UUFE’s Heather Grant talks about Catholic high school, her century ride around Lake Tahoe, the blessing and curse of home ownership, and life’s true gifts.
And her answer to one of UU liFE’s Five Big Questions is … a business plan.
Where were you raised, and how?
I was born in New Brunwick, NJ, while my Dad was getting his PhD at Rutgers. I grew up in Hartford, CT, from the age of 4.
My parents tried to raise me Catholic but it didn’t “take”. They weren’t really dedicated to the idea themselves and when their strong-willed child refused to attend church after age 10 (mainly because I didn’t want to wear a dress), they gave up. Later, I attended a Catholic high school and found a teacher freshman year who allowed me to question the church’s rules and express my distaste with the institution (without failing me) and still work within the confines of her class. I enjoyed learning about the differences and similarities in other religions and still do. Ironically, I am the only one in my family who belongs to any formal church congregation.
How have you made your living?
I currently work for a small publishing company in Annapolis. We put out a monthly magazine called Chesapeake Family, which is distributed mainly on the Western Shore. I’ve been there 8 years. I am the Web Director, which means I am responsible for the web site that is the companion to the magazine.
My undergraduate degree is in English/Journalism from the University of New Hampshire. I thought I wanted to be a sports writer until I experienced some gender discrimination while doing an internship for a local paper. I learned Pagemaker in college and went back to school for a Masters in Publication Design at the University of Baltimore.
What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve done?
I don’t think I’ve done anything remarkable yet. I am most proud of being a Mom and giving birth to my twins. We encountered some infertility issues (besides the obvious obstacle of being two women!) which made it hard to get pregnant. Ruby and Liam are a true gift to me and I am so proud of them every day.
Back in 2008 I did a bike ride which was a huge athletic accomplishment for me. I raised almost $7,000 and rode 100 miles around Lake Tahoe in support of the Luekemia and Lymphoma Society. My nephew is a survivor, so that meant a lot to me.
You just bought a place in Easton. What does your new house move mean for you?
The house purchase has been a blessing and a curse. It’s come with a lot of unanticipated expenses, which puts me in a hole financially (hopefully temporarily!). It’s the first house I’ve purchased by myself, so I am proud of that, and the kids really like being in town, so that’s been a positive. I’m not really attached to it yet and not sure if I ever will be. But that’s just the place I’m at right now. I’ve moved around a lot, so I don’t really get attached to places, if that makes any sense.
Yes. Makes sense. But do you have some favorite place?
My parents’ Vermont house is really my “home” and my favorite place in the world to be! We are getting together for a big party there in July to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary .
What’s the Next Big Thing for you?
Honestly, I feel like there are big changes yet to come for me. It has been a difficult time for me over the last two years, so I am hopeful that things will get better! I have some career burnout, so I am always thinking of some way that I can be my own boss, open a business or something that would give me more freedom and financial security. My kids have three more years of high school, so I feel like a lot is in store for them in the process of becoming adults! Very exciting stuff for me and them.
What would that ideal business and own-boss be like?
Not sure about the business thing. At times I get really burned out from what I do now, but I realize that I have a marketable skill and expertise in this area. That being said, the technology is changing all the time and I fear that ten years from now I won’t be up on the technology or able to sustain myself in web design.
A while back I put together a business plan for a self-serve dog wash. We used to visit one when we lived in Connecticut, and I thought it would really thrive around here. There is one in Annapolis that even has the coffee shop aspect built into it. Alas, someone in Easton got to it first (the pet supply place over by Giant has 3 tubs), and they are charging a lot less than I would!
I think about opening a small cafe or coffee shop that does a really good breakfast and sandwiches, but I know the risk and work associated with those types of businesses. The short while that Dixie and I ran her brother’s farm in Trappe cured me of that idea! Anyway, I am always thinking – that’s what it comes down to.
How do you serve UUFE and why?
I serve UUFE in a capacity that make most sense for me – designing the monthly newsletter. I cannot help the congregation as much as I would like to financially, so it makes sense for me to give my time. I get so much from UUFE in return. It’s my family, my community and my spiritual home.