When you have a case of the Mondays… any day of the week

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things that I do when I feel like not doing any work.

It’s that awful feeling. You wake up, have a long list of things to do for the day, and suddenly you are overwhelmed, grumpy, in need of a caffeine drip, and you are just NOT READY start the day.

Not to mention when that feeling hits the middle of the day and your to-do list is long – you’ve been on a roll, things are going well, and then BOOM, you hit the wall. Whenever the mood strikes; here are some ideas to get yourself back on track:

[START NOW] When I’m not ready to start the day:

* Make the bed. This seems to be in every productivity book written in the past decade. Because it works.

* Take my vitamins. Chances are I’m lacking Vitamin B. Or a swig of probiotic from the fridge. I find that a small positive behavior can really set me on the path of better habits for the day. This is one of my “anchor habits” that other good habits build on.

* My elaborate morning coffee or tea ritual. Kettle on, grind the beans, get the coffee, curl up with the dog on the couch for 45 minutes before starting the day.

* Read my way to a better place: at least 15 minutes of personal development books – Michael Hyatt, Brian Tracy, Brene Brown, Stephen Pressfield, anything from the self-improvement, productivity, business aisle. Usually this gets my brain thinking “work-mode”.

[Get UNSTUCK] When I’m feeling blocked:

* Just 10 minutes. Set a timer, and commit to doing 10 minutes of work on a task. This also works for those days you don’t want to move or exercise.

* Pull out my notebook. 25 minutes to get stuff on paper. Sometimes 50. What’s scaring me? What am I dreading? What is blocking me?

* Walk outside for 10 minutes. If I’m having trouble transitioning between work projects, I’ll take 15. A change of scenery is a great way to shock yourself out of a negative thought pattern.

* Put on a Podcast. Being Boss, RadioLab, Tim Ferriss. Whatever’s on my podcast list. Usually I pop in the headphones and take the dog for a walk to listen if he’s home with me.

* Create something small and tangible. There’s power in making things. Knitting, cooking, a flower arrangement from the yard.

* Hardboil a dozen eggs. I work from home. There’s something comforting about batch cooking and knowing that I’ll have something good to snack on throughout the day. Also, if I don’t manage to get “enough” stuff done, at least I’ve hard boiled some eggs.

* Gratitude list. Sometimes I start with just three things that I’m thankful for – even if it feels like there’s not much that can go on the list for today.

* Taking 15 minutes to write a short retrospective of my week so far. What worked well this week? What should I stop doing? What should I improve?

* Take the day off. (Sometimes you just need to take the nuclear option.) It’s important to commit to my work, but not at the total expense of my health and sanity. I’ve been working at getting better at stepping away from my work entirely. There’s no shame in taking a well needed personal day.

* Phone a friend. I’ve been getting better at reaching out – be it a friend, a biz-friend, or my mom. Short phone calls have been useful to reset when I’m struggling.

* Take selfies with my dog. Somehow animals make everything better. If you don’t have a dog, cat, bunny, snake, or other lovable friend – watching youtube videos of cute baby animals is a good alternative.

I’d love to hear some of your best ways to reset a rough work day! How do you get back on track?

Need more ideas for productivity and self care? My next mini-course round launches on October 16th. It’s only $29 and designed to get you back on track and focused on yourself so you have the energy to do great things in the world.





Fall Self Care Bingo!

Oh hello there! I’m excited for my absolute favorite season which starts TODAY. Foliage, cider donuts, stews and braises… it’s HERE! I don’t think I have to tell you that fall in New England is an absolute gem. Unless you’ve never been here – now is the time of year to visit! I’m fired up for leaf peeping, hiking, adventures with my Instant Pot – and savoring those last hot days while I have them.

To make the most of the season, my Fall Self-Care bingo is up and ready for printing!

The board is full of small pleasures to take advantage of the shift in seasons while focusing squarely on yourself. I’ll be printing out my own copy today and playing along with you.

Grab your copy here:

More news from around here:

My next wellness and productivity mini-course is being launched on October 15th! Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

Also – I’ve been hosting *Do the Thing Hours a few times a week – free online co-working sessions where we hop on a video call; go around and let each other know what we need to accomplish; I mute everyone, set a timer, and we get to work. A little added accountability for your work day, particularly helpful for those of you who don’t go into an office every day. Email me at sam@thesecondlunch if you’d like to be added to the list!

Finally; my facebook page has been given a little facelift! Head over to facebook.com/thesecondlunch for some daily productivity and wellness inspiration.


10 Tips for a Great 10k Race

This post is sponsored by Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women. Get 10% off your race registration at checkout with my link through 9/15.  

On October 9th, I’ll be running the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women as a race ambassador. If you are in the Boston area and looking for a JOYFUL race to run, this is a spectacular race with excellent views of the city. The race caters to all abilities; you won’t find a more positive place to run your first – or your 50th 10k. This year will be my 6th year running the race in a row – I’m hoping to run this race every year for the next 20!

The race has a special place in my running heart because it was also my very first 10k race; only two weeks after my very first 5k race… the tip of the iceberg that led me down a path of racing, working for a running company, half marathons, 26.2, triathlons, relays, adventure racing, and finally personal training and run coaching!

In honor of this 10k, I’ve put together a list of tips for running a great 10k race – including some of the quirky stuff they don’t tell you when you start running longer distances.



Following a training plan is the best way to train safely and consistently for an intermediate distance race. Really, for any race! I typically recommend plans by Hal Hidgon or the Galloway walk-run plans. If you are training for specific goals, consider working with a run coach to come up with a custom plan. As a running coach, I typically write my own plans, but sometimes it’s great to get a fresh perspective – for this race, I’m following fellow ambassador Chrissy of Snacking in Sneakers plan for an intermediate 10k.


If your goal is to PR a speedy race, consider running once a week with a group or a faster running buddy. This has personally been one of the best ways for me to speed up in training. And those fast friends? Don’t worry about going “too slow” – they’ll appreciate an excuse to get in some easy miles while helping you pick up your pace.

In Boston, there are also some great local running groups to take advantage of group runs at all paces. I’ve personally run with Heartbreak Hill Running Company, the local runs out of the Athleta store on Newbury, and from New Balance, just to name a few. Most of the running stores have group runs in the city.


While the speediest runner may not need to refuel during a 10k race, anyone running longer than an hour should consider taking in nutrition during the race – and you’ll benefit by practicing your race nutrition in advance during your long runs.

What to eat? Race nutrition is a personal choice. As a profuse sweater, I’m a fan of a chew with added salt; although occasionally I’ll train with whole food options like dates with nut butter. Research your options, and make sure you test before race day!


Your 10k is still short enough that you can roll up with nothing but a pair of sneakers, your race bib, and a small snack. I stash my cards and keys in a Spibelt to wear for the race, and typically hold onto my phone while I run. An arm band is always useful, but I’m a weirdo who doesn’t mind a phone in hand.

Get prepared in advance, and lay out your race prep the night before your race. Make sure your running watch is CHARGED if you wear one.

If you are driving yourself to the race, make sure that you have somewhere to stash your keys – and a pro-tip is bring a towel for your seat after the race to keep your car clean.


Ever take a look at the pros warming up before their races? Those super speedy folks in short shorts? They ALL warm up. It’s tempting to hang around and just stand there before a race, but if you warm up, you’ll have a much easier time getting into the swing of your race – usually it takes me a few miles before I’m warmed if I start at the race line, but I can cut that by doing some movement before I get started.

I typically walk, stride, and do some dynamic stretches – the idea is to keep moving!


A 10k race means more time on the road in sweaty clothes – which means – you guessed it, more opportunity for chafing. I managed to avoid the chafe for my first few years of running – until one fateful day where I ended up getting brutal chafe on my underarm from the seam of a running shirt. OUCH.

If you are prone to chafe on your sports bra line – try bodyglide. Underwear inseam? Make sure you aren’t wearing cotton underwear, or go commando. For foot blisters – I recommend getting a high quality thick sock, and getting fitted for better sneakers. Blisters are NOT inevitable.

A side note: want a pedicure before race day? Only a polish change! No sloughing or you’ll be miserable with blisters.


A 10k is a longer race, and if you are hydrating, you may need to take a bio break.

Many (but not all) 10k races will have port-o-potty stops on the course. Pro-tip: it’s best to make sure you know where these are in advance. Shout out to the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women for making port-o-potties PLENTIFUL at the start of the race right next to where you line up! They know their audience!


If you like an interactive race day; consider tacking on – “Please cheer for me my name is______” on the back of your shirt – or simply take a sharpie to your running gear with your name in huge letters.

Look out for the kiddos on the side of the race for high fives – and if you don’t care about PRing, do what I do – take every opportunity to say hello to dogs on the side lines. It peps up my race experience every time.


Most road races these days have photographers camped out on the course to take your photo – and let’s face it… mid-run is not the most flattering photo op situation.

A little planning can go a long way – I scout where the race photographers might be hanging out. Once I see them, I tend to summon all of my energy and LEAP.

Thumbs up; joyful grin, and peace signs are also options. Usually I have to do a leap or two just so they can get a good shot. It’s worth it for the life long memories.


Whether it’s your first 10k race, or your 50th, going into your race with a positive mindset is a great way to ensure a better race day.

Do a little dance party at mile 3.1. Say hi to strangers, wave like the queen to the crowds, and enjoy your race. Do not be afraid to be that weirdo!

Finally, when I cross the finish line, I take time to give thanks for every opportunity I have to get out there and run. And then I take advantage of the moment to sign up for my next race before I think better of it ;p

Happy Racing!

Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women – October 9th, 2017
Get 10% off your race registration at checkout with my link through 9/15. Register here.

The Weekly Meal Plan

A pile of vegetables

:: The Weekly Meal Plan : Week of September 11th, 2017 ::

This week’s prep: hard boiling eggs for snacks, boiling potatoes, cooking a batch of white rice, cooking down some frozen spinach with garlic, chopping down a bunch of herbs from the garden to eat this week, making a batch of iced tea.

Fitness and nutrition: This Sunday is the Salem 10k, and I’m starting to ramp up my training for the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women in early October (I’m a race ambassador – save 10% at checkout through 9/15 with my link!). Most of my nutrition will be keeping things simple, and eating enough carbs.

Saturday: Barbecue teriyaki chicken and broccoli. Known affectionately as the Trader Joe’s special. I shop and batch cook over the weekend, and prefer to keep my Saturday dinner super easy.

Sunday: Ground pork and asparagus stir fry with tomato rice. A riff on a recipe from Nom Nom Paleo’s new cookbook.

Monday: Roasted cauliflower, chicken drumellas, Annie’s. A little bit of comfort food to start the week.

Tuesday: Pork chile verde with Boston butt from the meat share, potato. Mostly just a dump into the Instant Pot – and I’ll cook two days in advance so the flavors have time to do their thing.

Wednesday: Salmon with edamame succotash. I tend to get the wild frozen Sockeye from Trader Joe’s, unless I see something at the store that looks particularly fresh.

Thursday: Braised lamb breast with cucumber salad and white rice. This is a fatty cut of meat – I’m going to marinate in a Chinese flavor base and then slow braise for 3 hours until the meat is shreddable.

Friday: Date night! Bertram goes to daycare and we go out to eat!

Yayoi Kusama at SAM

Yayoi Kusama at SAM

Sam at the Kusama Exhibit at SAM

It was 7:30 am, in Seattle.

The city was just starting to wake, and there I spotted it – the line.

A very long line.

Wrapped around a building.

Let’s back up a bit – last week I was in Seattle for business – for an in-person 3 month planning and strategy session with a client I’ve been working with for the better part of a year. The trip was a bit of a last minute affair, and beyond my work obligations, I traveled in large part without a plan. (The opposite how I usually travel, but blissfully free.)

I’d never been to Seattle before, so sightseeing and playing tourist were the goal. Home base for this part of the trip was in West Seattle, I was staying on Alki Beach.

This morning, I woefully mis-judged the amount of time it takes to get anywhere in Seattle without a car. Public transport in Seattle definitely leaves something to be desired! My first experience with transit, the 37 bus simply didn’t show up at the stop. I waited an hour, hitchhiked to the water taxi stop with two women who were in the same boat (literally), and I took the water taxi in for my first day walking around the city – taking advantage of my newfound morning person status (thank you, time zones!) to get an early start around town. My first plan – find coffee.

And so, it was a that point, I came upon the line – before taking my infusion of caffeine – and it was already wrapped around the building. Having no idea what the line was for, I walked over to Pike’s Place Market, hoping to grab an early breakfast before starting my day. But it was quiet, shops were still closed, and I found myself thinking…coffee can wait; you probably should get into the line. At this point I still hadn’t established what the line was actually for, but I was pretty sure that I should probably just get into it.

I eyed the line. I walked to the front of the line.

And in quick succession I:

1. Determined that I was standing in front of the Seattle Art Museum. (SAM!)
2. Determined that the sold-out Yayoi Kusama exhibit was what was causing this Disney-line lunacy.
3. Asked a line-minder if there was any hope; was met with confirmation. THERE IS HOPE!
4. Realized that this was possibly my only chance to see the Infinity Mirrors exhibit, and to hell with my day, I was going to get into the line, without my coffee, at that very minute.
5. Spent the next three hours in line; with my kindle, my phone charger. Without my coffee.

Who am I?? In this narrative, I am a person who makes time for art; an avid museum goer; a conceptual art appreciator; a person who loves bright colors; and critically herea person who has infinite patience for lines.

Life Repetitive Vision Yayoi Kusama at SAM

Let’s talk about the line. You get into line and you wait.

Observations about the line at this point – outside the building we were met by a variety of characters as we waited for the building to open at 9:50. A man dressed as a monk (perhaps actually a monk? I’m skeptical…) came to offer prayers of peace to the couple in back of me. In a woo moment, I hear him repeat a mantra of “peace” just as my audio book starts playing at a random spot and blares the word “peace” in my ear at a high volume. An elderly Canadian couple in the line were very excited to be there, and the wife offered to get coffee for anyone who wanted some. (I declined, although in retrospect, I should have taken up her generosity.)

Around 10, we get into the building, walk through the building, down the stairs, around the corner, and the woman in front of me who has waited two hours in the line at this point, gives up to go to work. At that point I ended up behind an engineer who looked oddly like Breckin Meyer’s character in Clueless. He had his laptop and was getting his sprint work done. The folks in back of me expanded as the line went on (seemingly texting more and more friends to get in line with them.) There was a woman with her two daughters, maybe 6 and 8, in front of me having a grand ole time just talking with each other without electronics. I become fascinated with the tattoos of the petite woman two steps ahead. I learn a little bit too much about my neighbors.

I should pause here and mention – if you live in Seattle, the museum membership would have SO been worth it to get both a free ticket to the exhibit and a bypass of the longer line.

And then you get up to the counter and get tickets for later in the day. By that time it was close to 11:30; having spent my morning in line, I chose to come back at 5:15 – just enough time to walk around downtown, but not stray too far. I clutched my ticket, worked, wandered, and ate.

Yayoi Kusama SAM

At 5:00 I came back for yet another line.

This is the line where they tell you about what you are in for.

Spoiler alert – more lines! Think the lines are over? No. You then wait in line for the boxes – individual spaces within spaces, filled with stuff. You get to the front, get 30 seconds in the box, and then you are out. You can go in as many times as you want – a few of the spaces I waited in line a couple of times to get the experience – first with my camera, then, blissfully electronics free.

Do not touch the art.

Do not lie down in the rooms.

Stay standing.

No more than three people to a room.

No photos in the pumpkin room, and you’ll go in there with a minder.

I hear it’s because someone fell and broke some of the art. I spent 10 minutes in the pumpkin line wondering if I could peek my phone camera out of my back pocket and then just take the photo with my Apple Watch trigger… I opted to just experience the room instead. Also, I take linguistic pleasure in the fact that her name, Kusama, sounds like Kusa – a type of squash, and that she’s known, in part, for the famous pumpkin room.

And they warn you – we won’t let you out if you need to pee. PEE NOW or forever hold your PEE. I saw them let someone out, so I think it’s just to scare you.

Yes, the lines, they are long, but this experience though, it’s magical.

I spent two full hours in the exhibit. There were big pink balls. Stickers for collaborative art. Flashing lights. Phallic imagery; a woman explaining the phallic imagery to her pre-teens. Joy and smiles. Women wearing polka dots. A kind woman held my camera as I headed into the pumpkins; I made friends with strangers in the lines. A couple took my photo; leave it to me to find someone who was in Course 12 at MIT.

The art beyond the walls of the boxes was also delightful – possibly even more so for me than the infinity spaces – the colors were much more bright, cheerful, and so few people were really looking at it. If you go, don’t forget to look at the walls!

If you have the opportunity to see this exhibit, go. But maybe take a book, or a good friend you can make conversation with for five hours.

Yayoi Kusama: Inifinity Mirrors
In Seattle SAM through Sunday, September 10th
And then:
The Broad, Los Angeles, Oct 21, 2017–Jan 10, 2018
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, March 3–May 27, 2018
Cleveland Museum of Art, July 9–Sept 30, 2018


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