Hi, I'm Nina Iordanova and this is the 7th edition of Something Good, a newsletter designed for your 🧠, 🖐, and ❤️. Coming your way every two weeks, I hope you find something good here.
I have a quick favour to ask.
I’ve been thinking about ways that I can make this newsletter an even better part of your weekend. The Substack analytics don’t tell me much so I put together this survey to get to know what you like a little better!
It’s 10 questions long, completely anonymous, and won’t take more than ~3 minutes to fill out. Basically, I would love to get to know a little bit more about you and what brings you here so that I can keep evolving Something Good into something you’ll absolutely love. (narrowly dodged a pun here).
Putting this email together is the highlight of my week, and I hope to make receiving it one of the highlights of yours!
Read on! 👇
Hey you. Good morning.
Here are some of the views I saw outside my apartment window these past two weeks. Two sunrises, a day thick with fog, and a pink full moon half-covered by the clouds.
The doors to my bedroom are frosted glass. I arranged my bed so that, instead of being tucked in the darkest corner, the light can always find my face. That means it’s never really a choice to wake up with the sunrise. It lights up my entire apartment with a red-golden light, and I shamble out to the balcony to snap some photos and take in the view.
Sometimes, I’ll go back to sleep. Other times, I’ll lay on the couch, wrapped in a thin cotton blanket, watching the sun slowly rise and shift from red to golden to yellow before disappearing.
It’s not that I’m in love with sunrises. Sometimes it feels more like an obligation than a pleasure to drag myself out of the warmth of my bed. But there’s something that catches me about it. It’s like you’re being offered a moment of beauty so perfect and unearned, and all you have to do is show up and receive it. So how could I not?
One of the best books I read last year was Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”
“What is the duty of humans? If gifts and responsibilities are one, then asking ‘What is our responsibility?’ is the same as asking ‘What is our gift?’. It is said that only humans have the capacity for gratitude. This is among our gifts.”
And I believe that gratitude and paying attention are the least I can do. It feels like a promise made and a promise kept between me and the world. That as long as I’m there to witness and receive, these gifts of beauty will continue to be offered. And so I look, and I show up.
I never thought of myself as someone who was afraid of success or who worried that money would change me. Whenever I heard that idea in podcasts or articles, especially about women, I’d shake my head. “Well that’s silly. I don’t think money changes you. Money is freedom.”
But when I think about all the things I appreciate so deeply about my life - finding an ungodly big pomegranate at the grocery store, seeing the first spring buds on a magnolia tree begin to open, a red winter sunrise - I realize that I do worry.
I worry that if I become rich, I’ll stop caring about those things. I’ll stop looking at the world around me as something so incredibly beautiful, these small things as anything worth noticing. I’ll stop thinking about reciprocity, and suddenly none of it will seem like enough. I’ll need more and bigger things to feel this way, and more money to get them, and nothing will be enough.
I’m worried that freedom, for me, will mean the freedom to stop caring.
Funny enough, it was a line from the Netflix show The Baker and the Beauty that made me realize that’s how I felt.
The mother of the family, Mari, talks about how she used to work as a dancer. One day, the featured dancer got sick and Mari was the only one who knew the steps. She was offered to fill the role that night but got nerves so bad she almost couldn’t do it.
The man who would become her future husband squeezed her hand and told her,
"Don't be scared of having your dreams come true because it makes room for bigger and better ones.”
And she did it. She performed as the featured dancer that night and soon after was permanently given the position.
That line made me think.
What if - instead of changing who I am, the things I care about, and how I interact with the world - money could just expand my reach?
I’d subconsciously assumed that if I was wealthy, I’d become less close with my family because there would be so many other things to do.
But what if, by becoming wealthy, I could spend more time with them? Pay for them to go to Bulgaria more often? Send money to my grandparents back home?
I also worried that I would cook less because I could go to restaurants or order food whenever I wanted.
But what if being wealthy let me explore new grocery stores, buy whatever groceries I wanted without looking at the price? What if I could host regular dinner parties with great food and wine for everyone I loved and everyone I wanted to know better?
What if freedom didn’t mean letting go of everything I loved, but being able to indulge in it more fully?
Every worry I investigate, I find there’s a different path available to me. One where money is an enabler and lets me do more good in the world. Become more involved, not less.
I don’t think this is an overnight mindset shift, but it’s got me thinking.
If you’ve got time, I’d love it if you took this anonymous ~3 minute survey to help me improve this newsletter! (yes it’s the one I mentioned at the beginning!)
This caught my eye
🕺 Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers - 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest (Peach Scone). Honestly there’s nothing I can say about this that will do it justice. Just have a good time letting it unfold, then put it on repeat while you try and figure out why it’s so damn compelling. [Thanks Matt for sharing!]
🌙 On tarot, myths, and mysticism. My love of mythology and mysticism spawned from my OG love of sci-fi and fantasy. Studying tarot has been the latest extension. This was a cool read that wove together mythology, mysticism, and tarot.
“A basic way of understanding mysticism is that it’s a path of truth-seeking. Which requires transcending the mechanisms of the mind that make it difficult to see the world as it is. Mechanisms which organize reality into pairs of opposites; right or wrong, this or that, good or bad… I think of tarot as a book of secrets that guide us toward an experience of reality as it is, and of the major arcana as a set of exercises that would make it possible to endure truth which is both ecstatic and heartbreaking, and therefore requires coping skills.“
🎙 Apple vs. Spotify for podcast creators. It’s cool to see the world of podcasting grow so much. Here’s how Apple and Spotify are competing to build better ways for podcast creators to monetize their work.
🏖 Excessively Good Sunscreen™️ by Poolside FM. I love this. Poolside is a retro-looking (and feeling and sounding) music player that you have to experience for yourself. What delights me here is their unexpected expansion into sunscreen! It’s so in line with their brand and vibe, but who thinks “Ah, yes, we made a music player. NOW we do… 👉👈 sunscreen!”? Anyway, go check them out. Branding and product that hit the spot.
🧔🏾 A newsletter on fatherhood.“The New Fatherhood explores the existential questions facing modern fathers, bringing together the diverse community of forward-thinking dads who are asking them.”
I’m not a man and I don’t have children of my own, but damn does this hit home. As much as we talk about women and motherhood and pregnant CEOs (as we should), it means so much to me to see that there are men who care just as deeply about being better fathers. Check out one dad’s questions and perspective here.
Things my mother taught me
When you’re freezing food, leave a bit of space at the top of the container. If you fill it up too much, it might explode (or, less dramatically, pop open) as the water in the food freezes and expands! ❄️
“Albert grunted. ‘Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?’
Mort thought for a moment.
‘No,’ he said eventually, ‘what?’
There was silence.
Then Albert straightened up and said, ‘Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ’em right.’”
— TERRY PRATCHETT, MORT
If you’re wondering who’s behind this newsletter:
My name is Nina Iordanova. I’m a writer, community builder, and co-founder of Good People. My mission is to create more ways to make us feel like we belong - to ourselves, to each other, and to the world around us.
Follow me on Medium where I write about connection and belonging.
If you're enjoying this newsletter, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend!
Was Something Good forwarded to you? You can subscribe here.
Thanks for reading and I'll see you in two weeks! 👋