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 in print.
I eventually grew into the weirdo who liked writing college papers. In 1990, I graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Sociology.
I met and married my husband a few years later. A few years after that, something big came along and changed everything: the Web.
My husband and I taught ourselves HTML and started designing websites. The Web was still new enough that if you searched Yahoo for “Web design” (Google didn’t exist yet), ours was one of only two companies that came up. This led to my first opportunity to write books. I wrote several how-to books about Web publishing, the most popular of which was Microsoft FrontPage For Dummies which went into several editions.
My husband went on to work at tech companies, and I continued to work at home and write. By 2003, we had two kids, and I was struggling as a new parent. The parenting books crowding my shelves gave me little comfort. A few left me feeling even worse about myself.
By then, another big Internet shift was underway: blogs. Early parenting blogs gave parents a way to find each other and share real stories about their lives. I felt like I’d stumbled into a secret community of kind, down-to-earth people who were going through similar joys and pains. I no longer felt so alone.
In 2005 I launched the Parent Hacks blog as a way to swap “worked for me” tips for simplifying life with kids. Parent Hacks launched me on a 10+ year journey with the smartest, most generous community of parents on the Internet. My readers + cohort of fellow bloggers were wise, funny, and encouraging.
Parent Hacks transformed my writing career from a solitary job into a vibrant, dynamic conversation. It gave me evidence of something I’d always believed was true: most people are helpful and generous when given the opportunity.
Few of us early bloggers knew we had kicked off a revolution in media and publishing. But soon enough, companies caught on and stars were born! Money was made! “Blogger” became a job title!
My work with Parent Hacks opened doors to video programming, media appearances, public speaking, international travel, and political engagement. I made new friends across the country. And I returned to writing books.
I joined my dear friend Christine Koh as co-author of Minimalist Parenting (Bibliomotion, 2013), a book about the “trust yourself and keep it simple” parenting philosophy we’d both come to in our different ways.
In 2014, Workman Publishing approached me about writing a book based on the Parent Hacks blog. I saw it as an opportunity to honor my readers and the collective generosity of the early parenting blogosphere. For the next year and a half, I worked with a wonderful team to sift through over 4000 blog posts and gather new material for a curated, illustrated guide for a new generation of parents. The result: Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life With Kids.
In mid-2016, Christine and I launched a podcast called Edit Your Life, an expansion of the principles we wrote about in MINIMALIST PARENTING. Our conversations were a weekly shot of connection and joy, and engaging with our kind, thoughtful listeners reminded me of the warmth of the Parent Hacks community years before.
In late 2016, my work unexpectedly veered away from writing. The 2016 US Presidential election results filled me with concern for the safety of my kids (all our kids) and the health 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 better understand 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 would eventually become a nationwide movement of concerned voters. I led this group for two years, organizing local meetings and events, writing essays and announcements, encouraging civic participation, and building a supportive, welcoming 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 group of new friends.
In 2019, I left online organizing in search of a more sustainable, relationship-centered model for democratic participation. I formed the Democracy Club Project with a group of friends — like a book club, but for democracy. We meet regularly to motivate each other as engaged citizens and friends (and eat brunch).
My kids are now adults. I’m a changed person in an utterly changed world. When I look at the Venn diagram of what I need and what the world needs, what do I see? How can I best show up here, now?
I’ve got a vision for how I want my next writerly iteration to look, and more importantly, to feel, not just for me, but for us.
In these confusing, difficult times, I’ve found something I was afraid I’d lost: hope.
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