Boston Business Women

Boston Business Women Directors

Well hello there, friends! I hope the end of spring is treating you well. It’s gorgeous (if not a little hot) here in New England, and I’m so thrilled to just have the chance to be outside these days. I’ve been heading out on long and leisurely walks nearly every day with the pup.

Someone rightfully pointed out that I haven’t actually posted winners from my Blue Apron post. I was going to pick two, but I had five credits on Blue Apron, so congrats to Azzara, Susan, Mary, Margaret, and Katie! If you didn’t win, but desperately want to get a box, let me know, and I’ll pass you on one when I get another set of credits. (Which apparently was as soon as I passed on my current credits. Send me an email – sam at thesecondlunch dot com! if you want a free week!)

This month has been full of adventure, and I wanted to mention one of the big projects that I’ve been working on! One of my greatest passions is to work with women on self-care, personal, and leadership development. It’s tied deeply to the values that were instilled in me through my education at Wellesley, and over the past few years I’ve been searching out more concrete opportunities to do so.

To that end, I’ve been serving on the board of the Wellesley College Alumnae of Boston, and a few months ago took a role as technology director on the leadership team of the Boston Business Women. Our team created and produced a sold out thousand person conference a few weeks ago! It’s been keeping me busy! Our keynote speaker was Arianna Huffington, who is leading a campaign for better sleep – a topic near and dear to my heart. I took home a signed copy of her book The Sleep Revolution and have been reading it this week. It’s full of case studies and scientific research on why sleep is so important. I’m always looking for new sleep routine recommendations to share with my wellness clients – getting sleep down is one of the best ways to support overall health.

Arianna Huffington The Sleep Revolution

It was a complete privilege to hear Arianna speak – but even more special to see her interact with everyone at the conference. She was kind, gracious, and completely down to earth. She was also rocking a classic and stunning fitted and flared pale pink dress with matching tan pumps and purse, and I picked up some new style goals from seeing her outfit. The woman can dress.

It has been a complete thrill working with so many brilliant and hardworking women over the past several months, and was even better seeing the fruits of our labor – a gathering of entrepreneurial, like-minded women looking to do more good in the world. I can’t wait to see where we go next! If you are in the Boston area, and would like to join the group, here’s the link to our Facebook group (4500 women strong!) We have a full season of events planned, and we have more in the works!

Morning Routines + The Weekly Meal Plan

Ottolenghi Chicken with Cardamom Rice

Happy Sunday everyone!

That gorgeous skillet is filled with chicken thighs with caramelized onions and cardamom rice from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem – my favorite dinner last week. I highly recommend it!

Today I spent most of the day outside, taking advantage of this un-seasonalbly warm 52 degree New England weather. I come to you with two lists today – the first is the morning practice that I’m committing to for the month of February. And then capping it off with my weekly meal plan – because most of you are here for the food!

For the month of February, I’m teaming up with some of my favorite biz ladies to do Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning. It focuses on making a habit of six activities – all of which I’ve done on a semi-regular basis in the past – but could use a little more incentive to get rolling on. The first step is waking and drinking a glass of water. This doesn’t count as one of the activities, but might be the most important! Here are the six:

Meditation – I’ve worked my way through the Headspace foundation pack, and am now working through the activity packs. I started with Depression (I have a lifelong history of SAD in the New England winters), moving on to Anxiety (might as well tackle the tough ones first!) and looking forward to starting on “Creativity”. I have a year long subscription and am committed to meditating every day.

Affirmations – this is an interesting one, because I’ve avoided these in the past. Why are affirmations important? Well, we chose the scripts that we play to ourselves in our head, and often they can be a repeat of negative and self deprecating thoughts. By thinking of the same negative thoughts over and over, we can make these thoughts a reality. The goal with affirmations is to re-write the script. I’ve written out a series of affirmations that go beyond the inspirational quotes, but hit on my WHYs, my passions, and my desires. Sometimes you have to give yourself a pep talk to get going! (This is actually a great strategy for racing as well.) As I read personal development books, Internet articles, fiction, or even just talk to people, I’ll be building on these affirmations. I’m looking forward to adding to them as I learn and grow.

Visualization – this goes beyond a vision board, but vision boards are a good start! Just by thinking about the life that we want to be living and what our ideal days and years and accomplishments look like, we are achieving the first critical step to making change happen for ourselves. Today I spent ten minutes thinking what my ideal day would look like this coming week. No dramatic stretches! Just reminding myself how I want to act and FEEL.

Exercise – after a quiet winter season, I’m working to bring back movement in a more dedicated way through race training. But the idea here isn’t my whole workout, but to just get my muscles moving and heart pumping. I’ll be starting with a light weight routine in my house. After far too long in the trunk of my car, I just recently brought my frozen kettlebell up the stairs to have on hand. I will also be planking, squatting, and stretching.

Reading – 10-15 minutes of personal development reading. I have a strong reading goal that I’ve written about this year – 100 books! – and I make time during the day for reading already, so this is just a bonus. For my morning practice, I’m going to keep it to non fiction personal development topics. Right now I’m reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art.

Journaling – this is something that I already try to build into my day, but could use the extra motivation. I’ll be doing my typical morning pages – 10-15 minutes of free writing with occasional structure – feelings, thoughts, gratitude lists, and the start of my daily to do list.

The most important part of this month is that I’ve found my accountability partners to ensure my success!

And! To make sure I feel rewarded for my habit building – I have a physical checklist that I’ll be using with little gold star stickers to cross off when I’ve accomplished my tasks. Chore charts don’t just work for kids!

Do you currently have a morning routine? 


:: The Weekly Meal Plan: Week of January 31st, 2016 ::

I’ve been trying to add in a new recipe from a cookbook each week. Last week was the gorgeous chicken with caramelized onions and cardamom from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. (See above!) – his recipes are always so delicious! Since cooking with Blue Apron, I’ve actually expanded my patience for cooking slightly longer week night meals, so I’m trying for some with a little oomph more often.

Sunday: green salad with smoked andouille chicken sausage and buttermilk biscuits

Monday: shrimp fried rice (Blue Apron) wild shrimp, with a little side of kimchi that my neighbor made and gave to us.

Tuesday: pork chops with brussels sprouts and pancetta, a super simple three ingredient dinner. Okay, plus spices. Maybe five ingredients.

Wednesday: eggs for dinner. I’ll keep this one simple and make a regular scramble and a green salad.

Thursday: the cookbook recipe that I haven’t decided on yet! I know, I know, I’m sorry to keep you hanging! If you have any suggestions for a great cookbook recipe, I’m all ears.

Friday:out! or as we do these days – takeout and an On Demand movie at home.

Pausing for gratitude.

Bertram the Frenchie

One of my favorite parts of leading a wellness group is working through daily assignments alongside my clients. I find it personally rewarding to engage with the material – one of the most important reasons I chose to dedicate my focus to a career in health and wellness was because of my own pursuit for a healthier lifestyle. On the practical side, it encourages me to assess and reassess the curriculum if I find that I’m personally feeling resistant to the work!

An important part of my regular focus on well-being is my gratitude practice, and so I often begin my coaching work with a short gratitude exercise. Today in Secrets of Self Care, we wrote out 10 things we were thankful for. Here is the short version of mine. The long version took up two pages in my notebook.

Today I have much to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for my loving partner.

I’m thankful to work with some amazing women in my program.

I’m thankful for fluffy white snowflakes.

I’m thankful for a trip to Florida for a few months from now when the snowflakes will be less appealing.

I’m thankful for Jamie Oliver’s muesli recipe. With cacao nibs, blueberries, and maple syrup.

I’m thankful for my oldest friend willing to make an IKEA trip with a stitched up foot. And she let me push her in the wheelchair!

I’m thankful for the $20 *already put together* Raskog turquoise cart from IKEA I found in the as-is section.

I’m thankful for dear friends, both near and far.

I’m thankful for the safety of my family in Istanbul.

I’m thankful for my ever-loving sweet pup, Bertram.

What are you thankful for today? 

PS: If you’d like to hear more on this topic, or are interested in future sessions of Secrets of Self Care, sign up for my wellness wisdom newsletter!

Starting Monday – Secrets of Self Care

tackeff 6 week fall wellness coaching program

This week has been a vibrant whirlwind – which is sort of how I’ve come to expect my fall to be – life reflecting nature – the leaves changing colors, the winds picking up. Except I’m not gearing up to hibernate, but instead bolster myself for the holidays and the new year. It’s a little scary how fast it’s come this year. Wasn’t it summer yesterday? (Okay, so maybe it did hit 73 degrees here this week…)

Much of my free time has been spent building out my fall wellness program which starts on Monday! – the Secrets of Self Care, and I realize that I haven’t talked to you about it here on my corner of the internet, and YOU are who I’ve been writing this course for!

Secrets of Self Care is a 6 week program for those who have been focused on career, family, or business, and lost themselves a little in the process. (Okay, isn’t that all of us?) Six weeks leading up to the holidays to help you get back in touch with yourself.

Are you lacking inspiration to make simple, healthy, and seasonal meals?

Are you feeling tired with the change of seasons?

Do the holidays cause you anxiety?

Does your energy wane in the early afternoon?

Do you find yourself making sub-optimal food choices when you don’t have better options?

Do you feel like curling up on your couch with a cup of tea, and not leaving?

Join me for this adventure in which we’ll focus on being kinder to ourselves, supporting our needs and desires, and nourishing our bodies.

What you get:

– Daily weekday emails providing journaling and action prompts.
– Supportive online accountability
– A variety of printable handouts
– A personal coaching consultation with Sam (via Phone, Hangout, or Skype)
– Additional email support for the duration of the course

The cost of the course is $179 for the 6 weeks, including a 1-1 personal coaching session.

We start Monday – I’d love to have you join me – we’ll be thinking, writing, dreaming, and bringing good things to life, and I’ll be doing the work right along side of you!

If you want to hear more, email me at, and I’d happy to hop on the phone with you for a few minutes to talk about the work that I do, and how I can help!

Kitchen Diary + Gratitude Journal

August to August Calendar 2016

It seems that August got away from me. It was a whirlwind month, and now that we’re square in the last days of summer, I’m doing everything I can to savor the moments before winter is here in New England. (I kid… although… if we get snow next month, don’t say that I didn’t warn you.)

Last night, I did one of my favorite rituals: heading to the Wellesley Booksmith to pick up a new August to August day planner, which spans, as the title suggests, from August to August, following roughly the academic year, rather than the calendar year. No matter that it’s been close to a decade since I graduated college, the August to August is a favorite tradition, even though I’ve switched to digital for the actual planning and calendar. Instead, I use the notebook for two things – a one sentence kitchen diary, and a few bullets every night as my gratitude journal. It’s a nice way to reflect on the day and good things in my life.

Last night, I was thankful for:

  • some new book purchases (Brené Brown‘s Rising Strong, David Lagergrantz‘s Lisbeth Salander The Girl in the Spider’s Web – not sure if that counts as fan fic even though it’s technically authorized, and Laila Lalami‘s The Moor’s Account – I’m working through the Man Booker list again this year.)
  • time on the farm to pick my CSA share
  • our new apartment (for the options of a new dog, and my new kitchen, below)

Stearns Farm CSA Flowers in New Kitchen

Hope you are having a good weekend! What is new and good with you?

Spring Commitments: Healthy Habits

This was a list I wrote for myself at the beginning of the year, and now that we’re out of the doldrums of winter, I decided I needed to re-read, re-commit to, and wanted to share with you all. A little accountability never hurts! 

10 Healthy Habits to Start in 2015

Of course we all know the truth about healthy living – there is no quick fix, or special pill that will “just magically work this time”. Healthy living takes good old fashioned hard work, smart eating, and exercise. But it’s slightly more complicated than that: most often, we know what to do to improve our health and well being, but we just don’t commit to doing it! Nothing on this list is new – but if you are looking to make changes this year, consider choosing 2-3 of the items on this list, and really focusing on them. Write them in your planner. Set a daily alarm. Make a small change, and see how far it gets you!

1. Focus on hydration.

You don’t need to be drinking glasses of water all day long – you can actually hydrate with soup, herbal or decaf tea, . If it helps, stick to a schedule (and if you work in an office place, you might use this as an excuse to head to the proverbial water cooler and get a quick stretch break in!

2. Commit to regular movement.

We all know that sitting for long hours is detrimental to health – but even if you are quite active, sitting for a long stretch of time during one part of the day can still be detrimental! I currently have my Jawbone Up24 set to gently buzz after any 15 minute stretch of inactivity.

3. Make this year the year of quality sleep.

Start by turning off the electronics. Let your phone charge outside your room, and read a book before bed. If you need an alarm, consider a device such as a Jawbone (see above) which can gently buzz you awake, or an alarm watch. Make your room your haven, sleep in full darkness, and keep your room cool. If you can, adopt an official “bed time”, and stick to it.

4. Take long walks.

Not for exercise, but for your brain. Let yourself relax and recharge. If you don’t have time for long walks, start with short ones: brisk 15 minute walks. If you are not used to the quiet of nature, listen to a podcast: I’m currently enjoy Serial, RadioLab, the Balanced Bites podcast, and the Tim Ferriss podcast.

5. Get your sh*t together. It’s actually a great website to help you organize the important details in life: money, insurance, wills, and more.

Reduce stress by arming yourself with resources – while you are at it, if you need to learn more about setting up a healthy financial system, I highly recommend Ramit Sethi’s “I Will Teach You to be Rich” – which covers the gambit of personal finance in a very clear and actionable format.

6. Reinvigorate your workouts by choosing new things to explore – try one new class or activity a month. Or start a workout habit!

Consider a Couch to 5k plan this spring. If you live in a major metropolitan city and have a little bit to spend – sign up for ClassPass (which allows you to take fitness classes in hundreds of boutique fitness studios). Go Indoor Bouldering. Or to an indoor trampoline park. Or take a surfing lesson. Love running, swimming, and biking? Sign up for a Sprint Triathlon!

7. Enlist accountabili-buddies.

Okay, or just friends – to help you achieve new goals. An active social net is proven to help you achieve more than you might on your own. Consider signing up for a group running club, or start a walking group in your office. Or maybe you want to read more in 2015? Start a book club!  Or a cookbook club!

8. Practice gratitude.

Consider ending your day taking a few minutes to write down 1-3 things that were meaningful to you. Gratitude helps us to appreciate what we have, but has also been scientifically shown to increase happiness! (Consider an extension in the workplace – a simple exercise of “what worked well” can also be an effective tool to improve processes.

9. Set short term, medium, and long term goals to help you achieve more in 2015.

Goal setting can be an effective practice to help you get more done in all aspects of your life. Break down large goals into smaller ones, by setting short term goals that are achievable on a small time frame. This can apply to weight loss (.5 to 2 pounds a week), to a running goal (working your way up to a mile), to a ‘BHAG’ – big, hairy, audacious goal. By focusing on our visions, we get ourselves much closer to great things than by simply waiting for chance.

10. Commit to practicing self care.

Massages. Long baths. Scheduled exercise. Healthy meals. Maybe you are the type of person who puts others first – by committing to putting your self first with self care, you help yourself to be a better person for both you and others. Some ideas for self care here on Pinterest.

What are some of your favorite healthy habits? Are there any on this list that you have trouble sticking with in particular?

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