updates: the daily social calls, the trainer who wanted us to “get emotional,” and more

Here are four updates from past letter-writers — plus an announcement that mid-year updates season starts next week!

1. My daily work calls with my boss feel too social

It’s hard to believe how much has changed since I wrote to you. After gaining some space from the issue, I realized there were a few things influencing my and my team’s response to this new supervisor. Namely, my bitterness over not getting the job she was holding and the realization that our manager at the time was not a good leader.

From June to December of 2019, I was working as the temporary supervisor of my team while our permanent supervisor was on a special project. I was repeatedly told that I was doing a fantastic job by my manager, and was diligent about asking for feedback (there was almost none, just “Keep doing what you’re doing! You’re doing great!”). When our permanent supervisor decided to move to a new position related to the special project, I mistakenly thought I was a shoo-in.

I was not.

The pool of candidates was small– just me and Jane. When I was turned down for the position by my manager and his manager, I was told it was due to my mishandling of several personnel issues and projects. I was honestly shocked– see the previous paragraph about how fantastic a job I was doing!– and turned to my manager to express my disappointment over being blindsided when I had been asking for feedback the entire time. He sputtered over his response and it hit me how little of a backbone he had and what a poor manager he was. I believe the decision to give the job to Jane was due to his manager at the time as well; she had never liked me and was known for pigeonholing people into what position she believed was best for them. Honestly, it broke me- but I thought I had processed the hurt and betrayal and moved on by the time our new supervisor started and we went to work-from-home.

My team also didn’t take the news that I was no longer going to be leading them well, and that definitely influenced how they felt about Jane.

We were called back into the office in September of 2020, and three of my teammates left over the inflexibility with this expectation. I was actually happy to be back, and once I got to know Jane in person I truly started enjoying working with her. Fast forward a year to the fall of 2021, and Jane was asked to head-up a special project. During her absence, our backbone-less manager decided to move on to greener pastures that involved no oversight of people. Jane applied for and was chosen to be our manager. Our team then got a new supervisor who thought that the best way to manage was to give the team a say in every decision, which was another nightmare for another letter.

Then, in the summer of 2022, our supervisor left, and I applied and became the permanent supervisor (in large part because of all the advice about cover letters and resumes on AAM)! Jane and I make a great team. She’s really grown and come into her own, and has made so many improvements and gone to bat for the team in a way our previous manager never would.

In a final funny twist of fate, Jane just got put on a special project and I was chosen to be the temporary manager!

Thanks for all your advice then and the advice you continue to offer now. I read AAM every day and have turned on many people to it.

2. Our trainer wants us to “get emotional” with each other

Shortly after you answered my question, the principal was placed on leave so that the school could investigate allegations of his misconduct with students. It involved grooming, and thankfully he’s gone. I never heard another word about the trainer or the implementation of circles.

As a teacher at this school, I’ve endured through a year fully on Zoom, a year when students were allowed to sexually harass teachers and each other without consequence, being asked to come into the school to teach over zoom while the students were virtual due to shooting threats, mass staff turnover, an old building with heat breaking in the winter and no AC, terrible admin communication, toxic coworkers, and more. I have taught here for three years and had a different principal every year. I’m happy to say that these are my final weeks here and that I have a date marked on my calendar as “Resignation Day!” I’m going to take some time off to try to shake the ways this workplace has twisted my worldview, work habits, and expectations.

3. Keeping unvaccinated kids out of our office (#2 at the link)

I wrote in about a coworker who occasionally brought her unvaccinated school age kids to work, when work had a policy allowing new parents to bring their non-mobile babies to work with them. The update is pretty anticlimactic. My state had a covid vaccine requirement for state employees, which applied to my workplace. The antivax woman chose not to get vaccinated, and no longer works where I work. It also doesn’t seem like parents are taking advantage of the bring your baby to work policy anymore, if it’s still in place.

4. Books with competent, polished professional characters (#4 at the link)

I wrote to you at the beginning of the year when I was at a very low point, mentally, following a never-ending series of heartbreaking events. I asked for books that I could read that would let me adopt the mindset of the main character, so I could “borrow” their way of thinking until my own could come back online.

Most of the advice from commenters was unhelpful because books about Badass Babes who toss out zingers left and right while kicking everyone’s ass was … not what I needed. I needed to function like a competent professional in Corporate America.

Thankfully, though, commenter Mill Miker suggested “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” and it was just what I needed. I bootstrapped the main character’s (Kathryn Petersen’s) thinking process, attitude, and behavior choices (which were informed by her inner dialogue as well as professional norms) onto my own brain and borrowed from her liberally. It carried me through the mental / emotional slump, all the way through my (glowing) performance review in March.

I need to go back and reread it, though. I fell and broke some bones last week. I was already in near-constant pain from cancer treatment but crutches and having only one good leg have taken my misery to a whole new level. The thing that wears me down the most is that I can’t, say, just go grab a glass of water from the kitchen. It’s an entire production that takes 3 times longer than normal. I’m falling behind at work again and am back to fighting back tears multiple times a day.

So I’ll borrow Kathryn Petersen again and let her carry me through this next difficult period.

Thank you for publishing my original question, Alison. I got the specific thing I needed plus a bunch of really good “fun reading” recommendations (all those Badass Babes and Mystery Solver novels).

{ 168 comments… read them below }

  1. Luanne Platter*

    LW2- this is the sad state of education today. It’s awful what we expect our teachers to do and scandalous how little we pay them. Best of luck.

    1. Wait, what?*

      Of all the indignities us teachers have had to endure over the last few years, there’s something about having to come to school to teach over Zoom that especially sticks in my craw. There are three teachers in my school who have to come here everyday to sit in a windowless closet to teach virtually. It makes no sense.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        It’s bad enough for covid, but this was due to shooting threats!

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            It really is the same. They are seen the same way the Irish were and the generational poor currently are, through a lens of fear (that they will displace those in power) and guilt (knowing that as the ones in power they do nothing) “well, they shouldn’t choose to be in that situation, but if they can’t help themselves.”
            Yep, just like children chose to be born in poverty, school teachers chose to be in active shooter drills.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce; they should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to it citizens, just like national defense.” – Sam Seaborn (well, Aaron Sorkin)

    3. Jalee*

      There was a shooting at the bus stop about 100 feet from my school this year. One kid walked up to another kid and shot him in the face. Multiple students and staff saw this. My district expected us all to show up the NEXT morning and carry on. Yeah, no.

      So many staff members called off the next two days, they had to cancel school. The district tried to take credit for the shutdown – but we made sure everyone knew. Then they brought in the “human ware” team to teach us breathing and mindful skills. What the Actual fuck.
      My district doesn’t give a shite about ours or our students’ safety.

      It’s a good thing that I love my job and only have two years to go. If I were starting put as a teacher? I’d be finding a different profession. The whole teacher hate we are subjected to sucks because I still think teaching is the best job on this planet.

    4. Marieke*

      someone going through cancer treatment and then breaking bones reading a motivational book to not fall behind at work might be the saddest American thing I have read in a while…. so incredibly messed up this is normal.

  2. Chauncy Gardener*

    OP#4: I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this! Best of luck getting through it all.
    Hugs and kindness from an internet stranger if you want it

      1. OP4*

        Thank you Chauncy Gardener and Fun Aunt. It actually means a lot to me to receive internet hugs, kindness, and good vibes.

        1. Mercurial*

          Please have another humongous dose of all that from me. I hope this time next year you are in such a good place that you can look back on this phase with nothing but amazement at your own stupendousness. X

  3. ferrina*

    So glad we got the update on the books (#4)! I was curious what (if any) would be useful with them- I had missed the comment about The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Adding that to my reading list!

      1. Anonymous 75*

        it’s a very good book. my old workplace had different leadership teams for development and while some books were not very good, but that was an exception. both the accessibility of it and the writing style made it a big hit

    1. beep beep*

      The same author has several other books in the same vein, about things like employee satisfaction and making meetings suck less. I don’t agree with all the author’s ideas about how corporate leadership should work, but they have some good ideas in them.

    2. Mill Miker*

      I’m so glad that turned out to be a useful suggestion. I first read the book when it was made required reading for my team by a terrible boss for all the wrong reasons, but it stuck with me nonetheless.

      1. umami*

        Leadership in the Crucible of Work was required reading for our team, from the absolute worst boss I’ve ever had. I didn’t finish reading the book until years later because I left the job and couldn’t respect anything that came from that person. Years later, I ended up working at the same place as the author (at a different time, though), and he absolutely was viewed as a great leader, so I regret not finishing it sooner.

      2. OP4*

        Thank you for recommending it!

        I never read the rest of the book, after the opening story. But, wowsers, that story was *exactly* what I needed.

    3. Anon (and on and on)*

      I’m going to check it out from the library, and apparently there’s a graphic novel version as well?!

    4. BlondeSpiders*

      This is such a terrific book; it was assigned when I was in business school. Narrative styles are so much better (for me anyway) when trying to demonstrate business principles. I still remember details from this book, while Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln has long since left my memory.

    5. OP4*

      Yanno, when I got the email from Alison requesting an update, I thought, “Who on earth is going to care about this??” because no bananapants or cheap ass rolls were involved.

      I’m weirdly surprised — in a positive way — how much traction my question and update are getting in the comments. :-)

    6. VivaVaruna*

      There is also a manga version of this book. I’m not entirely certain why it exists, but for someone like me who sometimes has difficulty parsing large blocks of text, it’s great to have.

    7. JustaTech*

      I thought the title sounded familiar so I just dug around in my desk drawers and lo! I have a copy I found in a pile of free stuff at work!
      I’ll have to give it a go at lunch.

      1. Sad Teacher*

        Omg, LW2, I could almost think you worked at my previous school! and they wonder why teachers are leaving in droves! FYI, I’ve had to do Capturing Kids Hearts and other completely horrible so-called restorative justice trainings before, and I’ll never work in a school like that again. However well-intentioned these programs started, they’ve become an excuse to blame teachers for students’ behavior, up to and including violence, threats, and sexual harassment towards teachers. Any principal who refuses to protect their teachers should be immediately fired.

    8. Daisy-dog*

      I listened to the audiobook earlier this year when I was preparing to move/packing. I think it was 4 hours, so very quick. I definitely enjoyed it and might need revisit it because I also could use a confidence boost.

      I’m a bit of an evangelist about one of the author’s newer books (The Six Types of Working Genius). Though that one’s fable isn’t as helpful as TFDOAT, the thesis has helped me dramatically.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        Oh and Tony Bridwell writes business books in a similar story-based style. I’ve only read the start of The Changemaker and it wasn’t my vibe at that moment, but I do intend to try again.

  4. umami*

    People who routinely use snark and sarcasm are really quite tiresome, especially at work.

    1. may spring rain*

      Yep. On a routine basis, gets really old, really quickly. I can’t stand having my leg constantly pulled.

      1. nobadcats*

        I usually preface any comment in real life with “your leg remains unpulled, you also remain unsh*tted.”

        Much as it pains me to say it, Jon Stewart was right. The death of irony and sarcasm? Heaven forbid.

        This is a harsh take.

    2. Quill*

      I have long suspected that automatic snark and sarcasm in books is a way for authors to cheat having to actually develop a character. They just crib from every other action hero for a cliche one liner instead of thinking about whether it’s realistic that someone who just found out that they are the chosen one and their school is located on a hellmouth will have a quip locked and loaded for that exact scenario.

      1. Misery Chick*

        Agreed. It bugs me when too many characters are that exact kind of quippy. It can be fun with a couple of them but they shouldn’t all relate to the world the same way.

      2. nobadcats*

        Oh for… look just yesterday, when I was in DMV hell for four hours, I knocked off quite a few one-liners. I’m not a comedian or a poet, but I can read a room. For example, yesterday, I had to produce more documentation than any normal person would, but because I’m me, things get weird. After one question, I had to produce my original birth certificate, the three revised BCs, AND the statement from the Chief of police attesting to my pristine criminal record in Former Town as documentation from 21 years ago that I was a real human bean. I just barely stopped myself from curtsying. I mean, is that not comedy gold?

        All of these takes on sarcasm ignore that it’s usually sardonic, ironic comedy made in the moment.

        1. Quill*

          I am also fairly funny in person but if you read a lot of books there’s a lot of sameness to the snarky heroes that comes across as imitation instead of personality. Especially when there’s two of us with a quick joke at hand in a DMV waiting room of 50 people, but if you pick up ten action thrillers the main character is always that one jokey person.

          1. nobadcats*

            My only failing with reading a lot of books is that my vocabulary is largely in my head. So, for example I didn’t know how to pronounce “anxiety,” “hyperbole,” and a dozen other words because I’d only read them, not heard them said out loud. Don’t get me started on “quixotic.” That one effed me up for real until five years ago (and given that I’m an educational editor, that’s no small thing).

            1. Jess*

              Around 7? i learned how to use the dictionary pronunciation key and it has saved me. My mom showed it to me after i mispronounced mahogany as MAGA-hony.

              Just precocious child things.

            2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

              Yup, hyper-bowl. I’m with you. I think my best howler as an adult was when the street sign said “Buchanon” and my mouth said “Buke-a-nan”, where the first syllable is like in “rebuke”.

    3. Alternative Person*

      Same, my humour trends that way, but I keep it tamped way down at work.

      One guy in my office comes out with snarky comments on the regular and it is both frustrating and unnecessary. I want to yell at him to just enjoy the widgets sometimes.

    4. Phryne*

      My work involves a fair bit of bureaucracy and there are days, not all, but some, when it’s like Kafka’s The Trail and Catch-22 had a love child. Sometimes sarcasm is a survival method.

  5. Elizabeth West*

    OP 4, I’m sending good vibes to you. <3


  6. I should be working*

    I missed the original post and don’t know if this will be helpful to OP4 at this point, but maybe other readers will appreciate this suggestion. some fiction books that have helped me out in my professional life are the Ava Lee novels by Ian Hamilton. There is a lot of action including things like beating people up that is not behavior to model at work, but I have consistently been impressed by the diplomatic way that Ava Lee conducts herself when negotiating with different types of people, organizing her thoughts, and thinking strategically and practically.

  7. Leems*

    For me, the appeal is the absolute MUSTARD Carrie Underwood puts on the words “Louisville Slugger”. The song itself is definitely not good advice.

    1. umami*

      It does ‘sound’ great! I wish it could have been more clearly a fantasy instead of sounding like a how-to lol. It came out at a time when I was raising my girls, and I definitely wanted them to know that a) other women are not your enemy, your partner is responsible for their choices, and b) don’t ever think destroying someone else’s property is an appropriate response!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There was a past letter about someone finding song lyrics in the trash at work, and it quickly became evident that stuff that sounds totally normal when bellowed along with your car radio can be disturbing when you take out the “these are the words to a song” context and it seems like your coworker’s stream of consciousness rage meltdown committed to paper.

      Lots of popular songs are good at capturing an emotion while being terrible at offering you actionable life advice.

      1. umami*

        True, ha! But also, I am stuck on the idea of someone going through someone else’s trash to find … well, why is anyone going through people’s trash??

        1. Hyjinks*

          I am stuck on the idea of someone going through someone else’s trash to find

          There was a lot of discussion about that! I didn’t picture anyone going through the trash like taking things out and delving around in the depths. I assumed that the stuff was sitting on top and caught someone’s eye. Sometimes, things catch your eye, and it’s not weird.

          1. umami*

            I still fold paper in half to toss it in the trash because that’s how my 7th grade typing teacher said you were supposed to discard paper. It’s hard to imagine seeing a piece of paper where yo can actually see the writing on it!

            1. Hyjinks*

              I still fold paper in half to toss it in the trash

              I have never heard that. Is that specifically to keep people from reading it? I tear mine in half as I work so I can tell what I am done with and what I still need and toss them in a stack of half-sheets in the recycle bin. You can read mine if they fall writing-side up.

            2. Media Circus*

              Oh my goodness. I reflexively do this, never once thinking about it — UNTIL NOW. Gosh, i wonder if i learned this 35 years ago in typing class.

              Unrelated, but i do miss a nice IBM Selectric.

              1. Peanut Hamper*

                Same, same, same.

                I bought a portable Royal manual off eBay a few months ago, and it has been a gem and the delight of my life. I need to get a new platen for it, but other than it is a fantastic machine.

            3. Reluctant Mezzo*

              I do that because otherwise the paper sails right over the waste can and to the other room…

      2. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I’ve joked with my nearly-middle schooler that when she gets her heart broken the first time… and every time after that… we’ll blast “Mama’s Broken Heart” and sing it at the top of our lungs… so we don’t actually HOLD the matches. :)

    3. Rainbow Bridge Troll*

      I have never heard the word “mustard” used to describe a tone of voice/emotion, and I am dying. That’s so amazingly descriptive! Also . . . I love mustard, and it sounds like something someone would say about me when I’m on a roll. (HA!)

      Adding this to my vocabulary, thanks! :D

  8. Not a Sitcom Writer*

    OP 4, hang in there! I get it – I broke my leg and was without the use of it for around 3 months a couple years back and on crutches, and it was one of the worst times in my life. Everything was an ordeal – I can’t count how many times I cried in the shower because of how hard it was, and my anxiety got to an all-time high. Unfortunately, it’s a marathon happening, not a race happening, so it’ll take a while before it gets better. Make sure to reach out to people when you need help or just a companion for a bit! The good news is, it does have an end date! It will very probably not be something that you deal with forever.

    1. Chutney Jitney*

      I’ve broken my ankle several times, and I’ve been through chemo. I can’t imagine doing both.

      I just recovered from a pinched nerve in my shoulder that only healed when I literally stopped using my left arm for *anything* for 3 months. I couldn’t cook, couldn’t exercise, couldn’t open the fridge because of the suction… you never realize how much you use your non-dominant arm until you can’t.

      So many hugs LW4. I feel you on the helpless frustrated tears.

      1. nobadcats*

        Broke my distal fibula about 3 years ago falling UP the stairs. Then about four months ago sprained both my shoulders and broke a few ribs falling DOWN the stairs. And sprained my left pinkie finger which still hurts. Spent a few months on both just crying in utter, dismal frustration. Yes, I am the genius, genius that decided to move into a 3rd floor walk up at my age. My Dad still jibes at me for it. I said, “Yes, Dad, I know, I’m the super-smart daughter you made me.”

        It’s okay to feel frustrated! Just… be kind to yourself. I know it’s hard, but be kind to yourself. Treat yourself gently and forgive yourself for being oh, how shall we say, not have spoons on some days. Be kind to yourself, be generous with your strength to your ownself.

    2. Not Your Trauma Bucket*

      Another broken ankle chiming in! It’s been almost five years since my break, and I still viscerally recall all the frustration and anger. It absolutely sucks so hard. I cried so many times. You get to feel bad about it. You get to be mad that it happened. I’m so so sorry. I just kept telling myself “the only way out is through”. I’m not normally a rosy Polyanna kind of person, but somehow that helped me cope. Sharing in case it’s also useful to you. But also sending so much sympathy.

      1. nobadcats*

        Did you have The Boot? I did. I found it enormously frustrating. I eventually landed on a kinda hybrid ankle brace/bandage wrap so I could just get from my bed to the bathroom and kitchen. I’m in a place $$ wise in which I can order all my groceries in. [btw: eff you, d**rd*sh, you have absolutely NO care for people who might be disabled and drivers don’t follow delivery instructions, why include an option for delivery instructions at all if they’re not going to be followed and you’re not going to reprimand drivers for oh, say, leaving food in a building across the street to the one they’re supposed to have delivered to?]

        Anyway, broken ankles are a struggle. Suddenly, you’re not able to do the most simple things, like take a shower. I was also blessed by a friend who had a shower chair and gave it to me. Three years later, I’m still like “everyone should have a shower chair!” never gonna give it up.

        1. OP4*

          I have The Boot. But I sleep in a compression sleeve on my lower leg and an Ace bandage wrapped around my ankle to hold my foot in the proper position.

          I have a tiny “en suite” bathroom that’s about 10 feet from my bed, so I can slip my bandaged foot into a Velcro-strap sandal that fits over the bandage and crutch my way to the toilet. The part about that which sucks is that I have to sleep with a nightlight on, so I don’t step on a cat or trip on anything. I normally sleep with the room as dark as I can make it, given the glow of some needed electronics (which I cover where I can).

          For the kitchen, I can get on my knee scooter while still in the Ace bandage and sandal, and get whatever I need from there without having to boot up.

          Oh! And my proudest “MacGyver” moment has been buying a huge rolled up sheet of upholstery / furniture foam that is an inch thick and cutting out a 3.5-inch wide by 16-inch long strip to put on my shin under the straps of The Boot. Prior to that, I would literally cry out in pain whenever I put my knee and shin on the knee scooter. I was physically, visibly bruised from the straps of the boot and the scooter’s pad.

          I also cut out an appropriately-sized piece of foam to beef up a knee scooter cushion I’d purchased. Finally, no more gasps of pain when my knee and shin touch anything.

          1. Happily Retired*

            Look at you! You are winning this thing!!!

            I know that sometimes it must feel like forever, but that McGyvering will get you through. {{{{{ hugs }}}}}

          2. nobadcats*

            Oh, holy Bastet, that sounds like a lot of torture for you. Sending all the healing vibes and good thoughts your way.

            My postage stamp of a bathroom is all of 5 feet from my bed. When I sprained BOTH shoulders a few months ago, falling down the stairs, it was impossible for me to lever myself upstanding. Spent 12x hours on the floor (bestie and her husband rescued me), the next day was better.

            A slightly funny story to lighten your mood. I was walking around with my cane (aka, running errands but “running” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in this context), a week later and slipped on the ice at a traffic corner. As I was trying to get upstanding, I saw a neighborhood dog I know. I called out to her, she knew me, and she saw I was in distress. She waited patiently at the crosswalk to get to me. Then, her owner (notoriously cantankerous old dude in our neighborhood), some random dude from the pizza shop helped me get upstanding. Good Doggie also helped by licking my face off and using her head up my bum to get me upstanding. Trust me, you haven’t lived til you’ve had a dog boosting up your bum, I was like a recalcitrant sheep she needed to get back in the paddock.

          3. nobadcats*

            Also, I have a shedload of motion detector mini lights in my apartment. That also helps.

          4. TechWorker*

            Have you considered treating yourself to a comfy sleep mask? Might allow you to do the dark sleeping bit but be easy to remove when you need to get up. All sounds tough – you will get through it!

          5. Formerly Broken-Footed Person*

            OP4 – for when you’re using crutches, you might want to try a crutch bag like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Lightweight-Accessories-Storage-Reflective-Universal/dp/B07SXFJ5ZG/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=bags%2Bfor%2Bcrutches&qid=1686340898&sr=8-5&th=1

            I was on crutches after surgery for 6 months last year and this was so helpful! Losing the ability to carry things while crutching very frustrating, but this bag carried my phone, wallet, keys, and water bottle on the crutches without needing to wrangle a separate bag. Sorry you’re going through so much right now, sending hugs and good vibes if you want them!

    3. Helewise*

      I’m ten months out from a very bad foot break and the surgery that followed, and am not quite back to full strength but can do all the normal things (it’s mostly just really uneven ground I have to be mindful of now). It was so hard to be so immobile, especially in our 100-year-old little house with tiny doors! My best pro tip is to attach a water bottle cage for bikes on the handlebars of the scooter. It saved me so many trips and let me get my own coffee and wine.

    4. Lis*

      I feel so much for the OP4, Chemo attacks multiplying cells so it’s stopping the broken bone healing as well as stopping the cancer cells, so they have an ongoing broken bone. So it doesn’t have an end date until the cancer is gone. and then they have to do the bone ordeal until that fixes, having been on hold.
      But OP4 it will get better

  9. Minimal Pear*

    Thara Celehar (The Goblin Emperor/the Cemeteries of Amalo series) and Gregor Vorbarra (the Vorkosigan saga) strike me as pretty calm and professional characters, albeit with NOTABLE exceptions. Maybe Lee from Stealing the Elf-King’s Roses by Diane Duane. (I mostly read SFF.)

    1. Pyanfar*

      I *love* the Vorkosigan saga! For SFF leaders, I’m a fan of the Chanur saga from Cherryh — I believe it is the first time I’ve seen having a written set of instructions so everyone on the team knows what to do in a fiction book…but that has become my mantra when setting up teams at work!

      1. Artemesia*

        When I retired my kids got me a kindle and my SIL loaded it with stuff one group of which was the Vorkosigan saga — loved those books and sad that the last in the series was so lame and there don’t seem to be more coming. And you are right that Gregor Vorbarra is a wonderful role model although Miles of course is the star.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I’m not sure I’d describe Thara as “calm”— he’s so grief-stricken that he apologises for smiling.

    3. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

      I was thinking of suggesting Maia as a strong, diplomatic character! Love to see other fans

      1. Csethiro Ceredin*

        Maia at the end of the book for sure! At he beginning he is a bit too meek (understandably).

        Fellow fan here, obviously from my username.

        1. Echo*

          Another fan, and aww, I love Maia as an example for this! He makes a point to avoid copying the bad management he’s seen from Setheris and Varenechibel, finds a mentor in Berenar, forms a friendly relationship with his biggest detractor Pashavar, reins in people like Csoru who are disruptive to his organization and spread gossip, and finds skillbuilding opportunities for his team i.e. Csevet and all of the nohecharei. He is willing to fire Sheveän, Chavar, and Dazhis for truly egregious conduct – and for Dazhis in particular, Maia models what it looks like to publicly ‘own’ your tough decisions. He also becomes a mentor to Idra and I love that as an example of a mentoring relationship where you both learn from each other.

          This is making me realize I totally know who my Pashavar is at work and have done my best to take a Maia-like approach to working with that person!

          It kinda sounds like the letter writer was looking for something more explicitly about an office setting though ;)

    4. OtterB*

      I think this was in the comments on the original request, but I find Kip Mdang in The Hands of the Emperor a good example of a character who is (originally) quietly behind the scenes making the world better, exercising diplomacy in dealing with sometimes difficult people, and then steps out into the light.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Kip is AWESOME and…taking on his character would stink for a lot of roles, and also potentially bleed over into issues with a) work-life balance, b) family and c) the boss, in different ways. The way the focus of the story is set also tells us about his capability but doesn’t show it as much as the fruits of it. I want to live in the world as he remade it, but I also wouldn’t want to live like Kip “what do you mean there are only 24 hours in a day? I still have work to get done” Mdang.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I adore Kip, and I would vote for him for any office (I would adopt him and backdate it to show he was born in this country).

    5. Quill*

      I think we should probably avoid uh, mental break era Gregor. Don’t walk alone and unarmed into a firefight!

      1. sb51*

        Yes, but: had a bit of a breakdown, did some really boneheaded things, and then developed into a steady, competent, and generally fairly content with his life leader can be more inspiring than someone who always had their stuff together.

        1. Quill*

          Yeah. We just should not start and end on “Gregor’s mental crisis induced batshit field trip with cousin Miles” we have to take it into the context of a guy who has somehow managed to wrangle an entire planet of problems since.

  10. Florp*

    OP4! I was literally thinking about you this morning. Thank you for the update! I’m so sorry life has thrown you broken bones on top of everything else. If I knew you I would get you that glass of water. People here are pulling for you.

    1. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Me, too. Can you get someone to leave you a big jug of water and a long, long straw?

  11. ErintheAnn*

    #4, from your original post: “I can take on the personality / thought patterns of characters in books.” This is an awesome super power. Wishing you the best. ♥️

  12. Florp*

    OP2–I feel so sad for you, the other teachers, and the kids. I’m feeling thankful for teachers in general right now–my LD kid is about to graduate and he’s going to be just fine. I’m lucky to live in a district with good supports and [mostly] competent admin.

    Reminder to everyone: even if you don’t have kids in school, pay attention to school board and budget votes in your location, and ask your politicians tough questions about education. Teachers and students need our help however we can give it!

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Every election matters, and what’s happening in schools across the US is proof. Thankfully the district in which we live managed to fend off the bananapants candidates for another election cycle. Others were not so lucky.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      Seriously!! I live in an area with a lot of retirement-age residents, and hear SO MUCH grumbling about every millage for the school, and why should they care about the school board and it’s like…. even if you somehow don’t buy into the idea that good schools attract good residents to your community, you really can’t see how having good schools for the children in your town to go to might have *any* impact on you?

      1. Quill*

        I used to tell people that they weren’t paying for other people’s schooling, they were paying BACK for their public schooling. Most of them shut up about it around me.

        1. STAT!*

          I like it! (Hopefully they had a good public schooling experience :) .) Tangentially related: IQ scores* have been rising in every industrialised country in every decade steadily over time, aka the Flynn Effect. Two things seem to increase a nation’s intellectual abilities: good health, and good education. So hooray for public schools! and for universal health care, for those of us lucky enough to have it.

          * Please don’t @ me about IQ scores. They are a good shorthand measure, the same as BMI and GDP. Also like BMI & GDP, IQ scores were never intended by their creators to tell the whole story about a situation. Unfortunately, many people treat them as just that.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      There’s a school in my state that’s so worn out they have to do science classes out on the bleachers because the lab is condemned. The locals haven’t voted for a school bond in three decades and say “well, they can just bus to the next district.” I ask you.

  13. ScruffyInternHerder*

    Was anyone as surprised as I was that the antivax coworker letter came from the before-times? Its been such a….wild few years of listening to my conspiracy theorist edgelord coworker (which seemed to escalate exponentially with him as Covid played out in real time) that I’d almost forgotten that this was a problem before. And thank goodness I only have one of those coworkers, as he is freaking exhausting.

    1. Hyjinks*

      Nah, anti-vaxxers predate COVID by a lot. Most of them were not as visible at work bc they were focused on being anti-childhood vaccine, which wouldn’t come up as often in all-adult settings.

      1. Quill*

        I seem to remember several where the main problem was that they worked in a school…

      2. Phryne*

        COVID brought us a weird new variety though. Those that willingly get any other vaccination known to man, but balk at the one against the one disease that is the biggest global problem in a century.
        ‘Because it is too new and untested’ (how do you think other vaccines started off?) / ‘It took decades to develop X vaccine’ (amazing what more money for research/smoothing out bureaucracy can do, isn’t it?) / ‘Because it is a global conspiracy’ (pretty badly designed one if it is)

        1. Fishsticks*

          Ah, yes. Remember when the conspiracy theorists were convinced covid vaccines were going to kill off anyone who got one within six weeks? Then within six months, then after a year… And I kept asking, if the Conspiracy was planning to use vaccines to control the populace, why would they want to kill off the people who actually GOT the shots, since those would be the people more easily controlled?

          Nobody ever had an answer for that.

        2. JustaTech*

          The one that fascinated me was the area in my state known to be very anti-vax had the *highest* COVID vaccine uptake when it first came out.
          Like, none of the kids have been vaccinated against the measles, but their parents/grandparents were all over the COVID shot.
          Good for them, but I’m still confused.

          1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

            Before the big measles outbreaks in 2019, a lot of the population had forgotten how bad measles can be. (And as big as the outbreaks were, a relatively small number of people actually experienced them directly.) But COVID was killing people in the here-and-how, and super-fast sometimes too. I’m not terribly surprised, and I hope those folks have gotten their kids all the standard shots by now.

      3. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I think that’s the crux of it, right there Hyjinks. I typically didn’t bring up my kids well-visits and vaccines at work, so if I had anti-vaxxer coworkers, I was really none the wiser.

        Phryne, your examples make me think that you know my coworker….

  14. Olie*

    OP4, I didn’t see the original thread, but I want to highly recommend Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. There’s plenty of non-workplace space fantasy drama, but the main character is so satisfyingly competent and reasonable, and it’s a wonderful trilogy overall. Wishing you a lot of ease in your recovery.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      I love these books SO MUCH and I believe it’s the third that has the VERY BEST APOLOGY EXPLANATION I have ever read.

    2. Rosyglasses*

      HOW HAVE I NOT KNOWN ABOUT THESE BOOKS!! I’m such a fan of Le Guin and Corey, both of which are mentioned that this book is a great fit for. Just ordered. Thank you!

  15. Hyjinks*

    Most of the advice from commenters was unhelpful because books about Badass Babes who toss out zingers left and right while kicking everyone’s ass

    Yeah. As popular as those zingers are (see, for example, the first comment on the letter earlier this week from the LW whose team expected her to do all their in office work), they rarely give the desired outcome of your coworkers cowering before your superior skills and intellect. Mostly, they result in “what’s *their* deal today?” responses. It’s a little dismaying to see how often the advice from the comment section focuses on zingers. I wish we could acknowledge that zingers are about as useful as gumption.

    1. NYC Taxi*

      There’s a lot of bravado amongst the comments on this site. The casual way commenters throw out zingers is really not helpful or realistic; there’s no way any reasonable person who wants to be taken seriously at their job or not get fired is saying any of that nonsense. Those are the types of comments that should be reigned in here.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        A lot of those comments are not “you should TOTALLY DO THIS” but are more along the lines of “it may help to reframe your thinking if you give yourself the space to picture yourself saying these zingers”. Most people who suggest zingers also say “obviously never do this but it could help you internally deal to have these thoughts in your back pocket”. It’s just a way to try to help posters reframe how they see the situation.

        1. NYC Taxi*

          It serves no purpose and isn’t helpful in constructively reframing a job situation. People come to this site for constructive, actionable information. All the snark junks up the comment feed and requires people to wade through all the non-answers to find real information.

          Wishing OP4 all the best. Also recommend Leadership in the Crucible of Work that someone mentioned further down in the comments.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            It does serve a purpose, for some people. It makes reading the comments more fun sometimes and for some readers, yeah, it can help things (I know it did for me when I wrote in) as a way to reframe the problem and even diffuse things a bit, because a lot of those snarky comments are in solidarity with the LW. Just knowing that a whole bunch of strangers on the internet empathize with you or agree that your tough situation is in fact a tough situation can help someone regain their footing and perspective. Even if they express that solidarity in the form of
            “You should *totally* say xyz the next time that happens!
            PS, you should absolutely NOT actually say xyz IRL. But wouldn’t it be great if you could?”

            And on any given letter/comments section, there’s bound to be some comments to wade through that aren’t of interest to a particular reader, whether it’s because people are trading stories of when something similar happened to them, exploring differences of workplace norms, country specific labor laws, norms and insurance practices or diving into cat behavior or the linguistics of barbecue vs BBQ vs cookout vs grill vs clambake vs fryup.

            Me, I just use the “collapse replies” option or get scrolling if it’s one of those days for me.

        2. Yoyoyo*

          I don’t know, a lot of them seem to start with the phrase “I would” and then go on to the zinger or some other seemingly heroic but unrealistic behavior. I always want to reply – would you, really, though, in real life?

      2. The Shenanigans*

        Well, I read those as venting/jokes, not actual advice, and I suspect most readers do too. Thinking about what I wish I could say can help me. I get the immediate f-off reaction out of my system. I also usually find a way to say the zinger in a professional way. Sometimes I email my partner and say, “Hey, how do you say f-you in this situation in professional language?” and he can usually help. His top skills are tact and diplomacy.

        Also, depending on context – the informality level on the team, how well yall know each other, area of the country, tone, etc – sometimes zingers can a good way to break the ice or bring up a sticky subject in an inoffensive way.

        But yes, it’s generally not a good idea to say the first thing that comes to mind really ever.

      3. Fluffy Fish*

        In regards to the earlier letter Hyjinks referenced it felt like many comments played out like this:

        Commenter: “Understand why OP said that but it wasn’t professional and unlikely to help the situation. XYZ may help moving forward”

        Zinger fans” Well OPs coworker were unprofessional first so they totally deserved it. It was a fine thing to say”

        I was pretty taken aback and disappointed by a lot of the comments. Being petty is not a way to succeed at work.

        Which is all to say OP4 – youre not alone in the anti zinger camp. it’s not part of a functional workplace.

        And most importantly, I am so very sorry about where life has you at the moment. i just want you to know feeling bad given the hand youre dealt is so valid. i hope re-reading the book helps you through. and as you power through, having down feelings doesnt mean youre failing at something. when somethign sucks, its okay to need moments of just acknowledging geesh this really blows. sending you healing vibes.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Yeah, this feels like reddit-ing of the comment section. Which, I love me some AITA too–but this site is different and I really appreciate the difference.

          There’s the thought of ‘what the other person deserves’, and then there’s ‘how we should act, even under provocation’. And then there’s ‘what actions/framing will actually get me what I want’.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      It’s mostly fantasy/wish fulfillment. And on that level, if it helps you cope, that’s okay.

      But when it’s “yes, you should actually do this” then yeah, no this is not a good idea and may actually get you fired.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I was going to say something similar and hope that I put a disclaimer when I suggest something outrageous.

        I learned back in college when I was in a women’s dorm that planning a joke was almost as satisfactory as actually carrying it out. (I once cried myself to sleep because of the timing of my bed being short sheeted)

    3. HotSauce*

      Zingers are great in movies & tv shows, but they’re actually super unhelpful in real life. I speak from experience, since I tend to use a lot of sarcasm, snark and humor in my daily life. All that ends up happening is people thinking I’m annoying, or worse, unprofessional.

      1. Antilles*

        Leaving a trail of kicked butts, snarky zingers, and biting sarcasm behind you works great in an action hero who can walk away from the scene. Not as much when you’re a real life employee who then has to deal with those same people every week for the next year of your life.

    4. Buffy will save us*

      Agreed. As a lot of my interactions that make me upset happen over email, I do a lot of “say the zinger out loud and then type a measured and even response.” It makes me feel better. If I wrote that in the email, I would probably be referred to EAS.

    5. eggs*

      I agree generally but in this case I think commenters just misunderstood what the OP was looking for until Alison added a note narrowing it down.

    6. umami*

      Heh. I always think this when I hear that song ‘Before He Cheats’, where the singer basically ruins her cheating boyfriends truck. She thinks it will make him think about his actions, when really it would just make him think his ex-girlfriend is looney tunes. Never could understand the appeal of that song.

      1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I always saw it as more of a revenge fantasy–not that she really thinks it will make him think about what he does, but how satisfying it would be to destroy something someone loves after they’ve destroyed the love you had for them. It’s messed up, for sure.

        1. umami*

          Great take! I hadn’t thought of it that way; every time I hear it I just want to yell at the radio lol

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            ME TOO. “Why on god’s green earth would you CARVE YOUR NAME into the car you’re vandalizing???”

            1. Uranus Wars*

              You mean like my ex-boyfriend did in the middle of night and then tried to deny it?

        2. JJJJ*

          Yeah. And in real life it would be followed with a song about how she got arrested, fined thousands of dollars, sent to community service and anger management counseling.

          1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

            Yep! Definitely not an actual rational course of action to take. But some people make you so angry, you might *wish* you could do the stuff she talks about.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          Agree on revenge fantasy. I think it could be very satisfying to warble at your couch cushions while picturing how someone would be So Sorry They Cheated On You, Who Are Cool. Then you move to the eating ice cream phase. Then you block them on social media.

        4. The Shenanigans*

          As long as she doesn’t actually do it, there’s nothing wrong with a good revenge fantasy song.

        5. Exhibit Bee*

          Yeeeeeeah, that song’s not my kind of thing normally, but it absolutely did get a lot more satisfying in the specific time period when I was in fact dealing with getting cheated on and having a lot of anger about it to process. It’s venting.

    7. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      True enough. I may say zingers to myself, but I know good and damn well they don’t work in the real world. I am learning how to say things professionally, because that’s how adults talk, not like sassy, back talking teenagers.

      I honestly think some people watch too much TV with the intent of being like the most obnoxious characters – I still intensely dislike 90% of the characters on Chicago PD and Chicago Fire because they act like overgrown children with dangerous equipment, but we’re supposed to think they (especially the males) are sexy and cool. Severide, especially, I want to turn a firehose on because he’s The Worst Fratboy! lol

      1. Chutney Jitney*

        I could never get into watching House, even though I love Hugh Laurie, because the character was such a giant egomaniacal jerk. Ugh. Plus all the worst stereotypes about smart people.

    8. Malarkey01*

      What drew me to this site at first was the very strong and helpful comment section that was unlike a lot of the internet. There was so much nuance and a general yeah you aren’t wrong exactly but the reality is this is how x and y work and you need to ask if you’re okay with it or leave and here’s some coping strategies or things that can help.

      Unfortunately it feels to me that the “rest” of the internet is creeping in here and it’s very you are right and that’s all the matters or blaze of glory fantasy posts. I get the reason but it is really limiting the helpful advice I used to feel I got on a broad range of issues.

      1. umami*

        IT seems more and more comments are focusing on being clever vs. helpful. I get that some people have that kind of personality, but it’s tiring to hear all sorts of ‘clever’ comments that really aren’t practical for the workplace or frankly even all that clever or funny or subtle, or whatever the commenter was going for.

  16. Observer*

    #2 – Bad training for Restorative Justice work.

    Yeah, a school in crisis indeed. Which makes the trainer even WORSE. Because the idea was bad and not in keeping with the whole way these circles work. But in the context of this kind of violence and chaos? It’s like saying “We don’t think you are having enough troubles in your life. So we’re going to make it worse for you and gaslight you and claim that it’s for your benefit.”


    I’m SO glad you’re getting out of there!

    1. Quill*

      The kids are living in traumatic circumstances, the teachers are overworked. The solution from on high always seems to be “make the teachers do more unrelated work, poorly.” Unsurprisingly, it does not help!

  17. Just Another Public Librarian*

    I recommend Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache series. I love the way he behaves and how he treats his staff. But the books are just lovely.

    1. Tiny clay insects*

      Yes! Excellent suggestion! Kind and thoughtful and extremely competent.

  18. Momma Bear*

    LW1, I’m glad things came out OK for you in the end, but what a winding road to get there!

  19. Fikly*


    I am disabled, chronically ill, laden with orthopedic problems, and in chronic extensive pain. I can’t use crutches when I need to be non-weight bearing because I will dislocate my shoulders. And not being able to carry things is the worst.

    Here’s what works for me, and got me through two years of not being able to use one leg very recently. I used an iWalk. Think of it like a peg leg that straps onto your calf, which is bent at the knee out of the way.

    They advertise it as hands free, and you need decent balance. However! You can use it with one crutch or a cane for balance, and then you are much more stable and you have that magic hand free to carry a glass of water or your phone or those very basic things people take for granted.

    It’s pricier than regular crutches, but was worth every penny to me. The only time I had issues and felt unstable with it was when I was standing up from wobbly chairs, and there wasn’t something stable I could hold onto to steady myself (sadly, this happened most often at medical offices). Otherwise it was an amazing solution, and one I know I will go right back to the next time I need it.

    Their customer support is also amazing. I had a small issue assembling it and when I called, they had me text them a video of what I was doing and then were able to walk me through exactly how to do it correctly.

    1. OP4*

      I bought one of those.

      Even with a crutch, I was still unstable on it. Plus, I am not a thin person and it was really, really difficult to reach backwards and around to get all the straps secured and tightened.

      Add in that I work sitting at a desk and the iWalk would have to be taken off when I sit down and put back on when I stand up [see: difficulty getting strapped in], and it just wasn’t a good fit for me.

      My knee scooter has a decent-sized basket on it, and I have a few different-sized bags hanging from the handlebars, so those are my “magic hands”.

      But, yeah, the iWalk would have been a flipping miracle back when I shattered my ankle in my 30’s, when I was thinner and fitter.

      1. Fikly*

        Oh bummer! I’m glad you found a solution that at least works somewhat.

        I’ve tried knee scooters, and I never balance correctly on them, and after multiple falls, have had to give up on them.

  20. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    #4 I am healing from a badly broken foot and was also shocked at how long it took to do due the smallest thing, then realize I forgot to shut the light off or some other random thing that meant a 10 second thing took 5 more minutes. I don’t know where your broken bones are, but if a knee scooter is physically possible, that was a game changer for me. My situation was still awful, but less awful.
    I couldn’t get upstairs for over a month, with meant no shower, no sleeping in my bed. I lived on the couch. I think I was in shock for several days.
    Basically, I am posting to offer my suport and share some things that worked for me.
    I broke down and posted on my neighborhood Facebook group and asked for a few hot meals (even with my food restrictions). Some really good cooks made food for me, though I learned to be specific on delivery. Leaving the food on my porch meant I couldn’t get to it. One of my neighbors, someone I never met before, lent me her knee scooter.
    Sending you hugs and compassion.

    1. OP4*

      Thank you for this comment. It’s funny how helpful it is to know other people have gone through what you’re going through.

      I did buy a knee scooter. My house is pretty much wall-to-wall carpet, so it’s a royal PITA to use the scooter anywhere but the kitchen, but it’s a vaaaaaast improvement over crutches-only.

      I still hang the crutches from the handlebars of my scooter, though, because my house is not modern and open and looking like no one lives in it. I have to hop off the scooter and crab-crutch my way sideways into some areas to get, say, the cat carrier from the far corner of the Tetris-packed pantry / storage area. (And then have my ex put the cat in the carrier and take her to the vet).

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        I am glad this helped. That was my goal.

        I am really lucky that my downstairs is tile and is a good amount of space. But knee scooters have a lousy turning radius.

        I can tell you it does get better and the pain is not forever.

        I was shocked at what a big deal a broken foot is. Because of where my break is, it took a long time to heal. My doc said there is not a lot of blood flow there.

  21. AnonObvs*

    Oh, well, this is a good description of my current and former managers. I’m so done with working, but I need the money.

    He sputtered over his response and it hit me how little of a backbone he had and what a poor manager he was.

  22. Just me*

    Op4 just want to commiserate with you. Years ago I broke my foot at the most inconvenient time. We were in the midst of moving from Maryland back to Texas. So instead of being able to switch out drivers and go straight thru without having to get a motel, I sat in the passenger seat with my foot on the dashboard/console and by the time we got to Texas my tailbone hurt nearly as much as my foot! And yes we did stop for the night about halfway and they very kindly gave us the handicapped room. Then a few days later I finally got a walking cast so I was able to be more mobile. Wasn’t supposed to put actual weight on it for 24 hours but since we went straight from the doctor’s office to the airport for my husband to go overseas for a year I had to drive home. Thank goodness for automatic transmission! And many thanks to my mom for getting someone to help me get unpacked and the house situated. The kids (ages 2-12) helped some but mostly I sent them outdoors or over to my mom’s. Did not let them do summer baseball that year! Would have been entirely too much between games and practices for three or four different teams. I also wasn’t aware that I wasn’t supposed to try to scratch the itch between my calf and my ankle (with a knitting needle). Oops! Getting in and out of the bathtub was definitely an adventure too. It did take quite awhile afterwards for my foot/ankle to be able to be comfortable in boots, skates (I was much younger then) or certain dress shoes. I’ve been pleasantly surprised not to have the weather predicting aches that I was told to expect. My sinuses take care of doing that anyway. lol!
    All of that to say been there, done that and truly hope you heal well and quickly.

  23. Avalon Angel*

    I can empathize with you, OP: I fell and broke my ankle next month, and am currently on total bed rest with a cast my kids noted is a particular shade of Joker purple. I might actually have to get boots this color someday! I hope we both heal well and get better soon. And happy reading!

  24. MP*

    For LW4: so, this isn’t precisely what the LW was looking for, but when I was in an unpleasant work situation some time ago, I unexpectedly got a lot of comfort out of watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation”. I liked it because it’s about a group of trustworthy, competent people who get along with each other and work together as an effective team to get things done. It gave me what I wished I was getting at work, but wasn’t getting at all. (Happily, my work situation has massively improved since then!)

  25. sunshine and roses*

    LW#4 just sending you some love – I’m sorry for what you’re going through and wish you brighter days ahead

  26. AnglophilicAilurophile*

    LW4: I am sorry that I had missed your letter the first time around. You description in your first letter of what you were going through hit rather close to home as 2019/2020 was my annus horribilis, which was basically the coda of a tough seven-year stretch. My suggestion would have been then the Masie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. Masie is an incredible, strong character who, while amazing to begin with, we get to see develop throughout the series as she faces difficult personal and professional situations. I wouldn’t describe her as a Bad Ass Babe, she’s British and much more reserved (and the first book of the series takes place just post WWI in England. I am also familiar with The Five Disfunctions. It’s a great book, and I am glad that you were able to identify with Kathryn. It’s a great gift to be able to empathise so well with a character that you can emulate her and fake it ’til you make it. I hope life rebounds for you as you gather your strength and adjust to altered circumstances. Remember to be kind to yourself. Best wishes to you.

  27. CRH*

    LW4, if you’re up for a classic young adult read, I recommend Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing With Dragons series (four books and a short story in a later anthology). The main characters are all good examples of professionalism with a touch of humor. Morwen, especially, an important character from the first book and the protagonist in the third book, Calling on Dragons. She’s a pragmatic, clean-living witch with several personable and sarcastic cats, and I love her.

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