Hi there,

I hope you had a restful break. I feel compelled to say that because well, that’s what we say in corporate America after a shared break.

We, working people of the world, are supposed to work to the max and then take vacations where we stare into a body of water, tasteful beverage in hand, and recharge.

But my beef with this is that it puts a lot of pressure on both work and vacation. What if you don’t have the time, money, or energy to book a sunrise hike? What if you, as a working parent, end up picking up a lot of extra (unpaid) work over the holidays and the only beverage you have handy is a flat seltzer?


What is a “normal” break anyway?

You might be picking up that this isn’t a hypothetical. For me, this break wasn’t a picture perfect manifestation of rest. It was messier and involved an excessive amount of Emily in Paris. I’m deciding to normalize that as an okay “break” too.

See, I was going to do a family ski trip but due to a last minute issue, we needed to cancel it (in the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal). So instead of gracefully gliding down a mountain into après-ski, I ended up with a last-minute staycation.

My son, perhaps sensing parental weakness, immediately learned to climb out of his crib which meant that instead of our usual easy bedtime routine, my husband and I alternated night watch so our klutz-son didn’t end up in the ER. And that ended up bearing an eerie resemblance to our shared military service versus, say, a romanic trip to Bali.

When it rains, it pours

And then I had an early miscarriage, which is both emotionally difficult but also a physical and logistical pain in the ass. I should say that I’m fine – having had one child, the pressure feels lighter, and having already had a miscarriage, the pain/frustration is also lessened.

(Side bar: why are doctors’ message portals so clunky? Can some startup out there pivot from 12-minute grocery delivery to tackling this problem?)

So instead of staring at a placid lake, I found myself chasing my son, maniacal from lack of sleep, while he scooted through muddy puddles. I felt too nauseous to enjoy anything other than flat seltzer. And then my son gave me and my husband the greatest gift of all, conjunctivitis.

New year, new perspectives

Now, back at work, am I sitting at my computer feeling totally restored? No, no I am not. But what my break lacked in Instagram worthy sunsets and reflections on “work life balance,” it made up for in all the cheesy stuff that actually brings joy. My family supported me (even my son begrudgingly agreed to return to his bedtime routine), my business partner was an actual partner, and work chilled out enough for me to burn through a truly-bad true crime audiobook.

So if your break was restful in the traditional sense, good for you. I hope you recharged and savored the moment. And if your break was more of a shit-show, I hear that, too, and might I suggest The Good Nurse?

Here’s to a 2023 that brings you rest, joy, productivity, and the like.

What I’m reading

  • This Bloomberg article on Shopify cutting back on meetings. Nothing revolutionary, but a good reminder to free up the calendar: “The best thing founders can do is subtraction,” Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke, who co-founded the company, said in an emailed statement. “It’s much easier to add things than to remove things. If you say yes to a thing, you actually say no to every other thing you could have done with that period of time.”
  • Most likely unrelated to work, but this New Yorker article about non-Ukranian soldiers who’ve gone to fight in Ukraine was phenomenal.

What I’m listening to

Shameless self promotion, but I promise I did listen back to it: this podcast episode I did with Cash & Burn was fun because it was more of a behind-the-scenes look at company building.

Until next time,

Roxanne Petraeus

CEO & Co-founder, Ethena

P.S. – Thanks to reader Peggy who identified the quote from my last newsletter. It looks like it’s from The Promises of Giants by John Amaechi.