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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 (Isn’t the concept of the “open letter” about as outdated as hammer pants?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?”

MY ANSWER: HEATHER ARMSTRONG FROM DOOCE.COM

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

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Your mom loves you. That is one assurance you should never ever doubt.

Even when I’m shouting at you. You should consider my out of control rants as me just having a hard time controlling my overflowing fondness of you. Actually, I yell at you because you sort of drive me completely and totally insane at times.

Jaycee winter walk

Jaycee winter walk

But, even during our most trying times together, I am happier with you next to me than I ever am without you.

I know you look to me and your dad for guidance and you probably question whether or not we know what we’re doing.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: we don’t.

Ready to conquer the world...starting with grade school

Ready to conquer the world…starting with grade school

You likely wonder if we even know what it feels like to be your age. Honestly, I can’t remember how it feels to not have grownup responsibilities. Don’t take that statement the wrong way. I know you have a lot on your mind too. My preoccupations are simply different than yours.

I know that my parents were/are always there for me and so I’m trying to do the same for you. I feel like I can talk to you about anything and my ultimate wish is that you always feel the same way about me.

If I get only one thing right on this parenting journey, make it be that you know you can come to me with whatever’s on your mind both now and forever.

Your memories make me smile

Your memories make me smile

Your dad and I both work to save up money for living expenses, extracurricular activities, vacationing, college tuition, and ideally, retirement. After working many years doing what I thought was right in terms of career pathing, I decided to find work that was more right for me…for us.

That decision was difficult for me, but I was tired of being tired around you.

Even though there will always be people who show up to the office before I do and those who will stay well after I leave, I still feel guilty for not being with you for nine of your waking hours. But at least now I can explain to you why I do what I do and feel like you get it.

I don't want to miss a moment of you growing up

I don’t want to miss a moment of you growing up

No longer do you need me to tend to your every need. To constantly wipe away your tears or bandage your scraped knees. You just need me to be a role model.

There will be times when I fall short of that massive responsibility. There will be times when the table is turned and I look to you for inspiration. There will be times when your dad and I will sit back, look at each other, and have a mutual and profound pride for what we brought into this world together.

Know that we are trying to ace a test for which there is no study guide. We’re searching for treasure without the aid of a map.

We’re no experts. We simply love you. Always.

Written by Heidi Woodard

Don’t sell yourself short

October 28, 2013
It's yours to shape.

It’s yours to shape.

I know this post will resonate with at least one of you. You know who you are. Right now, as you read this, you are battling with a tinge of self-doubt. You’re wondering if your life is on the right path either professionally, personally, or both.

I recently received a text from a friend of mine who is trying to decide if she wants to find a new job. Her message read something like this:

“Looking at jobs in (her field of choice). There is nothing that I’m remotely interested in or that I feel completely qualified for.”

My friend has worked in the same field for over a decade now and has fallen into the mental trap that latches on to so many of us.

It’s the trap that makes you believe you need a certain number of years of experience in the same generic career path to be deemed valuable: X years of experience = Y in terms of value (And that, my friends, is the closest I’ll ever get to using math in my blog.)

I challenged her to remember how she felt straight out of college when she knew with 100 percent certainty that she had something to bring to the table without having years of experience under her belt. How exciting it was to learn a new skill set, to understand the complexities of meshing into a new team, and to confidently feel like she added value.

If you were to ask me what I personally bring to the table, my younger self would have listed strengths in terms of learned skills/expertise:

  • Journalism, reporting, writing, editing
  • Designing, branding, marketing
  • Captaining a team

Ask me the same question today, and I naturally answer in terms of innate behavioral strengths:

  • Storytelling, creativity
  • Brainstorming, influencing, humoring
  • Leading

Being the new kid on the block is always scary no matter what stage you are in in your professional career. However – if you’re like me and you prefer a little variety in life (e.g., you’re not afraid to be viewed as the pupil learning new things, you honestly enjoy meeting new people, and you like expanding your knowledge base) – then don’t limit yourself to only those jobs that match-up on paper with your educational background.

I told my friend that when I changed jobs, I considered these qualities to be my top strengths:

  • Leadership (ironically enough, I never thought I’d enjoy managing people until I was given the chance to guide and learn from an awesome team)
  • Ability to empathize
  • Willingness to outreach
  • Nun chuck skillz (in honor of Napoleon Dynamite and because I wanted to make her laugh)

Don’t sell yourself short. You may not have the exact skill set that a potential employer is looking for, but I’ve learned that people who are like my friend are often few and far between. If you are a team player who values others over yourself and is always willing to lend a helping hand, there are companies out there who desperately want you.

Written by Heidi Woodard