Productivity is about giving something up

I hate myself for not doing yoga every day. That’s how you know you’re serious about yoga: you use it to generate self-hatred.

I am the type of person who can use a wide range of things to this end: telling my son the wrong name for the D major scale on the piano, for example. Are there parents who are more stupid when it comes to music than I am? Maybe. But probably not one who also goes to ten hours of violin/cello/piano lessons each week.

Before I go on about self-hatred, let me assure you that I am more accomplished than most people you know.

I was going to list it. The accomplishments. But you know what? I’m over that. Does Bill Gates list his accomplishments? No. It’s a sign of self-assurance to not bother. Which is why the best resumes are one short page.

And anyway, you know what my biggest accomplishment is? That you are still reading this post. Really. I know we are supposed to say raising our kids is our biggest accomplishment. But kids are not accomplishments. You do not get a gold star for raising kids. Crack addicts raise kids. And you don’t get a gold star for raising successful kids. It’s all nature, not nurture. So people say their kids are their biggest accomplishment because they think they should say it.

My blog is my biggest accomplishment because I don’t know what I’d do without it. Scream career advice from street corners, maybe. Or from a mental ward.

When I do get to a yoga studio, I’m always the best in the class. I’ve been doing Ashtanga for fifteen years. And don’t fucking tell me that yoga isn’t competitive. Look. I can breath and get through the primary series of Ashtanga and you can’t: you’ll pass out. So I fucking get that yoga is about the breath. I am not only competitive, but I am better than you at the non-competitive parts of yoga.

I don’t know why I don’t go to class. I used to think it’s because I live on a farm—at least ninety minutes away from a yoga studio. But now I’m driving to the Chicago area two days a week for my kid’s cello and piano lessons, and Madison two days a week for violin and dance lessons, so I could take four yoga days a week.

See? Now you get why I hate myself. Because I want something and I’m not getting it for myself.

I have good instinct about what I should do with myself. I tried out for the volleyball team in high school, and I had no idea that at the rich-kid high schools like mine  kids had already been to volleyball camp and knew what they were doing. In a school of 4000 kids, 200 tried out for volleyball and 10 made it. I was cut in twenty minutes. I still remember Alyssa Markoff’s knee pads. Who told her to wear those? How did she find them?

Alyssa made the team. But I looked for another way to play. For years. And I’m the one who played professional beach volleyball. I did that like I do everything: obsessively until I win.

Here’s my point: when I know what is right for me, even if I fail a lot on the way, I figure out how to get it. So I’m failing at yoga every day which maybe means I will not be failing in the future.

To be clear, yoga losers would say I do yoga every day because I do pieces of Ashtanga every day. But I always get sidetracked. Like, I do Ardha Baddha Padma Paścimottānāsana and then while my head is down at my toe I notice that the nail polish is chipping on the second toe so I chip it a little more. And then at Janu Shirshasana I am consumed with the idea of chipping off all the toe nails to even them out. And then I tell myself I have inner strength and I have power to control my life, and then I go to the bathroom and put clear polish on all the toes so I won’t pick at what really is still a nice pedicure and anyway the Farmer has a foot fetish so my pedicure is as important as my lingerie.

That’s the problem with my yoga right now. Attention. Focus. Determination. I quit in the middle. Really, all the problems that a normal overachiever would solve with Adderall, but it gives me a headache, almost like I’m hungover from productivity or something.

I thought I’d go back and read all my posts about how to keep a New Year’s resolution, because surely there will be good stuff in there about how to set a goal and keep it. I could link to those posts like I’m the world’s authority on meeting my goals.

But you know what? Advice about meeting goals is so annoying if you’re not meeting your goals.

I’d rather read about how to have great legs because I still have them left over from volleyball and I can feel like it’s an attainable goal. Like, “Look, I’m so great at reaching my great-leg goal.”

Spoiler alert: There will not be a happy ending to this post where I start doing yoga every day.

And, for all of you people who think, after you read this post, that you will write your own story about yoga: don’t. People don’t like to read about yoga unless it includes one of these topics:

1. Suicide

2. Your period leaking through your yoga pants during Shavasana

3. Hot women sticking their asses in the air

My editor is in a five-year argument with me about if writing about my period oozing all over the place is appropriate for a career blog. Until this post, he has won. But I’m going into menopause soon and will not have a period to write about. So just like when women need to change the rules at work in order to accommodate the window their biological clock gives them to have babies, I need to change the rules here and write about my period. But my editor does not see it this way.

It’s why I have a male editor, actually, so this blog doesn’t become the Internet equivalent of crying after sex; you know, stuff girls think is fine but guys hate.

So instead, since I’m writing about yoga, I will have to write about girls’ asses in the air.

You see that plenty in yoga, of course. I mean, how else do they sell a package of ten classes to men?

But here’s the thing: When I started yoga, about the time when I started my career and I was learning about how to ditch work surruptitiously for a yoga class, I would look at the other women and try to decide if I wanted to have sex with them. Would I want to go down on her? Would I do it while she was in Down Dog? Would it taste good? What type of body would I like? (Answer: one like my own. Which may or may not reveal something pathetically self-involved about me.)

But recently, while I’ve been going to yoga classes irregularly trying to figure out why I’m not going regularly, I have been looking at the women and wondering what they do for a job.

Is she able to do that handstand and be the breadwinner? Does she have that tight round ass and refrain from fighting on date night? Does she sing to her kids at bedtime?

I want a role model for a woman who does yoga every day and is the breadwinner and is home with her kids all day.

How will I do this?

Of course no one can do all this. It’s fantasy land.

So I’m giving up time with my kids. My kids are going to suffer through a ninety minute yoga class. They can sit in the waiting room watching videos of Pokemon killing each other.

And the Farmer is going to see me less. Because I’m setting aside time for yoga instead of setting aside time to do fun things on the farm like the rope swing he built. I am not the fun type anyway. He knew that from the very beginning.

What’s stopping me from doing yoga is that I won’t give anything up for it. And that’s why this post is a post about productivity. It’s about me trying to do everything possible except give up something to get something. But we always have to do that. Productivity is about priorities. And if you’re not doing what you want to be doing it’s because something else is more important.

So I will give up time with my family, which I already do to earn money, but I’ll give  up more. And then, if I still don’t go to yoga, it’ll still be because there’s something I won’t give up: probably at that point it’ll be the self-hatred that I get from not doing yoga. Knowing the problem is a big part of solving it.


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  1. tj
    tj says:


    “What’s stopping me from doing yoga is that I won’t give anything up for it. And that’s why this post is a post about productivity. It’s about me trying to do everything possible except give up something to get something”

    And yes, reading this today has been a productive use of my time.

    Back to lurk mode and to refrain from commenting about hot yoga asses in the air. Oh wait…

  2. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I am starting to figure out what I want. I am starting to very slowly realize how pathetic I have let myself become, let the self-loathing that I’ve almost got used to now, since I’ve felt this way since 8 years old, become strong enough to make a difference. I am trying to learn how to be a normal 25 year old by studying the guys I am dating. I don’t know if this is weird or not, but they know how to build fires in a fireplace and move out of their parents’ comfortable lake houses just to be on their own. And here I am, relying on my iphone to get me through the simple tasks every day. But I think I want to do something in women’s issues. I am idealist after all, and I want to make a difference, and have a big life. I just need to stop being such a loser and start living.

    God it’s so hard.

    • Lori Pollard
      Lori Pollard says:

      Harriet, I’m sorry it doesn’t get easier. I am 48 and very much depend on my I-phone to function during the day! “Loser” is a loaded and unhealthy word. Don’t use it, especially when referring to yourself. Do the next thing, then the next, etc. You will eventually carve out a life for yourself that is uniquely yours. Mimicking others isn’t living. Live life on your own terms. One of the reasons I read this blog is that it jolts me out of my commonplace existence and helps me to see there isn’t ONE WAY to do life. Blessings as you continue your journey and finding what works for you.

    • D
      D says:

      No one is a loser. One may not have accomplished one’s goals, but the person inside is ultimately what matters.

      Look at babies. The don’t accomplish squat for at least 10-15 years, but no one would deign to call them losers. Quite the opposite. We call them winners just for learning to use the bathroom.

      Thought experiment:

      What if everything you held dear was taken away from you today?
      Most people can’t even imagine such a scenario, but it happens all the time — think of some of the people in New York right now. How would you respond?

      Here’s the thing. Even if someone took all your money, your belongings, your family, your boyfriend, you would still have yourself, and only you have the power to find meaning in life. And it turns out that even when you have everything, you can still be unhappy. Think of Lindsay Lohan. Despite her success, she’s clearly unhappy with herself.

      Read Victor Frankl’s <a href="'s_Search_for_Meaning&quot;?Man's Search for Meaning. He survived the Holocaust largely by internalizing the idea that external forces should not shape who he is inside.

    • rgoltn
      rgoltn says:

      You are not a loser. I wish I knew what I wanted at 25 too…I am 45 and as Harriet said, it does not get any easier. A few things I can tell you is to “trust your gut,” keep moving forward, take away learning points from every experience (personal, career etc.) and start capturing notes here and there about what you are good at.

      Your career will come and your passion may or may not follow. It is okay. Do something you are good at ane get better every day. It will allow you to pursue yoru passions in women’s issues while having a decent career…Oh, and put the iPhone down.

      It is an evil, Pavloian experiment. It plays upon people’s insecurities and need for instant gratification, approval and not being left out. There is a great world around you if you just looked up, stopped, stayed present and soaked it in.

  3. sr
    sr says:

    goodbye…after 2 years of faithfully reading your posts, this one is just over the top. You should listen to your editor…don’t keep blaming your condition, listen to others and learn how to socially filter. Now how to get these horrible images out of my mind- shame on you.

    • Annie Kip
      Annie Kip says:

      I am just surprised to hear that this post – this one that had one little reference to a period accident – is the one to make you stop reading a really great blog. Penelope has shared plenty of other disturbing images which I would have thought would have put you off sooner. The beautful thing is that Penelope does not filter – it is a gift to us. Sorry you will miss out.

      • KB
        KB says:

        Penelope may of lost one reader from the yoga, period pants, asses in the air post, but she just gained another reader. Today is the first day I have ever read your blog, and I love it. Oh how I would love to be as unfiltered as you are…every day…in every situation…no matter who is listening!!!

  4. CL
    CL says:

    “It’s about me trying to do everything possible except give up something to get something.”

    That’s me. I think it’s a problem with high achievers in general. We keep our plates full – so full that we don’t have time for things that normal people have time for. People tell me that they are “so busy” with half of the stuff that I am doing. And when they tell me about going out on the weekend, I nod and mentally count all of the Most Important Things I have to get done that day.

  5. Lisa S.
    Lisa S. says:

    Right now I am cracking up laughing……..I love how you tie your period, yoga and productivity into one hell of a post. Thanks Penelope.

  6. Rebecca@MidcenturyModernRemodel
    Rebecca@MidcenturyModernRemodel says:

    A friend of mine was complaining about gaining weight because she was promoted to an intense job that is 12 hours a day and when she comes home she doesn’t want to go to a gym and she is tired. She asked me what I was doing. Working out more (before work) and eating less. What do we eat? Yogurt, broccoli, chicken, almonds, stuff like that. She wonders, every day? Yeah most days. Except the weekends when we go out. She said she likes to cook and entertain so that won’t work. I had nothing more for her. I don’t have a priority on cooking and entertaining. And I work less (at my paid job) to work out more. But ask me about my free job.

  7. Lori
    Lori says:

    I love this post- Love your honesty!
    Came at just the right time, as I have been wallowing in my own version of self hatred…. ( notwithstanding the fact that my list of accomplishments might even excede yours!)….
    So, I am going to reflect on what it is that I am holding onto so tightly, that has enabled me to gain 20lbs I didnt need, in the past year, and has made excercise, a distant memory…And I am going to let it go!
    Thanks for the nudge!!

  8. Janet Thaeler
    Janet Thaeler says:

    I used to think I’d stop reading your blog but after reading for years I know I won’t. Your editor was right.

    You sound pissed off and though you’re usually a master of wrapping up a post with different themes with an incredible ending, this one was all over the place.

    Are you okay?

  9. TD
    TD says:

    This post seemed all over the place. You could have made your point with fewer tangents. I hope you will figure out what you need to give up to get to your yoga goals.

    Incidentally, I personally do know more than one person who is more accomplished that you. Your natural confidence in making such claims reminds me of someone who is more accomplished than you. He is an ENTJ. I am guessing this is a theme in how ENTJs think about themselves. I also happen to know someone who is very accomplished and never boasts at all. It doesn’t take away from his achievements.
    Also, I disagree about your claim that raising kids is all nature. I don’t raise kids, so my opinion might seem presumptuous. Genes have the biggest role in how we turn out, but our environment controls gene expression in many subtle ways. If nature was all we had to rely on, we should all just let our kids wander around and believe that if he/she is meant to be great at something they will find their way alone. I am yet to see a human society that functions that way. If genes were all that was important then children of the most accomplished people in the world would always invariable find means to become equally accomplished. So how do you justify this claim exactly that it is all nature? I am just curious how an intelligent person will justify that parenting doesn’t play at least a small role in directing human destiny.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Before you argue with me about nature vs. nurture, you should read the research. The book I linked to just blows me a way. Bryan Caplan is an economist who compiled all the research about nature vs nurture and it’s not even close. For example, parenting does not even affect the date when girls first have sex.

      As parents we hold onto the idea that nurture is important so we feel important. But really, parenting is just about enjoying the kids and the kids having a fun childhood. Parenting affects the affection kids feel for their parents. But it doesn’t affect the outcome of their lives.

      The research to support this is breathtaking, it’s just not what people want to hear, so no one reports on it. (For example, it would de-motivate people to adopt children.)

      Here’s a link to the book:


      • TD
        TD says:

        Thanks for your reply Penelope. I will check out that book hopefully sometime this year! My views are based on commonplace knowledge and there isn’t much in the media about the idea you suggest here. Recognizing that nature always wins might make parents pessimistic about their choices, especially if they are the kinds that need to find meaning in life’s every task and have chosen to stay home to raise kids.

      • D
        D says:

        If nurture doesn’t affect age of losing virginity, why has that age been steadily going down since the sixties, not to mention first menstruation? Clearly there is some kind of environmental effect, even if it’s not parenting?

        • Penelope Trunk
          Penelope Trunk says:

          There is evidence that puberty is coming earlier across the board. That is not nature vs nurture. That is large-scale environment. Parents do not impact stuff like that.The nature vs nurture discussion is about parenting.

          If you have a twin study — a common way to study nature vs nurture — you can see that twins across the board go through puberty earlier. Twins that are related start having sex at the same time in their life even if they are not living with radically different sets of parents. That’s the way people understand large environmental impact vs. nurturing impact.

          This is fascinating to me. I really recommend everyone read this book. Especially if you want to have kids. Really puts parenting in perspective.


          • Gus M
            Gus M says:

            Decisions such as how much money you’re going to make, where you’re going to live, what kinds of friends you will have, what facets of society and the world your kids will be exposed to – these can all be parenting decisions. Granted, most parents don’t make them consciously for their kids so much as for themselves, but a parent who wants to affect the life of their kids will do well to consider all of this stuff. I don’t know whether this falls under nature or nurture (I’d need a much more specific definition for each of those terms), but it clearly extends the reach of the parents’ influence in their kids’ “success” (how do you even define that?) beyond giving them a happy childhood.

          • Helen
            Helen says:

            If you want to be in the extreme nature-not-nurture camp, why are you taking your kids to all those music lessons? Why are you concerned for one kind of schooling over another? This ideology seems to appeal to you, but your actions show you know it’s bullshit, at least on some level.

            After all, what would be the point of a career in career advice if everything’s fixed?

          • Wayne Smith
            Wayne Smith says:

            I think there’s this primal need to feel like we’re not puppets to our biology, free will vs. fate. Out of all the research papers and studies I dug through in grad school, social science research is a farce compared to the predicability rates of biological influences. I think it’s hard for people to accept that most of our lives are predetermined by our bodies. Typing this out, it’s almost like the fight between democrats and republicans.

          • Marita
            Marita says:

            I find it hard to believe that nurture is that unimportant. Maybe it’s only unimportant if you have love and support in your childhood? But then the whole thing wouldn’t make sense any more.

            What about kids that never get hugged, that don’t have a trusted person at home to talk to and are filling up with emotional pain? I’m not talking about the kids who are obviously being abused, but about the ones with parents who seem to make a functional home, but who are emotionally not really involved.

            Kids of these kind of parents become hard, might start cutting, make bad decisions. I can’t see how a kid like this would be doing the same thing with a parent that was attentive and nurtured the child more lovingly. To me this would hinge all on love and support.

          • Marita
            Marita says:

            Oh your post was funny :) I have similar issues with going to Yoga class and this made me get off my ‘asana’ and let go of some perfection issue haha!

      • Sadya
        Sadya says:

        so what are your views on adoption? Caplan’s research is pretty clear that the most parents can do is let kids be who they are. Its basically their own DNA being played out infront of them. That info would be scary for anyone thinking about adopting.

        • TD
          TD says:

          I haven’t read the book Penelope recommended yet, but I have read some research on the impact of environment. This actually can make the good argument for adopting. Parenting may not directly affect gene expression, but parents’ decisions can sometimes dramatically affect the environments surrounding the kids during formative years. So adoptive parents can imagine that they are providing a safe and open environment for their adopted kids such that they have opportunities to explore their interests as directed by their genes. How much time parents spend with kids may not matter a lot, but it will matter that parents have a certain income that offers resources for the kids they would have otherwise not been able to access.
          If we accept the idea that environment and genes are the two largest contributor to the destinies of children, doesn’t that make parenting a lot less stressful? I like to think it does.

  10. Erica Peters
    Erica Peters says:

    Why are your kids going to going to yoga class instead of hanging out at the farm? Maybe there’s a local teenager who could come over for five hours while you drive to and from yoga class?

  11. Anastasia
    Anastasia says:

    Total mash up of random information, until this:

    “What’s stopping me from doing yoga is that I won’t give anything up for it. And that’s why this post is a post about productivity. It’s about me trying to do everything possible except give up something to get something. But we always have to do that. Productivity is about priorities. And if you’re not doing what you want to be doing it’s because something else is more important.”

    And then it all suddenly makes so much sense. It’s ironic that most people don’t see life the way. You can’t have everything. I think to be happy, you gotta really figure out what you want and sacrifice(=prioritize) accordingly.

  12. Albert Okagbue
    Albert Okagbue says:

    I love this post. I am going through something similar. Deciding whether to write books, do tax work, financial planning, etc Deciding whether I prefer to do research or actually make money. You’re so right. I need to prioritize and give something up.

    • Ebriel
      Ebriel says:

      So true. Often the ‘giving something up’ discussion is framed as something women have to do to have children and keep up a career.

      But men give things up all the time too, in order to be successful.

  13. Ron
    Ron says:

    The last 2 paragraphs totally resonate with me. I struggled with finding time to workout and do yoga – blamed my excessive weight on too much work etc. – it was all excuses. I finally broke down and gave up 2 hrs of TV / day to fit in yoga and workouts. I’ve dropped 70 lbs and have 60 more to go but the truth remains – productivity includes doing the most important things first. But to do this I had to give up something else and that was the hardest thing of all. I still watch 1 hr of TV / day but I am far more aware of what I watch because I realize just how valuable this hour of my time / life really is.

  14. Michael
    Michael says:

    I kept waiting to see pics of you in Yoga pants. I gave up working to see this in the blog. I now feel very unproductive.

    FYI, I have been reading your blog since your days at eCommerce or Business 2.0. It has been so long that I feel like you are my wife, You can stay stupid shit sometimes but I understand because I have know you so long.

    I’ve heard of “work wives”, is there such a thing as a “blog husband”

    Take care Penelope.

  15. Lori Pollard
    Lori Pollard says:


    I usually love your writing. I like the honesty and rip roaring truth mixed in with your daily anecdotes. However, you need to listen to your editor. There are a few things in this post that really detract from what you are trying to communicate:

    “What’s stopping me from doing yoga is that I won’t give anything up for it. And that’s why this post is a post about productivity. It’s about me trying to do everything possible except give up something to get something. But we always have to do that. Productivity is about priorities. And if you’re not doing what you want to be doing it’s because something else is more important.”.

    Yes! A good thesis! Did you have to use the vulgar language and revelation of sexual fantasy? It was distracting and disconcerting to the point of almost abandoning the read. I finished the blog to see if there would be a point to the rambling. I was glad to see that you did have a point- and a good one. However, as you are no doubt aware, language is the vehicle of real communication. Maybe something else is clogging your filters (no, not your Aspergers)- talk to your editor or the farmer- maybe they have suggestions on NOT alienating your audience.

  16. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    I had to laugh after reading the bit about you chipping your nail polish while doing yoga, because I read it after I told my husband to watch the kid for one second, so I can run downstairs and grab a phone, but once downstairs I noticed the bed was not done, so I had to fix that, and then I saw our cat sleeping in a chair, so I had to scratch his tummy and because he was sleeping in a sun spot, I realized I need to open all the windows, because soon it will be unbearably hot in the house and that’s when I noticed clothes on the floor…and then I just stood in the middle of the room for 3 minutes doing nothing, trying to decide whether I should finish all the things I felt needed to be finished or head back upstairs, so that my husband can get to work in time to see his patients – in case you were ever wondering why your doctors can never make it to the appointment in time, now you know.

    I don’t understand why anybody would be offended by your period/going down on a girl imagining – I am pretty sure every woman experienced the same. My best friend leaked on a crispy white chair at my wedding reception and even though I am very heterosexual I had a dream or two (or more) in which I got to come thanks to a mysterious girl who took care of me.

    I think the post is all over the place and I like it. I think most of your post are. You always have a point. And sometimes even pointless things are fun if well written.

  17. Daniel Baskin
    Daniel Baskin says:

    I’ll have to dissent a little on this one, P (about nature vs. nurture). Maybe you didn’t mean it this way, maybe you did.

    The problem with taking research as fact is that all research is contextual. You home-school. The reason why nurture doesn’t seem to matter is because of kids are actually raised more by their peers. Do you mean that, *generally*, kids will turn out the way they will no matter what you do? Then yes, I agree. You understand this. Allowing your kids to follow their interests and just be kids rather than bogging them down with “core subjects” makes the most sense. I’m with you there.

    I think what is out of the text’s periphery is that little nurture things like kids imitating you (i.e., we don’t teach kids, they copy us) and your habits and ways, in utero care/stress, breastfeeding, intellectual stimulation, etc. This is not to say that a kid deprived of some of these positive aspects won’t generally turn out similarly. Did you mean that nurture does not determine direction? That I can get behind. This may be more true for self-starters, but what about non-self-starters? What if parents and the school system keep getting in the way of a kid? That type of nurture still matters–but maybe that’s reverse nurture and that doesn’t count.

  18. Tim Chan
    Tim Chan says:

    I wonder aloud if there’s something unhealthy about wanting something so much that not doing it results in self-hatred.

    Or perhaps self-hatred is an extremely efficient motivator.


  19. Robert Wenzel
    Robert Wenzel says:

    Sorry, I didn’t got your article and the one before. When I had to give you a career advise I would say: You are a person who always is at the beginning and will not run a business for long. It’s time for your next startup, to move on. Sorry, about this.

  20. Ruth Zive
    Ruth Zive says:

    I can comment here with some measure of authority.

    “I can breath and get through the primary series of Ashtanga and you can’t: you’ll pass out.”

    Uh, ya, I can. I don’t pass out. In fact, I breath right through Intermediate and about 1/3 of the way into third/Advanced series. Every day.

    I do yoga every day (except for Saturdays and moon days, and the odd Lady’s holiday). I’ve been doing it for about 6 or 7 years now. Some days it sucks. It means I have to get up at 5:00 in the morning. It means that I have had to shuffle my priorities and really dig deep about what my Ashtanga yoga practice does for me.

    I was pretty competitive about yoga at first, but no longer. I had a shitty injury and I had to start back at primary (suryamaskara A & B only for 2 months). Now…it grounds me. It keeps me focused. It’s taught me equanimity.

    And in case your interested, I think my ass is pretty hot, I am not the lone breadwinner, but I have my own business and bring home as much bacon as my man, and I do sometimes sing to my (five) children when they go to bed at night.

    And I love your blog, though CLEARLY, you need to work on your drishti.

  21. D
    D says:

    As a man who goes to yoga three times per week, I now have new sexual fodder that I absolutely must not think about.

  22. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    Haha! This post was great. You know, the best thing about reading you is knowing I’m not the only one… Although I think you should have worked in something about suicide for the trifecta.

  23. Kitty
    Kitty says:

    Enjoy your writing, Penelope. I am an editor and so especially appreciate your ability to make your thesis tie in to all your stories/tangents.

    And, why am I making my first posting? Because of an annoying commentor. Who keeps commenting with the word: “THIS” and then a quote. It makes me want to tear out my eyeballs. Please, this is so lazy and irritating. Do not write “THIS” and then a quotation from the blog. No one cares about your personal “THIS”. Make a point, praise or criticize Penelope, but please, please, refrain from any more “THIS”. Did you steal it from Dooce (Heather Armstrong)? It’s just lazy and self-involved. I do like Dooce, but there is that element in her blog.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks, Kitty, for appreciating that I tie things back together.

      This is what I think about this: it’s Internet vernacular. It’s shorthand that (mostly gen Y) uses on the Internet to mean, yeah, I like this, it’s right, it resonates with me.

      What I like about it is that gen Y is, as a group, so supportive and well versed on feelings and sharing that they come up with quirky shorthand to say “you are connecting with me”.


    • tj
      tj says:

      Alright! Flamed on my second post – I have arrived.

      As our hostess notes, “this” is short hand way of saying “This passage resonated with me – I like this”. A hat tip to brevity if you will. I certainly could go into great and glorious detail about the whys and wherefores – sometimes detailed parsing ruins the whole picture and takes away the essence of the beauty – and I’m okay with that.

      tj – who is very much not a member of Gen Y

  24. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    I say forget about the fancy poses. Aim to be “the best” at tadasana. Hold that pose, with complete focus, for 30 minutes.

    I know I ought to do that but I’m too lazy. That’s funny, isn’t it? Too lazy to do tadasana … but it’s the focus that’s hard, not the pose.

    • Becky
      Becky says:

      From what I know about P’s age, I think she will have a lot of bleeding in her near future. If she is like me, perimenopause will mean bleeding lots, all the time, unpredictably for a few years, before she begins to start skipping periods.

  25. Me
    Me says:

    I think this was very poorly written & pretty ridiculous. If nurture doesn’t have any impact, why are you writing about sex all the time (mostly when it has nothing to add to the “point” of your post)? I think a bit of nurture is involved there if your descriptions of your childhood are accurate. You also seem like you need to brag all the time; you are the best, no matter what. I doubt that.

    If nurture doesn’t have a great impact on the development of children & impact their future, why are you bothering to homeschool or even hug them? I’m hoping you do hug them. You write about dragging them to various lessons a lot; I think more time at home reading together or playing Scrabble or making dinner as a family would benefit them much more than sitting in a car for hours going to & fro for “lessons.”

    I grew up w/really terrible parents (alcoholic father & severe mental illness in my mother’s case) & that environment impacted me greatly. I vowed to be a loving, involved, stable parent. I married a wonderful guy who shared my intense desire to be great parents & have a loving home.

    “Nature” did rear its head in regards to my having serious problems w/depression, but I handled it so differently than my mother (who also drank to excess as her form of “medication”). Plus, I have a supportive, considerate, steadfastly loving husband who assists me in getting it under control. I asked my doc what I could do to prevent this genetic predisposition for alcoholism & mental illness to bloom in my children. He said the most important thing to lessen the impact of the genetic predisposition is to have a STABLE home life for them (I grew up in a totally chaotic home).

    My husband & I did that & also raised them in an intellectually enriched & stimulating environment (biggest positive impact was to have no TV; I think that had more influence over their future successes in grad school & careers they love than even homeschooling).

    Our grown son even told us what a difference our “nurturing” home life had on the wonderful outcome in his life. We lived in a pretty affluent area while they were growing up. We ended up selling our house in the S.F. Bay Area for double what we paid for it 5 years previously so when my husband was transferred for his job in order to put that money into a new house we ended up w/pretty much a mansion. House prices in the Midwest are so much lower than they are on the Coasts.

    So while we lived in a very affluent town, we weren’t “rich” when compared w/the neighbors & families of their friends. Our son one night at dinner when we were visiting him in San Francisco (he returned there for grad school & took an engineering job there as he loves all that the Bay Area & beyond offer to a young single guy from surfing to triathlons to skiing in Tahoe, etc.) told us what a huge impact on his successful & happy life our stressing education & a strong work ethic & ethical behavior when he & his sister were growing up had.

    He thanked us for providing him an edge for attaining a fulfilling life by raising them in such a home.

    He has kept in touch w/several friends from his youth & he said that even though they all grew up w/accomplished parents (lawyers, doctors, even an FBI agent; I’m a college drop-out, by the way), their parents didn’t spend the time w/them to instill the qualities that are necessary to work hard enough to get a full ride to Stanford for grad school or a full ride plus a living stipend, as our daughter did for law school & these friends haven’t done very well.

    They dropped out of college; got jobs that weren’t enjoyable & didn’t have much future for advancement. All had mucked up personal lives w/divorces & numerous kids scattered around the country so that they couldn’t be very involved parents.

    One is living at home w/his parents at the age of 34 while he tries to figure out life.

    So, basically our son was crediting NUTURE for his success. He said he didn’t know what an impact our parenting style would have on his future success & happiness. So I overcame my bad “genetics” w/great effort (went through lots of parenting classes &!individual & group therapy to learn a different way of thinking as my “natural” way of thinking was to be very negative, fearful & “feed” my depression).

    Raising our children was a joy for us. We’ve been married 40 years now & still find each other’s company preferable to anyone else’s. We have lots of laughs & fun & are so happy our grown children want to spend time w/us during their vacations.

    We hiked the Grand Canyon (rim-to-rim) a couple years ago. I think that sort of thing is a major accomplishment both physically & relationship-wise. Yes, even more of an accomplishment than your being the “best” yoga practitioner you claim to be, though from what I know about yoga your mind is supposed to be in training, too, so toenails don’t distract you to such an extent that you described.

    I would also recommend you become an “expert” therapy patient. Someone who brags as much as you do & has such a “pissy” attitude & stays w/a husband who has physically abused you (even though you seemed to enjoy posing in a sexual manner for the “evidence” of his violence) would definitely benefit from extensive therapy. Your children would probably benefit from therapy, as well. The environment you are raising them in (& I don’t mean the physical one, the “farm”) is not conducive to preparing them for a happy, fulfilled & successful life.

    And, no, I’m not going to throw in random links to “prove” my point of view.

    • Kristen
      Kristen says:

      OK, this is not my favorite post but I need to respond to this rant.”Me” needs a reality check.
      1. Do you consider yourself a nice person? If so, you’re wrong. You attack PTs childhood, ability as a wife and as a mother. This is absolutely unkind and does not strengthen your argument. There is no bitchier way to end a discuss than telling a mother you feel sorry for her children and that they will need therapy. Anti-feminist to the core.
      2. Do you consider yourself a reasonable person? Wrong, again. You explain what a horrible environment you were nurtured in and then go on to explain how you were able to overcome this (due to your “nature”) and thrive in a gooshy, wonderful life.
      3. Do you consider yourself an educated person? Perhaps nobody ever taught you that the plural of “anecdote” is “anecdotes” not data. Your two progeny do not “prove” anything, whatsoever.
      4. Are you a hypocrite? YES, yes, you are. You accuse PT of bragging when half of your comment is how you rose above your lousy nurturing, subsequently became a stellar-nurturer and produced the second coming (TWICE) who have a law degree or a full ride to Stanford all while keeping the home fires burning. Do you have any idea what the word “hubris” means?
      5. Are you sexually repressed? I’d have to guess that is, indeed, the case judging from your perseverence on PT’s sexual references. They are brief and amusing…far more so than your comment.
      6.Still feel justified and righteous? Then do me a favor and show the post, your comment and this response to those two deities you call children.
      7. I like Penelope’s links. Asshole.

      • Me--The Asshole
        Me--The Asshole says:

        Kristen, I am sorry I made you so angry. Maybe you are not a very “nice” person to call me an “asshole.”

        I did not “attack” P’s childhood. She, herself, has described it fully & I don’t know why having a difficult childhood would be considered her fault. I might feel like “attacking” her parents, but why on earth would I attack someone who has come from a very difficult background? I had a difficult childhood, but I do not blame myself for it.

        I, do, however, have remnants that linger from that. That is why I go to therapy to overcome the “programming” I got from my not-very-good parents. I don’t think having “bad” parents is something to be ashamed of, but it has taken ME (The Asshole) lots of therapy to put things into perspective (such as my mother’s suicide when I was 15). Maybe you think she killed herself because she had an “Asshole” as a daughter. Perhaps so. She did denigrate me an awful lot (kind of like you).

        I am not highly educated (dropped out of college my Junior year due to my inability to study effectively after having my 2nd child). However, I did learn the definition of “hubris” in my 4th grade vocabulary studies.

        Your remarks about “data” must be directed to another “Asshole” as I didn’t use any of the words you are trying to educate me about what is the correct plural & singular forms.

        Sexually-repressed? I don’t think so, but I am more modest than P about publicly writing about my sexual stuff. I just am private about that. I don’t think that makes me repressed, but if you want to call me “repressed” by all means have fun demeaning ME further.

        Again, I apologize that my post upset you so much. If I am too “mean” & my post too stupid, I hope P will delete it. It was definitely not my intention to draw out your rage & cause a “nice” & “educated” person such as yourself to stoop to the level of name-calling.

        As far as the grammar & spelling lessons you would like to impart, I think you’ll have to reread the comments to find your victim for that as that was not in my post.

        Again, please forgive me for not being nice, educated, & for having “excessive pride or self-confidence” (definition of “hubris”) & there was another thing–oh yeah, also being a “hypocrite.”

        Maybe I am in a Greek tragedy & my “hubris” is leading to my nemesis, YOU. You certainly fit the bill of a goddess doling out divine punishment for wrongdoing (my “hubris”).

        Have a lovely day, Kristin.

    • Lynn Lawrence
      Lynn Lawrence says:

      whoa…You really have to wonder what triggered this bravely anonymous response from “me”….she is that jealous of Penelope’s yoga prowess?…Even with all the “accomplishments” she mentioned, it doesn’t read like she’s convinced herself that she won.

      Also ironic: none of the listed accomplishments is hers directly, with the exception of keeping a “stable home” which might have been for her a bit like holding one of those very difficult pretzelly poses, for a very long period of time, yet never receiving the clarity and joy part.

      This tic account of her family reads like simple late midlife angst (which is something I know a bit about), tinged with underlyings of personal regret.

      I wish for “me” what I wsh for myself…to reach her full potential, thus sweeping all that jealousy and judgement far away. Namaste!

      • Me
        Me says:

        OK–OK, I thought this article was about nature vs. nurture–not my accomplishments.

        I must have misread it or misunderstood it.

        So sorry that I have caused such angst! I’m not unhappy or unfulfilled, etc., but I appreciate your concern & good wishes!

        I am especially happy right now as I got a phone call & my sister-in-law’s latest scans still show she is cancer-free. It will be one year since the discovery of seriously advanced lung cancer. It is remarkable she is doing so well & I am elated by the news!

        I don’t have any fancy yoga terms, but have a great day…

    • Ryan
      Ryan says:

      Me, I think your criticisms are valid. I find a lot wrong with this article too. I wich Penelope would respond to your comment.

  26. Senait
    Senait says:

    I love what you said about about children NOT being our accomplishments.

    I wish more parents saw parenting this way because I think it’s really healthy to create a detachment between parents and children.

    My parents may not say this – but I can tell they look at me and my accomplishments as an extension of their own which can feel suffocating and worse yet, you can really start to purse things that please your parents instead of things that please yourself.

    I think what you have is a really really high integrity as a mother.

    That’s exactly the kind of mother I want to be. I don’t want to see my kids as my accomplishment because I honestly believe they belong to the universe, and they just come out of our wombs so you can help them grow and be whoever they want to become.

    Personally, as an aspiring mother, I think this perspective is a heck of a lot more relaxing and less pressure. I can think about myself more, without feeling guilty.

    Great post.

  27. Skweekah
    Skweekah says:

    I enjoy reading PT’s posts. I don’t read with the intention to learn anything, I read because PT is a good storyteller, and I enjoy stories. Most of the time though, I do end up learning something about myself and life. Which is nice. So, I continue to read.

  28. GingerR
    GingerR says:

    I think you don’t like Yoga that much. If I like to do something, like running, swimming, biking or whatever I make the time to do it, I look forward to it, I re-arrange my schedule and the schedules of my family so I can get away and enjoy myself.

    I was going to go to Yoga this morning at 6:30 a.m. because of daylight savings time helping me get up early to get there. I got up, thought about it, and ended up finishing up the Sunday paper instead.

  29. Ebriel
    Ebriel says:

    How refreshing to read an alternate take on nature vs. nuture. The blame-the-parents thing is such old hat, and has kept more than a few people I know from becoming parents (where’s that mirror?). I’ll be picking up a copy of that book.

    Also, the candor of this post makes me homesick for the US and my girlfriends there: where no topic is taboo, where we have similar desires and issues.

    Ah well there’s always the internet.

    Yeah this post was all over the place but as so often happens with Penelope’s writing, if you stick with it, it comes together at the end. And addresses topics we all struggle with, like motivation, prestige, and discipline.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Ebriel, I love your summary of my writing. Thank you. I love that you trust me to pull it together at the end. Thanks.


  30. NB
    NB says:

    When I read your blog I often think of the prescient 1976 film “Network.” You are like Howard Beale, complex, tortured, and on the brink. We readers are the t.v. audience who tune in for a fun strange ride and for new ways to look at the same old world. And we project such wide ranging responses to your catalyst words, from “love your honesty,” “I’m cracking up laughing,” “we high achievers . . .,” “listen to your editor,” “you are no [Bill Gates],” “shame on you,” “yoga [poseur],” and “are you okay?” We audience members might turn on on another too because how can you mean so many different things at once to all of us?

    I think this blog isn’t really about career advice anymore.

    I’m cherry picking here, but I must say that, combined with the rambling form and the hostile tone today, it was unnerving to see phrases assembled like self-hating, mental ward, giving up time with my kids, my kids are going to suffer, suicide, oozing [blood], I hate myself, there will not be a happy ending, attainable goal.

    Now when things went too far off kilter on “Network”, I wondered if a t.v. viewer could have saved Howard Beale? I think not. I think he needed someone who knew him face to face – some one who could give him a hug even if he didn’t ask for one, and help bring him back to a smaller world of conversing instead of opining and broadcasting. Would he have felt like a mediocre grey blur? Would he have felt like he evolved?

    * * * *

    I live a rural life too and I used to drive back to the city for all dentists, doctors, pediatric specialists, tax appointments, ballet, yoga, etc.; I felt so much more grounded when I stayed put and got to know more people face to face. So much happier too. Every time I leave the house I’ll see someone I know and who knows me at the grocery store, or at the dairy farm, and I get in at least 6 hugs a day (though 12 is what we need to really thrive and grow, I’ve read). I still have a ways to go.

    Would you ever stop reading responses and maybe meet up with some more locals for face to face time? I’d love to think of the “free hugs” guy sometimes instead of Howard Beale. And no one hugs each other at a yoga class, for sure.

  31. channa
    channa says:

    Have you tried Lots of great classes streaming in HD including some Ashtanga – it’s not as easy to stay focused as it is in a live class, but it’s a lot easier than when you’re doing it completely on your own.

    If I don’t have any guidance I usually end my “practice” early with 20 minutes of texting with my legs up the wall. I was trying to learn Ashtanga so I could get through it with no thinking, but I missed the element of surprise that you get from a led class.

  32. Gwen
    Gwen says:

    I’m glad you listened to the suggestion of having your links automatically open in a new window, but the MORE link to get to the full post should be an exception to that.

  33. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    True about how if you aren’t doing something, it’s because something else is more important. I needed that.

    I guess I skipped the part about hot asses because I’m a girl. It sucks that you have to write 2X length posts to cover all the things your editor wants. I guess that is the point of an editor though. To make you write about everything other people want to read about. Just not me. I don’t want to read about it.

  34. harris497
    harris497 says:

    Way to stir the pot Penny:)
    P.S. Please fix this in the second paragraph.
    “Are there parents who is more stupid when it comes to music than I am? Maybe.

  35. abby
    abby says:

    Visit a mysore class in LA or Encinitas. You will not be the best. Your competitive drive will kick in and motivation should not be a problem until you visit again.

  36. Lourdes
    Lourdes says:

    Your posts look like you spent a lot of time and energy on them;
    why don’t you write an erotic novel, a la 50 shades of gray?
    You are a good writer, already have the same target audience, and will make 1000x more than with a career blog.

  37. cheap plus one
    cheap plus one says:

    I don’t raise kids, so my opinion might seem presumptuous. Genes have the biggest role in how we turn out, but our environment controls gene expression in many subtle ways. If nature was all we had to rely on, we should all just let our kids wander around and believe that if he/she is meant to be great at something they will find their way alone. I am yet to see a human society that functions that way. If genes were all that was important then children of the most accomplished people in the world would always invariable find means to become equally accomplished. So how do you justify this claim exactly that it is all nature? I am just curious how an intelligent person will justify that parenting doesn’t play at least a small role in directing human destiny.

    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Why aren’t the children of the Best and Brightest even Bester and Brightester?

      Regression toward the mean.

      Most people are average. Exceptional people are exceptions. You only get so many of those before they are no longer exceptional. I believe there is an entire genre of literature dedicated to the adolescent angst generated by the expectations of exceptional people for their children who may or may not be exceptional themselves.

  38. William Mitchell, CPRW
    William Mitchell, CPRW says:

    Very funny post. Don’t do Yoga, but you are right about some of us liking reference to great legs and firm tushies sticking in the air. But I can comment on the resume. :)

    Yes, one page is definitely a preference, but foe those with extensive careers, it depends upon the situation. Don’t forget that databases also need to bw impressed as well, and nothing does it like good relevant job description content. Many of your keywords come from this. Of course, two pages of fluff is not advised. But as certified writers, we are taught rhat the resume should be as long as it is compelling. But in this economy, a three page resume is definitely a no-no.

  39. Jen Scaffidi
    Jen Scaffidi says:

    “and anyway the Farmer has a foot fetish so my pedicure is as important as my lingerie.”

    “It’s why I have a male editor, actually, so this blog doesn’t become the Internet equivalent of crying after sex; you know, stuff girls think is fine but guys hate.”

    Thanks for making me laugh (loud enough that officemates gave me dirty looks) AND reminding me that time management is only as good as the things I give up for other things.

  40. Ramon
    Ramon says:

    One word comes to mind on the whole nature vs nurture subject and that is Epigenetics. The fact is that genetic expression is tied to the environment. Genes are blueprints not gods somehow isolated from their environment. Arguments can be made on both sides and there are arguments made on both sides. We don’t really know the answer yet.

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