I had the privilege of visiting my old college campus and presenting to a Feature Writing class on blogging.

It was a beautiful fall afternoon in Omaha, Nebraska. The air was crisp and led my mind to leisurely untangle itself from daily distractions.

Creighton University: Hard to articulate the impact of this place on my life.

Creighton University: Hard to articulate the impact of this place on my life.

As I walked down the same brick path I had traveled over 15 years prior to make my way from class to class, I reflected on perspective that only comes with age. A wisdom that reinforces something I had always known, but never stopped to fully appreciate. I was blessed beyond measure to have had the opportunity to walk this path, both literally and figuratively.

The brick path that has the power to take you places if you let it.

The brick path that has the power to take you places if you let it.

During my time on campus that day, I visited with both my former softball coach and my academic advisor – two people who helped me pave my way when I wasn’t yet old enough to grasp the weight that adulthood carried. Both pushed me beyond where I had falsely assumed my potential peaked.

Coach Vigness still teaching young ladies how to become better people in addition to better athletes.

Coach Vigness still teaching young ladies how to become better people in addition to better athletes.

When your academic advisor gives you such rave reviews, your first boss will forever refer to her as your "Aunt Eileen."

When your academic advisor gives you such rave reviews, your first boss will forever refer to her as your “Aunt Eileen.”

To see those two influencers after all these years and have a chance to absorb the enormous roles they played in shaping the person I am today is something I won’t soon forget.

Remembering what it was like to be young, carefree, and seemingly limitless.

Remembering what it was like to be young, carefree, and seemingly limitless.

Walking past the place where my husband and I shared our first kiss.

Walking past the place where I shared a first kiss with the love of my life.


I followed up that memorable day with an equally gratifying evening later in the week. Since launching my own GiveTheGameBack movement in January, I have watched the work of international speaker and best-selling author John O’Sullivan. His organization, Changing The Game Project, has positively impacted athletes, parents, and coaches alike, through education and training on how to accelerate positive youth development experiences, as well as critical life lessons along the way.

He wrote a book titled Changing the Game, which was released in 2013. In it, he talks about how adults are taking over today’s youth athletic experience. “We stream 10 year old baseball games to our offices, we buy $400 bats and $300 shoes, chasing the myth of scholarships and guaranteed high achievement. At a time when popular culture is promoting numerous self centered values, our children need sports more then ever to teach them about courage, discipline, commitment, and humility. Yet 70% of kids are dropping out of sports by the age of 13, most of them because sports are no longer fun!”

Let that reality absorb in. Three out of four children are done with sports before high school. As parents, do we not owe it to our children to attempt to understand why so many drop out? As a former athlete who knows how much sports impacted my life, I want my own kids’ experiences – no matter how long those experiences last – to be positive.

I do not believe having a positive experience is synonymous to having a winning record; rather, it is in the athlete’s capacity to recover from setbacks and stretch their own personal potential beyond what they believe is possible. As John so eloquently puts it, “In the real world, the most successful people are the people who are willing to fail (and try again) the most.”

John spoke to a room full of coaches and parents and delivered messaging that I know to be true, but see so many people (including myself) easily forget. According to him, elite athletes need three things to succeed, i.e., make the leap to higher levels of competitive play:

  1. They must love what they do.
  2. They must be allowed to own their experience.
  3. They must be intrinsically motivated.

Here’s a wonderful Tedx Talk featuring John speaking to a group in Bend, Oregon.

I’ve now talked to John on more than one occasion and am happy to say he is the proud owner of a GiveTheGameBack t-shirt and Steering Perspective wheel reminder.

The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be. -Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn


It’s been uplifting to hang out with so many great people as of late, men and women who have had positive impacts on me and countless others.Thank you for hanging out with me, by taking time out of your day to read these words. Have a wonderful week ahead and never forget about those in our world who are suffering. May we never take for granted how lucky we are to live in a country where we can share our thoughts freely.

Written by Heidi Woodard

First and foremost, Ms. Armstrong, I readily acknowledge that you probably don’t really care what it is I have to share with you. With over 1.5M Twitter followers and an online empire that dates back to 2001, I imagine you have this sharing-of-your-soul thing down pat and aren’t exactly out looking for reassurance from total strangers.

Yet here I am.

Not even sure why I feel the need to type you this letter. (Isn’t the concept of the “open letter” about as outdated as hammer pants? What can I say? I think they’re both worth resurfacing.)

I ran across this Tweet last week and then watched your 19-minute talk that it linked to on YouTube.

Heather Armstrong

It’s taken me a few days to articulate how hearing your words made me feel.

I participated in a Q&A session back in 2011 with other local “celebrities” (if you squint long enough while staring at me, I morph into someone others could possibly consider influential, as long as the A-listers and B-listers are already booked that is) while helping to raise money for a local nonproft that strives to serve homeless and at-risk youth within my community.

One of the many questions posed was “Who would you like to meet and job shadow for a day?”


I went on to explain how I admired your free spirit and unfiltered writing. How I thought it would be compelling to see how you balanced your creativity with your career.

I sometimes questioned the level of depth you revealed, simply because I couldn’t ever picture myself spilling out so much with my friends and family (or even perfect strangers for that matter). I can’t say I always agreed 100 percent with your opinions. Yet I respected you time and time again for bravely and honestly standing your ground with whatever you believed to be true.

Your personal battle with postpartum depression had the power to rob your heart and mind. By sharing your demons, you no doubt freed many others from theirs.

Your innocent, lovely girls and devoted dogs made me smile and I cheered for your entire family. You were living the life we all hoped and dreamed was possible.

And then 2012 happened.

You and your husband’s trial separation period was a little too raw for me to read about. I felt if I continued to gawk at your personal struggles, I was no better than the nosy neighbor who sits out on her porch shooting judgmental glances at unsuspecting passerbys.

I remember one of the final posts I read described you staring down at the dog leash you were holding in your hand and knowing that if you wanted it to (and you assured us all you did not), that leash had the power to make everything go away.

In your talk about why you are now choosing to walk away from sponsored content writing, you serve as the crystal ball into which so many of us mommy bloggers yearn to gaze. We all start off with two things after all: a love of writing and a desire to share our parenting reality through our own life’s lens.

The funny thing about mommy blogging, however, is that we all think we want to reach as many readers as possible because volume typically equates to popularity and opportunities. But, at the same time, we are wary of the fact that earned readership and opportunities may come with unintended sacrifice and consequences.

I guess, more than anything, I wanted you to know that I believe you and Jon started off on this journey together for all the right reasons. I imagine your sudden rise in fame took you both by surprise – equal parts thrilling and terrorizing. I bet you collected a handful of really sentimental memories together with your girls through your professional blogging that you wouldn’t trade for the world.

Knowing you have also felt completely torn apart as a result of your decisions, especially the gut-punching sense that your girls were included in the massive pile of collateral damage, well that’s something that no mom would ever wish on another.

You may have decided to turn a different direction on the professional path you are paving, but know this: You are still teaching all of us who have followed you for any portion of your journey. And for that, I wanted to thank you.

Read about Ms. Armstrong’s journey here and here.

Written by Heidi Woodard

I don’t know about yours, but my kids aren’t perfect. They are, after all, a mixture of me and their dad, who both possess several flaws of our own.

They all play sports. My husband and I love to watch them play, but up until this past year, I didn’t really tell them how much nearly enough.

You know what I have told them? I let them know that I thought they should have caught a pop fly or stopped a line drive. I told them how many more rebounds they could have had if they would’ve properly boxed out their opponents. I asked them time and time again what is your position in football technically called? (seriously, a half dozen years have passed by with me watching them, and I am still clueless when it comes to understanding the sport I never played)

Look, statistically speaking, the chances of your kids or my kids playing sports beyond high school are not high. Just read the information put out by the NCAA if you don’t believe me.

However, if you want to try and help your child enjoy their sport as long as possible (maybe your little super star does have what it takes to play on a high school varsity or collegiate team), here’s some solid advice for you…

For over three decades, Rob Miller and Bruce E. Brown of Proactive Coaching LLC studied and interviewed college athletes – specifically, what (in the athletes’ own words) happened to them growing up that had negative repercussions on their sporting careers versus, conversely, what built them up on their paths to success.

Student-athletes overwhelmingly answered that the most negative response from their parents took place on the car ride home, when the youth were trapped in the same space as their well-intentioned parents offering ill-timed advice to them after the competition was done.

What was the single best thing these athletes reported hearing over and over again from their parents? Six simple, yet powerful, words: I LOVE TO WATCH YOU PLAY.

If you are like I am and sometimes need a reminder to control your own overly competitive spirit (especially following games) consider picking up a new product on GiveTheGameBack.com called the “Steering Perspective” wheel reminder. You can affix this velcro, soft fabric signage around your steering wheel as a visual cue to enjoy the car ride home…or at least control your urge to correct your young athlete on each and everything they did wrong.

Order your "Steering Perspective" wheel reminder today for you or someone you love. Twenty five percent of all proceeds from now through December 31, 2015 will go to All Play Sports Complex.

Order your “Steering Perspective” wheel reminder today for you or someone you love. Twenty five percent of all proceeds from now through December 31, 2015 will go to All Play Sports Complex.

steering perspective flat

***Twenty-five percent of all proceeds from the sales of this product from now through December 31, 2015 will go to All Play Sports Complex. Read this article to get more information about this fabulous organization in Omaha, NE, that provides barrier free access to sports and other recreational activities for people with physical or mental disabilities.

This video is pretty cool too.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Those who regularly follow my ramblings know that I don’t do a lot of product promotions. In over three years, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve posted about my experiences with companies via MaternalMedia: Fanatics, Great Wolf Lodge, and Freshly Organized come to mind. I only agree to blog promotional stuff when I think my followers will actually be interested in reading it…plain and simple.

**Upfront Disclaimer** I also tend to want to promote companies who not only fit this criteria, but can also help me escape my off-hours job of uncompensated shuttle service for my kids, get me out of the house to reunite with friends over wine and hors d’oeuvres in a peaceful place, and offer me a chance to win roundtrip airfare tickets.

Enter Travel Design Lounge (TDL) stage left!

TDL signage

Frequent travelers are likely already familiar with Travel and Transport, the 5th largest travel management company in the United States. Their company has launched a new venue in Omaha, Nebraska, centered around a fresh concept when it comes to traveling – allow the destination seeker a space to become inspired.

I was lucky to attend an event with other wonderful bloggers in my city to learn more about what TDL offers.

From people who already know where they want to go and what they want to do when it comes to vacation planning, to people who want to get a taste of and feel for sample destinations before making a decision, the friendly TDL trip advisors are there to help you along the way.

I guess I represent their “non-worldly demographic profile” (a category I just made up) because the farthest I’ve ever drifted is Jamaica. In terms of continental US destinations, I’ve seen a lot of places through corporate travel and sporting tournaments. Put it this way, when my dear friend Judy Daniell posed the question, “Have you ever thought about having a book club onsite and then working with readers to plan a destination trip to the city featured in the book?” I sort of wanted to retreat back to my inferiority cave of existence.

But, instead, I just kept drinking my nice sparkly glass of wine.

TDL wine

Guys, their storefront is beautiful. Located in the Shops of Legacy off of 168th and Center, it is pretty easy to find…even for non-Westies like myself.

This was my initial assessment of the place within 10 minutes of arriving and hearing the event hosts talk:


I can envision my sporting family friends meeting together here to experience a night of food, drinks, and laughter while discussing destinations to hit up while on the road living vicariously through our offspring.

I can already hear the dads starting to groan, my husband leading the charge. To that initial reaction, I counter with the following…

TDL bar

A night of travel planning discussions with the ladies suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Within the TDL, there are several collaboration spaces where you can either talk one-on-one with a trip advisor or gather with your family and friends to share ideas. There are also in-store technology tools at your fingertips in case you want to research every step of your journey.

Here's a pic of Judy and I planning a trip to Milan. (Who am I kidding?! We're just goofing around.)

Here’s a pic of Judy and I planning a trip to Milan. (Who am I kidding?! We’re just goofing around.)

Whether you’re in or out of Nebraska, I encourage you to follow TDL on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share travel posts and updates from your neck of the woods.

And if you’re in or around Omaha, if for no other reason than this, you must stop by and get a picture of yourself in front of their snappy tagline #gettripsy sign.

TDL tripsy

Below is everything else you need to know. Now GO!

Travel Design Lounge
The Shops of Legacy
16950 Wright Plaza, Suite 151
Omaha, NE 68130

Monday-Thursday: 9am-9pm
Friday-Saturday: 9am-10pm
Sunday: Closed

Written by Heidi Woodard