Stacey Vanden Heuvel

Answer one question or many - using words, photos or other media.

What has been your motherhood journey?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
Becoming a mother was more of a challenge for me than for most. I suffered miscarriages which were hard to bear, but made me appreciate the successful pregnancy I had even more. I had pre-eclampsia with my daughter, but we made it through. I had exceptional care for me and my daughter at Olmsted Medical Center. Even though my daughter weighed only 4 lbs., 3 oz., and I had a C-section, we were able to go home after 3 days in the hospital. The care was extraordinary. The follow up care continued to be much so that my daughter would feign illness just to see her pediatrician.

From the day my daughter was born, my husband and I have been in awe of the responsibility it is to raise her. I, more so than he, remain acutely aware of how much I don't know. He believes it will all work out; I worry and plan and protect and question myself a lot. He is probably right, but with all my eggs in one basket so to speak, I feel compelled to check on myself a lot. Am I doing all I can to help this child become an independent and contributing citizen of this world?

I find it interesting how motherhood makes you humble and proud at the same time. I have always been pretty humble. I came from a humble, hardworking family. I have been humbled by how little I know sometimes and how much help I need sometimes. The wonder that this child is though makes it hard for me not to let her shine. I am so proud. My Facebook posts are mostly about her achievements and her amazing self.

My daughter is beautiful inside and out. She cares about others, is creative and a people person, and is active in many activities. Currently she is in band, piano, 4-H, and Taekwondo. She also shows horses as I did when I was young. (She is better than I was though, and that makes me proud, too.). Spending time together with the horse at the barn and at the shows has been a great experience.

My daughter has a learning difference called dyslexia. We had a hard time uncovering it because she didn't flip letters around on paper and she seemed to do well in school. That's what most people think dyslexia is, flipping letters around. She knew she was different long before anyone did, calling it a writing problem. Teachers said she was bright, but was distracted and didn't apply herself. I learned to listen to my child and ask her tons of questions. She knows herself well. Initially it was really tough being a 7th grader with dyslexia. It's still tough being a high school student with dyslexia, but she has learned to advocate for herself with teachers and counselors to get the accommodations she needs. Learning to advocate for herself really came from helping others first; last year she testified before a state senate education committee about her experiences along with several others with dyslexia. The result was the passage of legislation for a formal definition for dyslexia in our public schools. It was a fantastic experience for her and a lesson in how helping others first can yield more for you in return. I am struck by how little I knew and how little most people know about dyslexia. And in my daily life I am grateful for so many inventions and contributions to our way of life by people who are dyslexic. Google "famous dyslexics" and you will get the idea.

I have had the blessing of a number of people (besides her parents) to be active in my daughter's life. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles--some living across the ocean--as well as some young women who may have become extended family for us. They maybe babysat at one stage, provided transportation, or served as a role model and companion. I believe it takes a village, and I so appreciate and love these girls who continue to be part of my daughter's life.

If I ask my daughter what she wishes other people knew about her mom, she says that I am always an advocate for her with her dyslexia, that I expect the best of and for her always, that I support her in her many activities (especially the horseback riding), and that I always listen to her side of the story and value how she feels.

I have a long ways to go on this motherhood journey, and I hope I can always live up to her expectations.

What are your proudest moments or accomplishments?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
Becoming a mother.
Graduating summa cum laude from college.
Being awarded the outstanding professional fundraiser for my professional association.
Seeing my daughter do well at her many endeavors including advocating at the state Capitol for a definition for dyslexia in schools in Minnesota. Also her Taekwondo and horseback riding achievements.

What experiences shaped you most?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
Being a mother is probably the most impactful and important to me. I have an amazing child, and spending time with her is the most favorite thing I do. Beyond that, my early days with my grandma as my daycare were very special.

What six words would describe your life?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel

What have been your favorite cars?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
My Mazda 323 hatchback
My Chevy Traverse

What have been your favorite TV shows or movies?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
Disney movies, Johnny Depp films, Shah Rukh Khan films, Johnny Carson, Harrison Ford movies.

What are you grateful for?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
I am grateful for my family, especially my daughter, my husband, my parents, my grandmother, my sister, my extended family...our family in Malaysia, our horseshow family, my many friends, my coworkers, my team at work, my community colleagues, my friends in Rotary. I am grateful for my home, career, community, list goes on. I am blessed.

How would you like people to remember you?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
Earnest, hard-working, loyal, making a difference, helpful, and a good hugger.

Which people had the most impact on you?

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
Comer said, "No significant learning comes without a significant relationship," or something like that. I have had several significant people in my life from whom I have learned: first, my parents, who taught me the value of hard work and service; next, my grandma who taught me thrift, cleanliness, many holiday traditions, when to work, rest, and soak up the sun in the front porch; several teachers who were also mentors and friends; of course, my husband who has brought his laughter and his extraordinary generosity to my life; and most important, my daughter who teaches me daily so many things about patience, overcoming obstacles, what a smile can do for someone who needs one, and in general what's most important in life.

Write one sentence about each decade of your life

Stacey Vanden Heuvel
I grew up in a small town in northwest Iowa. I have been fortunate to have supportive parents and access to a great education. I had horses when I was growing up which was a great hobby but also taught me a great work ethic. After attending a small private liberal arts college, I had an opportunity to travel overseas to Malaysia. I always have been interested in other cultures so Malaysia was a great country to experience many cultures living harmoniously. I returned to the United States after a few years of study and travel. My husband is from Malaysia, and we have been married for 24 years. The joy of our lives is our daughter who is 16. Another joy is being able to work in a field and organization that serves others. I am very blessed.

What have been your biggest fork-in-the-road moments or decisions?

What are some of your favorite photos of yourself?