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Meet Heike Vogel - A Woman on Fire!

By Pam Nochlin

This inspiring collection of 21 true stories pretty much covers all of life’s trials and tribulations; growing up with an alcoholic parent, being adopted, going through a divorce, getting over an eating disorder, addiction and phobias and helping a child with learning issues.Each woman not only shares her personal journey of surviving these ordeals, but describes how she has gone on to thrive, breaking through the heartache and misery of former lives to create lives of freedom and peace.

The book’s first story is written by Heike M. Vogel an attorney with her own practice in NYC. What makes this story even more personal for me is that I know Heike. Heike has come to many of my Thrive Professional Women’s Group events over the years. At these events, Heike was always friendly, bubbly and outgoing. But as in most networking situations there isn’t time or it’s not the right environment to have meaningful conversations.

However, after my last event we wound up leaving together and had a chance to talk. She asked how Thrive was going and I mentioned that I had been reading and reviewing books that women have given me as a way to share them with members of the Thrive community. Then she told me that a story of hers had been published in the book, Women on Fire. She asked if I’d read and review it and of course I said I’d be happy to.

She sent me the book and Heike’s was the first of the 21 stories and I was immediately taken back to Heike’s childhood in a tiny town in Germany. While I know each of us has faced obstacles in our lives, I wasn’t prepared for Heike’s story and all that she had to overcome. Hers is the ultimate tale of telling yourself, “yes you can, yes you can,” and then making it happen.

Heike not only grew up with a father who was a violent alcoholic, which is horrific enough, but then she had to deal with the tragic and devastating loss of her older brother, when she was just 15. Her brother, the person she most looked up to was also her protector. He didn’t just shield her from their father’s violent outbursts, he also told her that he believed in her and would also offer words of encouragement. When her father told her she’d always be a failure, her brother would tell her that she could do anything she set her mind to. Then he was killed in a car accident and she was left alone with her mother and father and knew she had to get out.

Heike found a position as an au pair in New York for a year. However once she was back home she quickly realized she couldn’t survive in that environment any longer, so with only $200 and one suitcase, she went back to New York. She worked seven days a week as a bus girl while teaching herself English. She moved up to waitressing once her English improved and then enrolled in college. She constantly fought her father’s words that she’d be a failure and wound up graduating cum laude.

You can read the rest of Heike’s story and learn how she went on to law school, became a lawyer and then went out on her own. While Heike’s story is incredibly inspiring, one of the most poignant take aways from her journey is that she eventually forgave her father. She came to believe that his harsh voice is what gave her the strength and determination to become who she is today and that despite it all, she still believes we live in a friendly universe. Knowing Heike personally, it’s clear that her father was never able to kill her beautiful and joyous spirit and that is truly inspiring.

Heike's story is from: Women on Fire Volume 2: 21 Inspiring Women Share their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!) by Debbie Phillips

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