Hi! I’m Shawn. I write. I teach. I coach. I dig into my interiority to get good things done. Most of the year, you can expect to see dirt under my fingernails. One of my favorite smells is burning biomass. The Ohio River runs through my veins. And, no matter how far I travel, the hills of Kentucky are never too far away. I don’t meditate by crossing my legs and sitting in silence. I dig holes. I sweat. I firmly believe that it’s through solitude and manual labor that we earn self-enlightenment. And, if given the chance, I’d like to earn the honor of walking alongside you as you pursue your work.


I’m part of the Appalachian diaspora. My people ventured out of Hazard County Kentucky in the early decades of the twentieth century. We ended up scattered along the edges of Cincinnati. I grew up near-poor, poor and then near-poor again along the Ohio River. At one time or another, my people and I have been called white trash, hillbillies and river rats. My step-father went to jail when I was 15. Government issued peanut-butter and asking for food we could not afford from the up-the-street grocery store are part of my heritage. I was small-town fortunate though. I had an abundance of good people around me (neighbors, teachers and coaches). Indeed, my high school football coach secured scholarship money for me to play at his alma mater. As a first-generation college student, I struggled; but, over time, I ended up finding my way and studying under Nobel-Prize winning economist Douglass C. North for my PhD.

Sharing all of this with you was not easy. But, as you’ll learn, doing this and other things like it are part of the work. The necessary work of earning one’s self-possession – a prerequisite for getting good things done.


This is the Work – a monthly newsletter with questions, quotes, poems and more to help us humans dig into our interiorities and get good things done. Subscribe here.


Email me at shumphre@umw.edu. I answer every email.

Thanks for visiting! – shawn