A few of the things that I’ve been very consistent at in the new year: going to bed with a clean sink and setting the coffee maker, and meal planning for the week.
I picked up a few extra bouquets of yellow flowers to surround myself with COLOR today. Two bunches from Trader Joe’s. The pink bouquet was from a delightful zoom flower arranging class with Alice’s Table.
⚡️ This week, I’ve been thinking about activation energy. Specifically, it takes me a disproportionate amount of effort to get started on things, even if I *desperately want* to do them. So cutting down any steps at the beginning of doing something, and making the first one or two steps I do simple to focus on action is key.
For tidying dishes, for instance, if I think about the effort to wash them, my brain overwhelms. Instead, I shift the focus to the first small step: turn on the water and let it get warm. This is enough to get the whole process going, and stay consistent with it.
Weekly Meal Plan 2/19/22
Next week I’ve outsourced most of my meals to WeCo, a local food delivery service. Why? Because much of my focus is going to be on working on our platform re-launch at Ompractice! The past several months have been low on energy. And WeCo meals are delicious, and the kind of food I enjoy cooking for myself, so I don’t feel deprived of the thing that brings me joy. (They’ve now expanded to New Hampshire!)
Sat: WeCo sweet chili shrimp + rice bowl sweet chili shrimp, brown rice, pickled celery + cucumber and kimchi + ginger slaw with sesame garlic vinaigrette
Sun: Turkish Spinach and Meat (although this might get swapped!)
Mon: Canadian Blue Box Kraft Mac and Cheese (thanks to my sibling crossing the border for food two weeks ago.)
Doing something a little different this week! Over the past few years I’ve been heads down working on Ompractice, but I’ve missed leading workshops as part of my toolbox of community-driven accountability. To that end, I’m leading a workshop on Monday that I’m excited about and *Doing the Thing!
It’s like a crafting circle, but for personal reflection. Join me on 1/31 Monday at 6:30 ET for a 90 minute workshop on the Personal Retrospective! (A daily/weekly/monthly review process that’s as simple and flexible as you want it to be for yourself. We’ll design our own templates AND get a review done.) Cost: $42 Register here.
Accountability is another one of those words (like Gratitude, which I find grating) that really doesn’t capture my positive sentiment of the concept, which is: the important things in life are more fun and fulfilling when done together.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to share a little bit more about my review process, and I found myself writing 2500 words on the topic (It’s something I’m very passionate about!) I do a version of a retrospective regularly – daily with just a few minutes on my hands, weekly (typically with accountibili-buddy), and monthly, with a little bit more depth to the process. I’ve done a version for over ten years now, and find it a flexible process I go back to again and again because it works. The look and feel change over time, and based on my creative needs, but the bones remain the same. Here’s an excerpt of why I run this process for myself.
Using a Retro as part of your Emotional Regulation Tool Kit
Here’s why I go back to a personal review system again and again:
Retros are not simply a way to “get organized” in the bro-productivity sense. They are a self-loving practice that I choose to do to directly benefit my mental health.
The practice is structured thought work which addresses a range of needs:
Helps me review and acknowledge the work and experiences I actually completed. I think of this as the opposite of the The Zeigarnik Effect (which is the tendency to better remember unfinished tasks than completed ones). When I finish things, I tend to forget that I’ve done them, and this breaks the ever present negative thought pattern of “I haven’t done enough”. Nope, you did a lot. Give yourself grace.
Regular Gratitude Practice. I hate the word gratitude. I find it grating. I typically call these “Good Things”. There’s a boatload of science showing that giving thanks helps to improve overall happiness. Even in the most challenging times, this is reliably a mood booster for me.
Boundaries: Having a container for review makes it easier to manage my emotions and my energy during the week. I know that I don’t have to address everything in the moment, and can wait until my retro to process some of the hard stuff, knowing that it will be addressed.
Helps me to identify patterns in my behavior, actions (or non-actions), and thoughts. Specifically, what kinds of things do I do regularly that just don’t serve my goals? (I’m looking at you, mindless scrolling.)
Incentive and Cue to add more good things to my week and month to come. When I know I’m going to review things after the fact, it gives me a little bit more initiative to add things to look forward to in my calendar.
👉 Want to give yourself more satisfaction with your day to day? Learn more about the in’s and outs and design a format that works for YOU. We’ll be doing it all together on Monday. My next Retro Workshop is on Jan 31st at 6:30pm Eastern. Cost: $42 Register here.
Imagine moving to a new city and living your best life. 3 months ago, that’s exactly what my friend Rebeqa did. She took the leap, hightailed across the globe, and set off on a new journey. (She’s kind of awesome like that.) Now that the chaos is settling the fun begins: today we sat down to think through cultivating her new SENSE OF PLACE AND HOME.
She wants to feel inspired in her home and her new city – live her life fully integrated, and engaging in activities she enjoys. It’s so easy to just run around focused on work and forget to fully LIVE in your home city. We could all use a little intention setting around this.
So we sat down today to write a big ole list of things to discover!
🏡 1. Making a new house a home.
• Designing Activities Zones
• Rest and Relaxation Area! (Including setting out her Oculus, coloring books, and art supplies.
• Thinking about color and texture and smell
Because she works remotely, she wanted to define a new workspace that doesn’t make her dislike the vibe of that area of the house during non-work hours. Ultimately, we determined she could do some sort of visual reset – like a “relax plant” or “fur blanket” to nest in off hours.
Next step was to make a list of neighborhood integration. Find or ID her “places”:
• Library Card • Plant Store and/or gardening! • Crafts store (or art supplies) • Health store • Favorite Post Office (and how do you send registered mail?) • Easy access pharmacy
☕️ And for the priorities:
Coffee shops (vibes: “sit for hours”; “place that has food”; “place for working”; “Instagrammable and MOOD”)
And food options: • Late night reliable takeout • Backup quick meals out on the go (good burger! great Himalayan!)
A High Tea place.
💆🏻♀️ 3. We then identified self care options based on her preferred relaxation:
Spa-life: • manicures, massages, Korean spa, Hammam • Place (or people) to cuddle with animals (ie: Cat Cafe)
Green spaces within WALKING DISTANCE • City Parks, Hiking Parks within a 15 minute 🚗
We noodled here a little more:
• Picnic Spots • Places with a VIEW • Best Water Vistas (pond, river, lake, stream, ocean • Fancy Houses of Note “national registry houses”
Also, finding a local Independent bookstore run by a woman with cats (my addition, but seems right.)
👋 4. We wanted to identify places for her to learn and connect with people (other than say, bars and partying.)
• SALON/Intellectual Events • Local Startup Culture (there’s a startup hub) • Drawing Classes (she’s already been going and signed up for more! • Hiking Groups
🚌 5. Lean into being a tourist in your own home city.
• Tourist-ing in place “where to take people to visit” (ID Top 10 attractions; completing a city museum bingo)
• Tourist-ing within 3 hours of travel • When safe: fly fly fly! Visit Friends – according to best weather
🥦 6. Of high important to me personally: determine your Supermarkets of Note.
• Big one • Little markets • African Grocery Store • Middle Eastern market • Pakistani market • Pan-Asian market
Where do you get your special bread? Who is the best butcher? Ice cream shop?
Having moved to Europe she’s also on a quest for food exploration:
• Exploring the European Canon • Exploring the best of Immigrant Cuisine (Turkish Cuisine, Indonesian in the Netherlands, etc.)
Who is writing about this? (I’m on a hunt to find out if anyone has ideas!)
🛫 Given her newfound proximity to the rest of Europe (and beyond)
• 1x/ month travel: – Castle Checklist – Hikes (either short or long adventure) • Explicit Restorative Travel – Health Spas – Hiking • Unique Places to Stay: Caves, ice castles, see-through domes
🤝 Finally, a sense of home is rooted in finding your community. We talked about:
• An Emergency Support Network (your favorite octogenarians who will always look out for you, the person at the grocer who always has your back, friendly neighbors.
How do you find these folks?
🌱 After spending a few hours coming up with a long list, I’m so thrilled for her plans to root into place. Next up? Thinking about how I can do this for myself to better integrate in the place I’ve lived for years.
PS: if you love thinking about this kind of thing, one of my favorite ways to develop a sense of place is through reading, film, and music featuring the city you are in. Also, I highly recommend Strong Sense of Place – for travel and literary inspiration.
Every year I sit down and make some resolutions for the kitchen. Given that food is one of my favorite sources of joy, novelty, and connection, it’s a favorite practice of mine to spend a little bit of time making this space more useful, and my time spent in the kitchen more meaningful. Having people around my table (even figuratively) is how I show love, and bring people together – and although we can’t do much of that these days, I’m thankful to be able to take the time to feed myself well.
I’ve been writing these resolutions for more than a decade, and some of them pop up year after year – affirm doing good things that work – and a handful are new each year. You can take a peek through previous years here: (2012) (2016) (2017) (2018) (2019) (2020)
Re-Commit to Consistent Kitchen Habits: particularly the habits that keep me consistent in other areas of my life. I find that most things in my life depend on me eating well.
• Weekly Meal Planning: one of my home court habits • Update my regular groceries list (favorites, protein, don’t leave the store without this!) • Update my “New Recipes To Try” list
AND: Dishes cleaned before bed, coffee maker set. Coffee cup next to the coffee maker, ready to take on the day.
Remove Clutter: While some people find a perfectly spotless and minimalist kitchen ideal; I actually need to be able to see appliances or pantry items in order to be inspired to use them.
• Do a systems audit for blockages • Make what I want to use more obvious
Quest for Best: this is one of my personal values – I get a lot of satisfaction out of keeping track of the “best of”, like your own neighborhood consumer reports.
• Do a pantry audit, and re-stock pantry with “best of” items, update my spreadsheet
• Seek novelty: Bean of the Month Club, Spice Club, new item at Trader Joe’s or one new item at Formaggio each trip!
• Get your knives sharpened. Just do it! • Review storage containers for more sustainable options • Re-Read a classic cookbook every month • Read more food writing (and memoirs)
AND: Update my bucket list restaurants for when that’s a thing again.
Make Memories in the Kitchen
• Update Friends + Family Favorite List so I can cook in honor of my people and think about them (or cook for them!) If I haven’t solicited some from you, drop your favorites in the comments for me!
• Update Seasonal Favorite Cooking List
• Update my list of “Big Cooking Projects”
• Zoom Cooking classes with friends! (In 2021, I had a great time taking a truffle making course, and a Lamb Biryani from Pondicheri – looking forward to choosing a few great options to take with friends and family!
Do you have any kitchen resolutions this year? I’d love to hear about them!
Every year, I complete a fussy year long review that takes me a few weeks of compiling – a pages long list organized by category, which I find particularly cathartic, even – or particularly – in difficult times (and this year was full of truly great things, but also particularly shitty for me, losing my dad, one of my number one eating partners in crime.) I write about my full process here.
For some folks, a review of a year that is complicated or traumatic (hello, most of us in a pandemic) isn’t particularly appealing, but I find it to be one of my most satisfying activities. In part, because a full 50% of it is my re-living of my meals – the things may be going down in flames, but “at least, I ate!” approach. And ate, I did.
Here is my non-exhaustive list. Honestly, there was more than this, but I may have forgotten to snap a photo, or it really wasn’t worth eating. These are loosely organized, but the whole thing is a little chaotic. I can’t say that all of these things were great, but I’ll bold some of the things that I’d recommend.
Items I cooked at home, either from recipes (I’ll link those I have) or ideas. Also, items cooked by friends.
Bone Mountain Farm Shokichi Shiro squash with maple syrup and cinnamon
Favorites from Star Market (over the Mass Pike!): dark chocolate cake (three layers), Cape Cod Cafe Pizza (hands down the best frozen pizza!!), Bubbe’s passionfruit mochi, Stouffers stuffed peppers (don’t knock it), CRISPY LETTUCE
Wegmans: California Rolls (why are they so good?), bacon cheddar sliders on arugula salad, pumpernickel rye bread (with caviar!) or chopped liver!
Desserts of note: Roasted chestnuts with rum from Silvia downstairs – topped with rum, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Great Harvest; apple fritter from Love Bird, cinnamon roll from Formaggio; citrus from formaggio, sticky toffee pudding – sticky toffee pudding, co., and the warm chocolate pudding; sutlaç; macerated strawberries with oats and ricotta and brown sugar; meyer lemon and marrionberry ice cream from Red Rover Creamery
Favorites from Formaggio: robiola incavolata, old favorite Cabot Clothbound, Big Sky Grana (dear lord!), the Passionfruit curd, beet tzaziki, Fly by Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp, an overpriced emergency bottle of Kewpie
Favorites from Eataly: saffron and black pepper cheese ‘guffanti piacentinu di ena’, a perfect promotional melon – “buy prosciutto, get a promotional melon” (August 24th)
Rancho Gordo Bean Share: BEPS, Coronas (twice), pintos with honey, Popcorn, yellow eye beans, black lentils with onion (and red wine vinegar) – need to really start eating down the stash.
Hot cocoa with mini marshmallows
From John, specifically: Aldi goat mac and cheese, Elephantine Easter Lemon Curd tartlet, LEVAIN COOKIES (coming to Boston and I’m IN TROUBLE), Indian Pudding Ice Cream from Lagos, Poppyseed cake, from Zabars, lots of good things from Elephantine, Eggs and Maple from White Gate Farm
Tahini Faux-reo from Sofra
Turkish greek beans
The Starbucks Oatmilk Brown Sugar Latte (2) – I normally drink only black coffee?
Star Market Sushi (…not good, but I ate more of it than I’d admit)
During the months of September and October, I had the worst two months™️ as my dad was dying of cancer. I needed to feed myself, and wasn’t doing a good job of it. I also didn’t have the energy or desire for most takeout. So I went for a few prepared options, that were truly my saving grace during a hard time. I chose Diane Sanfilippo’s Balanced Bites meals for my freezer – high protein, high quality ingredients. My favorite meals were the spaghetti squash bolognese, egg roll in a bowl, and sloppy joe chili. And for a local delivery option, ordered from WeCo Hospitality, a few times a week.
WeCo Hospitality – started at the beginning of October, and so many great meals. Some of the standouts include:
Shrimp scampi fettuccine: lemon + garlic marinated shrimp in white wine + butter sauce with blistered cherry tomatoes and torn herbs; hand cut fettuccine, shaved parmesan, roasted broccoli
Roasted Eggplant and Farro Bowl (top!): roasted eggplant with black garlic + wood ear mushrooms over poached farro + barley with blistered cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, field greens, feta cheese and meyer lemon vinaigrette
Salt Roasted Beet and Burrata Bowl**: salt roasted Applefield beets, watercress, golden quinoa, toasted pistachios, tarragon dressing and creamy burrata
NY Strip Steak Au Poivre: peppercorn crusted marinated strip steak, four peppercorn + cognac sauce; paprika roasted yukon potatoes, black truffle parmesan butter, blistered broccoli with smoked garlic honey + pickled shallots
Curried Orzo and Braised Chicken Thigh
Roasted Carrot Salad
Roasted Chicken Ramen: soy marinated roasted chicken breast with hoisin + ginger glaze; shiitake mushroom + spring onion broth, spicy miso paste; spring beans + peas with curry leaves + wilted spinach, fresh wavy noodles, scallions, pickled mushrooms and marinated egg
Foragers Bowl: shredded duck confit over barley with roasted mushrooms, rehydrated pickled mushrooms, roasted asparagus, carrots, and pesto
Roasted chicken biryani: yogurt + curry marinated chicken breast, basmati rice cooked in shorba with saffron, onion, mustard seed + coriander; sweet potato korma braised in coconut milk with chiles + spices; cucumber + red onion raita with mint + dill, naan
Oolong Tea Braised shortribs with charred alliums, sichuan peppercorn honey jus, toasted farro with maitake + oyster mushrooms, dried cherries + tahini brown butter; roasted cauliflower + broccoli with sweet chili garlic crunch, charred kale + arugula salad with torn herbs + candied orange; matcha vinaigrette
Baja Shrimp Tacos: citrus poached shrimp with guajillo-agave glaze, fresh mango salsa, pineapple-chipotle mayo, cilantro-lime rice, crunch napa cabbage slaw with shaved veggies + citrus, pickled red onion + lime
Desserts of note: Cranberry + Apple Crumble with pecan brown butter crumbs, Weco COOKIES, Carrot Cake, blueberry cheesecake with oat crumble
Here’s to great eats in 2022! I’d love to hear your favorite 1-3 recipes or meals. I’ll add them to my list for next year!
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: ⤵
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.
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.
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?
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
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?
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