Rituals for Starting Things: Be Your Own Ceremonial Torch

Whether it’s a 30 day challenge, or my next new project: I love crafting a good starting ritual to get myself into the MINDSET for success. Truth: nobody is going to build rituals for you. Why not have fun designing some? Ceremonies! Magic! Ribbon-Cutting with massive scissors. Golden Spikes. Weird pre-pitch jiggles on the mound. “Launched my app on Product Hunt!”

Although I love a good show – a good starting ritual does not have to be complicated.

Here are a few of my go-to’s: ⤵

  1. Clear the decks – digital and physical – before starting I clear up all my clutter on my desktop, and I empty a single shelf. There’s always just a deep exhale that comes from knowing you have both literal and metaphorical space to breathe.
  1. Start with a new pen and notebook. Whenever I start a new project, I get myself a fresh G2 Gel Pen in 10, and a new Cambridge Action Planner notebook with lines on the right, and clear scribble space on the left.

*Yes, I’m totally justifying my office product habit here.

  1. Ask my “Starting Questions”:

• Who will I be when I complete this new thing?
• What habits do I need to start or stop to succeed?
• How will I measure?
• What does “Good” look like?
• What does “Mediocre” look like?
• Who can help me to achieve this?

  1. Round up my SQUAD. (And make it fun with swag.) “Hi, I’m doing this thing, u in?” – it’s more fun to do things with others.

• make t-shirts (or mousepads)
• pick a theme to go all-in on
• have fun with puns, GIFS, celebration
• “team” jewels or nerdy pins

  1. Take responsibility for the ritual I want to see. (Don’t assume others will do it for you.)

When beginning, I lean into my values:

👋 Inclusion: make a point to welcome others.

😍 Celebration: set the tone of JOY.

💌 Gratitude: acknowledge GOOD THINGS in the world.

How do YOU mark the start of new things? (I’d love to hear about your favorite rituals – the weirder, the better. How will you bring your own torch today?

The Weekly Meal Plan

Okay, you get roses instead of vegetables! (Last weekend at Fuller Gardens, in New Hampshire.)

Cornerstone habits that add the most value to my week are the ones that provide structure to my days, reduce my mental load to free me up for better decision making.  Meal planning uses a simple template that I repeat!

Prep: I root through my fridge, and seeing what needs to be used up. This week, I went to Farmers Market without a plan, so I have a glut of veg to use. Usually I take a quick pic of my fridge contents to help me plan.

To use this week: scallops, cod, eggs, beet hummus, labne, tomato, cucumber, scallions, garlic scapes, kale, spinach, broccoli, arugula, sweet potato, tortillas, Banza, frozen green beans, frozen onions and peppers, bamya, oatmeal, green goddess dip, piri-piri

  • S: cauliflower gnocchi lemon cacio pepe with scallops and arugula
  • M: miso-mayo cod with garlic spinach
  • T: tomato and wine braised fish from freezer, cucumber tomato salad
  • W: banza (chickpea) pasta with tomato sauce, chicken
  • Th: sweet potato with beef and tahini (Stone Soup)
  • Fr: Epicurious kale and date salad with leftover chickenSa: Cava? or Vietnamese takeout.

Lunches: (usually in no particular order) – or leftovers // broccoli with lemon, parmesan, beet hummus and eggs // arugula lemon parmesan salad with tinned fish // soft boiled eggs and pb protein shake with berries // barbunya pilaki with bamya (stewed cranberry beans and okra)

Snacks + Dessert: cheese sticks, yogurt fruit oats, soft boiled eggs, cottage cheese, key lime pineapple coconut shake, air fried green beans

To Buy: onion, vanilla protein powder, frozen cauliflower (smoothies), cottage cheese, chicken, rice, spindrift lemon, limeade, tea

Batch cook: soft boiled eggs, defrost chicken, slice and freeze bagels, barbunya, strawberry rhubarb mush

Learn something new every day

It’s insidiously easy to go through your day on auto-pilot. Work, checklist, plan, execute. I’m making the effort to learn something new every day, intentionally. I want ideas that make my brain explode with curiosity. Here’s where I’m looking:

I’m gathering books across a variety of my interests – and especially ones that friends are reading. I want to be able to read and then discuss salon style. I’m also a part of several book clubs to encourage this habit. (I’m also working to improve my notes to facilitate easier writing.)

How I’m trying to choose my reading: I try to read a few books on the same topic around the same time, to see commonalities and patterns, and outliers. I’ll gather:

• The top few classic books on a topic
• A new book on the topic
• The BIO of an expert on the topic

Why bios? I’m fascinated by the environment behind the idea. Where were the idea-makers living, what were they doing? Who were they influenced by?

It’s surprisingly easy to become passably fluent in a new topic by only reading a handful of the best books, intelligently curated.

I’m also looking for ideas from slow news, with global context. I’ve cut myself out of the 24-hour news cycle. I’m not interested in the stress, I want insight and information thats a level deeper. I try to catch up every few weeks on the Economist in print. I aim for a diversity of voices and viewpoints. I want to read about the world in a global context. I want to learn:

• How can we work together better?
• How can we do better in our shared mission for a better world?
• How can we learn from one another?
• What are the stories around the world that are being suppressed, minimized, or overlooked?

Where do you learn the best things? What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned or read this week?

June Intentions

For the past week, I’ve been participating in a month long writing challenge on Twitter. Each day, we write a 250 or so word essay on a graphic. My topics are free flowing, but I’m generally writing about Startups and Entrepreneurship, Brain Productivity, Mindset, and Self Care, and Food (of course!).

So far I’ve written about routines and habits, giving gratitude a rebrand, how to read better stuff, the secret sauce is people, creating a Swipe File, overcoming writers block with haiku, an essay “What am I inviting in?”, and notes from Reggie Hubbard’s Ompractice workshop: the Embodied Practice – Yoga of Service. The full series is here.

Tonight I sat down to write out my June Intentions, which reminded me that I am long overdue for some time writing here as well. The graphic I created is below (and I’ll write out the text below in case the image doesn’t come through well, or you are reading on a reader; as alt text doesn’t allow for the full character length.)

Monthly Intentions: A June Shortlist

Each month, I sit down to make a list of intentions. While not set in stone, my short list helps me to take advantage of my time when I’m not feeling adventurous or creative. This is the first pass, and I’ll update as I go along.

Cook and Eat Delicious Things:

  • my first lobster roll of the season
  • new cookbook of the month; classic cookbook re-read: @davidleite New Portuguese Table
  • grill things!
  • strawberry season
  • revisit 2021 kitchen resolutions

Move my Body with Joy and Ease:

  • continue my GVRAT and CRAW adventures
  • KAYAKing is open at Paddle Boston!
  • continue my 3x weekly strength work
  • weekly Ompractice yin/breathwork/mobility/new classes
  • pick a new hike on Alltrails

Goal is to find myself some novelty!

Connect more Deeply with my Humans:

  • time spent in NH with family
  • get back into the habit of friend calls on my walks
  • getting the crew back together with my Wellesley bffs
  • initiate texts and love to friends (this is hard for me!)
  • hand written notes to friends 🙂

Create and Consume:

  • cultivate my garden (pots and plot); lettuces, clip herbs daily
  • weekly creative dates with myself: MFA boston Basquiat, Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, Museum of Science Arctic adventure.
  • if I can safely see a film in the theater, I’d love to
  • Red Sox at Fenway

Watch and Read:

  • Diane Hessan’s new book Our Common Ground: Insights from Four Years of Listening to American Voters
  • V.E. Schwab ExtraOrdinary #0
  • Gentleman Jack Season 2!
  • Marvel watch party good times: Loki on Disney+
  • In the Heights! 🙌
  • Mare of Easttown

What else is on the docket? Work goals, drilling down into novelty, and still working on my learning goals for the month! What are you planning for June?

Good Things 2021: February

I haven’t been able to wrangle myself to write weekly, so here’s catch-up on this short month!

My amaryllis bloomed! I’ve been admiring it in the diffused morning light from the overcast sky which been giving us snow intermittently. I’ve been being diligent at picking up a weekly bouquet for myself at Trader Joe’s. It’s been a few weeks in a row of tulips, because they are fabulous.

Good Things and Creative Input:

  • Watched: The Big Chill – which has a surprisingly good soundtrack! To All the Boys:2, and Lucky Logan (neither of which were must-watch.) And MINARI! (HIGHLY recommend.) Signed up for Letterboxd, a film version of Goodreads. I’ve been *loving* WandaVision, and been watching Agent Carter, with deep angst that they cancelled it after two short seasons.
  • Reading: been loving the Brooklyn Bruja series. We’re reading Caste for Wellesley Book Club. A little behind on my reading these days!
  • Errands of note: Went to the dentist! Started my taxes!
  • Movement: The last week of my lifting class was bittersweet – I’ve enjoyed the structure of a Monday, Wednesday, Friday program at 6pm to look forward to. After finishing it, I made the attempt to switch programs and do the work on my own – it’s been… semi-successful! I’ve also kicked off our Ompractice My Core Floor Pelvic Health program (the exercises are very fun!) and I’m doing more time on the bike to contribute to our Circumpolar Race around the World Team.)
  • Together-ness: Weekly Zoom Trivia! A chocolate truffle making class on Zoom. A Zoom Pizza birthday party with charades and a seven year old DJ.
  • Organization: weekly personal sprint planning tag team!
  • Flowers: Red Tulips! Daffodils! Orange Tulips!
  • Joy: Getting a POST CARD from my DOG. Reading the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. Getting a second BLANKET with my dog’s face on it.

After a few weeks of being house bound with a sore back, Bertram has been up and at em for the past week or so going on walks again, and I’m deeply relieved!

Last week, I went to Formaggio to wait in line and bid farewell to the location that has been one of my comfort places for the past twenty years. It’s moving three blocks down the street, but I have a LOT of feelings.

{Good Food}:

One thing I’ve really enjoyed over the past few months is shared meal planning with friends. Not that we’re actually eating the same things, just more as an accountability tool. More than the fancy planning, I’m really interested in those quick default meals my friends are eating – I find that I’m more likely to make a healthy choice when I can swap out a simple meal that I know a friend is also enjoying this week.

The most glorious bowl of cottage cheese topped with Formaggio Kitchen passionfruit curd. A generous dollop. (And then having this same thing about four times for desserts. Sometimes I added a little oat.)

Some highlights:

  • Post-Superbowl Feast: leftover’s from my family’s Zahav montreal shortrib extravaganza from Goldbelly.
  • My favorite Epicurious Kale and Date salad.
  • Lobster Cacio Pepe
  • Calabrian Tomato Dumpling Soup from Trader Joe’s with added chicken
  • Kheer from my Indian take-out from Shan-a-Punjab.
  • Lentil soup with ham, bok choy, eggs
  • Chicken tenders in the air fryer with a big ole salad and two dipping sauces. I tried the new magnificause from Trader Joe’s (the second was actually Chik-fil-a spicy sauce.)
  • Molten Chocolate saucy cake.
  • Big pot of Kimchi Stew.
  • Pot of Rancho Gordo pinto beans. Ate a bowl with honey, and plantain garlic croutons which was sensational. Another bowl another day with chopped tomato, egg, and star dust (Rancho gordo tajin)
  • Cafe Spice Chicken Tikka Masala (one of my favorites pre-made meals).
  • A bowl of ham, chicken, broccoli, and basil caesar.
  • Fennel salad with hardwood smoked tuna.
  • Annies Mac n Cheese with Birdseye Broccoli with Cheddar sauce… because.
  • Incredible Beet Tzaziki from Formaggio.
  • Broccoli with blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Mocktail with seltzer, cherry jam, and rosewater.

Lunar New Year food from my neighborhood Chinese restaurant: noodles, and sesame balls, 8 Treasure rice, and date rice cake.

OYSTER delivery from Island Creek thanks to Somchay and Janet. I’m so thankful for friends who will do an emergency drive to Duxbury to pick up $10/dozen Island Creek oysters…

Zoom Truffle Making Class! This was so much fun. Plotting my next online cooking extravaganzas.

Of course, there’s been a lot of snuggles as well.

With this, I bid you adieu!

Here’s to a very good week!

xo, Sam