Personal Retro Workshopping!

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.

Finding a Sense of Home in a New City

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.

  1. 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.

2022 Q1 Reading List

After a great 2019, and a middling 2020 for reading, and an even worse 2021 (lots of half read books with my attention as shot), here I am with my renewed sense of enthusiasm 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 several 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. Plus you can leave with a large stack and it always feels like I’ve won something.

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. Our team has quite a few readers, and an up and coming leadership book club has us reading (me re-reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, next.)

January:

  • Re-read Atomic Habits by James Clear; Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg (done!)
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (done!)
  • We Should All Be Millionaires by Rachel Rodgers (in-progress!)
  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
  • Re-Read: Dare to Lead by Brené Brown (work book club)
  • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • What it’s Like to Be a Bird David Allen Sibley

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.) 

YA fiction or Fantasy

  • Gallant by VE Schwab (March 1 Release)
  • Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
  • The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy) by S.A. Chakraborty
  • In the Serpents Wake (Tess of the Road #2) by Rachel Hartman
  • Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Leadership / Business / Finance:

  • Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson
  • The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership: A New Paradigm for Sustainable Success by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, Kaley Klemp
  • Think Again by Adam Grant (in-progress!)
  • Working Backwards by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr

Writing and Creating:

  • The Practice: Shipping Your Creative Work by Seth Godin
  • Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
  • The Boron Letters by Gary Halbert

Fitness and Health / Mindfulness / Brains

  • Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection by Ximena Vengoechea
  • How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell
  • The Body, A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
  • The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci

Gripping / Thrilling / Literary:

  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Memoirs / Non-Fiction Reporting 

  • The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
  • Taste by Stanley Tucci
  • Eat a Peach by David Chang
  • Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman

Books to Finish (technically there are many more half-reads over the past few years):

  • The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk
  • Dutch House (Audiobook?)
  • Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
  • Circe by Madeleine Miller (may switch over to Kindle)
  • Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

What’s on your shelf this year? What’s up next?

xo Sam