Write Every Day
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
In between solving problems and getting stuck, I paused and feed myself.
Seriously, I made a delicious vegan sandwich using lettuces from Star Route Farms, avocado from. Parco (no shame), Tofu Eggless Salad from Good Earth Natural Foods, Gray Pupon mustard (literally judge me), Red Wine vinegar and Mission Olive Oil from Amphora. Name drop much? Yeah, the Baguette is leftover from Saturday’s haul from Ponsford’s Bakery in San Rafael. Slowing down and paying attention to the food, caring about the source of the energy, the fuel for my day.
One of my goals is encouraging people to eat vegan food, I do this at restaurants by buying their vegan food as a vote with my dollars, thanking the staff or manager for having vegan options and writing positive reviews (honest) on Google. At home, I am trying to put a little more effort in and eat better and create my own vegan propaganda, like the photo above.
Note your energy, fuel for productivity and engagement. It’s better to take a break and eat, reset and focus in, finishing stronger. Intervals, include eating, right?
Baking School is about Thriving Not Surviving.
We made a Pan De Mi, Rye, Whole Grain and Wheat Levain. What??? Day 4 was amazing! We prepped a “braided egg bread,” or Challah, then baked 4 breads and prepped ingredients for tomorrow. The process and experience is designed for us to learn.
The San Francisco Baking Institute is fantastic, I’ve got one more day of Artisan 1 Breads and I need a few weeks of baking to process through the start of what I’ve learned so far this week, and I’m excited for the last day!
I’m in school this week at the San Francisco Baking Institute, taking Artisan 1 Breads. I hesitate to say school, because I am having a lot of fun. A Lot.
Day 1 was mind blowing. I learned so much it was completely overwhelming, a 10,000 ft. view of baking bread and a start on shaping baguettes. I am starting to understand the process of taking 4 ingredients, flour, water, salt, yeast; and, creating an edible structure, Bread.
Day 2 we made 3x the amount of baguettes and compared how mixing and length of fermentation changed the feel and taste of the bread, the entire experience of eating a piece was different, even with the same ingredients and cook time and temperature. Baking is an art and science, it is incredible!
I am a big fan of the week long intensive, this program is fantastic so far, a great mix of hands on production work, lectures with relevant information we apply in the kitchen, an excellent teacher and a great group of people. Structured learning, detailed information presented multiple times in different formats, hands-on practice. This is the recipe for baking, and learning success. And, experimentation. Note: the white board is our bake log for the day, the details vary intentionally and due to environment. Stay Present, Breathe.
As a side note, a lot of baking can be improved in the rest, mistakes or conditions can be adjusted for, while the dough rests and nature and chemistry happen. This is true for us humans as well, we can adjust our sleep and rest to optimize our performance or experience. Focus Awareness, Breathe.
Together We Rise.
I’ve been making these candy bars, I mean energy bars, for a few months. The ingredients are Oats, Honey, Peanut Butter, Chocolate, Salt.
4 Ingredients, all organic.
I was telling my Sister, Molly, that I was making these yesterday and her response was immediate, “disgusting, glad I’m not there, way to ruin chocolate.” I know.
For decades, I believed nuts and chocolate should not be mixed, with exceptions for peanut butter cups, because. Then, energy bars.
That chocolate top would be hard as a rock, except that I mix peanut butter, less than half but enough, into the melted 70% TCHO Chips. When the chocolate hardens on top, it is softer and manageable for cutting and biting, with a rich and full bodied mouth feel and flavor. I’ve tried coconut and that works also, with a different feel that you have to commit to. The peanut butter in the chocolate compliments the peanut butter and honey mixed in the oats, which keeps the whole mixture stuck together.
Which is the point.
Mix Stars together, like Peanut Butter and Chocolate and Honey and Oats, make something unique and better. Like Energy Bars.
I’m using exact portions. 1 cup of honey with 1 cup of peanut butter, mix then add 2 cups of oats.
Press firmly. A secret is to use parchment paper and a pint glass to push down.
I put chocolate chips on top. Dark, 70% Ghirardelli, and mush them in.
Pour the chocolate and peanut butter mix on top, spread evenly, sprinkle salt because you can across the top, refrigerate!
These take 30 minutes to whip up and you have amazing treats in your fridge all week.
The best thing you can do is alter this recipe to your taste. That’s called putting it in the mix?
Celebrate our unique differences, and create something together that is better.
What motivated me to start waking up earlier? Not my friend Scott Groth, who leads by example in France, up and working out at 5am, or working on his site for Keto And Weight Loss, or zooming with me. Mostly, I just thought Scott was crazy for getting up so early. A few months ago, I was reading an article about Blake Corum, Michigan Running Back, who started waking up at 4:30am in high school to do his morning workouts at 5am, before school. Nobody is going to out work Blake Corum. What’s Blake’s secret, besides being a great human? Discipline. Same as Scott’s secret.
Seriously, if discipline is the secret, we can do this people! All of us. We all grew up hearing, the early bird gets the worm, I’m going to evolve that right now to: The Early Bird Gets The Work.
It’s our choice what the work is. I’ve been getting up early for a few months and riding the Peloton or playing Guitar. Shortly after, my iPhone asks me how my day is going, which I’ve been noting and the trend is obvious. I feel good when it’s 8am and I’ve had time to do things that feed my soul.
It’s still an experiment for me, and the early data says waking up earlier improves the quality of my life, my physical and mental health, and my technical skills. Get Up Early.
To be clear, I’m getting up early to get “me time,” enjoy the quiet moments of the day and do things that make me feel alive and are too easily skipped later in the day. I used to stay up late, most of my life I’d go to sleep between midnight and 4am., now I prefer to be asleep by 10:30pm, so I am able to get up in the morning early. A few years ago, I started getting up early to do 6am yoga and it was always great to enter yoga in the dark of the morning and leave as the sun rises. This is the same and somehow different.
If you experiment with one thing this year, try getting up early and experiencing more sunrises. Note the results and update me.
I decided to start slower than usual this year, no 30 day challenge or Dry January or Veganuary.
This is still the hardest thing for me to do. Maybe it’s the A.D.D, maybe it’s Capitalism, maybe it’s human nature. Why is it so important?
I’ll ruin the ending, when I slow down, I go faster.
It’s like the zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” If the word meditation is a struggle for you, substitute swim laps or hike or bike. It’s surreal to think you can accomplish more by doing less, and shouldn’t we all be willing to experiment and document our results?
Check out the guys in the picture below.
Sitting at the bar having a drink.
My early prediction for 2024 is this may be the most important social activity of the year. Getting together with someone for a drink. Literally. This can shift depression, increase economic opportunity, and create new possibilities. It can be for a kombucha or a beer or water, these guys could have simply been breathing and it would have been enough. End loneliness.
I’m not saying you or I are lonely, I am saying we have to increase our connection with each other in the real World.
We all need to listen better and more to each other, really hear what is being communicated. Then, Do The Right Thing. Whether that is listen more or talk or share silence and space. Experiment and see what happens.
I’m breathing through the start of the year, asking questions and being ok with the silence.
Repeat. Observe. Repeat.
This is what Practice looks like. Right? I’ll add in Research, Discuss.
This is how we build community in our area of interests, we participate, by listening and learning. Research.
Reading and analyzing and processing it all is part of the work, the research. If all becomes what we learn, the experiment and statistical projections or even generative AI, what we create.
The above Foccacia is mostly vegan, split between Rosemary and Red Sauce, I did a layer of cheese down the middle for the kids, trying to make it appeal to the whole family. I used Bread flour from Central Milling, this is a little more forgiving and generous, accessible to everyone. I added care and attention, kneading gently and waiting patiently for the dough to rise, working it onto the pan and sinking my fingers rhythmically through the surface, into the rising air pockets and divets of oil. Bake.
Observe. Appreciate the improvements, note what is working and areas to play with more.
Play With More.
This is my current “work,” shift from practice to play with. I’ll continue to practice and improve, and I know my growing edge is playing with others.
Innovation isn’t always flashy, it’s usually the result of disciplined work. This electric bike charger and bike stand took years to go from idea to implementation and people with vision created what I witnessed.
One less car on the road.
One more person bicycling into Town, using the charging station for something random, and using it. Biking into San Anselmo, maybe getting coffee or doing some business at Town Hall or the Library or even meeting a friend. Amazing!
I’ve been practicing a few things regularly, doing the work and seeing small improvements, changes. Discipline in action.
And, riding a bike creates joy, in the work. In the getting to a location or running an errand, we can all be happier people doing the work. If you can, try riding a bike this week and price if you feel it, joy.
It’s true, I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting. Why? I want new results and I want to understand what creates those changes.
I haven’t been very scientific, before you get too excited. I’m hesitant to commit to journaling the experiments and documenting the results, none of them are worth replicating or even revisiting. That said, I am learning a lot.
I’ve been making Foccaccia twice a week, at least, working on getting flavorful dough that rises enough and doesn’t require olive oil to taste good. I’ve barely thought about Tops, as I work on the Bottom (no innuendo). Seriously, my field trip to try Liguria motivated me to put a little effort into toppings, whether that is roasting some garlic or sautéing some green onions, but first, Lao Wai.
Seriously, I joke with Olivia all the time about things we should Lao Wai, foods that will benefit from that low level rising heat with a hint of smoked crispy chili peppers. Foccacia.
I made 1/3 of the pan basic Olive Oil, as my control group, so there is a base level palette to compare the bread. I put a few teaspoons of Lao Wai Hot Oil on the top, intentionally digging in and pulling up the roasted pepper crunch at the bottom of the jar, allowing the sheen of the oil to slide along the dough. Pressing my fingers into the dough, breathing gently, trying to find the balance of easing the oil into and out of the small pocked divets next to air pockets and layered around gluten.
Gentle, Less is More.
Obviously the above experiment was a MASSIVE hit, easy to predict when combining above average base bread with the best hot oil in California (tempered boldness).
Most experiments fail.
This week, I had another win, on the Peloton.
I’ve been frustrated by a long plateau this Fall, my rides were mostly the same struggle since Covid recovery. Frustrated.
A week of hiking before Thanksgiving shifted me out of my comfort zone. Maybe I rested, maybe I used different muscles, maybe. I joked to myself, it’s weight loss, likes that matters in a stationary bike.
The week off the bike wasn’t rest, we laid into miles and did a ton of elevation.
Fast Fun Friday.
I’ve shifted my Peloton training since I got back, focusing on cadence and improving my speed of my legs, determined to change the story I’ve been telling myself for 2 years, I just can’t pedal fast, only heavy. Like 55 resistance and 60 cadence. Slow steady grind. Uphill.
You Can Do It.
Look at the picture above, a photo from the end of my ride on Fast Fun Friday, that’s the mantra I repeated to myself when I was struggling. Breathe.
Wait, Hold On.
Seriously, I’ve changed the story by experimenting with speed, working with light resistance and training my legs to go fast at 40 and 45 resistance. One minute on, one minute off. 2 minutes at 40, 2 minutes at 45, keep the cadence above 90. Pedal Faster. Breathe. Sweat.
It is good for the ego to remind yourself that you can do the impossible, and apply that everywhere in your life.
If I can shift the story that I am an uphiller that enjoys climbing slowly, to I am fast in the flats and can move going downhill, those are skills I get to add to my uphill abilities. Basic discipline and light structure, with a few pro-tips and I’ve got a successful experiment.
How does that “work?” We are the same everywhere we go, whether that is the Peloton bike, yoga mat, kitchen or computer. If I can become a fast pedaler on the Peloton, I can equally get better at French or understand the latest shifts in the social algorithms and how it benefits Search Engine Optimization. We are the same everywhere we go. Right?
The end of the year is close, there is still plenty of time to experiment, learn something new, and become a better version of yourself.
You Can Do It.
I’ve been making a lot of Focaccia lately and dropped some off with a neighbor for some reviews, and to get me more comfortable sharing. Layne messaged me last night and was like, “we should go on a field trip to SF and check this out, tomorrow.” I did some Wikipedia research and hit back with, “7am?”
The bakery has empty shelves for a reason, the focaccia is selling as fast as they make it to a line waiting patiently 20 people deep.
We got there at about 7:45am, maybe a little too loose on the timing as it took us 45 minutes to get to place our order! To be fair, we chatted with a nice woman in front of us and enjoyed immersing in the early morning energy of SF.
The team in the back is rolling out focaccia, the bustle and hustle of the back was contrasted by the relative calm of the front as there are 2 customers in the shop at a time these days.
I ordered up the Garlic Rosemary, Onion and Pizza. We were both disappointed the Raisin was not available, sold out or still cooking, maybe we should have waited and yet that didn’t feel like it was supposed to be ours, and we still left with packages!
Yes, I’m totally into the big paper roll and gift wrap style packaging, things got a little crazy with the string reminding me of bakeries in NYC in the 80s, White boxes of cookies or mini cannolis from DeRobertes or Venerios, you know there is treasure behind the string!
This was a short and inspiring trip into North Beach, to check out a classic Focacceria in San Francisco! Epic views of Coit Tower, steep streets of Hyde and Lombard, The Bay!!! San Francisco still has secret treasures worth adventuring in for!
I don’t know what we are supposed to do for the holidays, beyond experience and enjoy each other as family and friends.
That post Chanukah, breathe deep and enjoy the early holiday, shifted quickly as the women picked up a tree and embraced decorating.
Last week we watched Love Actually.
Amongst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, slow down, breathe deeply, and remember to spend your time with the people you love and care about, even if they are into XMas trees and that’s not your thing. It is ok to be in the same space, doing different things, right?
I’m not saying the holidays will be easy, I am suggesting you can go easy on your self and the people around you. This is the time of year for reflection, acknowledging what we’ve experienced and felt, seeing it for what it is, allowing.
As the routines slow down, I’m leaning into my healthy habits and putting effort into finishing open projects. There is a mix of breathe and do the work.
Finish the year.
We’ve been using Lao Wai Chili Oil from Chef William Do for the last year, it’s “the secret,” to many of our dishes, including this Challah Grilled Cheese Lao Wai. Right?
There is a lot being subtly communicated here.
First, for my kids, I will use cheese, otherwise, I prefer the idea that “animals are not ingredients.” I’m trying to slowly improve my diet, I went vegan to improve my cholesterol levels, the ethical animal issue is a natural result, trust the process.
Yo, did somebody say Challah? Alex made that Challah with light coaching from me. The flavor is delicious and I still have some work to do to loosen up the bread and bring a little more fluff. That said, it was great to bake with Alex and even better to make him a grilled cheese using the Challah he baked. This is an important part of Knead For Peace.
Third, you might want to sit with the mind blowing idea of gourmet challah grilled cheese. right?
Fourth, yes we use Lao Wai as a verb around here, “I’m gonna Lao Wai that grilled cheese.“ And, we all know spicy grilled cheese is not novel, hello Quesadilla with hot sauce of your choice. Jewish Spicy Grilled Cheese, a fusion, and yet Challah! Lao Wai is a mixing of cultures for William and it is this blending with Challah, slow long heat to balance the sweetness of the Challah, of life. When your day needs a lift, Lao Wai it!
Lastly, a gentle reminder to get outside of your comfort zone and experiment, whether that is baking with someone or using the latest generative AI tool, or adding spice to your life! Making small mistakes is an important part of growing, we practice, observe and repeat. Growing is natural and an experimental process. Practicing is the process, the joy.
Whew, breathing deep and letting go!
There is some perfect balance that nature consistently delivers, between budding and blooming, between participating in the struggle and doing the work to remove obstacles, to softening into the opening and being vulnerable and strong while fully exposed. There is something in between, that’s right now.
I was looking at the garden, seeing the cut flowers from Summer dry and withered next to the leaves falling from the Birch and Oak trees, when I noticed that some plants are budding, maybe a result of early El Niño rain with a long dry season, or maybe just the seasonal change between Fall and Winter, the light and shadow and changing temperatures. Maybe these bloom at a different time???
As the Sun shifted, light beaming between the leaves, cold shadows fleeing as quickly as they arrived, I felt the optimism of this bud, the unknown potential for expression and the corresponding emotion and feeling from unbridled joy to a soft fraying and decline. All of it is important, even right now.
I took a few deep breaths, noted how quickly the day was moving, and shifted into the next project. Finishing and cleaning up leaves space for something new in the future. WhatL half an hour.ike the bud in the picture, we don’t have to know exactly what is going to bloom, we do the work now and create the next chapter. Finding the place between observe and reflect and build and grow. Finish strong.
Maybe. Right? Left?
It is a strange balance, stay in motion forward and make decisions that change your direction, significantly. It is recognizing opportunities to Think Slow vs Think Fast, as discussed by Daniel Kahnman. When are we on automatic and do not have to think, time to let the dogs out; and when do we need to consider what our choices are, looking at their diets more intentionally and deciding between raw and kibble and dehydrated raw dog food. It seems easy with dogs.
What about our lives and our careers? Where we invest our time, thought and energy? Is this an obvious choice for you or me?
The current path has been reasonably straight with some precarious cliffs. I’m practicing and polishing old skills and learning new skills to remind myself how I learn and what I am interested in and experience what we can do with technology today. More on that coming, for now, I’m walking the path intentionally, ready for a fork in the road.
It is o.k to quit. Say it with me people!!!
IT IS O.K TO QUIT.
As someone who has had a lot of hobbies and jobs, it is so important for me to remind myself that it is ok to be a quitter. Alcoholics? Right?
Somehow it became an American trait to “Never Quit,” something between endurance and stamina. It might be based in job security from generations past when there might only be 1 or 2 jobs in a Town. Maybe it is related to how long it takes to attain mastery and maximize the capitalist system based in that knowledge, experience and skills. The mind also wants to quit way to early, for all of us.
There is a difference between my Peloton ride or hike, where I never quit; and, continuing to do something we know is done. For some people it is a personal or business relationship and for others it is collecting a type of ceramics or an animal like birds. It is ok to stop, and start doing something new. Seriously, I tell myself this in my hobbies, my hikes and even my cycle rides. We need reminders!
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” Dolly Parton
Why is it so important to stop or clear out the old? We literally need space for the new. Maybe it is headspace or it might be actual workspace. We all need room to change our minds and grow.
The picture above is a short way up to Angels Landing, after navigating some chains we stopped and looked across the precarious ledge and steep cliff, dotted with people going up and coming down. I took a deep breath and leaned back against the wall, everything swayed and came in and out of depth perception, focus. I knew I did not want to go any further and I also didn’t want to disappoint my hiking mate, my daughter. As we sat there negotiating, I slowly caved in and admitted I’d prefer to take a different hike.
We went back down and took a different path, higher and further, with strangely treacherous hairpin turns up and down switchbacks. As we reached the bottom, the last switchback before the easy canyon walk, I saw a hiker waiting for help at the bottom of a ravine, busted up and bleeding, beyond my help. We hiked down, passing a ranger rescue team on the way up to help. Slow down, think through important decisions and know that it is ok to change your mind.
I took it as a sign to be careful everywhere in nature, I also knew the mountains were letting me know I got lucky.
Also, sometimes when you change your mind and hike for another 7 hours you are rewarded with an epic sunset over Zion Canyon. In case I forget, remind me to change my mind!
I rarely get excited to take night photos, the challenge of holding still, o.k, being prepared with a tripod, timer and a dark sky, all take a lot of coordinating. My old iPhone is taking amazing sky photos at night.
Zion at night, was cold and dark, the sky was filled with stars. The canyon walls dark, rising and falling in their own natural space.
There are some many sensors working together on our devices, capturing more information than we know and creating opportunities for us to share what our imaginations experience.
This photo at Zion, shot in seconds, reminds me technology is evolving faster than the previously conceived limitations of hardware, and human intelligence. I have to believe, and dream while working with new technology and classic techniques, stay curious and in the experiment.
Part of this road trip was to gather some sparks of light and enjoy random creativity.
There is always process involved in every project, and experimentation is too easily dismissed as a side track or a waste of time when we know what needs to happen. Adding experimentation into everything changes our end result, creates the possibility of new and previously unimaginable opportunities.
We all have the tools to create what we see and hear, and I am totally upgrading my iPhone immediately!
This is one of my local Churches, a small grove of Redwood trees at the edge of the Town of San Anselmo.
All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.
Edgar Allan Poe
I get excited when we talk about imagination, anxious when we discuss organized religion and lost when we use poetry to communicate.
In a World controlled by GPS and Sattelite Technology, do your best to get lost. Even if that requires reading some poetry, listening to some songs. Most days, that is the only way to get lost, and find ourselves.
Today, everybody needs project management skills and the ability to work independently and in a group. This is obvious.
Generative A.I is enabling everyone to become a creator, to make content within the rules. If you aren’t a writer, definitely use a program to help you with your words. The tools make us stronger and able to do more.
And, you still have to have a religious experience for your self.
I mean, visiting the Redwoods and listening, looking, asking the questions gently; this is the poetry we know in our bodies and hearts to be true. It isn’t about ChatGPT writing a poem in the style of Emerson for us, it is about us getting out to the trees and feeling the poetry in motion, and stillness.
You Are A Creator.
I’m doing a lot of baking these days. Today was about cleaning storage supplies, picking up flour and getting a little more organized.
I want to grow, today was about defining the space I want to fill. Making progress, I’ve got room to grow.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is – infinite.” William Blake
There are Redwood trees at my local park, Robson Harrington, it is easy to pass by them, indulging in their shade and resting on a picnic table while dogs chase balls and gardeners trim the moldy aftermath of Summer.
Slow Down, Breathe Deeply, Expand Your Perspective.
Like addiction, Excessive Compulsive Disorder is either a tool in our belt or it is a crippling weakness. Currently, I am deep in the gluten.
With 3 types of bread all over the kitchen on Friday morning, I placed my order for 2 breads for Saturday morning pick-up at Ponsford’s. This is how ECD works. As I am making Spelt Challah for the first time, I have to get one of Craig’s Spelt Breads and know what the gold standard is. Resistance is futile.
Wait, what? Yes, only Saturday. That’s the only day you can get bread at Ponsford’s. It is an extravagant indulgence to get so much bread, I remind myself to stick with the vegan breads and avoid the decadent croissants and danishes. This is the compromise.
I am very careful with my ECD, when I allow myself to be swept into a hobby, or aspect of my life, especially as I age. Everything we do is connected. I can eat unlimited bread and carbs, as long as they are vegan, the fats have to be from vegetables. If I listened to Crosby, Stills and Nash, they’d probably say we have to have rules we can live with.
Autumn is here, while you are waiting in line at Ponsford’s, the bread man reminds me to be creative and experiment, whether it is with Generative AI or Connected Devices or baking focaccia or making a poolish for pizza dough; the arts encourage us to learn, apply discipline and break rules at the same time.
Note: I am eating “most” of the bread I am making, to encourage me to improve. I am framing this as a reward in my head. Right?
Historian + Catalyst = Growth