About Asha Dornfest

Photo credit: Karen Walrond

Hi, I’m Asha. I live in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been a writer for 25 years.

The 1970s

My first published work was a poem in Children’s Digest when I was eight years old. I still remember the thrill of seeing my name printed in a magazine. It was the first time I thought of myself as a writer.

The 1980s

High school. Big hair. College. I was the weirdo who like writing papers. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

The 1990s

Marriage. Jobs. Then something big came along and changed everything: the Web.

My husband and I taught ourselves HTML and started a Web design company (the second of its kind listed on Yahoo!). I wrote several how-to books about Web publishing. One of these books was Microsoft FrontPage For Dummies, which went into multiple editions. I became a professional writer, after all.

The 2000s

My husband went on to work at tech companies, and I continued to work at home and write. By now we had two kids, and I struggled as a new parent. None of the parenting books helped me feel better, some made me feel worse.

By then, another big thing had happened on the Internet: blogs. For the first time, I could read peoples’ real stories about parenting. I no longer felt alone.

In 2005 I launched the Parent Hacks blog to swap “worked for me” tips and talk with other parents about what was really going on. Parent Hacks took off, launching me on a 10+ year journey with the smartest, most generous community of parents on the Internet. My readers and cohort of fellow bloggers were wise, funny, encouraging, and kind. My writing career was transformed from a solitary job into a vibrant, dynamic conversation. Parent Hacks showed me something I’d always hoped was true: most people are helpful and generous when given the opportunity.

The 2010s

Few of us early bloggers realized we had kicked off a revolution in media and publishing. But soon enough, companies caught on and stars were born! Money was made! “Influencer” became a job!

My work with Parent Hacks opened doors to video programming, media appearances, public speaking, international travel, and political engagement. It introduced me to new friends across the country. And it brought me back to writing books.

I joined my dear friend Christine Koh as co-author of Minimalist Parenting (Bibliomotion, 2013) which detailed the “trust yourself and keep it simple” parenting philosophy we’d both come to in our different ways

In early 2016, I wrote Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids (Workman Publishing) to honor the Parent Hacks community and the early parenting blog community as a whole. This curated, illustrated collection is a tangible memento of those magical years.

In mid-2016, Christine and I launched a weekly podcast called Edit Your Life, about making room for the awesome in your life.

In late 2016, I took an unexpected turn toward civic engagement and grassroots political organizing. The 2016 US Presidential election results filled me with concern for the safety of my kids (all our kids) and the health and integrity of US democracy. On November 9, 2016, at the end of my PARENT HACKS book tour (and with no political experience), I started an online community group as a place to gather with local friends to educate ourselves. We wanted to learn how to get involved in the political process to make our voices heard.

Within weeks, the group grew into the thousands and became one of the early outposts in what grew into a nationwide movement. I led this group for two years, organizing meetings and events, writing essays and announcements, encouraging civic participation, and building community. Together with other local groups, we made phone calls, wrote letters and postcards, interacted with our elected representatives, and got out the vote. I found myself surrounded by a remarkable community of new friends.

2020 and beyond

I left online community-building in search of a more sustainable, relationship-centered model for democratic participation. A group of friends and I formed a Democracy Club — like a book club, but for democracy. We continue to meet and support each other as friends and engaged citizens.

My kids are now adults. The events of the last few years have caused me to reexamine my values and revisit how I want to contribute going forward.

What’s next for me? To be determined. Till then, these are the stars I steer by:

Trust yourself. Be curious. Prioritize joy. Keep going.

How to Contact Me

The best way to stay in touch is to sign up for my monthly-ish letter.

Please note: I don’t work with sponsors, nor do I accept review requests.

Speaking at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon in 2015. Photo credit: Armosa Studios
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MY BOOKS

PARENT HACKS
Genius shortcuts and workarounds for parents.

MINIMALIST PARENTING
Enjoy family life more by doing less.

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