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?

Building a daily architecture based on feeding a creative mind

Joshua Waitzkin Quote.JPG

A few weeks ago, needing a new podcast to work through, I started re-listening to the Tim Ferriss show from the first episode. Tim’s podcast is focused on what makes the best, brightest, and most accomplished tick, and gleaning insights on how they live their lives. Tonight I listened to his interview with Joshua Waitzkin, the subject of the film Searching for Bobby Fischer (free on prime streaming video), and author of The Art of Learning.  As I try to do when listening to podcasts or reading books, I took notes. Here are some of the main points I found particularly interesting.

We begin with a question:

How do you go about building a daily architecture based on feeding a creative mind? 

Some of the tangible methods mentioned in the podcast that I’ve been working to improve or cultivate in my own life:

Meditation (deepening creative process, improving health, a multitude of benefits) For Joshua, much of his meditation is combined with movement – particularly the practice of Tai Chi. Tim discussed his own easing into mediation by sitting for 5-10 minutes daily. I’ve dabbled with meditation over the years, and I’m still looking to cultivate a better meditation process. It’s something that I’m looking to actively build into a habit.

Turn mind to creative work pre-input. This is to say, journal (or write) in the morning before checking your email, RSS feed, Instagram, and email, again. This is one of my worst habits, partially because I charge my phone next to the bed. To change this habit, I will move the phone from reach before going to bed tonight, and put my journal next to my bed.

Ending the work day with quality. This is something I struggle with – it’s easy to find the day ending in a little bit of a lull after a caffeine crash. By ending the work day with quality, you allow yourself to internalize quality overnight. On Monday, I plan to schedule in an important task at the end of the day 30 minutes before I leave. (Note, these do not need to be tasks you finish – in fact, leaving something to write the next day was also mentioned as a productive strategy.)

Similarly, ending a workout with a focus on quality. This means making those last few minutes count. For me, this is kicking it to 200% and sprinting through the finish. Or pushing through those last few minutes of a ride. By ending a workout with a focus on quality, you internalize precision and a strong finish. I’ve worked hard to cultivate this knowing that it drives coaches nuts when you give up in the last few minutes of a workout. I’ve noticed that when I finish on a high point, I’m much more likely to want to head in the next day or two for another workout.

Journaling. Part of my journaling ends up here on the blog, but private writing is important to build and work through complex issues. I’ve been trying to focus on spending more time writing in a physical journal.

Post mortem processes – asking yourself what are the core areas of complexity you are challenged with? At work I lead agile retrospectives with our teams – this practice is actually quite helpful at home as well, and can be as simple as asking yourself a few questions about how things went, what worked well, what didn’t work so well, and what you can improve. 

Finally, release your mind from work at the end of the day. I’ve always struggled with coming home with the intention of spending quality time with my family and friends, and the draw of unfinished work emails, or even the always tempting idea of “getting ahead of the work for the next day”. But shutting off is important, and something we all need to focus on.

Are any of these things that you’d like to focus and improve on?

Reading mentioned that I haven’t read but would like to: 

Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast

Robert Pirsig’s Zen + The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (Which I own, but have not read. Putting the book on the nightstand tonight, and I will finish it before the end of the year.)

Learn more about Tim’s podcasts here

The Long Walk

Area Four

Today was supposed to be a “rest day” – in preparation for a big race this weekend – the concept of which I think I’ve forgotten nearly 60 days into my 10,000 step a day streak. I spend a lot of time thinking how to optimally operate as a human being, and for me, streaks are a particularly motivating way to instill good habits. 10,000 steps is sort of an arbitrary goal – in the past, I’ve done 10 minutes of exercise a day, 30 (60, and 90) days of eating mindfully, a mile a day running streak that lasted from Memorial Day to the 4th of July. With my Jawbone sleep tracking I’ve also been working to get in at least 7.5 hours a sleep a night, but haven’t managed to keep that one alive for more than a few days at a time, alas.

The side effect of having a daily step goal is that a mile or two extra a day comes naturally – you find yourself taking meandering routes in order to round out the step count. Suddenly the 10,000 step goal is well surpassed and you’re at 12, 13 or 15,000 steps, and you’ve walked the long way at the end of the evening from Boston to Harvard Square because the weather is so nice.



20140717-222201-80521389.jpg 20140717-222202-80522651.jpg

Of course, there’s always room for a little reward – this gorgeous evening called for a micro scoop of Turkish Mocha Toscanini’s ice cream (some of the very best in Boston). An excellent treat. By the end of the evening I’d made it up to 17,000 steps, and now I’m sitting on my couch with my feet up.

Did you make it outside today?

Stopping to notice the little things.


For the past few weeks I’ve been learning to cultivate a new morning routine: carpooling into Harvard Square and then making my way into town towards the office by the North End. I’ve been stopping for coffee at 1369 for their cold brew, and then walking purposefully as far as I can get before heat overtakes me. Then, I hop on the MBTA to cut three quarters of a mile from my route in order to make it in time to morning meetings. Usually it’s only the distance from Kendall to MGH, but even that is enough respite from the outdoor sauna these days. (That is, when the T deigns to have the air conditioning on.)

While walking, I’ll have a single ear bud in, partially listening to the world around me, and at the same time listening to a book on tape or a podcast. This week it’s been Ruth Reichl’s Delicious. On the T, I pull out my phone and read books that I determine public transportation worthy, usually of the non-fiction self help variety that I can read a few pages at a time. I’m finishing up Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, which has taken me a month so far, because my T rides have been few and far between as the weather’s been (mostly) lovely.


Today’s chapter was about gratitude exercises, or “intentionally bringing into awareness the tiny, previously unnoticed elements of the day” – a practice of I’m already a big believer in. I found myself highlighting this paragraph, because I’m all about calm at night these days:

“Gratitude exercises have been proven to have tangible benefits. According to a study by the researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day – and why the events made them happy – lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.”

For me, gratitude practice often comes in a form of a list, but sometimes it’s just the photos I take during the day on my iPhone. The little things that make me pause and smile that I’d like to remember later.

Today, for instance – a particularly funny doge meme outside of J.P. Licks – because Shiba Inus are really the cutest. Which reminded me of course of this picture above that I snapped a few weeks ago of the dog walker in the neighborhood. What’s better than one dog? Six. And then there’s this huge bucket of macerating strawberries that I saw in the windows of Toscanini’s – some of the best ice cream in the world.


I was expecting ice cream on our Data team outing this afternoon, but instead we ended up on the roof deck at Sam’s on the Waterfront, where we shared some appetizers – crispy french fries, edamame hummus with papadums, fried zucchini sticks, and a cheese plate. I’d been craving oysters, so I lucked out with a little plate of my own. There was cold lemonade, a few gin cocktails and a scorpion bowl, and talk of endurance sports – a few of us are crazy enough to want to take on races beyond our wildest dreams –and the prices of cable these days, pregnancy taboos, net neutrality, and childhood films. Two at the table had not seen the Goonies, which we might have to remedy on a quieter work afternoon!


For dinner, we tucked in with sushi and an episode of True Blood, and tonight I’m thankful for the fact that I’m an adult, and while teenage me would have been appalled, I can read a chapter or two of a book and be out like a light before ten p.m. this fine evening.

What are the tiny things that may have gone unnoticed in your day today?