issue #145 - the one on definitions
I’ve been thinking a lot about definitions lately. The ones we accept without a second thought, ones we define for ourselves, and ones we’ve begun to redefine in a larger scope.
I was reading my friend Shanna’s forthcoming leadership book (One Bold Move A Day - go preorder it!) and I marveled at the way she offered a playbook for anyone to embrace leadership in their own way. In doing so, she wholly rejected the tired trope of how we commonly view a leader (an old white man in a suit, sitting in a corner office) without every explicitly saying so.
I was also thinking about how we define the word strong. In the past, Arnold Schwarzenegger popped into my mind whenever I heard the word (random tangent - his memoir is an excellent read - like Jessica Simpson-level). But when I was at Heymama’s Strong Like A Mama summit on Thursday, the word strong was redefined to center on vulnerability, honesty, and embracing the messiness of life instead of brawn and control.
Definitions hold a lot of power. They uphold a particular view as absolute truth that we accept without questioning - and that acceptance can hold us back. They can keep us in boxes that try to define us by a sliver of who we are, and ignore our multitudes and the sun total of all our parts and identities.
If you’ve read We’re Speaking, these musings of multitudes and the sum total of our parts will sound familiar. But I’m just realizing how definitions - especially the ones we’ve accepted as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth - can hold us back and keep us in the boxes that society puts us in without our consent or feels aligned with how we see ourselves.
Why are we letting certain definitions keep us small?
I’m reclaiming “leader” and “strong” after this week. I’m also redefining literature to include romance novels (truly, it is a SKILL to write a steamy scene that both hits you on all fronts), success as “being able to spend my days how I wish and to support my team to do the same”, and health (keeping my emotional and mental health at the forefront, because if I don’t prioritize it, my diet and movement and sleep go right out the window).
What are you redefining for yourself? Hit reply or join the conversation in the comments - I’d love to know.
What I Read This Week
Of Fate and Fire by Amanda Bouchet - while I wait eagerly for the next book in the Kingmaker Chronicles series, this novella centered on a character I loathed (and have since come around on) did tide me over and gave me some great Percy Jackson vibes (which I’m having a hankering to re-read). One of the royals of Kingmaker finds himself in modern-day New York on a quest that intersects with that of a descendent of Hercules, and it is as twisting and amazing (and steamy) as one could hope. If I haven’t yet convinced you to read this series, I really hope this review is the one that gets you onboard because I need people to discuss it with!
Silver Silence by Nalini Singh - my slightly toxic reading trait is unknowingly starting a series in the middle. Why? I find it a fun challenge to try to figure out what the heck is happening without the background context, and it makes me more discerning and willing to give up if the book fails to grab me in the early chapters. I picked up Silver Silence for the Crescent City meets early Dan Brown vibes it gave me (different magical species living among humans, in the middle of a major city, a grumpy-sunshine trope) and it was superb. This was my first Nalini Singh book, but I’m all in for this series and her other series and everything else she’ll ever write. I’m jumping back into Throne of Glass and finishing that first book before deciding which series to continue with, but I can’t wait to jump back in the world of Psy, changelings, and humans.
What Everyone Else Read This Week
I read Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore in a day and it would be a great vacation book. I’ve never been to Maine and still enjoyed it but if you’ve been there, I’m sure it would be even more enjoyable. It's got a family focused, multigenerational storyline and it's so good.
Life has been heavy. And busy. And I realized somewhere in it all, we'd lost the reading together at bedtime ritual. With two kids it's often hard to manage this, especially when they are now reading thick chapter books and have differing interests. We started The Tapper Twins Go To War by Geoff Rodkey on a whim and it's been such a fun routine we look forward to. There's dialog for both kids to read/perform and it has us cackling. We just started another book in the series.
Top #5SmartReads Of The Week
The World Needs Uncles Too (Esquire)
The case for caring less (Vox)
Why the South Asian Diaspora Loves the Evening Walk (The Juggernaut)
The Big Business Of Being A Peloton Instructor (TIME Magazine)
The rest of the week’s reads + last week’s (and conversations!) are below:
Your Questions, Answered
How do you deal with internet trolls?
Delete block, and move on with my life.
I’m lucky that I haven’t had to deal with many in the past. Last week’s experience showed me that I can’t change someone’s opinion of me and letting myself be baited by them is giving them power, and I refuse to do that.
I’ve done a lot of boundary setting work with AB Coached that helped a ton to deflect trolls’ ire and messages.
Have you considered hosting your own podcast?
I had one! Hoping to bring it back (and bigger and better)- stay tuned ;)
The moment you fell for your husband?
When he made a Gattaca reference early in our meeting and followed it up with talking about Taco Bell.
It was love at first mention of gene editing and Mexican Pizzas.
Do the sleep gummies knock you out too much? Can you function if a chid needs you?
Nope! I’ve been able to wake up with the kids if they need me, and they actually help me fall back asleep faster.
Here’s the link, if you’d like to give them a try!.
Do you miss drinking alcohol as much?
I still drink! Just not as much as I used to, and I’ll opt for a NA drink as a default when dining out or military my cocktails or wine to 1 and switch to a NA one or club soda with bitters.
Hi Hitha! I’m looking for a business coach, and I know you’re the right person to ask!
I got you!
What are your favorite non-restaurant date night ideas? Need some inspo.
We love broadway shows or going to see standup!
Sometimes we like to sit in our backyard and sip a cup of tea and play music and just chat, or play Scrabble.
But weekly dinners are our go-to and we have a rule that we need to try new restaurants for the rest of the year because we got into the habit of going to the same 3 spots, so it’s been fun!
Your favorite way to use chaat masala?
In soft scrambled eggs
In guacamole or on avocado toast
On savory breakfast yogurt (with my Beeya Wellness, achaar, and spiced nuts)
On chaat too!
Apparently a lot of you sprinkle it on fruit! Need to try that.
Biggest LinkedIn tip/best practice for someone who hates LinkedIn.
I don't really use LinkedIn as much as I should! My friends Esther and Brittany are masters of the platform- highly recommend following them there and see how they use the platform!
What Broadway play/musicals out now do you like?
I mean, I’ve seen SIX 3 times and I would go another 3 times. SO GOOD/
I loved Hadestown so much.
A Strange Loop was incredible and blew my mind.
Cursed Child was wonderful, but I find it hard to separate JK Rowling’s work from herself.
POTUS is closing soon but you should absolutely see it while it’s still on stage!
Are you still doing the class?
Mostly when I’m traveling and don’t want to pack sneakers!
Have you watched Mr. Malcom List or Persuasion yet (no spoilers please)
Haven’t seen either yet! Honestly, the only TV i’ve been watching is old episodes of The Good Place.
Any plans for writing another book?
Yes! I have a few ideas and just need to get some proposals together and convince Marisa to do another book with me ;)
Best shoes for traversing NYC streets?
I don’t really wear any other shoes but my Birkenstock Gizeh sandals in the summer!
Do you believe in everything happens for a reason?
No, because there are millions of people who are living in horrible circumstances that are innocent and don’t deserve it. It’s hard for me to surrender to that belief when there’s so much injustice in the world.
Any tips on transitioning to gray hair? Thanks.
Focus on deep hydration and conditioning at the beginning, to help soften the texture especially if you’ve been coloring your grays for awhile. I love Ranavat's hair serum and Shaz and Kiks hair oil for this!
Something I’m really glad I did was to get gray highlights after I had 9 months of growth that matched my hair’s natural graying pattern. I only had to do this twice in about 10 months before my hair was exactly how I wanted it from a color perspective.
Once your grays are prominent, switch to purple based shampoo, conditioner and masks. I love Verb Hair Products shampoo and Drybar’s Blonde Ale mask. And glosses help keep your grays looking fresh and not brassy.
Your thoughts on Alt + Riveter summit from personal experience? I’m thinking of pitching to speak! :)
I’ve never been to Alt Summit (this will be my first time) but speaking at The Riveter summit was such an amazing experience for me! Amy Nelson- You are amazing and I’m still your biggest fan.
I cannot wait for this summit.
Here’s to a wonderful week, and to redefining words so they reflect who YOU are and want to be, and not what society expects of you.