About the Author

Barbara Moses

Books by this Author

Career Intelligence

The 12 New Rules for Work and Life Success
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Midlife Women Tell the Truth about Work, Relationships, and the Rest of Life
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We Contain Multitudes: Our Many Roles, Many Selves

Manager, professional, mentor, mother, wife, volunteer, artist, friend, athlete. Never before have there been so many demands on women to excel in so many domains of life, so many opportunities for self-­expression and success, for disappointment and frustration. Our sense of self is nuanced, intricate, and rich. We derive our feelings of satisfaction from multi-ple roles.

Freud famously said: “Love and work are the corner­stone of our humanness.” If we augment “love” to include our friends and our passions and “work” to include paid and unpaid activity, this is all that matters. These are the issues we are particularly likely to re?ect on at midlife, a time of signi?cant opportunities and challenges when we take stock and ask, “What next?” and “How can I feel better about my life?” and re-­evaluate our priorities.

We have so many needs and desires. In my career/life-­planning workshops with managers and professionals, I am always aware of the different ways in which men and women identify and rank their values. The most striking difference is not in the values themselves or how they are ranked, although there are differences, but in how the lists are completed. The men “nish the exercise in a few minutes and move on to the next question. The women write the list. Then they erase it. Then they do it again. Disaster! Children ­aren’t at the top of the list! Guilt! Erase! Erase!

We want it all. We need it all to have a sense of a ful?lling life.

We all have unique needs, but we also have a lot in common. Each of our roles provides opportunities for a deep sense of satisfaction that supports important values and desires. Each also opens us up to disappointment and sadness. What mother is not deeply, viscerally wounded when her child tells her she hates her? What professional is not furious when her male boss tells her she is not a good team player or that she needs to toughen up? What woman is not exasperated that she has to choose between the great career and the great family life?

We wear our hearts on our sleeves. We are tender but can be tough. We lead interior lives, always on a quest, always asking, Is this all there is, is this how life should be, am I doing this right, should I make a change, is everyone in my care happy, how do I compare with others in my situation?

We use subtle vocabulary to describe our emotions. We are explorers of an emotional terrain quite foreign to the land of doing, acting, and achieving. The one thing we ­can’t do is segment our lives. If we are deliciously happy in one area, we are full of lightness. If we are hurt in one area, it spills over and colours everything else. A sharp word from a friend. A child’s rejection or failure. A boss’s criticism. A partner’s ennui. ­Don’t take it personally, we are told. But we do. We may get angry at our environment momentarily, but “nally we ruminate: What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? And we blame ourselves. “If I was smarter or tougher or a better partner or parent or professional, this ­wouldn’t have happened, or I would be better able to cope,” we tell ourselves.

Who are we? We are midlife women who have been doing what we’re doing long enough to know a few things about life and work. We are experienced enough to have perspective on ourselves, our work, and our relationships. We can be bitchy. We are sick of engaging in male-­pleasing behaviours. We are sick of pretending we are good girls. We are sick of putting others’ needs “rst.

We are also nosy. Very nosy. Am I thinking and feeling similar things to other women? Are they doing something I can do? This curiosity gives us insight into our own experiences and what we can do differently. It is how women learn.

We compare ourselves to others in all life arenas. We used to ask: “How did you do on the test?” Now we ask: “How are you doing at work?” “How are you doing as a mother?” “How are you doing as a partner?” “How do you feel about X, Y, Z?” In this way we can answer the critical questions: “Am I doing OK?” “Are my feelings — whether positive or negative — normal?” Social psychologists call this phenomenon social comparison.

Dish will give you the inside scoop and allow you to check your experiences and feelings against the lives of women who have grappled with the same questions, insecurities, thoughts, and challenges, and overcome them. It provides no-­holds-­barred career and life intelligence on what women need to know and do in order to feel good about themselves. It provides a psychological framework for women to understand and reshape their lives, make good decisions, and move forward with grace.

We are all in different places. Some of us have a degree of “nancial independence. Most of us do not. Some of us have a household full of kids, some are empty nesters, some are childless. While some of us are happy, many of us are struggling. We are tired, lonely, unhappy at work, irritated with our partners, worried about our kids, or disappointed with how our lives have turned out so far. As the pampered baby-­boom generation, we thought we could have it all. Some of us feel that all we got were the dregs; most of us feel that what we got was something in between.

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