You can’t get respect until you know what you want to be respected for.

I was talking to this woman who’s in her late 20s about how you have to know what you want to be respected for in order to feel respected.

People can’t respect you if you don’t respect you.
I can’t tell you her name. Let’s call her Imogene because it’s one of the most popular names of 2014 and I want this blog to feel fresh even though I’m writing about a topic that I have not been able to shut up about for five years.

My investors respect me. But I’m pretty sure they respect me for my track record and not for what I’m doing now, which is running a startup in slow motion.

But whatever. It’s my fourth startup. They’re all the same. You waste money on things that don’t work. Over and over again. The problem is believing in yourself through all that. And I’ve done that.

Speaking of my startup, this  would be a great time to announce a new course, because you are listening, but instead I’m going to go on a tirade.

So I was talking to Imogene and she told me that I’m having so much trouble with my current life because I want to be respected for work, but I feel compelled to give my kids a great childhood to make up for my own shitty childhood, so I am focused on my kids instead of my work and it’s not fulfilling.

I was defensive, and then incredulous, and then I thought “Fuck her.”

You can fail at a lot and still earn respect.
And it’s really bad I am writing this because Imogene will recognize herself as the object of my wrath. But sometimes you have to shoot the messenger – we can’t be our best selves all the time.

So in that spirit, I’m just going to tell you. It was Melissa.

Melissa said this to me, and I was really shocked. Because Melissa is usually right about everything.

But she pissed me off so much that I realized that I think I’m doing great, and I can’t actually believe that she can’t see that I’m doing great.

Here’s where I’m not doing great:

I wish I were writing more.
I wish I were doing webinars more.
I wish I still have a twentysomething butt.

I take anti-anxiety medicine that maybe I would not need if I were not a mom. But probably I would need to take it because when I was the standout startup girl everyone lusted for, I was also throwing up in-between team-bonding meetings. So probably I need anti-anxiety medicine for whatever I do.

Look at what you do well. Now. That’s what earns you respect, whether you like it or not.
What I’m saying is that I love this blog so much and thank you so so so much for reading and also thank you for making this blog have such great comments that even my brother who is a total big shot—and I can’t believe I hide his name here because his whole office reads my blog—even he says I have some of the smartest comments of any blog.

When I question if I’m successful, I think about this blog. And how I’ve been able to earn enough money to not starve. (Even though sometimes I have to use the farm account if I have bad cash flow.) (And even though right now my husband wants to kill me.) But even though he wants to kill me, I have a solid marriage (which is not really a marriage because he won’t marry me because I have too many tax problems) but even those are not huge problems to me because I can compartmentalize.

Which, by the way, is an innate skill of all good CEOs. It just happens that it’s not usually a skill of women. And I’m a rockstar at compartmentalization. (You have to be, to throw up during work and still look like a leader.)

It’s okay to stop caring about some stuff.
So I am happy that I’m homeschooling my kids. And some days I want to kill myself because most of the people I used to network with I would rather die than talk to me now. Because I have nothing to say. Because I don’t care what they’re doing.

I just want to be a good mom and have intelligent conversation. And in the end, I want respect for this blog and respect for being a good mom.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s easy to be a good mom. Maybe it is. I wouldn’t know, because I have a mom who did not get respect for her parenting. Well, at least from her kids. The rest of the world, the world that does not read my blog, thinks she’s a great parent because all her kids have big jobs.

If you count my job as big. My mom calls me a journalist because she’s from the generation that thinks that job is impressive.

You can only get respect for something you work hard at.
What I call myself is someone doing a good job of keeping my life interesting while I raise my kids.

And I’m meeting my goals. Like, I can pay my taxes.

My investors are rich and famous and you would know them but I promised a thousand times that I would not name them on the blog. I’ll tell you, though, that I’ve learned a lot from them. Especially about my taxes.

Still, I will not get your respect from handling my taxes properly because I don’t care enough. I won’t even be able to get married for learning to do my taxes right; my (not) husband still thinks I’m a maniac with my money.

I had forty years of therapy so I can be a good mom. But still, we all go to a family therapist because I’m so scared of being my parents, so scared of messing things up.

I respect myself because I’m doing something really hard for me.

On anti-anxiety medicine. Because all this makes me nervous, but that’s why I have you along for the ride. Thank you.

Writing this post was not hard for me. It took me only five years. Five years of trying to figure out who I am if I am not a top-flight serial entrepreneur. But who I am is fine. I want to be respected for doing work I like and being the kind of mom I want to be. And for keeping a friend like Melissa, who’s willing to tell me stuff that makes me want to scream.

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  1. Nate
    Nate says:

    I love your honesty! Although few would know it, I have daily pessimistic thoughts that make me want to throw in the towel. Struggling to balance work and writing and marketing … ugh. I feel how you feel! Let’s keep showing up for the fight …! (Although I’d rather have a beer and play xbox EVERY NIGHT FOR FEAR OF FAILURE :)

  2. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    When people asked me what I did for a living, I used to joke that I was a bum, because that’s what I felt like. And I still feel that way a bit, and am technically unemployed, but now I can talk about all the stuff I do every day in a way that makes them ask if I’m a freelancer. My blog got me a trial-parttime-gig at a startup here in London, and that’s made me confident enough to call myself a writer. The founder said my writing was edgy, but I’m worried I can only write well if I’m telling all my secrets on the internet, which has started to become an issue with the guys I date. They get jealous, as if I’m being intimate with everyone because I’ll talk about my contraceptive implant with people in bars I’ve just met. But I’ve been so scared to be myself for so long, that now I’m finally getting comfortable with the idea of it I’m actually getting good at being me too.

  3. brooklynchick
    brooklynchick says:

    1. There is nothing wrong with being on anti-anxiety medication. Would you question it if it were for thyroid maintenance?

    2. There is nothing wrong with not having a 20-something butt when you are no longer 20-something, especially when your body grew two human people!!

    3. Family therapy is such a smart thing to do.

    4. If *anyone* in the world says it’s easy to be a good mom, they are 100% certifiably insane, stupid and probably mean.

    • Kathy Donchak
      Kathy Donchak says:

      No there is not anything wrong with any medication. As someone who is keenly aware of anxiety problems since I am bi polar and knowing that horticulture therapy is a real and helpful solution I added that comment. I know how much Penelope enjoys her garden so I added that information for her. Medication is a treatment just as are complimentary therapies.

  4. Nur Costa
    Nur Costa says:

    I have goosebumps after reading this post… It is really difficult to overcome your writings in sincerity and realism.
    But with this post, you made the impossible possible: you’ve outdone yourself and I’m moved.
    I feel great guessing that Imogen was Melissa. This means you’re doing your job perfectly ;) A strange girl from Barcelona who never spoke to you and can guess who told you that.

    Take care and keep writing.

  5. Maggie Graham
    Maggie Graham says:

    I wish I had a smart comment to make, but today I just have gratitude. Thanks for writing this post. And for all of the work that you do.

    Also, I’d like to know about your new course, so I’ll go to your web site to find out about it.

  6. Lady Blue
    Lady Blue says:

    Your transparent writing always inspires me to be more upfront in my writing (and life!) I just recently revealed something on a dating profile that was very hard for me to admit. I had written that I sought someone interesting, kind and successful, but decided to dive a little deeper after little success. Under the most private thing that I’m willing to admit, I wrote that I’m looking for a man who wants to take care of me. I could feel the tightness in my chest as I typed it. It was difficult, but I knew it was the right thing to do, as it’s what I need right now. Only now, after 10 years of dating, do I actually seem to be coming across men who have serious potential. Thank you.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I got attracted a totally different type of man when I admitted I was scared of being alone.

      I question the whole mindset about not needing someone – if you are complete without someone else then only someone with really bad self-esteem would be attracted to you because you don’t need that person. People with good self-esteem want to be needed.

      I think. At this point in my life I think that is how it is. And Lady Blue, I like you better with your new profile :)


  7. Karelys
    Karelys says:

    You’re a good friend to Melissa if she chose to say those things to you.
    I’ve wanted to say those things sometimes but we’re not close enough for me to cross that line.

    • MBL
      MBL says:

      LOL, I actually guessed it was you! Well, up until the part where PT said she thought “Eff her!” ’cause that just didn’t seem right.

  8. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    Thank you for this blog post, and all the others that you’ve done on self-acceptance, which is really what this is about. Your insightful views have helped me find my voice, trust my instinct, and gain respect.

  9. TheMaskedHSMom
    TheMaskedHSMom says:

    I love how you just get right to the core of it. It’s like I’m reading about myself, from someone who might know me better than myself. I think that’s an art so you’ve got my respect.

    Sometimes I’m totally over the “great” career I used to have — the more years that come between then and now. When I’m mostly over that need to feel respected by past people in my life is not when LinkedIn is sending me emails about the latest promotions those people are getting. It’s when I’m completely in my element of what I’m doing right now and doing a kick ass job. And it’s MY definition of what kick ass is. And I have pretty high standards.

    I’m sure my former co-workers (and probably some friends and family) think I’m a complete nut and maybe a drop out loser, but I don’t care because I think I have a rockin’ life. I’m living overseas and we get to travel a lot, I’m homeschooling my kids and it’s going really great (except the times when they tell me they hate me and slam doors and I retaliate by telling them I’m enrolling them in boarding school…but that doesn’t happen too often), and I have the bandwidth to explore all sorts of whims. But it’s also because the opportunities are still wide open for what I might do next (even if it’s a nap). Anticipation and freedom is a heady concoction.

  10. Alan
    Alan says:

    I encourage, support, coach, and counsel lots of people with autism spectrum/asperger syndrome differences…

    all of them have anxiety issues…many take meds or self medicate with a variety of drugs and/or alcohol…

    it seems pretty “normal” that you would still be dealing with anxiety after all these years…you seem to be incredibly motivated to do more and more!

    how could this not add recurring and chronic stress to your life? and it seems obvious that the more you do, the more you expect, and the more this will complicate or even exaggerate the normal amounts of anxious energy that come from living in a majority world population of neurotypicals.

    I think you are doing awesomely well, and kicking butt along the way, and I think how you are feeling is totally normal for the life you live! your family is lucky to have the chance to share the load with you, and vice versa!

  11. Steve Mielczarek
    Steve Mielczarek says:

    BARBIE+KEN host a “Last Supper” with REG and PRINCESS, next door neighbours. Billy, their kid, is missing. Goat is cooking on the stove.

  12. Ayanna
    Ayanna says:

    I loved this post! I don’t know what it says about me but I laughed, I don’t know how many times..out loud. Was it supposed to be funny? Or, am I in a funny mood today?

  13. Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti
    Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti says:

    Penelope you are the master of taking the universal (insecurity) and making it personal (your own version). I’m a therapist and write a mental health blog and I’m always trying to do that with symptoms, because we are–every one of us–imperfect, symptomatic, magnificent beings.
    thank you for your raw, funny, engaging truth telling.

  14. amy parmenter
    amy parmenter says:

    There are things I respect about myself and things I don’t respect about myself. I accept that as the human experience but strive to ‘change the things I can’. Focusing on what it is I want to be respected for is probably something I don’t do well enough, so I’m going to do that now – so I can add it to the list of things I respect about myself.

    Therapy. Worth every penny.


  15. Rebecca@Midcenturymodernremodel
    Rebecca@Midcenturymodernremodel says:

    This post makes so much sense to me and is incredibly good advice although so simple, people might miss it.

    1) Look at what you do well. Now. That’s what earns you respect, whether you like it or not.

    I have been fighting #1 for five years. Fighting. But within the last year, I stopped fighting it and relaxed into it, and all the sudden I am getting the respect I have craved.

    2) You can only get respect for something you work hard at.

    And, #1 combined with #2 is the killer app. I am working hard at the things I do well, and what people respect me for, and not trying to be perfect with the things at work that don’t really matter. Like reading and responding to every email.

    Thanks Penelope!

  16. Mairzy
    Mairzy says:

    Wow, this really hit home. I spent years trying to earn my father’s respect. I got it when he died and made me the executor of his estate, instead of any of my doctor or accountant brothers.
    I am really good at what I do. I know this because people tell me that when they ask me for advice or referrals of people who are like me. This makes me feel good.
    But right now, I’m either unemployed (if you ask my husband) or self-employed (if you ask me). I am following my desire to run an online shop and I’m working my tail off to get it ready by September 1.
    The reason I’m doing this is that I quit my last job because my boss didn’t respect me. I turned 60 in February, so experience wasn’t the issue. I’ve failed before and used those experiences to learn how to keep moving forward. She was crushing me and I just said, “Fuck it” and quit.
    Also, my closest friend, who I’ve known for 30 years, is dying. She might live another six months, but they won’t be going out to dinner and traveling months. She is slowly dying and a part of me is going with her.
    Armed with that perspective, I’m happily self-employed and looking to open my shop on September 1. After that, I really don’t know what I’ll do. But it will be OK. Because I’ve taken a pause – the first in 38 years – to put myself first and respect my opinion about what I can do.

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:


      first, I am really sorry to hear about your friend; I also have a very long time friend who is dying albeit more slowly from a slow growth cancer and there are surprising issues that are arising for me from this illness so I am very simpatcio on this point. That point was not what hooked me in to replying to your comment however.

      I have had a online business for seven years, and my husband also refers to me as unemployed! Granted, I do not earn as much money as I would if I gave myself over to a huge company working full time as I have in the past before I had children ( they are now ages 13 and 14) but my business pays for all vacations, new furniture, remodels, etc and allows me flexibility caring for my kids. He is 55, is that the issue?

      • Mairzy
        Mairzy says:

        Thanks, Lisa. I am sorry to hear about your friend. In my case, I have recently considered myself to be the less healthy person, so this caught me by surprise. And the rapidity of decline is stunning as I watch this woman who, eight weeks ago, was working a 45-hour week and going to the gym at 6 am 3x weekly, now shrivel away. She and I both lost our moms at early ages and it shaped both of us. This is hitting me very hard.

        I think the issue with my husband is that he is used to me always working and earning a pretty substantial salary. To go from that to working at something that might earn me 10% of my prior salary is scary for both of us. I am 60 and he is 63, so this all wraps back into my thoughts about life expectancy. I lost a brother at age 32 to an avalanche; I am hyper-aware of the fragility of life and cannot bring myself to plan for an 80- to 90-year old life span. So we are having lots of conversations about quality of life and what we will do if I don’t go back to the corporate world.

        I am just trying to live in the moment and see what happens. My life has been filled with surprises – good and bad – so I’m OK with just waiting.

        My thoughts are with you and your friend. Thanks for your message.

        • DL
          DL says:

          Mairzy and Lisa, I can relate to the husband-self-employment-attitude thing. I’m in my 50s, and have been a work-from-home, self-employed graphic designer for ten years. I’m doing okay but will never get rich. For many years I could tell my husband was concerned about our finances, like it sure would be nice if I earned more and was putting more away for retirement (even though we’re doing just fine). Over time I think I’ve been able to convince him of the benefits of my working lifestyle: like the flexibility of being there for people who need me, or taking off whenever he wants to do something together, or raising our own food for a healthier lifestyle…all these things add great value to our lives and I wouldn’t be able to do them if I worked for someone else.

  17. Jean
    Jean says:

    Interestingly enough, I do respect you for having an interesting job. And I respect you for being a good mom. I respect you for going against the grain. Sounds like a win-win-win to me. I actually talk about your blog all the time and I think what you say is uplifting and gives people who lack the support the balls to do what they want to do and stay realistic about it. I’m so glad you exist.

  18. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Life is long. Today you earn respect for X. In ten years, you earn respect for Y. Do what it takes to make Y possible in the future, even if that means it’s not your focus now.

  19. Jennifa
    Jennifa says:

    And maybe it also matters from whom you want respect? And if you respect the people who are giving you respect. Or if you are chasing after a certain goup of people to get respect from.

  20. Su
    Su says:

    I started reading your blog to help me better understand and encourage my teenage son in his quest to live as a human and not as someone labeled as being on the Autism spectrum. While your blog *is* helping in that regard, I find more and more that your blog posts resonate with ME and in some spooky way, correlates nearly perfectly with what happens to be going on in my life. THANK YOU for sharing so much of yourself with us.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is such a nice comment, Su. Thank you. I want people to come here for both things – to read about Aspergers and to read about what it’s like to be an adult today. It is hard to be an adult. Even if you don’t have Aspergers, I think.


  21. PhB
    PhB says:

    I have the feeling that you didn’t succeed for once to tell us what you really want to tell us about “You can’t get respect until you know what you want to be respected for.” I have the feeling that your post is not “fully written”. Something is missing. Maybe the “to be the good mom” thing is a little bit “overplayed”. It’s like there is a blind spot – somewhere. Or maybe I’m frustrated because I really like your “what you want to be respected for”? Maybe I’m suffering of I-mogenisation? Don’t know but thanks.

  22. Tara Sayers Dillard
    Tara Sayers Dillard says:

    Trinities are a great notion.

    You have your children/family-good, career-good, concern about respect-fuck that shit.

    Be Who You Are, all else will follow.

    My dad the NASA engineer blah-blah was horrified & embarrassed by my career choice. Do not use my engineering degree, only the horticulture. And, am thriving. Doing great in a bad economy. Go me.

    How crazy is that? Designing gardens, lecturing about gardens, writing books about gardens, etc.

    Hope you are using the farm to calm your soul. One of my clients lived across the globe for decades then moved to gated millionaires community here. It almost killed her. She bought a 300 acre farm. The wider community seeks her out in many arenas. I ask her how she knew to leave the toxic millionaires, she just ‘knew’.

    Be Who You Are, Penelope. Something I want, selfishly, because I learn from you. More, Providence simply wants you to find your zone of grace. Unlimited potential there.

    Seeking respect? FTS. It arrives as residue of your Life.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  23. Mary Going
    Mary Going says:

    Hahaha! It was Melissa. Made me laugh out loud. For real. And, for real, this is the ONLY blog I actually read – even though it has nothing to do with what I *should* be reading.

  24. Cheryl Child
    Cheryl Child says:

    The standards that we set, all of them, are made up in our heads, pure fantasy. Then instead of treating them as such, we apply them as a measurement for everything, every experience, every encounter, but most of all we use them as an instrument of torture, a whip to beat ourselves up with.

  25. Maria
    Maria says:

    Awww come on, Melissa!

    Seriously? First, it’s not the mothering that’s the issue and it’s not the working on the blog that’s the issue.

    Life is about choices. It’s the 14 hour drives for Cello lessons that could have been done on Skype. Gas is expensive and your time is valuable. It’s the flights to Beverly hills to get botox. Flying is expensive and I assume so is botox. It’s the expensive LA haircuts when not washing hair for weeks. It’s wasted time too.

    It’s the self loathing. It’s the “See I’m making this BIG sacrifice aren’t you impressed!”

    Look, I was working 2 jobs and taking classes and being a single mom. Then I was self employed because I kept getting fired for missing work with a sick child even though I was winning awards and was their best employee. And while self employed I was taking classes and home schooling.

    Respect comes from the self, from within. But if you have an eating disorder and low self worth, you keep trying to get affirmation of your worth from those around you and that’s a shame.

    I suffer from anxiety as well. I used to need 2 extra large Caramel Machiattoes to get going in the morning and knock on doors. I was high on sugar and caffeine. Then my body had a mutiny and started breaking down. I would get the shakes to the point I thought I might have Parkinson’s. Diabetes runs in my family. I had to make a change.

    Life is about choices. If your common law husband is abusing you and wants to kill you than YOU need to pack your stuff and your kids and MOVE. It’s not healthy. It’s not about the farm. It’s about health and safety.

    Speaking of respect, if HE doesn’t respect you and the kids see that than when they are older, they will not respect you either. So you need to teach your kids how women should be treated and what happens if they are not respected.

    If you are thinking of killing yourself than you need TO MAKE A MAJOR CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE because your soul is telling you that this is not working out.

    I wrote an article “A” is for Assault on how domestic violence affects women in business including self employed women.

    Low self worth is the problem. Not respect.

    I have people try and put my down all the time. I make fun of them. Seriously. Like being told I don’t belong because I’m the only woman in a technology meetup “The only Vagina in a Room full of Dicks” or when I was walking my dog late at night and the police thought I was a prostitute because I was talking to a man who had approached me “Cops” or how I was lied to and those Dicks tried to keep me from learning robotics language “Tawanda!”.

    I just wrote one on suicide “E” is for the Elephant in the room.

    I have plenty of friends and relatives who suffer from low self worth and self loathing. They all have dealt with eating disorders. Being liked, being respected is externalized. They look great in a bathing suit, but they all get depressed if they are not noticed. The obsession takes over their lives. They can’t experience bliss without worrying about appearances.

    I’m not perfect. But you know what, my last thought when they were going to operate on me was “I’m so glad I had that steak dinner, mmmm, and those mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy was sooo good!” And when I woke up from surgery, I was just greatful I was alive (I had a 2 pound fibroid and was severely anemic, almost died on the operating table). I launched a photography business because it made me happy. I don’t care what people think of my photography, I think it’s cool and I think I’m cool and ultimately, that’s what’s important. Ok, I want my now grown successful yuppy child to think I’m cool too.

    Seriously, have fun with the kids, have fun with your work. Meditate, cry, get good sleep, and smell the flowers, winter is coming soon enough.

    As for traveling. If you must travel and drive get a used small motor home so if you have to drive, you have a place to sleep and work and keep food. The kids have a place to stretch. And you have a bathroom! A class 25 foot Class C is a good one as it drives like a van. And you can use it for camping!

    It’s not the destination, but the quality of your travels that counts.

    Enjoy the ride.



    • C.A. Lewis-McCarren
      C.A. Lewis-McCarren says:

      Truth, truth, truth!!! Absolute truth! Maria, you may need help with the grammar, but this is good observation and advice. Life CAN be simple – it’s the over thinking and worry/anxiety of meeting expectations that does us in.

      We are made to be productive and we are made to feel connected. When the bar is lowered (low self worth) then we NEED those external props to help us with the illusion of our “bliss”. Unfortunate thing: our self knows the BS and then it manifests is so many ways (body, soul, mind).

      No judgement here – my life has been and sometimes continues to be a crash and burn novel. Penelope, you are my friend… still and HEAR . KNOW YOURSELF and love her right where your at.

      • Maria
        Maria says:

        Yeesh! LOL… See what sleep deviation can do to you? I wish I could go back and edit my previous post!

        I want to apologize to Penelope for being so harsh, but when you discuss your “husband” wanting to KILL you and you wanting to KILL yourself, after Robin William’s suicide and from my own experience with friends, it’s time someone spoke up and did an intervention.

        You are so talented and have a big heart and want to be a good parent. That’s wonderful. We all care about you, but give yourself a break. Perfectionism causes anxieties. It’s OK not to be perfect. Art is messy and it’s beautiful. Raising kids is messy, and they are beautiful. Running a business can be messy, and it is also beautifully creative and exciting .

        Failure is when you quit. Otherwise, it’s just in transition for another day. I have worked in projects that have been hacked multiple times. I have rebuilt them over and over. I refuse to quit. Even when quitting was the smart thing to do.

        I have had those who had everything envy my passion and excitement over ideas when I had nothing. Happiness and self appreciation come with self respect and contentment.

        As for success… I live in an RV with my dog and hang out at McD for wifi coffee and cheap burgers while I create. Every now and then, I take a break and freelance or work for someone else. I feel like a sell out. But each time I get a little closer to my goals. But if I never reach my goals, I make sure to have a blast trying!



  26. Jim B
    Jim B says:

    Wonderful, real, authentic, witty, heartfelt. You are a strong and brave woman putting it out there every day. Tons of respect to you.

  27. Dannielle
    Dannielle says:

    Wow. Wow wow wow wow.

    In this post you hit the nail right on the head. And it is heartbreakingly beautiful to read.

    I will never be known as the person who dedicated her life to raising her kids better than she was.

    For this I respect you Penelope. Because you will be.

  28. lynne A. whiteside
    lynne A. whiteside says:

    who you are is fine, who you are is perfect, there has never been anything wrong with you, are enough and have always been enough. hard to believe? if you just ask for help all the time, help me, help you, help us. it’s my mantra, oh and I AM another good self talk.

  29. Logan
    Logan says:

    I think the bulimia is a bit worrisome. There is a theory that people who are bulimics have internal parasites. I’m not sure what your dietary regimen is but throwing up messes up the electrolytes in your body which could lead to anxiety.

    If I may suggest- coconut water and blueberry smoothies have a very relaxing effect. I also tried the Fat Flush diet which consisted of adding 8 glasses of cranberry juice daily- and found it has really helped.

    I think part of self-respect is also respecting your body. I think when I was in my early twenties, there was a need to be famous by 24, to have become a millionaire and have a PhD by 30, to be a perfect size 0, to have accomplished all these myriad cookie cutter goals. But in the end, self-respect is a combination of mind + body. Although having ambition and goals is important, I think so many people get caught up in the rat race towards an illusory perfection.

    If I think about the happiest moments in my life, although my life is far from perfect, it is right now.

  30. Cay
    Cay says:

    There’s this quote that goes something like, “The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are. The second greatest is being happy with what you find.”

    As a gifted child who faced corresponding expectations, I’ve chased and achieved my share of “I should be doing this” goals.

    However, when it comes down to it, I’ve discovered that I’m a decent person. All things considered, that’s the core of my story.

    I’m pretty happy with it. That is, being a decent person, solving problems as they come.

  31. Cay
    Cay says:

    Accidentally posted the comment above. What I meant by it is, people only see a sliver of the story, and they do whatever they want with it. Who cares what they think. Every day is all we ever get.

  32. Becky
    Becky says:

    Penelope I want you to follow your heart. I would like to see a blog post from you that’s just about your kids, and not about work at all.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Becky, there are about 500 posts like that on my education blog. You can read it here:

      I really love writing about work. My career is what pulled me through the toughest times in my life. And understanding my relationship to work has made me a better person. Something I’m realizing is that no matter how much work I’m doing. I always have some sort of relationship to my work, and I like writing about that.

      I’m the breadwinner, and I can never stop working. So I have to always be dealing with what work is to me.


  33. Jeannie E.
    Jeannie E. says:

    Good god, please reconsider your life. You are a complete and utter blow hard.

    Blah, blah, my startups. Blah, blah, my home-schooled kids.

    Blah, blah, me, me, me, me.

    You likely grew up in an abusive home, I’m betting.

  34. Katrine
    Katrine says:

    Namaste Penelope,
    You might not know … but I’ll tell you now – you are such a wonderful inspiration, all the way to Europe, Scandinavia, Denmark – I’ll call that a wonderful SUCCESS!
    Thanks for sharing your life with me, what a courage it must take and my RESPECT for that too. I’m sitting here in my self-designed every day, with an income nearly able to catch up with taxes and bills. Cutting expenses by driving and eating less = having a better health! Having energy to be supportive to: almost-adult-kids, husband, friends and other people who turns up on my doorstep, discovering every day that life is fucking fantastic, especially when I take my time to breathe and inhale and sense my own thoughts and feelings and accept that. Hmm maybe accept comes just before respect …
    After several years I finally feel comfortable, found the RESPECT for my self-employment and the tasks I’m solving … I just realized when reading you blog, this is exactly what has happened, I finally got RESPECT for my own work and competences.
    I’m also surrounded with people that choose the standard to be in an everyday that is scheduled by others and therefore are stressed out, feel bad etc. The statistics for Denmark having an epidemic situation on stress related illnesses is huge, it could actually take down the national economy – and our politicians finally discovered that too! I realize this is also about RESPECT – people work like hell to catch some respect from colleagues, bosses, friends, family … oh dear oh dear – what a wrong horse to ride!
    This I will teach – and practice on my almost-adult-kids, husband, friends and other people that will turn up on my doorstep…
    With all my RESPECT (my new keyword – it taste wonderful)

    Thank You – I love you
    Katrine // Denmark

  35. Kelly Exeter
    Kelly Exeter says:

    Everyone needs a Melissa in their life. You wouldn’t have gotten defensive and written this post if there wasn’t a grain of truth in what Melissa was saying right?

    But the good thing about uncomfortable truths is once they’re acknowledged, they cease to be uncomfortable (in my experience anyway) x

  36. Laura
    Laura says:

    I really appreciate your posts and feel more kinship with you than many of my friends or family. You honestly speak of what it feels like to spend all your 20s and 30s working on a career (what we were encouraged to do as intelligent women whether or not we succeeded) and receiving respect in the “career” world with our peers. Then upon having children and choosing to”be there” for them now only getting the respect (or disrespect) relegated a housemaid. The world has its priorities screwed up. I have learned so much about mothering and what my mother went through and how I was truly seen in the working world by men being at home with my children that I will not ever regret my decision to give it all up. The best we can do is get to know ourselves, know our value (something you sure as hell will not get from those who feed off your entrepreneurial energy) and RESPECT ourselves. The more blogs like yours the better.

  37. jestjack
    jestjack says:

    Intersting article….Couple of things … Make no mistake life is messy and we don’t always get it right the first time. This is why there are erasers and divorce lawyers. Don’t be so hard on yourself and somehow find the grace to forgive your parents for a shit childhood. I have finally come to the realization that my folks did the best they could…which is all you can do…

  38. Gemma Hawdon
    Gemma Hawdon says:

    I found your blog through The Write Life. So pleased I did because it has brightened up my entire week. I too dream of a twenty-something butt as well as twenty-something other parts and a twenty-something husband for that matter. I have also been investing in a start-up for the last 15 years and, as a consequence, have very little respect from my children, my forty-something plus husband or myself. Thanks for a very entertaining read, Penelope.

    • jerry
      jerry says:

      Hi Penelope.
      I think your blog’s brilliant. Thank you so much.
      At 43 I just realised in the past few months that I’m neuro-atypical, probably Aspergers. It’s my inability to not be overwhelmed when trying to be my ‘best self’ as a parent that woke me up. Your blog helps. Thank you Penelope. Jerry

  39. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    >I just want to be a good mom and have intelligent conversation.

    I keep trying to tell myself that is all I want too, but the truth is I crave respect. And respect & admiration is so easy much easier for me to get working than it is for being a mom. So I keeping working and trying to do more and more which makes it harder and harder to be the parent I want to be. But when I am being the parent I want to be I am too exhausted to work. It can be soo hard and soo lonely. But you do it too, in a more extreme way and share with us, and admit things like when your startup is not doing well. And for that you have my ultimate respect.

    • Karelys
      Karelys says:

      All you have to do is have a blog that makes your life look perfect and dreamy and then everyone will envy you because they think their life is so much worse ;)

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