Yes. And I heard your voice and I did gas, but my cat turned , he's like, what's wrong with you? I was like, she has such a voice where you, did you sing, you know, your childhood growing up or were you , um, kind of holding back for awhile ?

Speaker 3:

I did grow up singing quite a bit. Yeah. My first CD came out when I was 16, so it's definitely been something I've been involved in for most of my life. And

Speaker 2:

You said you're a songwriter also, what are, what are really your inspirations?

Speaker 3:

Hm . Um, so many different things. My story, the stories of other people I meet sometimes I combine the two, really just anything Mo mostly like human, like the human experience, I guess. Do you

Speaker 2:

Feel that you're , that you've already produced or are you going to produce some songs that kind of coincide with your memoir?

Speaker 3:

I think so. Yeah. I would like to kind of do a project that is sort of tied into that. I've been pretty busy with getting the book out and then promotion and everything, but I'm hopefully looking in the next couple of months at , at really spending some time songwriting and hopefully recording some things. Wonderful .

Speaker 2:

You also mentioned in your story that you're choosing life and you said that to me, and you said when we intentionally choose life , um, know that means you had a choice that was different. What, what would you do now? Like what are you doing everyday to stay in that intention to choose life?

Speaker 3:

I think it's really important to find a purpose and then define it everyday because I feel like every day I'm choosing that purpose and I'm choosing life again and I'm making that commitment every day.

Speaker 2:

And so I like the word commitment, right? Because in that commitment, it doesn't always matter how you feel, you stay committed because of that. They , you know, that it is important for what you're doing and your actions. What, what are you doing so far as actions to help with your self care , your physical and emotional, mental health care , um, pro going forward.

Speaker 3:

I make sure that I'm doing one thing every day that helps somebody else, because I think that's huge. Um, you know, it, it's such a self-esteem booster to be able to help somebody else. And it just, I think a lot of depression comes from not feeling valued. So I think if we can, or if I can stay in a place where I feel valued, where I feel like what I'm doing in the world is a value to somebody, then that to me is like the biggest self-care I can give myself. And that's,

Speaker 2:

I've heard that from someone else. It says when we change our perspective from ourselves to other people yeah. With that, what, what would you say to someone who's maybe , um, in the, kind of the depth , right. Some severe depression, you know, we don't say, just come out and talk to me. Um, or we also, like, you're not alone, but having gone through your experience, what would you have liked to have heard from someone?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think it's so true that we hear so much of, oh, you know, tomorrow is a better day. It gets better, all those things. And I think they're really not that comforting when you're actually going through it. So I think what I wish somebody had said to me was that one day you will feel joy again and you'll stop in a moment and you'll be so overcome with that joy. And you'll think to yourself, I would have missed this. And I hope you will stay for that moment.

Speaker 2:

I like that, that you would have missed this, that moment. And just hearing that, like, if you're having a moment today or yesterday, and do you stop to think you would have missed?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah. I still do. I remember the first time I did and I would say, yeah, like most days there's something that I, I think I would have missed this or, you know, Christmases or birthdays, all those sorts of things, kind of, you know, mark the passage of time and you kind of, wow. Like I would have missed all these things.

Speaker 2:

That was definitely very powerful because, you know, we all, we all have our ups and downs. Some of those downs are deeper for some of us than others. Um, and not everyone is choosing to not have life, but yeah , from my own experience with that moment of like, should I be here? I think your , your words of you will have missed this and , um, is really powerful because yes, I've thought that too. I would have missed it .

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

So you said also that people often don't feel very valued. How, how do you go about helping people feel valued?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's a tough one. And I think that it's a process to figure that out. And I was very lucky that I had such a clear moment in the hospital. Like, this is what you can do to help other people. I think it's always been a big part of my life because like with songwriting, you know, I would play a show and somebody would come up to me after and be like, you know, this song helped me through a really hard time. And I think that has given me purpose to hang on as long as I have throughout, you know, cause there's been a lot of years of, of struggle with mental health. Yeah. Yeah. And then how do you feel valued today? Hm . I think a big part of it is, you know, getting that support from family and friends, you know, the people that did stick by me throughout this whole experience and then getting emails and messages about the book and hearing that people are having conversations, these really difficult conversations around this book. And because of this book, it's like, yes, like there was a reason that I had to stay because somebody had this conversation and maybe they wouldn't have otherwise. Right. Right. All right.

Speaker 2:

I want to ask you this question and then we're going to finish up. What would you say are your three successes right now, right now? Um,

Speaker 3:

I would say my albums being able to record having the freedom to work independently. And one more, I guess the book. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. That definitely is a culmination of so much.

Speaker 3:

It sure is. And

Speaker 2:

What, you know, cause then my podcast is called in the rise .

Speaker 3:

What are you studying ? Looking

Speaker 2:

Forward to rising up to, what is your future hold? What are you in, in envision?

Speaker 3:

I would love to travel. I would just love to live life with less fear. Yeah, I would too. I think most people probably do.

Speaker 2:

Yes. Yes. Wow. And so I absolutely appreciated and enjoyed this interview with you. I am so grateful for your time and I will have a link because I do , I have to tell you, I feel like you have an angelic voice. Like it's just as not feel like it's from this planet. Thank you . It's such a gift. And just to hear your song, you know, going through it's , it's almost listening to your , your voice is like, you're not even sure. Um, if that you're, you're, you're blessed even hear it. Thank you. Very nice. And so I'm excited for your book to be out. I know you're doing wonderful things and you've definitely touched my heart today just with your answers and your time. And I'm so grateful. Thank you so much,

Speaker 3:

Heather. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2:

After listening to Heather's story, it hit me that every single experience, even the ones that we call bad can really be around and just be a beautiful gift from the lessons that we've learned to other people, including ourselves. So if you enjoy this podcast, please leave it a five star review. And so that we can just share it with more people and make it valuable to others. And until next time let's keep building one another up.