Heather Armstrong on Children, Acceptance and Making Mistakes
When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?Heather Armstrong: I fasten my Apple Watch to my wrist and enter the code to unlock it while repeating, “Can I do this again? I can do this again.”
TG: What gives you energy?
HA: Music. More specifically new music. I make monthly playlists of new music and listen to them in the car whenever I’m running errands. Being in my car is sometimes the only break from work and kids that I get in my day, and having a great tune on is often what gets me back on track.
TG: What’s your secret life hack?
HA: Both of my daughters have crazy, wild, unruly hair, so I braid it every night before they go to bed. The next morning they barely have to brush through a singe tangle. This alone has added years to my life.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
HA: The Warmth of Other Suns. Both of my parents grew up in the South during Jim Crow, and this book cracked open my whole world by shining a light on my upbringing and the upbringing of so many of my peers.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
HA: It sleeps next to my bed, muted. I’m far too attached to my phone — I have repetitive stress injuries in my right hand and arm from texting — but it is a lifeline to my children. I keep in on my body at all times because of them.
TG: How do you deal with email?
HA: I will never catch up with email, and I fully embrace this. Acceptance.
TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
HA: I’m vegan and make almost everything I eat from scratch. If I find a few extra minutes in my day I’ll use it to whip up a sauce or a dip in my food processor, something that I can use in a meal that day and store in the fridge for subsequent meals.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
HA: I feel burned out right now as I am packing my children’s suitcases. They will be spending the holiday in NY with their father, and while trying to meet several deadlines for work I’ve spent a week getting them ready and pretending that I am not totally devastated. It’s a delicate and exhausting balancing act.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
HA: Two nights ago after a really long day I snapped at my daughter because she wouldn’t stop complaining about piano practice. I was loud and angry and frustrated, and she fled the room crying. I should have held it together better than I did. I should have handled it better. After I calmed down, I sat down with her and apologized. And I realized that maybe it’s good for her to see me model the fact that when you make a mistake, you recognize that you have made a mistake. And that you try to do better next time.
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
HA: “People may call what happens at midlife ‘a crisis’ but it’s not. It’s an unraveling — a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re ‘supposed’ to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.” — Brené Brown
Heather B. Armstrong is a speaker, a best-selling and award-winning writer, a brand consultant, and a Trivial Pursuit answer.