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Every time I give a talk inside a large corporate women’s group, I am always—ALWAYS—asked about women who uphold the patriarchy. Or as they’re more colloquially known, Queen Bees.
I have read so much research on this, and women who have experienced it aren’t imagining things. But it tends to be an outgrowth of a zero-sum workplace, where one woman will succeed to the highest levels, creating a scarcity mentality. All the research I’ve seen shows that when multiple women are on boards or C-level management, the behavior basically goes away.
My birthday is December 29. It’s smack in the middle of Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Making matters worse, I was the youngest of five kids. So every milestone was “been there, done that” in my family long before I came around. (My parents didn’t even help me decorate my first college dorm room. Which I only realized was weird when I saw every other parent tearfully doing it.)
I guess what I’m saying is: My birthday was pretty much always a disappointment. Even later as an adult, if people tried to make an effort for me, no one would show up to parties. I remember sobbing uncontrollably nine years ago on my birthday because friends and family mostly bailed on a dinner Geoff had thoughtfully planned. (Turned out, there was another reason for the extreme emotional reaction. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant with Eli.)
Newsletter editor Lily here.
It’s official: My little brother is a college student. It’s a day that we (but especially my mom) thought would never come, and now he’s living in a dorm room with a roommate who plays too many video games, signing up for the anime club, and probably pulling a few late nights to finish assignments he procrastinated. Ah, college kid life.
I’ve spoken in a few newsletters about my brother facing some social and communication processing challenges in the past, so I think we were all a little nervous about and intrigued by how he’d handle college life. Luckily, though, it seems to be going great.
We are in the final, insane, chaotic throes of planning the Chairman Mom Flee. Hopefully we will do a good enough job that you won’t see any of that chaos when you arrive and will simply be able to relax and restore and connect.
In talking to a lot of the folks coming and following some of the threads around the Flee, it seems a lot of us have had the sh*t kicked out of us in one way or another over the last 12 months. So based on your feedback, I decided to really up the self-care aspect of the retreat this year. (With our amazing speakers and the powerhouse women attending, the career-care part is well taken care of!)
Given my recent admission at how badly I’m failing at back-to-school motherhood, I felt like I needed to share a dramatic evolution: Some three weeks into the school year, I’ve finally got my sh*t together.
This didn’t seem like the week it was going to happen. Monday, we flew back from Europe and I had a big hole of momming and work and everything else to climb out of. I woke up at 2am Tuesday morning (thanks jet lag) and started my work day. I basically worked 15 hours straight before I ran out to grab groceries (Oh yeah! Kids need to eat!) and then ran to grab a neglected kid birthday gift and then ran to get my kids.
I own four copies of The Testaments. I pre-ordered the hardcover from Amazon the moment I could. I got the ebook, because I was out of the country when it came out. But because I hate reading on a phone, I also bought another hardcover copy at a train station in London—the first one I saw in the wild. “Better get two,” Paul said.
I devoured it in a few days. And it only took that long because I forced myself to pace it a little bit. In fact, when I posted on Instagram that I felt hesitant to start, Catherine finished my thoughts: “I’ve been holding onto my copy since it dropped, hesitant to start it because once I start it I will gobble it up and it will be done, I’ll have read it for the first time and I’ll never have that experience again.”
This recent thread on empty nesting has me thinking about something I think about a lot when I’m in the middle of something super stressful, uncertain, or seemingly unsustainable. I force myself to pull back and remind myself that this is the fun part.
Credit a 20-year career as a journalist. But universally the times that everyone successful looks back on and wishes they could return to are those hellish, chaotic, uncertain moments.
We all know a lot of this is revisionist history. The mind plays tricks on you, making you remember a hellish family vacation as the glory days, and the same with building a startup. I vividly remember a point I hit with my second book when I called Paul and screamed at him to never let me write another book because I forgot how awful that point was.
I’ve had a crazy few days. A challenging few days of tears. A few days that have also brought me a lot of happiness. And a few days that redefined some things in my life in pretty meaningful ways.
It’s also a few days that unexpectedly brought me to Rome—and to Italy—for the first time. I’ll get into all of that another time, perhaps.
I have spent a lot of this week walking around absorbing this phenomenal place and stunned that I’ve never come to Italy before. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t this. I would have come sooner if I knew. But on the other hand, I’m glad I never came sooner. I think this was the moment in my life that I was ready for Rome.
I am about 80% vegetarian right now, which shocks no one more than it shocks me. So I really resonated with something Shannon Downey posted recently on Instagram about the downside of the rise of Impossible burgers.
It’s certainly laudable that things that look and feel and taste like meat are getting more folks onto an eco-conscious plant-based diet. The problem is when these options take over the only “vegetarian” option on restaurant menus.
Yes, there are tons of folks who aren’t vegetarian because the love the taste of meat. But there are a ton of people—like Shannon—who are vegetarian in part because the feeling of eating animal flesh makes them queasy. And no matter what, if you are vegetarian long enough, you start to fall into this camp.