Chiwi Journal

By Camellia Yang

🥝 Chiwi Journal #11: Surrender Experiment, Record Podcast with Parents, Female Friendship and Journey to Freedom

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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.

Quick update from my side
I’m writing this newsletter on a flight from Lisbon to London. Time to get back to the Premier League stadiums and enjoy the upcoming Manchester Derby!
During the past six months, I toured around Portugal as a digital nomad and spent most of the time between Lisbon and Aveiro. Goodbye always makes my throat hurt, but I surrender to what fate leads me to the path I truly belong to. Thanks to everyone I met in Portugal for your lovely companionship and performance at those wild festivals, parties, daily encounters, and hangouts!
On a side note, I conducted my first poem reading performance at Lovecraft Beer Lounge Aveiro with a local musician João Grillo this month. So glad to go back to the stage that I’ve been missing for so long. As a child singer, I have enjoyed stage performance since I was little and found joy in entertaining others with my talent. Stay tuned for my future appearance!
Now, let’s get into this month’s content.
📚 Book of the Month
Speaking of surrender, this month I finished The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection by Michael Alan Singer. Michael shared the miraculous story of what happened when he let go of the control of his life. He evolved from a lonely recluse to a spiritual guru of a meditation centre with 600 acres of land, developed advanced medical management software that changed the market landscape, and became the CEO of a multi-billion dollar public company.
Reflecting on my life, every time I tried so hard to get what I wanted, I always had painful experiences either in my career or relationship. Too much pain forced me to give up my plan, so I let fate guide me. And then the universe just provides me with what is really good to me, such as PR, jobs, creator path and love.
At this point last year, I certainly didn’t expect I’d be living in Portugal this year, let alone performing with a Portuguese musician and being involved with art projects that I dreamt of. While I use my rational brain to follow the conventional wisdom and force things to happen, my sensual (spiritual) brain always finds a way to remind me that I should listen more to my body and intuition anfeel the signals that the universe sends.
Now I am no longer afraid of events that are difficult to explain with current science because I notice that more and more people accept this holistic worldview. I’m not special, and my experience is not unique. What I need to do is synthetic with the universal flow and be “Wu Wei (effortless action)”. The universe has a much better plan for everyone than our own short-sighted vision, so feel free to experience life and surrender to the power of the universe. Everything will come at a right time.
🎙️ Podcast of the Month
One of the most rewarding things I did this month was recording a podcast with my parents.
When I was a kid, I was very close to my dad. We watched football games, played cards and games together, and travelled around the world during the summer holiday. However, after I went overseas to study, I slowly drifted away from him, thinking his generation was outdated and wouldn’t understand my ideas and thoughts. I talked with him less and less in frequency. Though I deeply love him, I don’t know what to say. 
My friend Steve launched an initiative, “Ask Dad 10 Questions,” during Chinese New Year. The purpose is to record a deep and honest conversation with Chinese dads because, in general, Chinese dads are hardly open-up, not to mention to show their feelings and vulnerability. It’s a great way to keep a family record and build a healthy father-daughter relationship. 
I never thought my dad would agree to do so, but to my surprise, he agreed immediately and contributed hours-long conversation that made me laugh and cry so much. I realised that my dad knew me very well, and it was me who shut the door and didn’t give him a chance to talk with me. He followed my writings and social media channels and tried his best to keep up with my life. I was too stupid to put my dad in the conventional Chinese father stereotype and ‘imagined’ his life and behaviours. This conversation has shown me that the fading relationship can be repaired and rebuilt as long as I drop out of my arrogance and leave the door open. 
Though everyone in my family is hype-independent and doesn’t want to interfere with each other’s life choices, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to talk and share our love through oral communication. It’s been more than three years since the last time I visited my parents in person (f***ing lockdown policy in China/NZ). A crucial fact is there are less than 40 times for me to spend time with them in person based on the current situation. I commit to every second I talk or see him, I’ll be fully presented with all my attention. Do that before my parents are still alive. That’s all I need to do.
Here is the podcast clip I did with my dad. He never said ‘I love you’ to me, but he told me in this podcast. In the end, my mum overheard the conversation that I mentioned I used to fight with her in my teenage years. She expressed her feelings of those hard times and shared her understanding and love with me. How lucky I have them as my parents! I highly encourage you to do something similar if possible. The reward is beyond expectations. 
Camellia Yang 翊瑄
The most rewarding thing I did over Chinese NY was recording a conversation with my dad.
My friend launched the '10 Questions to Ask Dad' activity b/c middle-aged men normally more reluctant to open up especially in father-son/daughter relationships. https://t.co/aRRsKwN3nU
🎬 Show of the Month
Rarely has a drama portrayed female friendship with such subtlety and authenticity — I love you, but I also hate you; I will stand by you in times of crisis, but I will secretly compete with you in the hope that I’m better than you. The TV show My Brilliant Friend is adapted from one of my favourite novel collections, Neapolitan Novels, telling a woman recounts the lifelong friendship and conflicts with a girl she met at primary school in Naples in the early 1950s. 
The mysterious author, Elena Ferrante, rebels against the elite male narrative model in literature and shares the story through the narrative of a marginalised female character. She portrays the unbridgeable classes, the conflicts between generations, the unequal treatment of women, the complex emotions in friendships, and the unique Italian histories from the perspective of a Neapolitan girl… 
All classes and races deserve to be heard, and it’s our responsibility to share and keep the record of each other’s stories. The Invisible Third Cultural Adult, a novel I wrote during the pandemic, tells the story from a modern Chinese international student and immigrant perspective and is arguably inspired by Elena Ferrante.
The girls ‘ hostility towards their mothers touched me most from this drama. When I was a child, I did not get along well with my mum and often blamed her for her absence. Only until I grew up and became aware of feminism did I understand motherhood’s difficulties and abandon the unequal definition of 'mother’ given by society, which led to the reconciliation of our relationship. 
A good author can describe what you can’t put into words – she tells her story, and you find deep resonance in it.
🎙️ Article of the Month
The Indie Hackers editorial team approached me to share a personal story as a $1,000+ Stripe-verified MRR founder.
Here is the link to my ‘not your average how-to guide but an honest journey ’ story. Enjoy!
Camellia Yang 翊瑄
Glad to see my story featured on @IndieHackers newsletter 🗞
Thanks @BobBurch for editing this piece 🙏
Five tears on the road, the rest of life to follow 😉
Read it here https://t.co/51fEJ2emd5 https://t.co/EJx9WSgxHa
💬 Course of the Month
As a long time listener of Rebel Wisdom podcast, I benefit a lot from their in-depth and engaging conversations. This month I signed up for their 8 weeks Sensemaking 101 course to increase my skills on navigating complexity and develop my presence and discernment.
Three weeks into the course, I enjoyed the weekly live lecturing session with thoughtful leaders and pod discussion with strangers. Here is my homework page if you are interested in my learning process.
🗣️ AMA
Question from a CY Circle subscriber:
what’s your most memorable story?
Answer:
I used to subscribe to Stories (《故事会》) for more than a decade. I vividly remembered one story that I read in primary school.
An old couple found a monkey’s paw in a second-hand shop. According to the description, you’d be granted three wishes with some consequences. The old guy thought it was interesting, so he wished to get two hundred dollars. That afternoon, this old couple received a notice from the factory their son was working. Unfortunately, the son died from an accident, and the compensation was precisely two hundred dollars.
The old couple were devasted and cried to the late night. At midnight, desperate, the old lady wished to bring her son back from the dead. Not long they heard a knock on the door. The old guy saw a broken and bloody man knocking on the door through the window. Just as the old lady was rushed into the door to welcome her son, the old guy immediately took the monkey’s paw and said something, at which point the door opened, and there was nothing outside but a gust of wind.
As a child, I was frightened by this somewhat macabre story and learned a lesson that be careful of what I wish for. While my wish comes true, I am likely to face unintended consequences. If I want total freedom, I have to face countless uncertainties and even say goodbye to my beloved cities and people; if I want to be a writer, I have to work hard practise my craft in solitude… 
There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. 
Life never gives anything for nothing, and that a price is always exacted for what fate bestows.
You don’t know what prices others trade-off when they have something you’d envy for. So, don’t compare but focus on your own path.  
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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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