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My Double Life

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Here is the truth, dear Reader. I've been living a double life. To you, I am a blogging cook, music-loving mother, smart-ass, and hell-raising outspoken voice on organic issues. But my day job as CEO of Rodale Inc, the leading health and wellness publisher in the world, goes largely undocumented and written about here.

Why? Well, it's a tough job. It's complicated and, honestly, there are lots of things I either can't talk about (Legal, HR, and Corporate Communications may object) or don't want to leak (strategies, changes, plans, and such). But it's a huge part of who I am, and sometimes it's really hard not to write about it.

It's amazing how many people I meet either think that I'm a farmer or am some sort of homesteading earth mother. But in fact, I spend most of my time in meetings managing extremely challenging financial, technical, editorial (that's publishing-speak for words, pictures, and content) and people issues. I often struggle with needing to make changes that impact people's lives significantly and balancing those changes with the need to keep the Rodale business healthy to support the many people whose lives rely on our staying in business--including all our millions of customers. It's the hardest thing I do, and the most rewarding.

And lately, I've been so busy that I don't really feel like cooking! Every weekend, I look at the basil in my garden and think, damn, if I don't make pesto this weekend, the frost is going to come and I'm going to go a whole winter without pesto. It's a horrid thought! But so far, I haven't been able to make myself do it. Sometimes that happens.

What's even harder is squeezing in time to write blogs. I am woefully behind on them, partly because many of the things I feel like writing about wouldn't pass through my PR team (PR stands for Protect Rodale, and I thank them for it!).  Right now, it's 11:24 at night and I've just come from an Heirloom Vegetable Auction in New York City at which an internship at the Rodale Institute auctioned for $11,000! That was a refreshing moment; it's nice to see there is some economic vitality out there!

This morning, I went to the dentist for my regular cleaning. The highlight of my day was the relaxing cleaning my hygienist gives. (Can you believe it? She's a rock star!) My teeth are very clean because I use Kiss My Face organic toothpaste (and I had no cavities, again).  Anyway, she was complaining about the state of American politics and how the Republicans and tea partiers are behaving like children. "Worse," I said, "because at least children have the excuse of being children."  Conversations like that remind me that there really is a lot of petulant blocking and bickering out there, but I'm determined to be an adult and rise above it.

So pardon me, please, if I am not my usual perky foodie self. The older I get and the more challenging the business, the harder it is to keep my double life double. And maybe that's ok. Maybe it's time for me to be who I really am all the time: a very complicated, multidimensional, hard-working woman who struggles to balance everything; who loves my company and also loves my family very much; and who loves to cook and garden when I'm in the mood. I also passionately believe that we all have a responsibility to protect our children and nature, which we depend on to enable our future. And as I've said before, if you strip everything else away, I am at my core a writer. Which is why I won't stop writing, even if it's hard.

I'm just warning you, there might be some more business blogs ahead (I promise I'll keep it interesting). But the work my company does touches the lives of millions of people every day, and it allows me to be myself.  And ultimately, when I can work on the things that I care about every day, at the office and at home, it is a pretty good double life.

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.

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