BlogHer Dreams: 8 Bloggers Go for Their Gold

6 years ago

What are your dreams? We talked to eight bloggers about their journey to reach personal goals.

Katherine Stone

The journey to fulfilling my dreams can be summed up in this one quote from author Annie Dillard: "I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck."

I always felt I needed to do something meaningful with my life but continually struggled to figure out what it was. Then I was struck with postpartum depression and I had this gut reaction—the kind that nags at you that you can only ignore for so long until you must act—that I needed to help other women. It's hard to imagine something so awful could lead you to your avocation, but it pushed me toward focusing my life on being a voice for suffering pregnant and new mothers.

That passion, and the motivation I get from bloggers around me who are constantly raising their game, has spurred me on over the last eight years to create the most widely-read blog in the entire world on PPD. The world! I marvel at the accomplishment so many of us have been able to achieve via our words, our creativity and our dedication. —Katherine Stone, Postpartum Progress

Stephanie O'Dea

I would not have been able to achieve my dream without blogging. I knew by age 19 I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I was in college and enjoyed my classes, but really only wanted to hurry through so I could get married and have children. I wasn’t interested in getting one of those “real jobs.” When reality set in that I’d need to work outside the home, I held my head high, but was miserable and felt like unset jello throughout most of my day. I spent my spare time reading business and success books and listening to audio tapes while at my desk. I answered work-from-home ads I found at the back of parenting magazines and listed on Craigslist. They were all scams.

In December of 2007, I decided to try my hand at blogging. I did a bit of precursory research on SEO and knew that I liked the narrow focus of a food blog. I joked with my husband, Adam, that since I didn’t really cook, I only knew how to use my slow cooker and I should write about that. On New Year’s Eve, 2007, A Year of Slow Cooking was born. I wrote every single day in 2008, and by April of that year had over 1,000 regular subscribers. This site now has more than 75,000 subscribers and receives 4 million pageviews a month. My online exposure has resulted in national television appearances, 3 cookbooks, a housekeeping shortcut book, and a job. I may not consider it a “real job,” but it’s a job nonetheless, and it allows me to do what I always wanted: stay home with my children and work in my fuzzy slippers. I am truly lucky. —Stephanie O'Dea, A Year of Slow Cooking

Claire Bidwell Smith

Ever since I was a little girl, my biggest dream was of becoming a writer and publishing a book. I realized that goal this year with Rules of Inheritance, and it has been the most life-affirming experience I’ve had to date. When pursuing something big like this so many people will tell you never to give up, but I did give up—many, many times. The real truth of my intention came when I found myself dragging everything I had back to the starting line over and over again. That was when I really realized how much this dream meant to me, and also how much strength and determination I really had in order to attain it. —Claire Bidwell Smith, Claire Bidwell

Kathryn Finney

One of my lifelong dreams was to become a great swimmer. I’m talking "Dara-Torres-Michael-Phelps-eight-gold-medal-level" swimmer. So at the beginning of 2012, I made a goal of learning how to properly swim -- from rhythmic breathing to doing those cool turns at the end of the pool while doing laps. I cut off most of my hair (big shout out to whoever invented the wig), bought two killer swimsuits from Speedo, and hired a swim trainer named Alicia at my local Y. While I haven’t quite mastered the "flip," I did discover a sense of empowerment that came from focusing on something that was solely for myself. And oh, I’m not I’m giving up my hope to make the 2016 US Olympic team (Dara was 41 when she won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics). —Kathryn Finney, The Budget Fashionista

Julie Ross Godar

It was never my dream to be on national television. In fact, the idea's always freaked me out. But I've been dreaming about Jeopardy! since it hit the airwaves when I was a baby know-it-all. You see, I forget names (and sometimes faces) of people I know—but by gum, I will always remember that Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel, Gutzon Borglum sculpted Mount Rushmore, and that Cary Grant's given name was Archie Leach.

I got a lot out of that hour when I was a competitor. I got to blurt the totally random and bizarre phrase, "There are many pies in the universe, Alex" to Mr. Trebek (referring to my NaBloPieMo experiment). I went home about $17K richer, and proved to myself I had the ovaries to go on national television. And I won my first game, and achieved my dream: I was a Jeopardy! champ. —Julie Ross Godar, Executive Editor,

Jaden Hair

One of the most life-changing things I did to transform and grow our business was so simple. I asked a better question. When I first started Steamy Kitchen, I had already envisaged a multimedia brand and a thriving business. For 3 years straight, I worked, traveled, and invested to build my dream business. It worked. However, the more successful I was, the less happy my family and I were due to the long work hours and travel. I was working ALL THE TIME and the airport lobby free wifi was my best friend.

I was asking myself the wrong question, "How can I build a thriving company?" and instead, I should have asked, "How can my business serve my family?"

That simple shift in focus—from dollar signs to family—changed our business strategy, goals and measurement of success. While income is important, it's not as important as level of happiness of every member of our family, even our dog, Coco.

We now have regular "Board of Directors" meetings at the family dinner table, attended by my husband, Scott; 7-year-old son, Nathan; and 9-year-old son, Andrew. Coco gets a treat under the table. Each of us gets an equal vote, and we decide on projects, travel, events and blog posts. We review our goals, income, expenses and create new plans together. It's funny how when you have to explain financial statements to kids, it becomes so much more fun.

I had totally expected our business to shrink, because my husband and I now only work 3 hours a day each, but it hasn't. In fact, the business has grown 3x what it used to be. I have a feeling that we now truly live a life of joy, abundance and love, the universe is nodding its approval and saying, "Go forth and prosper!" —Jaden Hair, Steamy Kitchen

Melissa Ford

Photo Credit: Mary Gardella

With publishing, it doesn't matter if you've achieved your dream several times. Every time you send that new book to the agent, every time you sit waiting to hear its fate, you get the same nervous pinch in your stomach. I imagine it is the same way for Olympic athletes who have already achieved their dream many times over but still face the same emotions every time they take that deep breath before their event begins. I have published two books—Life from Scratch and Navigating the Land of If—and I'm awaiting to hear the fate of my third while editing my fourth. And I still have moths fluttering internally at the moment. —Melissa Ford, Stirrup Queens

Sally McGraw

Ever since I was eight years old, I've loved writing. And although it was never my dream to be a "writer with a capital W," I always wanted writing to be integral to my career. So I got a degree in creative writing and dove headfirst into the workforce. There followed more than a decade of disenchantment and frustrated job-hopping, and I came quite close to giving up on writing-related work. It was at this point that a friend suggested I pour my passion for fashion and love of writing into a blog. Blogging didn't exist when I was eight, or while I was in college, or when I entered the workforce.

But through blogging and the support of blog readers, I've realized my dream of writing for a living. My blog made it possible for me to become self-employed, to secure work writing fashion features for the local daily paper, to teach classes and host events, even to publish my first book. I'm sure that some people would look at my workload and deny me that capital "W." But I write for a living, so I've realized my dream. —Sally McGraw Already Pretty

Rita Arens authors Surrender, Dorothy and is the editor of the award-winning parenting anthology Sleep is for the Weak. She is the senior editor for

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