Good Things 2021 Word of the Year Bloom on flowers on the Second Lunch

Thoughts on a Word of the Year. I’ve used this as a haphazard practice for the past decade. 2011: Habit, in 2017: Share, in 2018: Finish. Sometimes I hold on to my word, other years they slip away, the act of setting the intention for a few minutes enough for me. In 2021: we have BLOOM. Even if it’s just a reminder to myself to get a weekly bouquet or plant. This being a food blog, my secondary word that kept on coming to mind is “pickle” and I’m already getting started thinking about ferments.

And we commence! This week I stumbled across a wise thought from a brilliant and captivating friend, who said something to the effect of: “I survived 2020 by treating each month of the year as a new slate. And of course, tea.”  (I took liberties with the quote as it was part of a tweet thread.) I’ve always loved the idea of a rhythm for one’s life – structure to dream, build, coast, reflect, relax, and then do it all again. 

There’s the comfort of making new choices and permission to change one’s mind if something does not work out – if you hate it, you get a clean slate. If not, you continue that path. I see structure as the creative constraint to let you take bigger leaps

I have quite a bit of optimism about the year to come.  

With that, I start with my first Good Things of the year – the short notes from my weekly personal Retro. (A retrospective is an exercise where you cap each work cycle with three questions, usually a version of: what worked well? what should we improve? what will we commit to improving in the next work cycle?) My personal retro includes my “what worked well” which is also, incidentally – my gratitude practice. You’ll notice that many of my good things are small things that may seem inconsequential to others, or even something that we are taught to be ashamed about.

Two moments about this for both myself and for you.

In 2021, I want to celebrate the small things. While big accomplishments should always be celebrated, the small things that seem inconsequential may literally be the thing that keeps you going in any particular day – are in my opinion the most important things. So if you want to show me your microwaved broccoli that you managed to feed yourself, of that you got of the couch and showered for the first time in weeks, I want to CELEBRATE you for that.

Fredrik Backman Anxious People Book on The Second Lunch

This week: I took time to relax and write. 

  • I wrote about food, cooking, and my vision for the upcoming year.
  • I wrote my kitchen resolutions.
  • I wrote my intentions for the month.
  • I wrote my reading list for the next few months.
  • I participated in a vision board session with friends – everyone else cut out magazine images, I just sat around dreaming in community.

Movement: I ran an accidental 5k PR on January 1st! I ended the year with a beautiful Yin class with Yasmene on Ompractice, and started with Jane subbing for Jess in her Decompress and Rest class. I contributed miles to my Circumpolar Race Around the World with my BattleDucks team!

Creative input:

  • Reading: Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People.
  • Watching: Bridgerton, Lucifer, kicking off my 2021 movie watching with Class Action Park.
  • Creative Dates: I kicked off a large puzzle this week – Ducks of North America. Even though I found my table to be a little bit too small. 
Rancho Gordo Super Lucky 2021 Black Eyed Peas on The Second Lunch

{Good Food}: a solid start to the year – cooking meals rather than just assembling.

Marcus Samuelsson’s Black Eyed Pea Curry. From Food and Wine. This is a recipe that has some notoriety in the Rancho Gordo Bean Club facebook group (of course there’s a group). At the last glance, I’d note that more than 250 people acknowledged cooking this recipe over the New Year (there was a poll). It’s definitely one to keep in your back pocket. Even  if you don’t like black eyed peas, it’s a handy base for a variety of bean swaps. The coconut milk, the berbere, the turmeric – are wonderful.

A Stone and Skillet English Muffin with chicken liver pâté. Almost a match for last week’s superlative Elephantine Parker House Roll breakfast sandwich with Egg and Cheddar.

New Year’s Eve Super Fusion 2: seafood avocado salad, beef tataki, a California roll, tamago sushi. 

My Italian neighbor roasted chestnuts in her fireplace, doused them in rum, and gave me a small bowl of them.

Cheater’s Sicilian Seafood Stew with Swordfish, rao’s, pine nuts, garlic, orange zest, and sherry.

Honey Aleppo pork tenderloin with air-fryer cauliflower and sweet potato, green goddess dip, and spicy mayo.

Cottage cheese with blueberries and maple syrup.

Here’s to a very good YEAR of eating, creativity, and joy in the small things ahead.

xo Sam