This week, I had a major test of my Ego: I got the first round of editing feedback on the draft manuscript for my book of fables. I was definitely a little anxious to open the email — I could sense my emotions powering up, like an army gathering its weapons. But once I began to read, I reminded myself that the feedback is about the work, not about me. That subtle shift of mindset helped me process the feedback more clearly. Overall, there were a lot of positives, but also a lot of room to improve. I reviewed the feedback with my editor over a call the following day, and together we built a roadmap of revisions that will help me take the stories to the next level.
I want to improve the stories, but I also want to become a better storyteller. I can only do that if I am open to the feedback I need to grow as a writer. In the past, I might have reacted defensively, or let my emotions blur my vision. It was nice to observe a moment like this, where the investments I’ve made towards inner growth pay off just a little bit. Just as with physical workouts, we don’t always see the gains of investing in our mental health. But they show up over time. The more we invest, the more they compound.
These past few weeks have been a little busier than usual, as I’ve been playing an active role as an Alumni Mentor in the latest Write of Passage online cohort. It’s been a blast so far — I’ve really enjoyed having the platform of weekly Mentor sessions. It feels like the Teacher in me has fully awakened for the first time since teaching coding bootcamps in South Africa years ago. I’ve changed quite a bit since then, and it has been a joy to be able to bring more of myself to wherever I’m showing up. I’ve been opening sessions with moments of meditation, playing with silly presentation techniques, sharing insights from my writing journey, and adding dashes of philosophy, comics and more. Most importantly, I’m having fun with teaching. And that usually leads to students having fun with learning!
It’s been tricky to balance my time with a heavier workload, but I realized this moment presents an opportunity to translate questions from students into prompts for my own writing. One question I commonly get is about how I learned to pay close attention to my own thoughts and desires. Today’s featured essay, Listen to Yourself, explores this very question. Below is a preview of the essay, and you can read it in full on my blog. Enjoy!
P.S. A warm welcome to all the new subscribers that joined since the last Quick Brown Fox edition. We now have 1,500 friends following the fox! 🎉 Thanks for joining me on this journey — I truly appreciate your time and attention.
Signals are everywhere. We notice the most subtle cues from the world around us. If we see a red light while driving, we instinctively hit the brakes. If we notice a cat’s hind legs shimmying, we know a pounce is coming. If a trusted friend gives us that look with their eyes, we know something’s up.
We process most signals immediately, effortlessly, and often subconsciously.
And yet, we fail to notice even the strongest signals that come from within. Despite the efforts of our inner beacons — whether you call them our intuition or gut, our spirit or soul — we pay them little attention.
We notice the external, but ignore the internal.
We pay a heavy cost by missing out on these invaluable cues. Our intuition can guide us to better understand how we experience the world, and more importantly, how we want to experience it in the future.
Without this wisdom from within, we live our lives like zombies. We wander from place to place, mindlessly passing the time, playing the part in a script we never read.
We don’t pause, so we can’t reflect.
We don’t learn, so we can’t grow.
We don’t look, so we can’t see.
But it’s never too late to start paying attention. One of our greatest strengths as humans is our capacity for change. A new version of ourselves awaits us, but we must follow the guidance of our inner North Star to find it.
With a little courage and a lot of practice, we can learn to listen to the signals that come from within.
[Article] On the Link Between Great Thinking and Obsessive Walking — “You’re struggling with a problem—a tough work or school assignment, a complicated relationship, the prospects of a career change—and you cannot figure out what to do. So you decide to take a walk, and somewhere along that trek, the answer comes to you.”
[Book] Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman — I’m halfway through this book, and absolutely in love with it. Each story is a short, visionary projection of possibility about the afterlife. As with fables, there is a subtle thread of philosophy within the narratives. I find myself smiling and pondering as I read them, each one just plausible enough to make you wonder.
[Podcast] The Story of Playdate — Playdate is a new gaming console built by Panic (a lovely software development shop). The console looks like a cross between a Nintendo Gameboy and an alarm clock. I love pretty much everything about it — the focus on tactile feedback on the hardware, the homage to the 80s with the game styles, the fact that they’ll release games in ‘seasons’. This podcast shares the story behind it, and even if you don’t care about video games, there’s a lot to learn from the development process. Most of all, I admire their relentless pursuit of building weird things that they believe should exist. The world needs more of that.
I’ll leave you with another episode of CATalog, in which we observe how my cats would handle an alien invasion.
Until next time,
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