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🐼🥝 2021 Year in Review and My Top 10 Books Recommendation

Camellia Yang
Camellia Yang
Each month, I spend 140+ hours digging valuable insights from books, articles and podcasts and share them in a 6-min easy-to-read email.

Happy New Year from the Chiwi Journal Newsletter! 
Here is the special edition featured my year in review.
Quick update from my side:
I spent Christmas in Porto, Portugal, with my musician friend and his poet mum. So glad to have a chance to experience the traditional Portuguese Christmas dinner (codfish feast!) and unwrapped presents from Portuguese indie shops.
Ever since I quit my corporate jobs and back to an artistic way of living, I have attracted many like-minded people who share the same passion for life and are full of creative energy. Here are two poems I read featuring my friend’s mum, Rosa Alice Branco’s works.
Stay tuned for more art projects from me next year, and may your 2022 be full of arts and love!
Now, let’s get into the content.
2021 Year in Review
Thirteen years ago, I got into the habit of writing year in review.
This year I followed my intuition, moved from the UK to Portugal and immersed myself in arts and tech. I’m grateful for all people and teachers who participated in my journey. Kevin Kelly’s words are always lingering in my mind, “the universe is conspiring behind your back to make you a success. This will be much easier to do if you embrace this pronoia”.
Yes, at the end of the day, you have to believe that life itself is a miracle filled with surprise and love.
Camellia in 2021
Camellia in 2021
​January
I ushered 2021 walking around three parks in London with more than 30,000 steps on the cold windy day of New Year’s Eve.
In Walden, Henry David Thoreau mentioned the importance of the connection between humans and nature. One should take time, wandering around aimlessly, especially in the wilderness, to reduce anxiety and be mindful. We are human beings, not human doings.
The pandemic has forced me to stop and reflect on my always-on-going life. Sooner or later, we’ll find that we are all conditioned, and we can’t please everyone all the time. One must learn to stop living on others terms and take the responsibility to build up your own life.
​February
I celebrated Chinese New Year with Monica, another Chiwi girl who quit corporate life and pursued a ceramic dream in London.
During the lockdown, I spent most of the time on Clubhouse and had 1:1 conversations with people I followed on Twitter, e.g. Naval, James Altucher and Kapil.
After a few conversations with my online mentors and friends, I realised most of my problems are not being solved with actions but downplayed with inactions. With increased self-awareness and the ability to let things go, I learned my priority and purpose. Those problems that used to bother me a lot are not important anymore. Once I know my desire and the meaning of life, I can bear the rest of my suffering from life with passion.
​March
I shared my favourite book, The Book of Disquiet, at a book club in London, registered on Indie Hackers and started to explore new concepts, e.g. creator economy, web3, DAO and NFT.
The best part was to join my friend Steve to translate Jordan B. Peterson’s new book Beyond Order into Chinese. The four chapters I translated covered the relationships, narratives, truth-seeking and living a life with gratitude. Dr Peterson wrote this book under serious illness, and his intention to finish this book helped him fight against the disease. I cried a lot during reading and translating because I could feel the power of braveness and healing (also, his words are d**n challenging to solve).
Reading others’ stories allow us to understand that everyone carries a burden we don’t know. Underneath the glamourous outside (what we see on social media), there are usually struggles buried inside. Let empathy play a role in our society and make us less judgmental and resentful to each other.
​April
I FINALLY back at the stadium after 418 days without live football games! To see Manchester City FC win the Carabao Cup for the fourth year in a row at Wembley drove me to tears - the atmosphere, the togetherness from the crowd, the chanting and singing. It teaches me a lesson that never takes anything for granted. Always live in the moment to cherish what you have.
This month I spent most of the time on 1729 initiated by Balaji Srinivasan, learning and earning bitcoins, getting the ETH domain and meeting many new friends on Discord. Thanks to Chance, an online friend from the 1729 community who encouraged me to start my English podcast channel and introduced me to many 1729ers who shared the same vision on web3.
Only when you look back at the road you have travelled, the meaning of life becomes clear.
May
Many people think once past age 30, you are too old to adapt to a new concept or a new way of life. Not true. You always have a choice, and never too late to start over (Monica and I both quit corporate life and moved to the UK in our 30s).
Jim O'Shaughnessy, the host of the Infinite Loops podcast, is a great example to demonstrate age doesn’t matter at all. He started his podcast in the 60s, interviewing interesting people he met on Twitter or IRL. One of the most inspiring episodes was with his old friend Tren Griffin, a senior director at Microsoft. Their conversation was full of passion and energy that broke my stereotype of the way from typical grey-haired guys talking!
Attitude is everything, and keeping curious and open-minded is the key to staying young and energetic. A wise mind plus inexhaustible energy at their age is my goal!
​June
I started my Chinese podcast channel with my friend James in 2017 when we were stuck in traffic and got bored. Since then, we have done 100+ episodes and got hundreds and thousands of listening times. However, all good things come to an end, and I decide to pause it and focus more on English content. Pieter Levels’ tweet summarised my motivation very well.
@levelsio
I can recommend anyone who's still tweeting in their mother language (French, German, Dutch etc) to start tweeting in English

It'll be hard at first but you'll have access to over a billion people instead of the tens of millions you're reaching now

100x
So I began to publish a monthly newsletter (the one you are reading now) and interview digital nomads and online friends in English at Chiwi Journal Podcast. Besides that, I indulged in Euro Cup 2020 and unleashed my craziness either in the stadium or at a pub.
​July
This month, I joined Zumba class and acting projects and rediscovered my long-lost passion for performance when my mind and body connected with music and drama.
Life is like a video game where we collect skills and tools along the way and probably have no idea which one works and which one doesn’t. One day, we might surprisingly find out all sorts of skillsets have automatically remixed together to help us solve problems and enter the next level.
When I was little, while my peers were busy with academic training, I learned drawing, painting, painting, pokers, majiang, piano, calligraphy, dancing, etc. Now I have a better chance to leverage those ‘useless’ skills to knock many potential opportunities. Nothing is useless as long as it fits your own narratives and can give you a feeling of aliveness.
​August
Farewelled the UK this month and let my intuition lead my way to Portugal!
Over the past four years, I’ve been practising meditation every day, and it’s not only reduced my anxiety but also increased my confidence to trust my intuition. Steve Jobs advocated Japanese Zen meditation and repeated the necessity to follow one’s intuition many times. Einstein is widely quoted as saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant”.
Although I could give millions of rational reasons to move to Portugal, I trust the only one from my gut and heart. Before departure, I got two souvenirs in memory of my past two years living in London.
  • A new tattoo on my left arm (Flowism+ Stoicism spirit)
  • A book gathered all my writings here (160,000+ words)
​September
I visited Lisbon and travelled to the digital nomad island (aka CR7’s hometown) Madeira.
Pieter Levels predicted back in 2015 that there would be 1 billion digital nomads by 2035. The future living trend is to have a ‘central residence hub’ and move between cities based on their preferences. Lisbon is a perfect place as my base camp for the climate, food, football atmosphere, lovely locals, and many more.
There are countless ways of living, and each individual should avoid competition and go and find their path. Refer to Paul Graham’s essay: City and Ambitions. It takes me 30 years to find an ideal place to live, and I hope you find yours soon too!
Lisbon and Madeira
Lisbon and Madeira
October
Thanks to Tim Ferriss’ 5-Bullet Friday newsletter that mentioned the Most Recommended Book website, I met the founder Richard Reis IRL in Portugal and had many great conversations.
As I wrote in How is Making Friends Changing, I met 90% of my friends via online channels. I used to feel intellectual isolation because I couldn’t find my tribe in reality, but the Internet solved my problem. 
I experienced the San Pedro Retreat in Portugal this month and had the most profound insights. Read more details below :)
The Only Journey is the One Within — Mirror
​November
I joined VIC Aveiro Art House this month and launched Portugal’s first unclassifiable music festival VAGA 2021. I lived with musicians and artists in this small town, and I felt like a child playing in a playground because creative and childish energy is in the air all the time.
Nietzsche once said that a life without music would be a mistake. Music has the magic to lift or break our hearts and draw our minds to something beyond ourselves and guide us towards beauty and truth.
The music of Portuguese Fado also inspired me, and I wrote below prose on the spot at a Fado restaurant.
I love strolling on an empty street at five o’clock in the morning.
I love discussing the absurdity of the world with wanderers.
I enjoy watching the sunrise, slowly waking up the sleeping world.
I enjoy having random philosophical conversations with strangers.
I make mistakes.
I mess things up.
I invite chaos to my life,
And then self-sabotage with cries.
I’m on a journey to accept my weaknesses,
Forgive others and myself at the same time.
Sometimes I don’t care what people say about my works.
It’s a record of how I see the world.
Sometimes, I long for someone to see through my art.
I only want to mean something to a special person’s heart.
I laugh a lot, and prank even more.
I cherish tiny happiness in the world.
Like the hot air on a cup of coffee on a rainy day;
Or couples hug and kiss at the airport.
I have a pessimistic mind but an optimistic heart.
I love and hate humans at the same time.
Their motives and behaviours confused me a lot.
They can’t understand my intuition either.
Sometimes, I’d rather stay away from the crowd
And keep people out.
I moved from China to New Zealand in my 20s.
Then left Auckland to London now to Lisbon at 30s.
I’ve travelled to four continents.
But there is no place I could call home.
I’m always being a Christmas orphan,
But never thought my loneliness was a misfortune.
Through content creation,
I found my roots and built relations.
I am still on the road.
I don’t know life’s next episode.
I want to turn my existence into a poem.
I want my life to become an exquisite art.
Though the path is destined to be hard,
Through authenticity, I could find my path.
​December
I turned 33 this month and spent my birthday celebration with many lovely party animals. 33 is a magic number, and it means the sunrise period in I Ching and known as the number of angels, symbolising creativity in western culture.
Here is my end-of-year wrapped up, and I wish you a Happy New Year!
Top 10 Books Recommendation
2021年书单总结和推荐 - Camellia Yang
Most Listened Playlist
Documentary of the Year: The Beatles: Get Back
Podcast Channel of the Year: Rebel Wisdom
Article of the Year: The World’s Hidden Harmony 
Top 3 Email Subscriptions:
Online Course of the Year: Write of Passage 
Most Listened Poem from A Paradise of Poems: If tomorrow starts without me
ALL-TIME RECOMMENDED BOOKS/PODCASTS
Recommendations - Camellia Yang
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Camellia Yang
Camellia Yang @camelliayang

I filter & curate FIVE topics from Chinese & English books, articles, shows and podcasts every month.

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Lisbon | London | Jinan | Auckland