ASH AMBIRGE

Author, CEO & Founder

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The 1% Rule for When You’re Feeling Rather “MEH, SUCKS” About Everything and Everyone, Even That Hot Pastry Chef

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

Well it’s Thursday and for everyone’s delight, I’ve compiled a random list of shit I absolutely should not know, but do:

  • That you should photograph interiors with a wide-angle lens, set to 20mm instead of zoomed all the way out. (Otherwise you get distorted walls that curve in.)
  • A ball of wool is technically called a “skein.” (And US 19 wooden knitting needles are my fav!)
  • If there’s an elliptical fan light window on top of the front door, the building is actually Federal style—not Georgian. #important
  • When illustrating fashion sketches, if the shoulder goes up, the hip goes down.
  • Senior women over 60 years old are actually rated as the best hosts on Airbnb. 🙂
  • Light roast coffee—are you ready for this?—has way more caffeine in it than dark roast. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? That’s because a strong taste means that the beans have been roasted longer, and just like alcohol burns off of food, so does caffeine. (If you follow me on Insta, then you saw me geeking out at a coffee plantation last week here in Costa Rica.)

The point? I’m never, ever happier than when I’m learning something new. Like, I will be an ecstatic maniac while taking a Skillshare class. Or I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and cook with a Masterclass running in the background. Or I'll fantasize about running off to London and taking the most unseemly classes: special effects makeup, for one. (My friend Sarita worked on Harry Potter and all sorts of fun films, and sometimes I see her Instagram and I’m all, I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DO THATTTTTT!)

But this isn’t about me: this is about mitigating stagnancy. If you are feeling listless, uninspired, and “meh,” the answer is not to push yourself harder, hoping you’ll “get over it.”  (Lookin’ at you, overachieving perfectionists who are ready to burn themselves right out.) The answer is to pull yourself softly in a new direction—even if it’s just in your spare time.

To my point, I’m obsessed with James Clear’s Atomic Habits (we share the same literary agent—isn’t this game fun?!), where he talks about the importance of becoming just 1% better every day. He did the math: if you can get 1% better every day for a year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done. Conversely, if you get 1% worse each day for a year, you’ll decline nearly down to zero and basically hate your entire life. (My words.) His argument (and it’s a convincing one), is that we always try to make these big, sweeping changes, under the assumption that big change happens when you change something big, but that’s not actually the case. Rather, success works like compound interest does: the effects of your little daily habits multiply as you repeat them. Making a choice that is one percent better or worse seems insignificant in the moment (like, that General Tso’s Chicken isn’t going to move the scale that much), but, as Jimbo says:

“When we repeat 1 percent errors, day after day, by replicating poor decisions, duplicating tiny mistakes, and rationalizing little excuses, our small choices compound into toxic results. It’s the accumulation of many missteps—a 1 percent decline here and there—that eventually leads to a problem. Similarly, making a choice that is 1 percent better…[can] determine the difference between who you are and who you could be. Success is the product of daily habits—not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.”

Which is all to say: if you can move toward being 1 percent more satisfied with your life every day, you will end up being 37% more satisfied by the end of the year. And for me? Learning something new every day? That’s my daily 1%. That’s what makes me feel more whole—even though it’s happening little by little. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then a lesson a day KEEPS ME FROM INSANITY.

Unless I’m on my period, then all bets are off.

Nov 18

2010

The Woman Whose Ass We All Should Be Kissing

Nov 18, 2010

If I had a foghorn, do you know what I’d shout? (Besides how I’ll never understand why so many people think that God is actually a compelling justification for their particular policy preferences. /rant) What I’d really shout—what I truly believe our people desperately need to hear—is this and this alone: The well-being of our […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Mar 30

2017

When Following the Crowd is GOOD FOR YOU.

Mar 30, 2017

So the other day, it happened. There was one person stubborn enough to finally coerce me into doing the one thing I’d promised I’d never do. I’d hedged for many painful weeks. (Okay, fine, months.) I’d squirmed and I’d squithered (new favorite word) and I’d writhed and I’d wriggled. And yet, she kept asking. “Today […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Sep 7

2018

One Big, Sexy Question for Instant Clarification On: What the Hell Do I Want to Do With My Life?

Sep 7, 2018

I was reading something on the Internet yesterday that was praising this woman’s work, and I thought to myself: there’s such a difference between doing work and having work. (And yes, I italicized “such” in my mind.) To do work is to take on a task, whoever’s task it might be. To have work, though—work […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired, Feeling Disillusioned With Life

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Oct 22

2013

You Think The Stakes Are High Now? Please.

Oct 22, 2013

I wonder about people. Specifically about the 50-something woman speaking softly at the table next to me, telling another woman how she desperately wants to go abroad—because, verbatim, it would be the opportunity of a lifetime—but… And her words trail off. JUST LIKE HER DREAMS. Kidding. Dramatic doesn’t look good on me. But, really. What […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Jan 24

2016

On Getting Old, Having No Idea How to Make a Soufflé & Consciously Choosing to Do What You WANT.

Jan 24, 2016

It’s 2:42 in the morning and the reason I’m awake is called CHARDONNAY. People talk about getting old—buying crock pots, nonchalantly cutting your spouse’s armpit hairs, relating more to The Golden Girls than The Gilmore Girls—but they do not prepare you for the one thing that will change your life even more than tiny packets of GrillMates: […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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Aug 30

2015

Big Things Don’t Happen in Big Ways

Aug 30, 2015

. That dot is where you are. ——–>           . This dot is where you want to be. (Which makes me sound like a woman named Bonnie with big hair in a cheesy 1985 Visa commercial, but alas, I’m just a woman named Ash with big hair in 2015.) People have […]

In: Feeling Dead and Uninspired

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I'm a Bad Influence on Women

Hey, I’m Ash! Twenty years ago I was a small town girl growing up in a trailer park in rural Pennsylvania. Fifteen years ago, I lost my family and everything I knew right as I became the first to graduate college. Fourteen years ago, I found myself leaving everything behind for a new life in the city where I could be “normal.” Ten years ago I realized normal was the most disappointing thing that ever happened to me. Nine years ago I quit my job in advertising and pursued my dreams as a creative writer. Eight years ago, I built a 6-figure business doing what I love using nothing more than the Internet and my voice. And now, today, I’m the founder of The Middle Finger Project, an irreverent media co. that helps other women find their voice and teaches them to use it to build whatever the f*ck they want to. With a book coming out with Penguin Random House in February 2020 (YASSS, WE’RE A PRODUCT IN TARGET!) I’m proud to be a bad influence on women and guide them into doing something disobediently brave with their life and their career.

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