places to go people to see


Before I launch into the links list, I’d like to say a bit about yesterday’s piece: The fallacy of go big or go home: redefining ambition. It seemed to strike a nerve — and produce some marvelous discussion — including on Twitter (where I spend quite a bit of time, so feel free to add me if so inclined), the comments section, and in the emails sent directly to me. All of the emails I’d received referred to the difficulties of Disqus, for which I apologize; you’ll be happy to know that not only is the comments section of the redesign powerfully elegant, but also decidedly not Disqus, and therefore hopefully easier to use.

I wanted to share, in particular, a portion of an email sent to me about “John Henryism”:

In response to the idea of a sense of control that doesn’t exist, I wanted to share the term ‘John Henryism’, which I came across while reading Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky. Named for the American folk hero who died immediately after winning a race against a steam drill tunneling through a mountain, John Henryism is the belief that anything can be had if only one works hard enough, that everything is within one’s control, the opposite extreme from extreme helplessness.

‘Go big or go home’ doesn’t factor in how much that kind of big success can depend on things beyond our control. Instead, recognizing what is and is not under our control may help us focus our (finite) energy and effort where it is most effective while maintaining self-worth.

Thank you for the comments, the retweets, and the emails. I’m inspired to create something specifically about redefining ambition. What that looks like, I’m not sure — but if you’d be willing to answer some questions I have about ambition, please DM me on Twitter (@esmewang) or email me. Much gratitude, in advance.

coffee cup and hand with camera  tattoo

…and now, for the links that tugged at my heart & brought me to greater understanding:

  • Rei wrote a tremendously important piece about ableist attitudes surrounding Canada Post’s 5 Point Plan, which essentially dictates that all citizens leave home to pick up their mail. I don’t live in Canada, but this post does a marvelous job of creating a thought experiment for those with good health.
  • Roxanne stuns me again and again with her writing about healing and grief. A post about expectations of recovery, which is a topic that I’ve been exploring with peers regarding the “sick role” as explored in medical anthropology: you get sick, people care for you, and then you’re expected to get well again.
  • I’ve been using this admittedly intricate notecard system obsessively to organize my thoughts for TCS (my second book), as well as to build content for future pieces here.

One more thing. As I’ve said before, I tend to avoid affiliate links. For a long time, Small Business Bodyguard was the only one that I associated myself with — and still do — because I deeply believe that small business owners need to be aware of the legal implications of what they’re doing, no matter how far along they are in their business. I used it, and continue to use it, as a resource; it’s a fantastic bundle of valuable information for those who can’t hire a lawyer immediately, and contains both information and templates for assorted contracts and Terms & Conditions.

However. (You knew that there was a however coming, did you not?)

I’ve recently been deeply in love with Rach and Tara’s books, Spirited and the Spirited Companion. Deeply.

spirited ebook bundle

I have a terrible habit of buying online books and products that I end up tossing with regret. Unlike purchasing a book at the local shop, or even from Amazon, the majority of creative entrepreneurs don’t offer refunds. I was therefore wary of Spirited. When it was first released, I read the sample… and wasn’t impressed enough to make the purchase. Yet, months later, in the thick of a relapse of illness, I kept going back to the site. I kept looking through the testimonials. I bookmarked the page; I kept returning to it. At the time, I was just beginning to hone my intuition, and so I took this swoop and dive and mad boomeranging to mean that I should probably buy the damn thing, and so I did.

Though I didn’t fall in love with the book immediately, I’ve come to believe that it was all about timing. Because partway through the worst of December, I wound up printing the entire, 147-paged gorgeous thing, hole punching the heck out of it, putting it in a red Smythson binder, and working my way through it with multicolored pens while sitting in a tiny, unheated house in small-town Jefferson, Louisiana. As you can see below.

working through spirited with pens

I’m not afraid to admit it now: I was wrong. Spirited is marvelous. I ended up purchasing, separately, the Spirited Companion, which was a financial misstep due to the discounted bundle pricing, but was not a misstep for me because I’m learning to be careful with my purchases.

The book, and its companion, mixes spiritual guidance with the practicality of living one’s best life. I’d avoided it because I was deeply angry with the situations I’d found myself in — sick without explanation, thwarted, congested with fear, and still receiving test results via email on Christmas — and thought that such a book wouldn’t be useful to me.

I’ve since moved it to a brown Malden Filofax, where it lives in perpetuity. I refer to it and add to it often.

Which is a long, long way of saying that I now have a second affiliate product. It’s one that I authentically love, and if you’re intrigued, please do check it out and see if it might be a good fit for you. On a practical note, I’ll add that the price is absolutely right ($39 for the bundle, & $29 for Spirited alone) — and perhaps even underpriced, given the thoughtful care that’s obviously gone into the project.

…and that’s all I have to say for this glorious Saturday morning. The sun is finally up enough to turn the sky a pale blue, and soon I’ll go and retrieve some clippings from the yard for the jar of water sitting here, which is full of lavender, leaves from our lemon tree, and dying roses.

May your weekend be a bright one. 

With love,