All posts by Emmeline Chang

A Taste of Tea: From the Opium War story

As you know, I’m working on a collection of stories about people from different times and places whose lives have been shaped by tea. I’ve been inspired to start sharing bits of these stories. This piece is set in 19th century China, shortly before the Opium War.

From the Opium War story (a selection)

Uncle Gu’s way of business was nothing like Father’s. Father’s tea trade was talk, calculating and recording figures, paying the bribes promptly and as expected, arranging for the transfer and delivery of cargoes.

Uncle Gu’s was taking the right man to dinner, sending his men to do favors for the foreigners who bought the tea–whether that was arranging for a ship captain’s private trade allotment of opium or sandalwood or cotton to be sold, arranging for night trips to the “pleasure boats” that lined the river. Tonight’s task was to smuggle an American tea trader’s wife into the foreign compound.

And so Chao Xiang stood at the harbor front in the dark. Water lapping. The shapes of sampans and junks stood out against the dark sky, bobbing gently. He imagined the families asleep on the houseboats, their chests rising and falling in a similar rhythm as they slept. All dark, but for an ember of light on the nearest boat–the glow of an opium pipe.

Those foreigners–they brought opium in their ships from India, and Chinese men bought it, smoked it, until vast numbers of them were wasting away from addiction. His father would have nothing to do with opium, would not contribute to that wasting lethargy that destroyed men and wives and families, but Chao Xiang could see that his uncle was not the same. He had seen the books and heard the conversations; he knew that for all his surface rectitude as a hong merchant, his uncle was a silent partner in an opium smuggling venture. If there was money to be made, Uncle Gu would make it.

Chao Xiang stared down the dark river. The night felt shadowed with danger. If they were discovered, surely they would be destroyed. Smuggling a foreign woman into China against the Emperor’s decree—certainly Father would never have taken such a risk. He shifted his feet nervously.

Of course he was more honor guard than actual smuggler—here to give face through his position as Uncle’s relative. Uncle’s old servant Ah-Chiong would handle the foreign devil woman. But still, to break such a rule—Chao Xiang was putting his own family at risk.

Might this be a set-up—Uncle’s plan to disgrace Father’s son and cause Father to lose even more face? No, Father was defeated—there was no need to go through such trouble for Father. Uncle was testing him. Seeing if he could handle the demands, fit into Uncle’s way of trading.

…A faint sound on the river caught his attention. Beyond the crowded shapes of the boats at rest, the long shape of a sampan moved against the water. Chao Xiang stiffened. The foreign ghost-woman was arriving.





…And now for your creative work:

Your creative work is a gift to the world. The world needs your unique insight and brilliance.

And if you’re honest with yourself, you know you need to do your creative work too–for yourself. You won’t feel fully alive, or completely whole, unless you’re bringing out what’s inside you.

I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work. You’ll break through the obstacles holding you back, get your truest creative work out into the world, and take a BIG leap in your career.

What kind of leaps are we talking about? Going from the hidden talent who makes other people shine–to seeing your own work live, in film festivals and on TV. Getting an agent. Getting a book published. Appearing regularly in The New Yorker.

That big leap is different for everyone. You know what YOU want. So get in touch. We CAN make it happen!!

TRUE CREATIVE SUCCESS is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are committed to big, exciting results. If that’s you, email me and let’s talk.


Thanksgiving and the magic of gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Here in the United States, Thanksgiving is a holiday where we connect with what we’re grateful for—blessings, successes, people we love, and more.

The energy of “thanksgiving” isn’t just for this one day–it’s actually a powerful energy we can connect to all year round… and it can help us create what we want in our lives.

There’s magic in gratitude: what we focus on expands, so when we focus on what we love about our lives, we bring more of that into our lives.

Here’s how to use gratitude to create what you want: Give gratitude for what you truly desire (but which hasn’t yet appeared in your life. This may seem counterintuitive (how can you be grateful for what you don’t have yet?), but here’s why it works.

  • When you’re grateful for what you want to create, that focuses your mind on it. You begin to feel that it’s possible. You visualize it.
  • Being in gratitude and celebration shifts your energy from one of negativity and “lack” to one of abundance and joy. That’s magnetic–people are drawn to that. Partners, helpers, friends, co-creators, and more will appear.
  • Also, the energy of gratitude allows you to see the serendipitous support from the Universe: Where you might once have been closed off and fearful, you will begin to see opportunities, support, ideas, and more.


Let’s work magic with gratitude!

  1. Think of what you want to create in your life. Imagine it’s already here.
  2.  Give thanks for it in writing. Literally journal your gratitude as if your desire has already come to fruition. (“I am so grateful and happy for exciting new ideas for my novel. I am so grateful and happy to have so much time to write. I am so grateful and happy for my inspired, flowing writing sessions. I am grateful and happy that my novel is done. I am so grateful and happy to have found the perfect agent. I am so grateful and happy that my novel is being published with a six-figure advance. I am so grateful and happy that my novel is so well-received in the world.”)
  3. See and feel the energy of having your desires come true. Give thanks for it.
  4. Now, as you go about your day, continue to give thanks. Stay in a state of gratitude and joy.
  5. In this state, notice the openings and opportunities that appear. Act on them. And keep giving thanks.


Joy, love, and magic to you,



P.S. I’m grateful for you, my community, my clients, my colleagues and friends. I’m grateful for your creativity, your commitment to yourselves, your strength and vulnerability, and the magic you work in your lives.


How extra effort on Election Day leads to personal breakthroughs

There are times when your actions really matter. Times when it’s essential to make the extra effort and go the extra mile.

Today is one of those: Election Day. It’s a day when many small actions will add up to have one big impact on our nation and our world.

It’s also a perfect chance to practice the skills that will lead to big breakthroughs in the rest of your life.

Here’s how taking action on Election Day helps you create breakthroughs: When we have a big dream or desire, it requires action to turn that desire into reality. Taking action, though, often brings up fear.

“What if I do it wrong?” “What if I’m not good enough?” “I don’t know what to do.” “It’s too late now.” “It will hurt too much if I try and fail.”

If you want your big dreams to come true, you must CHOOSE to take action in the face of those feelings and thoughts.

Creating what you want in life requires you to step out of your comfort zone–to BE WITH THE DISCOMFORT and KEEP TAKING ACTION.

This is where breakthroughs happen: when you notice where you usually stop… and choose to keep going.

That’s what this Election Day asks of us: Whether you’re hopeful, stressed, afraid, energized, or any number of feelings, now is a time for action.

A time to ask yourself, “Where can I make the extra effort? Where can I go beyond where I usually stop?”

If you don’t usually vote, vote. If you don’t usually help to get out the vote, do that.

You can take baby actions: reaching out to friends in a swing district to make sure they vote, 20 minutes of text banking or phone banking at lunch, 30 minutes to drive people to the polls. All those actions add up–just as baby steps add up when you’re doing your creative work or creating the life you want.

If it’s unfamiliar or scary, just acknowledge the discomfort and continue to take action.

As you take action, you’ll notice your energy shift. You gain momentum, and you feel your own power. The fear recedes because you know that instead of stewing in your fears, you are doing something.

Succeed or fail, you will know that you stepped up to be the creator of your own life.

So today, go beyond. Notice where you usually stop, and choose to keep going.

Step into action.

Step into power.

Step into your life.


Text and phone banking link:

Or find your local candidate and check their website to see what you can do.

Halloween, death, and creativity

Happy Halloween!

Today is also Samhain, or the witches’ new year. In Celtic tradition, this was the time of year when people honored and connected to loved ones who had died.

Death is part of the cycle of life. It’s also part of the creative cycle. To let in new life, we have to let go of something that is dying.

So, what will you let go of in your creative career? In your life?

(Hint: If you have a “perpetual complaint,” that’s a good place to start. Does one thing always seem to be in your way? Maybe you’re always thinking, “I don’t have time.” Or “I can’t afford it.” “I’m too tired.” “I don’t know how.” “I’m not good enough.”)

If something is always in your way, you MUST let go of it to flourish and thrive.

“But,” you say, “That thing is TRUE! I really don’t have the money, time, energy, connections, talent…”

Actually, no. That thing is NOT true. You only believe it is.

I say this lovingly, and with full recognition of how REAL that obstacle may look.

Yes, the number in your bank account is real. However, *opportunities* to bring in money are all around you. If you are in the right state, you’ll be able to see and act on them.

The same goes for time, energy, health and more. The limitations you experience feel so real. But there is something you can let go of–some obligation that is draining you, some habit that sucks away your energy–that will free up your time and energy.

If you don’t have the time to do your creative work, you must let go of that story about time… and let go of something else you are spending time on.

(I guarantee there is something you don’t enjoy that you can let go of or change or rework, that will give you the time for your creative work AND free up your life force.)

If you don’t have the money to invest in your creative work, you must let go of the belief that you can’t afford it. Let go and choose the belief that you CAN have the money you want. And then look for the opportunities around you.

If there’s a toxic belief about yourself that robs you of confidence, a persistent habit that drains you of energy, a situation that keeps getting in the way of your creative work… let it go.

To have something better, you must CHOOSE TO LET GO OF something worse. You must let it die.

Honor and bless it for the role it has served in your life up until now. And then let it go.


Yes, death can be scary. It’s a journey into the dark unknown. It can be ugly and messy and heart-wrenching and raw. But sometimes it’s a peaceful letting go in the middle of the night.

And always, whatever the night is like, morning comes. Always, when you let go of what is no longer right, freedom awaits.

The witches believe a new year begins this night. Let your new year–and new life–begin as well.


P.S. Yes, there is support for the new creative work you want to bring into the world. I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work and finally have the CREATIVE SUCCESS you’ve been longing for.

You’ll move past your blocks… uncover your truest, best creative work… and discover the unseen opportunities already in your world–so you can take a dramatic leap in your creative career.

This is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are committed to big results. If that’s you, email me and let’s talk.

Will you say YES?

Your true creative brilliance is ALREADY here.

The stories, images, sounds, movements, ideas, and soul work you will bring forth? They are waiting for you.

When you say YES and step into the fire of creation, your truest and best work can emerge.

Your truest creative work emerges through the doing. It emerges through you, saying yes, over and over again.

At this moment? Your truest creative work is there. Waiting for you to bring it out.

Will you say yes?



P.S. If you want support in bringing out your creative work, PM me. I’ve put together a program designed to help you do your TRUE creative work and finally have the CREATIVE SUCCESS you’ve been longing for. You’ll move past your blocks… uncover your truest, best creative work… and discover the unseen opportunities already in your world–so you can take a dramatic leap in your creative career.

This is a high-level program for ambitious creative people who are committed to big results. If that’s you, hit “reply” and let’s talk.