Sifting Simplicity

Lleida, Catalunya, Spring, 2020

This will be my only trip outside of the house today — a seven-minute walk to the forn de pa, or the bakery. Upon arrival, Marta, the proprietor, normally greets me with a warm smile. On this morning though, I can only see her cheeks rise from beneath the mask that covers her face.

Something else I notice during this quarantine period are the small paper slips folded over the bakery’s various trays, baskets, and bins. Each slip indicates a pick-up order reserved via a phone call — definitely a different protocol than the time-honored tradition of showing up each morning and choosing your daily bread for the day.

Marta is known for bread, muffins, and croissants made from spelt flour, all of which are on my list today. Standing in front of the glass display case and leveled shelves on the wall, one can feel — and smell — the years of a simple process repeated daily and baked into every delicacy.

Later this same day, I find myself back at our building in front of the door which leads to the roof. When one of the many keys on the keychain finally opens this door for the first time, it feels like the discovery of a new land.

I step outside onto the roof and sit quietly on the ground. The bright sunshine warms my head and the Catalan spring winds cool my face.

I close my eyes and just breathe. There is nothing to measure.

It is likely that there are two elements of my life these days that greatly differ from most people who will read these words.

First, I live in a country that through its government-mandated quarantine has imposed drastic restrictions on all of us who live here… and, violators of these strict rules are subject to extraordinarily large and immediate fines.

Second, throughout this quarantine, I have not consumed any news. Not a press conference nor a newscast.

At the confluence of my choices and those of the Spanish government is the question, “Now what should I do with the rest of my day?”

Here, two themes emerge:

  1. Enjoy simple pleasures

2. Expand the capacity to help myself, which then helps me to serve others.

The short walk to and experience inside Marta’s forn de pa followed by the rooftop meditation check these boxes.

It is neither a perfect nor complete system, particularly as challenging realities and unexpected events arise.

But, the system facilitates focused attention to incoming and outgoing energy, which helps to create a calmer place of decision-making. And this can be advantageously leveraged.

As my friend and Sunday Morning Joe reader, Todd Vinson, recently said, “A lot of things get sifted out of our lives in a crisis.”

Todd is right. And beyond this sifting, what remains is what matters.

With gratitude,


Connect with Joe

5 With Joe Performance Coaching

I coach established and experienced professionals, who feel stuck in place, to thrive in transition and bring focus to what matters most without compromising their lives.

I position my experiences winning an Olympic Gold Medal, serving as CEO of a national sports organization, and my current “Simple, Slower, and Less” lifestyle in the Catalan Pyrenees to form accountable and transformative collaborations that see my clients create their next and most impactful chapter.



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Joe Jacobi

Olympic Gold Medalist, Performance Coach, & Author helping leaders & teams perform their best without compromising their lives.