Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

Looking upward and ahead

Yesterday morning I pulled a bag out of the refrigerator containing mounds of chopped kale and spinach and began adding it on top of other ingredients in my blender. Marlo scrunched up her nose and with a mouth full of cereal yelled from across the kitchen, “Ugh. Again?!”

I had chopped up several heads of these greens the night before and added them to a food processor with the juice of several limes, an avocado, a bit of cilantro and some coconut oil. Marlo wanted to “help” so I let her add the greens each time there was room enough to jam more in. The end result was a very tasty green sludge packed with tons of nutrients that I can add to meals. However, Marlo took one look at the consistency and forthrightly delivered her judgement: “You better throw that away.”

I’d taken a look at my diet that I thought was serving me well, much like I have in the past year taken a look at my life. I realized that while I wasn’t eating processed food—that my plate was filled to brimming with healthy things—I wasn’t eating nearly enough vegetables, especially green ones. I wasn’t replenishing my depleted muscles with essential nutrients found specifically in those foods. I was counting on the protein in the meat I was eating to do that for me.

I am now consciously eliminating all the animal products in the my diet and turning to different sources of protein, vitamins and minerals. It seems like an absolutely insane thing to take on during what has to be one of the most pivotal points in my career. So much is changing and turning on its head, all at once. It’s like Chuck thought, well, if this much is changing for her, I might as well start urinating in my diaper at least four times a day. What’s one more thing?

I know you’ve noticed that my silence over here has started to span longer periods of time, and that has everything to do with projects I’ve taken on outside this space, projects that use a different part of my brain and require me to exercise different skills. I’ve enjoyed the change of landscape, the different sources of fulfillment. These projects have provided a much needed distraction from what many of us who have been doing this since most Vine stars were still an unfertilized egg in a womb are facing: a dangerous level of exhaustion and dissatisfaction.

By “doing this” I mean “crafting and sharing stories about the experiences in our lives.”

Everything has been reduced to a small square photo on a phone. Attentions spans are now 140 characters long, sometimes as short as a video or a picture that self destructs in a few seconds. I have stood in a line at a coffee shop and watched as seven people in a row ordered something without looking up from their phone. The quick fix is king.

Many of my colleagues have closed up shop entirely, and I have an insight and an understanding as to why they would make that decision. “Living online” for us means something different than it does for young college kids or professionals who spend their entire day on a phone or computer. For us it means inviting a virtual audience into our home—our very distinctly messy home that has not been styled for an Instagram photo—and offering them an honest look at our spaces, our relationships, our victories as well as our wounds knowing that in the process of doing so we help each other to feel less alone.

It has also in recent years turned into a peculiar livelihood that involves grueling and inhuman publishing schedules, hours spent on the phone with networks and brands trying to convince someone outside of the relationship with that virtual audience why something will or will not work, email threads about those phone calls lasting months on end. It’s a lot like a traditional desk job.

But what makes this livelihood glaringly different are not only the constant creative strains of churning out new and entertaining content—content we cannot delegate to anyone else because our audiences read our stories for our particular voice and perspective—but also the security systems we’ve had to set up as an increasingly more diverse group of people throw rocks at our houses with the intention of causing damage: passersby, rubbernecks, stalkers, even journalists. We have separate security systems for those who take every word and decision we share and deliberately misinterpret it, disfigure it to the point of it being wholly unrecognizable, and then broadcast to us and to their own audiences that they have diagnosed us with a personality disorder.

“Living online” for us looks completely different now than it did when we all set out to build this community, and the emotional and physical toll of it is rapidly becoming a health hazard.

Many friends who know about all the changes in my life have asked, “So, what will happen to dooce®?! Will you shut it down? What is your last post going to say?” And I always stand there and shake my head. I have no intention of shutting this space down. There are too many memories in these pages, and frankly, I still like to write stories. I still have a few contracts that I need to see to completion, and I will continue posting here. But eventually I’d like to get back to the reason I started “living online” in the first place: writing for the love of it, writing when the story inside is begging to be told.

I’ve been counting on this “meat” for far too long to replenish a set of muscles so dangerously depleted that I’ve had to turn to different sources of professional fulfillment.

In the last few years these sources have become so numerous that I decided to start a new company to house and manage them. It’s called HBA Media, Inc., and today its website is going live: http://www.heatherbarmstrong.com

hba

Holy crap, I look just like my mom.

This site was a project all its own, and I could not have done it without the help of the design company ALSO (in particular Jenny Volvovski), and developer Brett Burwell of Static Interactive who both lived through the upheaval that happened when I became a full-time single parent. They may have one or two or ten email responses that include some variation of, “My kid is sick again, working on finding backup.” I have so much gratitude for their expertise, advice and patience.

I also have to thank copywriter John Bray, first, for his forgiveness, and second, for jumping in to help me when I realized that writing about myself in the third person made me feel as gross and dirty as a politician getting caught sending unwanted photos of his bulging boxer briefs. His eye for detail has been crucial in seeing this endeavor come alive.

And finally, thank you. You’ve been here in my home with me, some of you for months, others for years, some even the entire time. Thank you for being here on this journey with me, my girls and my dogs. I hope you’ll stick around for the next chapter which, let’s be honest. Given the archives here, what unfolds next will twist and swerve and swing through the trees. And it all starts with a trip to the White House this weekend.

  • Go and rub some famous elbows .. you deserve it. And then save a hug or three for me in AZ next week, I owe you a cocktail for sure.

  • Suebob

    Mazel tov!

  • Marissa

    I have also had unexpected and challenging changes over the last year, some good, some bad, but all part of the “journey,” right? I am excited to follow you into your next chapter and happy to know you will continue to write here. Cheers to change, you and all the strong women here evolving together.

  • Dee Bundy

    I literally had a pit in my stomach the whole post, feeling like I was being gently dumped with the online version of ‘its not you, its me’. I’m grateful that you aren’t kicking us all out of your home just yet and mostly just eternally grateful for letting us all in in the first place. I’ve been here since almost the beginning and can’t honestly explain how much your sharing, your humor and your hurts have helped me with mine. Much love for this next chapter, Heather.

  • Paula

    I could not have said it better, Dee.
    Best of luck with your new endeavor, Heather. You are a tremendous person and I truly wish the best for you and your family.
    PS. The photo of you is stunning.

  • Lora

    I couldn’t love you any more if I tried.

  • Sounds like an exciting new journey! Can’t wait to hear about (or maybe not?) your new chapter!

  • carrie

    So wait, do we have to move over to the new site’s blog? Or is that just for your additional ventures?

  • BRB, crying. (edit: like, a good cry. This will be the end of an era but you can always tell when these things are on the way.)

  • Monica

    I’ll follow you anywhere. I just can’t quit you. Congrats and much luck on the new endeavor.

  • Carmen

    It may be trite but the only constant is change. I hope this change feeds you in every possible positive way. Good luck with it all!

  • Jen Wilson

    Congrats on your new endeavour! I also had an “Oh crap, please don’t go!” feeling while I was reading this so I’m so glad you’re not leaving this place, but I’m also excited for you in what is to come. Good luck!!

  • kmpinkel

    Okay , so my eyes started leaking. I have felt the winds of change coming, maybe it started with Chuck’s seizure, regardless when it started, its here. It feels a bit like high school graduation, or a summer romance at the end of August. It was before Leta was born that we began having our morning caffeine together. Many times while I would read, it felt like you really were at my table. I love to read your words, go on your adventures with you that you so eloquently took me on and you have always been so kind to us voyeurs. So, thank you for being a friend and sharing.And unlike that summer romance, I know we will get a postcard now and then. By the way, your hair looks fantastic! I am pretty sure you think your mom is pretty damn beautiful, so what does that make you? Oh! And one more thing-we better see a picture of you from the Nerd Prom!

  • Mrs. Kennedy

    I feel like you’d look more like your mom if you were covered entirely in Avon products. P.S. It takes a lot of guts to evolve. Even the valedictorian has to start over sometimes. xo

  • Buster Brown

    Ditto what Dee and Paula said. I am very happy for you, and look forward to witnessing your future successes. Been here since the beginning, and I’m not going anywhere. Tell Sarah Keonig, HI!, this weekend.

  • LuluinLaLa

    I’ve been reading since 2004, and had my own blog from 2005-2010. I stopped blogging when the landscape changed from celebrating storytelling and community to being centered in monetization. Yours is one of the few blogs I still read that reminds me of the old era. Everyone has an Instagram but very few can write the way you do. I hope that continues to be celebrated and shared in some way.

  • Jaime Derringer

    FUCK YEAH HBA!

  • alexandra

    So relieved, it’s not good bye. I’ve been here many , many years. Good luck to you, Heather.

  • Diana

    Perfectly said. Been with you since I was a sheltered highschooler in my parents’ basement through all of the transitions of college, and into my first five years of my professional life. Your long stories were always my favorite. Few, if any, things make me laugh as hard as your posts. You are an artist with words.

  • Kara

    Been reading since 2005. So happy for your new venture!

  • Kim

    Ditto. So glad this was just “a new project” and not “see ya, sucka!” 🙂

  • Kim

    The community you’ve built here is so incredible – your willingness to share with us over the years, and hell, the way you tell a story, have helped me remember why I love the blogosphere in the first place. I’ve always kept up with Dooce.com, even as I stopped reading elsewhere. I loved the Dooce Community, and I love seeing familiar faces in the comments section as I keep up with the lives of the Armstrongs. So looking forward to seeing what comes next!

  • Amy G

    I’ve been reading your blog since 2006. You were my very first blog. I started reading your blog before I actually even knew what a blog was. You popped my blog cherry, so breaking up with me is not an option.

    Joking aside, this blog isn’t just a casual read for me. It has been an important part of my life for the past nine years. Thank you for inviting us into your home and sharing your life with us. I wish you much success in your future ventures, but for completely selfish reasons, I hope you don’t ever leave this one.

  • Marie McDowell

    You have been a blessing to me. Thank you.

  • emdot

    Congratulations Heather! Great business decision. Will you make your new site RSS-able? I can’t add your new blog to my RSS reader. (Por favor. If you have time/inclination/etc.). Onwards and upwards! And good for you for not limiting your options.

  • melissa

    I found your site in 2009 (after baby #1) when I was deep in postpartum depression and no one else seemed as honest. Thank you for opening up your life for so long. Baby #3 is now 6 months old and I ran hard during pregnancy and postpartum to maintain mental heath. Im alive and thriving and your blog is a big part of that.

  • Courtney Brillhart

    I can’t seem to subscribe to the new blog – help?

  • Courtney Brillhart

    I can’t seem to subscribe to the new blog – help?

    I made this comment already, but can’t seem to find it…oops.

  • Lauren3

    Heather. HEATHER. Heather…

    Where do I even begin? I’m a little drunk so I’m going to keep it short. (omfg that’s the opening line of like 1/2 the yearbook entries I wrote in high school)

    You’ve lifted me out of dark spaces, made me think, inspired me to take TWO (not one, twooooo) big steps that have been the best things I ever did with my life. I am a better person because of you, and therefore because of this website.

    So I’m so happy it’s staying, of course. But I’m actually more happy that you’re taking control and leading your career in a direction that makes YOUR own life better. You goddamn deserve that!

    On board foreva,
    Lauren

    PS I lied earlier, I’m actually a little stoned

  • Jodi T.

    This gave me chills! Well deserved for sure!

  • Bookworm9798

    I’m happy for you, but feeling a little sad. I’ll miss y’all.

  • Ilyssa Russ

    Heather,
    I’m only 24, but I’ve been reading your blog since I was 16. You inspired me to change my major from Political Science to English Literature because of my love for the written word. You’ve been there with me throughout my undergrad and all of grad school. I got offered a Lecturer position in the English department at a University today–had I not read your blog, gotten to “know” your family, and marveled at the glory of your prose… I’m not sure where I’d be. Thank you for not saying good bye quite yet. <3

  • Ruth Sawyer

    Whoa. You has hair!

  • Jennifer Garst

    Heather, I have commented very little on anything you post, but I love your blog! I congratulate you on your future endeavors. I know this sounds very silly, but I love to share with people that the valedictorian of my high school class is a famous mommy blogger, and – by the way – I have a picture of her at my fifth birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese! (We were all so cute back then!) I didn’t think you looked like your mother until you pointed it out, and yes I can see it. But mostly you just look like the Heather I grew up with. I still remember the speech you gave about Nathan Hale at Elmore Park. You’ve come a long way, and I am so proud of you!

  • faithful_reader

    I was so nervous reading this! I don’t disagree at all with you or your decision (not that you need our approval). I’m so very glad to hear that this isn’t going away completely and I wish you much luck and success in your new adventures.

  • talonsage

    Yes, THIS.

  • Robert Boone

    You’re an amazing person. You’ve inspired so many (especially me) and will continue to for many years to come. I’m so proud of you. You helped me through the hardest time of my life. It meant so much to me. So looking forward to seeing you at baby George’s wedding. 🙂

  • Ashpdx

    Congratulations! Change is good. And that is awesome that you are eating more plant-based, I’m always happy when influential people get on board.

  • Heather Armstrong

    No, that blog over there is for more musings on work and much less on things personal.

  • Change is hard, but it is so damn good, and I love this. I have been cheering you on for over 11 years now, so, in keeping with tradition: go you!

  • KimFunk

    So glad you’ll still be around these parts. I shall peek in on your new adventures and see how I can tag a long for the ride. Or not.

  • theboldsoul

    This is FABULOUS news, Heather. As a 10-year blogging veteran and writer, I’ve also come to a point where I realize I need to “evolve, or die” in terms of writing — and since giving up my blog also does not feel like the right (or write) answer either, I’m in the process of figuring out my own next steps. (Plus a diagnosis of kidney cancer 5 months ago will kind of do that to a person, too.) I applaud your smarts and sure wish I could hire you to guide me with my social media plans… but maybe some day, soon. Best of luck as you move ahead, and it’s great to know that other long-time bloggers are in a similar boat. We’ll all still be here, your audience, watching your progress and cheering you on.

  • Rosemary

    Oh Heather. This is bittersweet. I’ve been reading for more than 10 years and … we’re happy that your career is moving, progressing. But gosh, it feels like someone is leaving. Thank you for not stopping writing… and for being upfront about changes. All the best on the new endeavours!

  • Ro

    Barmstrong 4eva x

  • mosprott

    yep yep yep yep…. Make it work, HB.

  • Heidi

    First off, a huge congratulations and good luck to you on these new endeavors! Very exciting! I think some of us long-time readers maybe saw it coming. A majority of us totally get it. Thank you for sharing what you have with us. I think so many of us have come to see you as a friend (I have actually relayed a story of yours to a real-time friend of mine but instead of saying “this blogger I follow,” I said, “my friend.” So, there’s that.). We love you and your family and have laughed and celebrated and cried and mourned with you. That is what your stories do – make us feel connected – to you, your kids, your dogs, your situation. I’ve related to you so much – with depression, health, motherhood, single-motherhood, etc. Reading your stories have helped me process and learn in my own situation. It’s an amazing talent and courage to share this life that can be so raw and brutal… and beautiful. So, I’m happy and grateful that you will continue to share your stories here. Continuing to wish you all the best.
    P.S. Your photo is stunning. You have really come into your own. It shows.

  • Eve

    woo-hoo!! Best of luck with all of your transitions and new challenges. Hug Chuck for me.

  • Beth Rich

    Yay! Rock on! We became single moms at about the same time, and you have inspired me continually ever since.

  • Sandy M

    Heather, Thank you for all that you have shared on this blog. You have made a difference in so many ways. I hope that this new adventure is wildly successful – in what ever way you define success!

  • Samantha Lyons

    i’ve been with you for the past ten years, since 17. you help us all more than you know (and watching your children grow has been a joy, and this is coming from someone who is NOT into kids. at least not yet.). excited to see where you go!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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