My Double Life

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.


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17 Responses to My Double Life

  1. christine October 5, 2011 at 8:19 am #

    Maria-whatever you write about is, to me, eloquent.I enjoy reading all topics. If we lived closer to Emmaus, I’d pick your pesto and make it for you!

  2. Laura K October 5, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    I love your writing and am in awe of your energy.

    It’s becoming more and more difficult for online writers to live double lives, especially for those of you at the helm of a big business.

    I almost fell asleep at my most recent dental appointment. The hygienist had to remind me where I was. Hope you have more autumn relaxation soon outside of the dentist.

  3. Barbara October 5, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    I so understand your complicated life! And I too struggle to get my basil made into pesto. At least my plants are in pots and can be brought in each cold night. No matter what you write, there are many who will read and enjoy every post. I appreciate your perspective on issues, the bits of yourself that you share with us, and your wisdom. Thank you.

  4. James Early October 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I have always admired and been amazed at all you do. And knowing that you were CEO, I was frankly wondering why we didn’t hear more about that side of things. I love to hear about your adventures and experiences but I think you have a lot to share with us from you CEO perspective of running Rodale. It helps us understand the bigger picture better and I look forward to all you are allowed to tell us. It inspires us to take action and it helps us see how we and the choices we make affect the whole.

    I don’t really like the world “Double Life,” because there are many more facets to what you do than two. I know what you mean, but you are one amazing WHOLE person if ever there was one. You would not have the same perspective on daily living that you now have if you weren’t CEO. And vice versa. Both complement the other.

    So keep being yourself and letting us see you as you are. We love you for it.

  5. Sue Stewart October 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    get the kids to pick the basil, clean it if needed, throw it in the food processor with olive oil. Freeze the mixture of oil and basil in small containers (amount needed for pesto) and it will be there fresh and aromatic whenever you need it in winter. I promise.

  6. Maria (farm country kitchen) October 5, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    Thanks to all of you for your support! This is why I love blogging, I get to hear from all of you and feel connected to people on what really matters.

    Maybe this weekend I’ll get to the pesto!

  7. Lisa Trollinger October 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Keep writing. We’re reading.

  8. Donna in Delaware October 7, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I completely understand. There is almost no time for “ME” anymore. It seems that everyone, plus the dog, have it easy except me. Nonetheless, when I get into bed at night, almost exhausted, I know down deep that I have accomplished much during the day and I feel comfortable in knowing that my family is safe, comfortable, warm, healthy and well-fed. Many a person can’t say that, so I am fortunately, blessed. I really admire you, Maria. You make me tired sometimes by the things that you do and accomplish. In that respect, you are a better woman that I am.

    There are times when I don’t even make dinner, and whatever is around in the pantry that can be eaten without cooking, gets eaten and still everyone is happy. So, not to worry. No one, including yourself, won’t suffer for the lack missing a good home cooked meal or two. Take it easy, you’ll be just fine.

  9. Roberta Ling October 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Don’t try to do it all. Believe me, you can’t be a CEO, blogger, wife, mom, housewife, cook, and be entering menopause at the same time. Something will have to give and it just might be your health despite the fact that you’ve been ok so far. How about leaving the housekeeping and the cooking to someone else for the time being? Your choice. We love you and want you to keep on truckin’.

  10. Alina October 24, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Maria, Thanks for writing this. We appreciate it very much. Many of us are stretched very thin, not like you but too thin for our abilities – business, job or few jobs, family, community. For me, it’s actually very good to know that I am not the only one not pulling it all together perfectly and my beans went to waste because I did not collect them in time.:)

  11. donna court October 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

    You’d be prudent to stick to heirlooms and canning topics and leave the political comments to other blogs… there are/were
    people on the conservative end of the spectrum that, while fervent about organic food, do not want to have to cringe while reading your opionion of the Tea Party. If you feel stifled by Rodale corporate legal beagles about topics for which you are passionate about saying or doing maybe you should consider giving up your title.
    Not having the energy to do things you know you would like to do is a sign of being “stuck” due to your subconcious trying to tell you something. My advice would be to listen!

  12. maria (farm country kitchen) November 6, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    I’m sorry, but why is it ok for political conservatives or tea partyists to complain about others expressing their opinion, even if it’s negative? But it’s ok for them to express their own negativity? This is something I am struggling to understand. Civil discourse is the key to a successful democracy. And I do believe in democracy.

  13. team gloria November 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    ah. yes. the pleasures/pains/consequences of a double life.

    we have one too.

    it’s interesting (skyscrapers, international travel, VIPs) but thank goodness for the rest (blogging, thinking, creating, smiling).

    your blog is delightful. can’t wait to read more.

    hang in there, lady.

    _team gloria

  14. Katie November 15, 2011 at 2:06 am #


    You are an inspiration. As an aging 24-year old (silly, I know), I aspire to be a successful entrepreneur, business women and loving mother. I was honestly unsure if it was possible, until I found your blog. While I can hardly relate to your cooking (if anyone out there needs tips on how to perfectly heat a Lean Cuisine…contact me!), your tenacity and dedication to constantly inspiring your readers is incredible. Thank you for letting us know it’s not only do-able, but you can be a kick-ass CEO, and still have frozen pesto!


  15. Todd Nordstrom November 30, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Oops, I think I just fell in love with you!

    If more CEO’s had the guts to share their true voice, like you, the world would be a better place…a little more organic.

    As a fellow writer, it’s refreshing to see your voice, not your keystrokes.

    There is one problem however, someone really needs to sell me on pesto — fresh, frozen, or whatever.

  16. Heather Fieldhack December 23, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    I am one of the millions you touch, each and every day. I work for a printing company and have the privilege of being a part of the team that prints your publications. (We met earlier this year when you came to visit). Thank you for all you do. You inspire me. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season.

  17. Robin Hodges January 5, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    I just found your website and was intrigued. What you’ve written in the above post, is most certainly the “new” woman and has been for a very long time. I have to say that when I whine, I have to tell myself, suck it up buttercup, you CAN do it all, and have always had to (or NOT!). LOL It made me laugh, and for that I thank you. You, like me, need a wife! Someone that shares the same life, desires, values and love of family and friends, and that can take care of YOU and your projects when you don’t have time because you’re too busy being you! I’ve never found that person, and I don’t exactly think my husband of 37 years would appreciate having to deal with another woman after all the years of training that he’s invested in me, HA HA, but the concept is definitely a shared one among women with busy lives.

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