posted June 23rd, 2011 by Janet Graham - Leave a Comment

The subtitle of Dish which was written by Barbara Moses is Midlife Women Tell the Truth about Work, Relationships and the Rest of Life.


Moses says the book is populated by many voices. Over the years immediately prior to her writing the book, she received close to a thousand stories from women, including those who responded to an email survey she did, in connection with an article she wrote about why women should fight to express their authentic selves at work. She married these thousand voices to those of thirty women, in their late-thirties to mid-fifties, whom she calls life mentors, insightful, thoughtful, interesting women who she personally selected to be part of the group. And she changed all of their names.


Moses says: “This book will help the questioning, seeking woman, whether she suffers from career malaise or life malaise, or seeks confirmation of her choices. It will illuminate what we wish we had known earlier, good advice in the voice of a very smart friend whispering secrets in our ear. It will help younger women by sharing life lessons from savvy women about what they did well and what they would have done differently. And it will satisfy the prurient need we all have to snoop into each others lives.”


She hopes: “You will consider me and the other voices in Dish as a collective life mentor for approaching the midlife challenges of seeking to redefine work, relationships and the rest of life.”


In terms of career advice, Moses interviewed women and asked, “Looking back over your career, what regrets do you have? What are you most proud of? If you had one piece of advice to a younger woman, what would it be?” This is their distilled wisdom:



Moses includes collective wisdom for mothers and with respect to relationships in both cases under the heading “What We Wish Someone Had Told Us” which I haven’t included here, however, it is worth reading.


Throughout the book, Moses offers her take on things based on her research and observations over the years, for example, she provides the five archetypes of midlife women who populate organizations with a fulsome explanation of each.  In another section, she defines eight distinct work motivations and describes their implications for midlife women. She does the same for contemporary mother archetypes, identifying dominant types of mothers. And for the archetypes of midlife relationships with enough detail to allow the reader to identify the type of relationship they are in.


In the final chapter, “Women Confidential”, Moses offers “Summary Dish: Fourteen Secrets of Success for Work and Life from Women for Women”.  She asks: “What does it mean to have a life worth living?” and answers with: “This is the distilled wisdom of what interesting midlife women have learned about creating a life they feel good about which honours their most important values, needs, and glorious complexities.”



Moses talks about the approach she has taken to her own career and life in a section she has called “Creating a Portfolio Career, and Life.” This section really resonated with me, so I will share it with you.


“I have a portfolio career: it consists of writing books and columns, mentoring, tropping (travelling and shopping), running a business, giving speeches, gardening, and volunteer work. Each of these activities meet needs — intellectual, aesthetic, philanthropic, and financial.


Every year I take on one new activity that stretches me, and absorbs me completely, sometimes obsessively. One year it was mounting a landmark conference on work-life balance and promoting children’s wellness, another it was refining my garden, the next, writing a book. This is how I deal with boredom at midlife.


I think this is one of the most organic types of career configurations available to midlife women, especially those with multiple interests or the drive to explore new territory. It is based on the assumption that we have many needs and desires and play many roles.”


You might feel like I have summarized the entire book for you, in fact, I have not. I did find so many gems within the book, I simply couldn’t help myself. However, there are many areas I have left virtually untouched which I believe you will find very helpful, including those on motherhood (and sex!!). I had this one on my bookshelf for some time before I picked it up and read it, perhaps I didn’t want to admit I was in “mid-life.” Regardless, I highly recommend this one and it is one which you don’t have to read in one sitting; you can check out various parts of it when you are looking for the distilled wisdom of a group of intelligent women!









Be Sociable, Share!

Write a comment

You need to login to post comments!