I don’t usually post when someone passes, but in reading of the tragic passing of our OG mom blogger, mama of blogging, I wanted to honor her memory.
Heather B. Armstrong, or as we all knew her as Dooce, is the reason for my career today. Not a word of a lie.
The year was 2006. I had just sold my company that had given me 7 ½ incredible years, and opted to stay home, in pygamas really, and nest for 3 years playing new mom. It was a break that I welcomed with tremendous gratitude and appreciation. It was a wonderful 3 years at home with my boys that I felt gave them the foundation and confidence to set them on their way (much like my own mother had given me).
Fast forward to September 2009. My boys were thriving and my volunteer work was wonderful, but not nearly stimulating or satisfying enough for me.
That entrepreneurial itch? Yah, it was back. Big time.
But what could I do?
One day at a mommy luncheon, I met a girl named Tracey. She introduced herself to me as GrumbleGirl.com, and told me she was a blogger. “A blogger?” I said. “What is a blogger?” She told me that she writes about her life online in a kind of unfiltered, unedited, sassy, online diary. Wow, I thought! My life isn’t nearly as interesting that people want to read about it, but this PLATFORM COULD BE. The entrepreneur in me was born again right then and there. My Oprah AHA moment. This could be my next business.
I immediately went home and researched BLOGGER, BLOGGING. I read everything I could find. I read that a mom blogger named Heather Armstrong and her blog Dooce.com was making almost $50,000-$75,000 a month in banner advertising and sponsorships.
This could be viable, I thought!
THIS COULD BE REAL.
In fact, the success story of Dooce.com was told and re-told in playgroups and Meetups. “It happened for that Dooce lady,” they would say. “It could happen for your blog, too.”
“For those of you that don’t know, Dooce had its origin in the late 1990s, when a young Mormon named Heather Armstrong taught herself coding and moved to Los Angeles. She got a job in web design and began blogging about her life on her personal site, Dooce.com. About a year later, Heather was fired for writing about her co-workers on the site—an experience that became known as “getting dooced.” She eloped with her now ex-husband, Jon, moved to Salt Lake City, and eventually started blogging full time again. This time for cold hard cash. By 2011, she had 100,000 daily visitors.” – The Atlantic
So back to the AHA moment. This blogging gig just might work! It could let me be creative, be my own boss, make my own hours, make money (I mean, I was a businesswoman first after all), and be around for our 2 young boys, age 3 and 6 year at the time. I could write my own rules! But what would the theme of this blog be? I couldn’t cook – I burn hard boiled eggs. No joke. I didn’t entertain or craft as elegantly as Martha, so a design blog was out of the question. I loved to travel, but let’s be honest, how often was I getting away with two young boys? So a travel blog was out of the question. I never wore makeup unless I was working, so a beauty blog wasn’t my thing either. But I was OBSESSED WITH OPRAH! Maybe a women’s empowerment blog! I had always mentored female entrepreneurs when I owned my company. I LOVED to champion women. A women’s inspirational blog. I see the tagline…. REAL INSPIRATION FOR THE MODERN WOMAN.
You see, I was already so stuck and on the fence about what to do with that entrepreneurial itch when I met Tracey, and then Googled everything I could about Dooce, that this theme made sense. I will document my journey getting off the fence and getting unstuck! I will also create a safe space and community for women who are stuck too– in all areas of their lives (a dead end job, a loveless marriage, in debt, feeling unhealthy and unfit.) We will take the leap off the fence together. I will find women – everyday women and celebrity women (I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT I WILL), to share their stories how THEY got off the fence too. We will all learn from each other. And I will call it WomenOnTheFence.com.
On September 11, 2009 I wrote my first blog post, and I knew I was home. I knew I had found my calling.
I later went on to speak at BlogHer and Mom2Summit, where Heather was also speaking. I told her that she was the reason I had made blogging my full time job. That she inspired me, and so many other countless women to share our truths. To share our dreams, our hopes, our successes, our failures. Because that’s how we find our community.
Rest in peace beautiful Heather. It was an honour to have been inspired by your work, to have met you, and to know all the people whose lives you touched. You certainly touched all of us mom bloggers. You were our idol.
My heart is with your children, and family and friends, who I know are hurting beyond measure right now. I hope you find the peace you were not able to find here on earth. Your absence will be felt. Gone too soon.