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 gatheringbooks 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?
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!).
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
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.
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.)
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.
Two weeks ago I started typing: “It always feels weird to capture the small details when the world is so tumultuous. I’d be remiss not to make note here that this week was NOT normal. That our nation’s capitol was stormed….” and then I closed my laptop and put this post away. This month has been both impossibly short and impossibly long. As time goes these days. My days are full.
My work is so satisfying and our impact expanding – we now have about 100 live group classes a week of yoga, meditation, pilates, tai chi, and more on Ompractice. Our new Head of Engineering, Danielle started this month, and we’ve already been diving into building the next version of the platform that we’ve been dreaming of. We’ve been expanding our partnerships with the Department of Veterans Affairs, our support of Black Boys Om, and next month we kick off a pilot for pelvic health/floor/core programming with a PT partner. This month we had our very first official board meeting!
At the same time, life has it’s lows – family members with illness, Bertram’s back flaring back up (a sad hurting puppo on meds is no fun at all), the weather is a little too New-Englandy, I still haven’t come down from the anxiety around the election, and this pandemic is long. That said, all the reason for Good Things.
I finished writing my Q1 reading list, and finished a few books.
I kicked off some group Artist’s Way creative sessions! Our book club meets every week to go over a chapter.
Time with friends brainstorming ways to support each other, help meal plan, organize, commit to self care.
Movement: Week one: I ran three three mile runs in addition to my streak this week. Yin class with Yasmene on Ompractice. I contributed miles to my Circumpolar Race Around the Worldwith my BattleDucks team! My new bright pink 20# weights came in the mail, ready to be picked up and put down. Week 2: I’ve been doing a Monday – Wednesday – Friday women’s lifting class on Zoom. The first week everything hurt, and now I’m looking forward to our workouts. 40 minutes, warmups, strength portion, slightly more active portion, cool down. Last week I ran three miles in the gorgeous snow fall. I’m not sure how I’m feeling about the impending snow storm, but I now own my own pair of Yaktrax. I also got a few fresh pairs of sneakers: my new pair of Glycerin 18s, and then a GoreTex coated pair of Brooks for better snow and slush running.
Reading: finished Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People, starting on Laila Lalami’s The Other Americans. For my night time reading (usually YA set in a place with limited use of electronics in the plot), I’ve started the Brooklyn Bruja series.
TikTok: The Wellerman, and other shanties.
Watching: Finished Lucifer, films of the week were Bombshell, Kajillionaire (watch-party with Xtina!) Finishing Designated Survivor. BEST show? TED LASSO – which I *highly highly highly* recommend and devoured in a weekend.
Creative Dates with myself: I had a Korean-ish Fried Chicken Sandwich from Shake Shack. I spent 25 minutes in a brutally cold outside line to make my way through Formaggio Kitchen to acquire novelty: robiola wrapped in cabbage, passionfruit curd, some good mozzarella, a seville orange, a yuzu, a bergamot, and a cinnamon bun. I’ve been chipping away at a 1000 piece puzzle that has taken over my coffee table.
At the beginning of the month I sat down and made a long list of possible January meals. I’ve made attempts to be creative, but I do often find myself eating the same types of things over and over before moving onto the next season. I didn’t quite stick to everything planned, but it was a great reference point. This month my Air Fryer has been on double duty. Here’s a range of many of my simple but flavorful meals this month.
Rice bowls of all kinds: this one is hardwood smoked tuna over seasoned rice with tomato and cucumbers. This is one of my favorite quick meals using microwave frozen rice, a little rice vinegar, sugar, and furikake.
Chicken tacos: ground chicken with Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning, fajita onions and peppers, chopped tomatoes, and avocado. I forgot how much I love taco night! It’s been a while.
Pierogies in the air fryer (they become… a little bit like an empanada), with pork tenderloin and salad with balsamic fig dressing.
Alta Strada Tribute Night: I had a few friends for a “dinner party” where two out of four of us cooked meals inspired by one of our college local restaurants. The third brought wine after eating Chinese takeout. The fourth had to come in between evening meetings. Which… all in all, was not unlike our college experience. I made a salad with white anchovies, marinated ricotta with lemon, pepper, olive oil, and fried sage, and a spicy pasta with fish. Caroline’s looked better than mine!
Spicy pasta with grilled chicken and roasted cauliflower. Super simple! I’ve been making a little bit more pasta than usual, and I do not dislike the trend.
Trader Joe’s got in more boxes of butter mochi for a HOT second. I didn’t manage to buy any, but I ended up baking one box from my emergency Trader Joe’s pantry. (I have four boxes left.) Multiple friends also baked this – what a lovely thing baking the same things. I got to face time a toddler who was eating the same snack and it was great.
Calamari in the Air Fryer: salt and pepper with panko. Home made cocktail sauce, and garlic aioli to dip.
Trader Joe’s Kibbeh over a lemony salad with yogurt dipping sauce and mint. I quite liked these!
A platter of sashimi from Sakanaya (I was too late for them to make me an order, so I bought a bunch of fish and made my own. My knives were not sharp enough, alas. Need to borrow a Tri-Zor again.
A cheese bagey (childhood spelling intentional) in the air fryer!! Yes. In case you didn’t know, you can butter a bagel, and the melt cheese on it, and it come out perfectly crispy and cheesy.
Corona Pizza Beans with broccoli and plantain croutons (BUY these at TJs!). The idea is vaguely from Smitten Kitchen and is all the rage in the Rancho Gordo Bean Club group. This is the lazy person version, in which I pour vodka sauce and cooked corona beans and mozzarella in a bowl with Italian seasoning.
Citrus Garlic Pork in the airfryer over broccoli with pesto. Pork chops cook perfectly in the air fryer in about ten minutes, and let rest for another ten. I feel like a Trader Joe’s advertisement site – but I did also like this seasoning.
Scallops over orzo pasta with chopped tomato and sherry vinegar. And cheese! A riff from one of Giada De Laurentis’ old cookbooks with perfect summer warm orzo salads with red wine vinaigrette.
Take-Out of Note: LeDu Pad Kee Mao and Green Papaya Salad (which I ordered twice this month.) Shan-a-Punjab Butter Chicken, Naan, Raita, and Kheer.
Trader Joe’s Grainless Granola with half and half (salty, sweet!)
After a great 2019, and a middling 2020 for reading, I’m back with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for books in the new year. Having a reading list helps me make decisions about getting in quality reading without falling into decision making slumps.
I aim to have a large percentage of my reading written by women, POC, and international writers; and typically read a handful of Man Booker short list titles. I typically make a list of my favorite categories, and then will supplement or swap as I find reading that calls out to me. I make room for the synchronicity of just picking up any random title, but I always have a backup!
A few notes and observations:
Audio Books: yes, I definitely count audiobooks as reading. I process information better when on my walks and runs, and thus prefer listening to memoirs or non-fiction this way. It’s also easier for me to stay engrossed and follow along while I’m moving physically.
Don’t forget FOOD! For the past two years, I read almost zero food memoirs, literature, or history – some of my favorite topics. So I made this one of my kitchen resolutions this year! (Again.) I’m also re-reading cookbooks.
The library is your friend. While I always try to support local book stores – I’m also a huge fan of my local library – grabbing things off the Speed Read Shelf is my jam – I’m happy that our library is still open to grab things.
As always, still working my way through my list of Personal Leadership Development Books, and the BBC Big Read. I also read quite a few business books for work – whatever I need to expand my ideas and sharpen my skills. Last week was our engineer Danielle’s first week of work, and she asked if we could have a shared reading list in our team knowledgeable. 🙂
I’ll be kicking off a round of The Artist’s Way with a group of friends.
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (read!)
Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami (Wellesley Book Club Book)
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
Stand Out by Dorie Clark (re-reading with a friend)
Categories to choose from: (I often choose outside these, but I find that when I’m in the mood for a particular feeling, it breaks down by this type of category.)
The Man Who Ate Too Much by John Birdsall.
Everything is Under Control by Phyllis Grant.
Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.
Dirt by Bill Buford.
Rebel Chef by Dominique Crenn.
Gripping / Thrilling / Literary:
My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The next in one of my Scandi crime series of choice.
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
VE Schwab – what have I not read?
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) by S.A. Chakraborty
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova (Brooklyn Brujas)
Leadership / Business / Finance:
How I Built This by Guy Raz
Health Design Thinking by Bon Ku and Ellen Lupton
Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed
Fitness and Health / Mindfulness / Brains
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
The Body, A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (been half read for a while!)
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