The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

By Shannon Ables

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Description

The simple sophisticate is someone who prefers quality over quantity, sensible living over mindless consumption, personal style instead of trendy fashions, has an insatiable curiosity for life’s endless questions and a desire to live a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose. Inspired by her lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life, Shannon Ables (the original Simple Sophisticate) shares with listeners tips on how to live a refined life on an everyday income, a life of true contentment. Founded on the principle of the art of living a life of quality over quantity, episodes explore topics ranging from creating an everyday life you love living, strengthening mindfulness practices, preparing seasonally delicious meals, building a capsule wardrobe, traveling the world (Francophiles and Anglophiles tune in as Paris as well as the English countryside are favorite destinations), and living life to the fullest without breaking the bank because living well is really quite simple. *illustration by artist Sarah Löcker exclusively commissioned for the show

Episode Date
336: How to Live a Life that Nourishes Your Brain, Thereby Elevating the Quality of Your Entire Life
01:07:20

brainhealth

"In the same way that a car that is well-maintained will last longer and be more reliable, you cannot hope to get the lasting high performance you want from your brain if it is not properly cared for and protected." —Kimberley Wilson, author of How to Build a Healthy Brain: Practical steps to mental health and well-being

Psychology, Sociology and Neurology.

Three courses I often share would be priceless academic courses to take regardless of one's vocation in life.

Here on TSLL blog and the podcast, I have explored many topics within the first two subjects whether pertaining to emotional intelligence, relationships and communication, so when I came upon nutrition-trained Chartered Psychologist Kimberley Wilson's book - How to Build a Healthy Brain, I was intrigued and wanted to explore its contents. In so doing, I found what she had to share to be founded in a vast amount of supportive research from reputable institutions (in the United Kingdom and the states) as well as written in an approachable prose for readers, like myself, who do not have an educational background in the field of neurology, but genuinely wish to understand how their brains function and how to care for the brain well in order to live well.

Today's post/episode is an introduction, a tasting menu of sorts to explore the wide ranging areas in our lives that contribute to the health (or malnutrition) of our brain and thereby, its capability to work to its full capabilities.

Upon sitting down to read the book, once I began, once it was in my hands and I was reading it, it was hard to put down, and annotations now decorate nearly every page. Having completed my first reading of the book, I went back through and took detailed notes summarizing the key points that spoke to me and that I wanted to incorporate or strengthen in my own daily life. I will be sharing those here, but by no means is the list complete. The science of how the brain works, the parts of the brain, etc., are detailed in the first couple of chapters, and are worth reading prior to reading the entire book on your own as she lays a clear foundation of the parts of the 'engine' that make up the brain.

While I will be focusing on what to do to strengthen and nourish your brain, reading her book details what happens when the brain is not nourished properly. For example, what chronic inflammation does to the mind and the effects witnessed in our daily lives such as depression, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other neurological maladies. However, because I want to lift today's conversation to focus on preventative and constructive habits we can add to our lives to create a stronger sense and state of well-being, I will be focusing on what you can begin or continue to do and how it nurtures the brain, thereby elevating the quality of your entire life.

1. Invest in your neuro 'pension' plan

No matter how small your daily investments, so long as you keep contributing to your neuro pension plan, you strengthen your brain and stave off chronic inflammation. Daily investments as they pertain to brain nourishment are a conscious effort to continually be learning something new - whether that is information that is new or a new physical skill. When you learn something new, you are "promoting the growth of new neurones, helping new cells to survive (so be sure to continue to strengthen the newly learned skill with consistent repetition), supporting the survival of pre-existing neurones, and supporting the development of synapses - the communication junctions between brain cells". This process is called Neurogenesis - literally translated as the creation of new neurons. And "neurogenesis is crucial to the process of learning and memory."

When your brain undergoes this process of neurogenesis, you are building your 'cognitive reserve' which is what Wilson refers to as the 'brain pension' and was "coined in a research paper published in 1988." I encourage you to read the findings of this research as it is shared in detail on page 52, but to put it very simply, even 137 elderly residents who took part in the study, upon their deaths, while their brains showed physical signs of advanced brain disease, they didn't show any symptoms while alive. Why? Their brains, when weighed were heavier than the others, and it was surmised that these 137 residents had more stored up in their 'brain pensions' . . . this meant that when dementia started to take cells away, they still had more than enough left to function normally."

To put it succinctly, prioritize learning new skills and acquiring new information. Make it a way of life to bulk up your neuro pension plan.

2. Prioritize reducing stress in your life

There are different types of stress - acute and chronic - and it is the chronic that is a "known risk factor for Alzheimer's". Chronic stress can cause the hippocampi to shrink, reducing your ability to retain information and learn new skills with relative ease. Wilson shares a list of potential psychological signs you might be under excess pressure which is causing chronic stress that while you may be brushing off as what you have to do to live the life you are living is actually a health concern and reason to reassess how you live and what you prioritize:

  • short temper or frustration, increased aggression
  • anxiety
  • apathy, loss of interest
  • overwhelm
  • forgetfulness or poor concentration
  • cynicism
  • loss of confidence/self-esteem
  • impaired emotional responses
  • social withdrawal

Now let's look at the good stress that helps us grow and strengthens our ability to do things that are positive, and in fact, we should pursue this type of stress for a healthy brain Wilson encourages. It is called hormesis. It could be physical (lifting weights, strength training or yoga) or it can be psychological (learning a new skill, a new language, etc.). Hormesis involves applying "short-term, manageable pressure" to the body or mind's muscle. "The body responds to this stress by up regulating muscular repair processes and making the muscles more able to tolerate the same amount of stress post-recovery i.e. becoming stronger." The key with hormesis being a good stress is including the recovery time. So for example, do not attend a vinyasa yoga class on Monday and then again on Tuesday. Nope. Give your body at least a day of recovery, maybe even two. You can still walk or run during this time, but don't take a vinyasa class that will stress those same muscles out as were engaged on Monday.

3. Put quality sleep at the top of your list for 'good brain care'

"The journey to a more resilient brain and improved mental health starts in bed." —Kimberley Wilson

A variety of necessary activities are taking place in our brain when we sleep and are sleeping deeply, reaching all four stages: memory consolidation (moving short-term information that was just gained to the long-term storage location in the brain), Synapses are augmented - changed, which means this is when learning becomes ingrained preparing the brain to learn new things and ensuring what we learned stays with us, enables us to be less reactive to negative stimuli.

Wilson also touches on the truth that medication that induces us to sleep does not promote true sleep. In other words, it does not allow us to reach all four stages of sleep. With that said, we have to naturally be able to bring ourselves and keep ourselves in a good night's sleep. How can we do this?

  • Keep a sleep routine - weekdays and weekends
  • Try not to linger in bed whilst you are awake too long on either side - before you fall asleep and once you wake up in the morning.
  • If you cannot fall asleep within 15-20 minutes, don't keep fighting yourself. Turn the light on (a gentle dimmed light most likely) and do something non-stimulating such as journaling, read a non-stressful book, meditation or a simple breathing practice (deep breath in for 6 counts, deep breath out for 6 counts, for example). Once you feel sleepy again, return to bed and turn out the light.
  • Ensure you are sleeping in a cool room (no warmer than 68 degrees Fahrenheit/20 degrees Celsius)
  • If you can, add dimmer switches to your bedroom lights and lamps, and have them dimmed before you enter your bedroom to go to sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom tidy. Clutter causes stimulation and stress which is the opposite feeling you want to have before trying to go to sleep.
  • Don't eat too late, in fact, try making your largest meal lunch and enjoy a lighter dinner that is not too close to your bedtime.
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and can hang around for more than a few hours after you have enjoyed it. If you are not falling asleep and staying asleep, examine when you consume caffeine and try to stop by midday or at least enjoy your last tea (caffeinated) at tea time - 4pm.
  • Avoid alcohol 3-4 hours before bedtime
  • Refrain from using light-emitting devices in bed (tablets, smartphones, etc.)
  • No longer use your smartphone for your alarm clock. Use something different.
  • If worries clutter your mind and prohibit you from falling asleep, put them down in writing in a journal before going to bed.
  • Have a journal or notepad next to your bed to jot down things you don't want to forget that may pop up just as you go to sleep.

4. Feed your brain well

"Although [the brain] only accounts for about 2-3 per cent of your total body weight, your brain makes up around 20-25 per cent of your daily energy requirement."

The brain doesn't need simply calories of any sort. The brain needs quality, nourishing calories that provide vitamins and minerals feeding all of its cellular activity. "Food is one of the quickest and easiest ways to start improving your brain health." And what I found even more interesting is that thinking about your nutrients, it's not just about today's meal to have a better tomorrow; what you feed your brain effects the brain over time, the long-run. "It's about building up regular long-term habits." So what habits should we be incorporating into our daily diet? Let's take a look:

  • more vegetables - 6 servings a day (1 serving is 2 heaping tablespoons)
  • a minimum of 2 servings/wk of oily fish and/or seafood
  • leafy greens every day - a delicious salad with a homemade vinaigrette
  • nuts - unsalted, and preferably, unroasted (raw), 1-2 servings each day
  • enjoy seeds - chia, sesame, etc.
  • berries of all kinds, and especially blueberries as a daily snack - 3 servings a day
  • cook regularly with fresh herbs - explore growing your own herbs
  • beans - all of the beans you can think of. I incorporate lentils, black beans, and chickpeas most often.
  • olive oil - 3 tablespoons a day
  • cook with alliums - onions, shallots, green onions (spring onions), etc.
  • choose whole grain everything - pasta, bread, etc.
  • Include fiber in your daily diet everyday - look for grains for breakfast such as steel cut oats, and other sources such as beans and farro. Alliums also contain fiber, so add the onions!
  • dark chocolate, 70% cacao at least
  • unlimited tea (except not after tea time if it has caffeine which will affect negatively your sleep)
  • hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - even when you don't know what you are craving, likely, it is hydration - grab the water first, not the food
  • limit the sweets (freely added sugar - cakes, candy, pastries, etc; and limit processed meat to only 3 servings each week
  • no more than 2 glasses of wine/day, red wine is best
  • enjoy chicken 2-3 times a week
  • Eggs - no more than 6/week

Looking at such a list may be what we think we want. "Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it." But when you know the why behind choosing such foods, it becomes even easier to find motivation to select the foods above (or not select as in the case with sugar). For example, eating sugar reduces our brain's cognition and the omega-3s in oily fix reduces the brain's aging process. Let me share a few more, but all of the reasons for including or excluding the items I listed above are detailed with research as to how it helps or hinders the brain's ability to function optimally. "Leafy green vegetables are brain-protective" as these vegetables contain 'bioactive nutrients such as beta carotene, folate, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium. Eating nuts (unsalted and raw) five times a week increases brain function, and eating fiber reduces the risk of some cancers due to the prebiotics.

Keep in mind, all that I am sharing is merely a tasting of of the details, specific meal ideas and research Wilson shares in her book.

5. Create a regular exercise regimen that cares for your brain

It will not surprise you that physical exercise plays a significant role in brain health. The question is how much and how strenuous. Wilson offers three suggestions and reminds readers that any form of physical activity whether structured (taking a class) or physical movement such as gardening, tending to chores or walking rather than driving is beneficial because "movement protects the brain" as it is an organ.

With each of the three suggested weekly workout regimens, she suggests at least two or more days of strength exercises for major muscles. If you are not someone who is likely to want to go to the gym and lift weights (I am no longer someone who enjoys this), there are various combination exercise that would equate to strength training as well as aerobic exercise: Vinyasa yoga, rocket yoga, circuit training class, CrossFit, climbing and bouldering, and boxing training. If you prefer more moderate exercise, she suggests 150 minutes a week and for more strenuous workouts such as running, 75 minutes. You can mix and match the two to find a balance that works for you.

The type of exercise you engage in regularly will give you certain benefits, so it is best to incorporate some sort of more strenuous or mentally challenging activity that holds your attention in the present moment; however, again, any physical movement is beneficial. Also, especially after strenuous workouts, give yourself the necessary recovery time - a day, sometimes two - not from any type of physical activity, just not that strenuous workout that challenged your muscles.

Benefits of exercise (again, please read the book to see specific examples of types of exercise for each of the following benefits):

  • reverse brain aging
  • improved cognitive performance, focus and attention
  • improved memory and processing speeds
  • reduced stress
  • improve sleep quality
  • elevation of mood
  • reduced risk of anxiety, depression and severity of depression if genetically predisposed

6. Why yoga is one of the best things to give your brain

As many listeners and readers know, I have been practicing yoga, vinyasa yoga, for 13+ years. A quality and well-trained and informed instructor makes a tremendous difference in our ability to reap the benefits for our brains, so let me share what Wilson writes about yoga:

"Though all kinds of physical activity provide health benefits, the practice of yoga is a natural integration of many of the lifestyle factors that have been shown in clinical trials to promote brain health."

Yoga packs a one-two punch, and really a third punch as well. Beginning with the breath, yoga helps us to "focus on controlled use of the breath". By doing this we become more aware of our breath, and this ability is strengthened through meditation (we'll talk more about this in the next point). As well, as we move, we are stretching our muscles and our own bodies provide the resistance. So essentially, yoga gives us healthy brain activation through the deep breathing through the nose, the movement "promotes the process of neurogenesis" which was talked about above in #1 and meditation strengthens our control over our thoughts which improves our mindfulness which is associated with "reduced perceived stress, lowered anxiety, reduced inflammatory biomarkers and increased neurogenesis."

There are very few reasons to not welcome yoga into your regular exercise program, even if you only include one of the three aspects above.

7. Meditate to strengthen how you think

As mentioned above, but I think it is worth underlining for emphasis, especially as we are talking about the brain. When we regularly meditate, having a teacher or instructor guide you through the process as you build your understanding of why and how it works helps you to stick with it when you are just getting started. Meditation helps us become more mindful because we are becoming better at being observers of our thoughts, rather than wrapping ourselves up in them and being reactive which is not helpful. Becoming more mindful strengthens our awareness of ourselves, and helps us to step away from our emotions and thoughts and observe them, acknowledging their temporary nature and where and why they came from.

As we begin Season 9 of the podcast, I will share an entire episode that will discuss the paradox of contentment and a piece of this paradox is the realization that when we become more mindful, which is what meditation helps us do, we begin making more constructive choices in our lives. We begin to create environments, engage with people who fuel our lives in ways that alleviate or eliminate stress, and we also give ourselves the tools to navigate situations we do not have control over. So as much as contentment is about finding peace no matter what is going on outside of us, it is also giving us the tools to cultivate a life that invites more of what nurtures us than what harms us.

Wilson dedicates an entire chapter to Using the Breath, and begins by stating, "There is one powerful, criminally underused tool that is always available to you: your breath." When we become conscious of our breath and begin to strengthen our breathing (which what meditation exercises), "your breath can significantly improve your emotional resilience and psychological performance in a given task." She goes on to share a variety of options of structured breath practice and then goes on to address the vagus nerve which has a wide-reach throughout our entire body. "[The vagus nerve] is the main structural component of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that is responsible for rest, relaxation and recovery, and it regulates heart rate and respiration."

All of this is to say, because the vagus nerve "passes down the neck, its activity can be influenced by breathing practices . . . this is understood to be the primary way that breathing can have antidepressant effects." Lastly, remember the neuro pension plan we spoke about in #1? "It is important to note that "brain scans showed that regular meditators had thicker brains (think 'cognitive reserve') compared to non-meditators with similar lifestyles."

~Explore more posts and episodes on Mindfulness in TSLL's Archives.

8. Welcome regular visits to the sauna into your life (or 30-minute hot baths)

Most of us don't have access to a sauna in our daily lives, but if we do, the brain benefits. Why? "Heat promotes neurogenesis. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor, the compound that stimulates the growth of new brain cells, is reliably increased through exercise." So, while we want to have our regular workout regimen that we discussed above, enjoying 20-30 minutes in a sauna can have the same effects, and if you don't have access to a sauna, I am giving you a reason to enjoy a hot bath for 30 minutes regularly. ☺️

9. Strengthen your emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a skill each of us can learn and strengthen. Not only does EQ improve our relationship with ourselves, our self-esteem and confidence, it also strengthens our ability to connect healthily with others, communicating in a non-violent way to both have a voice and listen to what others are truly saying. I won't go into too much detail about EQ here, but be sure to tune in to episode #140 of the podcast which is focused entirely on this subject. However, quickly, let me share a list of ideas to ponder when it comes to understanding our emotions and not shying away from being a student of them:

  • Let yourself feel your emotions - constructively of course, but don't suppress them. This only causes more stress to the brain. Wilson explains that yes, letting yourself feel envy as well as jealousy are beneficial not because we should act on them in the manner that is often shown on television, etc., but rather to observe something in ourselves. Wilson shares quite succinctly: envy reveals our self-esteem is threatened; jealous reveals our exclusivity is threatened, or our ability to feel a part of something with another. We cannot control other people, but we can control ourselves, and if we are depending upon others to lift our self-esteem or make us feel welcome, this should tell us we have some work to do on ourselves, and that is valuable information.
  • Have those necessary difficult conversations if it is a relationship you wish to repair, strengthen or maintain. Use the non-violent communication method as discussed in episode #293. "Even if the other person can't understand or won't change, there is often tremendous value in demonstrating to yourself that you are worth sticking up for." As well, you build your emotional confidence as "having a big conversation makes it easier to have another, and often the conversations never go as badly as you think they will."
  • Let yourself cry. "The action of crying, which typically includes deep breaths, may stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation and recovery".

10. Revel in self-care rituals

Self-care and knowing what you need and how it benefits you is part of having a strong emotional intelligence. Each of us is different as to what we need, and why we need it, but if you choose to be the student of yourself, you will discover the answers you have been seeking that seem to be impossible to translate, especially if others seem to have figured it out and you've tried what they've done, but it doesn't work for you.

Adhering to a regular self-care regimen is a necessity, not a luxury. We've talked about this truth in previous episodes (#242, #227) and this post about well-being. One of the reasons we must permit ourselves engagement in self-care rituals is that it gives us space and time when we notice we are stressed to decompress so that we don't react, but rather, when we have composed ourselves, respond in a manner we will not regret.

11. Invest in building a healthy social support community

Because so much of America's life is go-go-go, our social support structure is weakened, and some relationships receive too much of the burden to care for one another - our spouse, our children, etc. In other words, if after reading #2 on this list you realized how stressed you actually were, start to make real changes, and make room for connecting with people in your life that are healthy connections - friends, neighbors, people in the community you want to be a part of. When you diversify and connect genuinely, not out of a place of desperation or want, such connections may take time, but that is actually quite healthy because you realize who is trustworthy and they see that you are trustworthy, and they also come to realize you don't want anything but a real human-to-human connection.

When it comes to friends, be a friend. Connect. Stop dancing on the surface - texting is nice for logistics, but it's not a deep connection. Make time to talk face-to-face, and perhaps you will also realize who your real friends are and who is just keeping you in their circle for disingenuous reasons.

By being someone who is grounded and secure, you will be better able to know who to connect with, who to invest your time and who to be vulnerable with, and they will see that in you as well. Having a strong, healthy, social support system reduces stress, rather than creates it. The former is the goal, and that is reason enough to determine who you should share your time with.

12. Know your values and have a purpose that lights you up

When you have a purpose, that is your purpose, not society's or your parents or [the person who you are trying to gain approval from], the endorphins increase in your mind when you engage in this activity, and that is positive fuel for the brain as it reduces stress and reduces inflammation.

13. Travel regularly

To travel is to feed your brain well. Travel builds cognitive flexibility. So the next time you think taking that dream trip to France is a luxury, oh no, no, no, it is not. It is a necessity. Why? Because you are challenging your mind to be surrounded and immersed in a culture that isn't rote, that isn't what you know or are familiar with, so you are exercising the mind and new synapses are firing, and neurogenesis is happening. A very, very good thing. So where are you going next and how soon can you do it? ☺️

14. Be a realistic optimist

Wilson is adamant that being a positive thinker actual involves a bit of denial and delusion. "It contains too much of what I recognise as emotional suppression for it to be a sustainable approach to psychological health." For this reason she embraces the concept of realistic optimism, "in which you pay attention to negative outcomes but do not dwell on them, instead focusing on the growth opportunities, is associated with greater resilience than either a pessimistic or unrealistically optimistic viewpoint." In other words, mindfulness and meditation come in to play here which give you the tools to observe your thoughts when something goes not as you would have preferred, giving you the space to respond rather than react, and then with a growth mindset, choose constructive action.

15. Failure is a prerequisite to success

Speaking of things not going your way, if something didn't work out as you had hoped, some may call it failure, and it may well be in that instance, but when you shift your mind as to how you perceive the event, you give yourself fuel to use to point you in the best direction moving forward for success.

16. Let go of attachment to outcomes

To piggy-back onto #15, when it comes to anything in which you are investing your heart, money, hopes and dreams, hold on to hope, but let go of attachment of what has to happen for it to work out well in your mind. If any of the variables are out of your control, which they likely will be or you would have made the changes already, you just cannot know how it will all work out. As we know, often, when it doesn't work out as we planned or expected, it is actually working out in our favor to be witnessed at a later time when we will better be able to appreciate it, but if we are so stuck and so focused on a narrow window of what 'has to happen', we'll never experience the latter outcome that is meant for us to revel in.

17. Clean those teeth! Professionally, that is.

So much of our health ties into our gums and our teeth, so keep them expertly clean and tended to by visiting your dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing every day, twice at least. Wilson goes into great detail about the relationship of our teeth to our brain. I will let her explain, but it will give you the motivation to take these simple, regular steps to care for your teeth.

18. Acknowledge the power of social media and be proactive about distancing yourself from mindless use

To blanket all social media as bad is incorrect. There are benefits and it comes down to how we use our phone. If you use social media to actively engage - connect, comment, extend appreciation, etc., then its fine, but if all you do is scroll, stop. In all cases, keep your phone out of reach. Don't have it next to you at all times, monitor your use, and use as a phone to stay in touch, but not to entertain you as that too is passively engaging and doesn't add to your social support system. If you use it to reach out to someone - go for it, but consciously be aware of how you truly do use social media.

19. Handwrite rather than typing or solely listening/reading

If you are trying to learn something or understand something, take a pen or pencil and write it out. Studies and research have shown, our brains retain more information when we handwrite and we also deepen our understanding of the subject matter when we take the time to write out what we heard, read or are trying to understand.

20. Grow neurotransmitters for good and constructive habits

In episode #245, I discussed the findings in the book Hardwiring Happiness which speaks to how we have to essentially train our brain to look for and savor the good, and we can in fact to do this. We can also do the opposite - look for only the negative, the bad, what won't work, and because we are doing this, we are causing more stress to our brain.

I want to include a quote from Rick Hanson's book Hardwiring Happiness because it aligns beautifully with what Kimberley Wilson found when it comes to nourishing the brain, “The more [neurons] fire together, the more they wire together. In essence, you develop psychological resources by having sustained and repeated experiences of them that are turned into durable changes in your brain.”

In other words, when a good or meaningful moment or event happens, focus on it, celebrate it and savor it. Consciously, really revel in it, no matter how big or small in the eyes of others. If it is something delights you, give it your full attention and dive deep into that feeling and that moment. You are beginning to rewire your brain. Continue to do this - repeat it often, and you can do that by looking for what you want and enjoy. Focus on habits in your life that are good as this will strengthen them rather than berating yourself for doing what doesn't help or isn't working. When trying to learn or acquire new knowledge, concentrate wholly (turn off distractions). When we are doing something new or experiencing something new - travel comes to my mind - our attention is wholly grabbed which makes it easier to absorb all that there is to see and become deeply moved by it.

I want to circle back to habits - focusing on the ones you want to have in your life and refraining from dwelling on those that are not wanted. The only way a bad habit will be replaced (old hard-wiring) is if you stop doing it, stop focusing on it and replace it with something that you give your full attention and focus. It will take time to change it, but when you do, and it is a habit that is healthy, you will have all the more motivation to keep doing it, especially now that it is hard-wired into your brain.

21. Reduce money stress

While Wilson doesn't go too far in-depth into finances, she does point out that money is a primary stressor in people's lives and chronic stress, if it is caused by money, is not good for the brain. Whatever you have to do to reduce your money stress, do it. Not only for your future financial stability, but for your overall health so you can enjoy a long and healthy life.

22. Find your reason for wanting to improve the health of your brain

This # isn't really part of the list, but rather a reminder that if you want to a brain that will be working optimally well into your latter decades of life, the changes you need to make are not incredibly difficult, but rather habits you need to see as beneficial not just for tomorrow or to fit into that favorite pair of jeans, but because you want to enjoy living life and doing what you are doing now and possibly so much more. Wilson reminds readers to have self-compassion as you begin to make any or all of the changes she advises. 'If you need to make significant changes, it is inevitable that you will 'mess up'. Inevitable . . . Remind yourself that this is what change looks like. Remind yourself of the motivation [for making these changes]. Then find something that gives you a quick win for a much-needed morale boost."

Why I found this book to be a book to inspire me to act is that it provided detailed reality outcomes that if we take action, specifically this is what happens in the mind, with our emotions, and thus in our daily lives. And when we make these changes to our simple everyday habits, our lives change in powerful ways for the long and short term. No longer should any of the above habits or suggestions be seen as vanity pursuits. These habits enhance your health, your relationships, the quality of a long life you will have the opportunity to live and live well.

brain

Explore the book How to Build a Healthy Brain by Kimberley Wilson

Petit Plaisir

~Kingdom

Aug 01, 2022
335: How to Savor Staying Home During the Summer Holiday, 17 Ideas
47:16

Of all summers, the summer of 2022 understandably beckons us to travel, explore and leave our homes and the towns and cities we have been staying close to for nearly three years due to the pandemic. Perhaps even our homes want us to leave so it can have a breather from us!

However at the same time, with demand high, prices for travel fare are driven ever higher as well, so it may not be in the budget to travel during the summer season, or simply it just may not be of interest to travel as it indeed will be busy, at times chaotic and even stressful which negates the purpose that most of us align with traveling for a holiday.

With all of that said, if you have chosen to stay put this summer, just as I have, I wanted to share ideas for savoring this time of year at home and in your home town wherever that might be. After all, we spend the majority of our lives in our abodes and in the town where our home address is found, there is most definitely a reason we remain, and hopefully a reason founded in appreciation for where we have the good fortune to call home, so let's explore how to make it even more special.

 

Jul 25, 2022
334: 25 Ideas for Celebrating Le Quatorze Juillet (Bastille Day!)
52:21

Bonne Fete Nationale!

To those of us celebrating outside of France, we may be celebrating France's national holiday with an exclamation of Happy Bastille Day, but within the borders of France, as I have been reminded more than a few times, it is Bonne Fete Nationale or Le Quatorze Juillet! Whatever you prefer to utter, it is a day of celebrations for Francophiles, and while TSLL entire premise when it comes to living simply luxuriously draws much inspiration from the French way of life, today I have lined up 24 ideas for you to celebrate July 14th in your own way.

The above vineyards in Provence take me back to my trip in 2018, and oh, how I long to return. Soon, I reassure myself, soon. But whether we have the opportunity to stand on the terra firma of France at the moment or pay homage from afar, we can absolutely partake in the annual celebration.

I am looking forward to even more deeply celebrating today's events in the simple activities that fill my day: a sipping of French thé in the morning, watching the 17th stage of Le Tour de France, making herbed gougeres for apéro time in the evening and bringing them with me to gather with a dear friend who grew up in Belgium at her home here in Bend to dine in celebration of today being Le Quatorze Juillet. Parfait!

Now to the list with many links for further exploration on many of the items shared.

1.Watch Le Tour de France

Vicariously travel throughout the countryside of France for three weeks as the annual cycling event takes place. Watch on Peacock (ad-free, $9.99/mo or with ads, $4.99/mo) if you live in the states, and for all other international viewers, read this detailed post on VeloNews for exactly where to stream for your country. Peacock also offers the option to watch the international broadcast rather than NBC's broadcast which I flip back and forth from every other day from time to time.

2. Plan and then shop for a favorite French meal (check out TSLL's many French-inspired recipes here)

3. Don't forget the cheese and salad course (before dessert and after the main entrée)

4. Play a game (or two) of pétanque

(this game was being played in Paris just outside of the window of Hôtel Particulier Montmartre near Sacre Couer)

5. Gather with fellow Francophiles for a French meal beginning with apéro time

6. Pack a picnic and go somewhere amongst Mother Nature (don't forget to pack the wine and bistro wine glasses - sturdy, but lovely)

from La Rochère - the classic bistrot glass (out of stock at the moment). Shop all of La Rochère's glasses here. Shop the brand on Wayfair here.

7. Visit a local farmers' market, and be sure to bring your market tote

8. Begin the day with a fresh baguette picked up at your local bakery

9. Une croissant s'il vous plait!, pair with cafe au lait or hot cup of thé

~explore how to make your own croissants here in episode #6, Season 2 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show.

10. Select a bottle of wine from your favorite French region or the next region of France you hope to visit as inspiration to bring your next trip to fruition

~explore Châteauneuf du Pape wines (I pick mine up at both Trader Joes - they carry one varietal at a great price for this vineyard, as well as my local wine shop for more varietals and vintages)

11. Seek out French thé and sip a hot cup in the morning to begin the day - pair with your croissant perhaps? :)

12. Cook a classic soufflé au fromage avec fresh herbs

13. Organize a cheese and wine gathering

14. Watch a French cozy mystery series

~explore the latest This & That weekly post which includes additional Francophile Finds, including more French television shows I recommend.

15. Look around your home and discover how you can add a touch of France to your sanctuary, or yet another touch :)

16. Shop and purchase French lingerie to update your lingerie capsule wardrobe

~Chantelle is one of the French brands I highly recommend for high quality everyday lingerie (and they are currently in the middle of their annual summer sale). As shared on this podcast episode Aubade is a quality French lingerie brand I also shop.

17. Make a Clafoutis Aux Cerises with the cherries just now ready to harvest!

18. Conclude the evening by watching a favorite French film

19. Listen to TSLL's Escape to France playlist - over an hour of French music to enjoy

20. Prefer lyric-free music? Listen to TSLL's French Jazz Cafe playlist

21. Make a simple French crêpe for dessert - Lemon and Brown Butter Sweet Crêpe

22. Speaking of crêpes, make a Buckwheat crêpe (or galette) with prosciutto, gruyére and egg

23. Read a French book to explore further the French culture

~Explore all of TSLL's Francophile Finds for books here.

24. Add a French cookbook to your kitchen library - add one each year to further inspire your culinary journey into French cooking

~Explore all of TSLL's recommended cookbooks here.

25. Fall asleep enveloped in French linen sheets

***EXTRA**** Mark your calendars for the 2nd full week in August as each year TSLL celebrates all things French during the Annual TSLL French Week here on the blog. (explore all posts and giveaways shared in previous French Weeks here on the blog)

~Explore becoming a TOP Tier Member of TSLL Community to not only enjoy ad-free reading blog-wide, but also be able to enter all the giveaways presented during the Annual French Week (and access to exclusive content - tours of TSLL's home), as well as be able to curate a library of your favorite blog posts.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Of course there is much French-Inspired content to peruse and explore on TSLL, so be sure to find all of the French-themed posts here, French-themed podcast episodes here, and TSLL's Best Selling book in the category of France Travel The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, as well as TSLL's 1st book (with an entire chapter dedicated to French-Inspired Living and France Travel and 2nd book. Thank you for stopping by and santé!

Petit Plaisir

~Délicieux, the film

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #334

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Jul 11, 2022
333: What I Do to Lessen Jet Lag (flying from the West Coast to Western Europe)
43:29

RoyalAlbertHall

"When it comes to jet lag, there ain’t — I report from the window seat of a bustling café in Montreal, hence this paraphrasing of Leonard Cohen — no cure." —Mark VanHoenacker, a Boeing 787 pilot for British Airways and the author of Imagine A City: A Pilot's Journey Across the Urban World 

The first time I flew abroad from Oregon to Europe (in my case France), concerns about jet lag were far from my mind; in fact, because I had so many other questions to answer and unknowns dancing in my mind, I didn't think about. I was 20 and planning to study abroad during my junior summer of college in Angers, France. I saved up for the $800 round-trip economy-class ticket (2000) by working three part-time jobs, took the necessary prerequisite courses, conferenced with my professor de Français, and along with not knowing I would need an adapter and converter to at the very least blow-out my hair and curled it, I also didn't think to investigate what jet lag was. Being the first member of my immediate family to travel abroad to Europe, I was figuring it all out for the first time on my own, and jet lag was never a word that popped up in conversations.

Fast forward to 2012 and my second trip to France that included England as well. Thankfully I had a close friend who having lived in England for a time and thus traveled back and forth from the west coast to England often, had a few suggestions for combatting jet lag. Nothing worked superbly, but none of the advice hindered my thorough enjoyment of visiting London for the first time, and then returning to Paris. Jet lag persisted, but if it meant I would be able to be in the two countries I loved, it didn't matter a bit.

Each trip following the two shared above, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022, I have gradually tried to tweak, adjust and determine what works best to mitigate jet lag's effects, and while I have come to the same conclusion as the British Airways pilot above, as he too shares in his recent article in The Financial Times, there are ways to lessen the discomfort and the prolonged effects.

But first, it is important to note what jet lag isany time you travel quickly across two or more time zones and is caused when rapid travel throws off our circadian rhythm - the biological clock that helps control when we wake and fall asleep (source

The more readers I hear from and fellow travelers I meet, the more I realize that where you are traveling from (home departure city), thus the amount of time difference you are undergoing, makes a difference, and so I decided to write specifically from my experience as a traveler from the west coast of the United States venturing to Western Europe where most of my excursions take me. With that said, as many readers/listeners of TSLL blog/The Simple Sophisticate podcast are Francophiles and/or Anglophiles and our destinations are the same even if our departure city is different, it is my hope that some of the tips shared today may be applicable when tailored to your flying itinerary.

~Note to readers: More details are discussed in the audio version of this episode than are shared below, so be sure to tune in.

1.Depart in the early afternoon

When scheduling past trips, excluding my most recent trip in 2022, I selected early morning flights to give myself more time at my desired destination. As well, often earlier flights in the day were a bit less expensive (I have not noticed this to be the case as of late, but in the past). However, when taking the most direct flight possible, leaving in the afternoon on the west coast has the arrival time in France or England in the early evening the following day which lends itself well to having a nice meal before exhaustedly going to sleep in a comfortable bed.

As well, leaving in the afternoon gives you time to gradually begin the day, go through your regular routines, partake in a healthy 30-minute or hour-long exercise routine, and generally, prepare to sit for a very long time. When I am able to exercise and not feel rushed, the rest of the day and any unknowns that pop up are easier to navigate, and I can more easily relax since my body has had the opportunity to fully move, stretch and receive what it needs.

2. Arrive in the late evening in Europe

If leaving in the early afternoon is not an option, at least try to schedule your arrival time in Europe in the early evening for the reasons shared above. Whether you were able to catch some sleep on the plane or not, your mind as well as your body is tired and after being fed well in your destination city, wants to stretch out and relax. Rather than fight trying to stay awake until night arrives should you arrive in the morning or early afternoon, when you arrive in the evening, you don't have to fight your body and just let it do what it yearns for.

3. The fewer connecting flights the better

If at all possible, scheduling-wise and/or budget-wise, choose a direct flight, or the closest thing to it (I have to take a short hop from Redmond to an international airport, typically Seattle, Portland or San Fran, and then my international flight departs to Europe from there). Not only do you save time, but it is less stressful, thus it doesn't exhaust your mind unnecessarily which is already going to be confused when you arrive due to the time change. Mind exhaustion on top of jet lag prolongs your ability to adjust, and the shorter the hop, the less stress incurred.

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The many farms seen in the countryside in Normandy.

4. Try to sleep on the flight

Even if for only a few hours, do your best to find a way to experience real sleep. Real sleep where the hours invisibly whisk by and you wake up feeling somewhat, if not quite a bit, rested and energized. In my experience, the fewer hours I am able to sleep on the trip, the harder/longer jet lag is to recover from on that particular end of the trip.

5. Invest in Business Class if/when possible

In episode #329 I shared my experience flying Business Class on British Airways during my recent trip in April 2022 to Britain and France. Needless to say, even if it takes a bit longer to save up for each subsequent trip abroad in order to fly in such comfort, I will do it. It is worth it, largely because of the reduction of stress and my ability to sleep well. And as I shared in #4 above, when you sleep well during the flight, you reduce (not eliminate) jet lag.

My flight to Europe in Business Class provided more than 4 hours of sleep, and while I did feel the effects of jet lagged for about two days upon arrival, this was far better than it has been in the past. No doubt my excitement being back in Paris helped to overcome some of the feeling, but as I assessed what else may have contributed to an easing of this expected feeling of exhaustion, confusion, malaise and inability to sleep naturally, the one primary variable that was different was the flight I chose and the amount of sleep and quality of sleep I received.

busclasswhitecompanybritishairways

My seat in Business Class on British Airways, bedding products from The White Company

6. Hydrate as much as possible while flying

While toasting with sparkling wine as the journey begins is tempting and certainly something I enjoy doing as well, refrain from too much alcohol as it dehydrates you. Instead, seek out as much water as you can, and even the multiple bathroom-runs are good for you as it gets you up and out of your seat which is an activity that sets your circadian rhythm. The more you can do to set your circadian rhythm to knowing when it needs to be awake and when it needs to rest (the reason why airlines dim the cabin light uniformly for everyone and set the meals as they do), the more quickly your mind will be able to settle into the new sleep schedule.

7. Take a hot bath before bed

Whether at your travel destination or when you arrive home, just before you want to go to bed, take a hot bath as this helps to relax the body and interestingly enough, drop the body temperature which helps you fall asleep.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

A deep soak of a bath at The Savoy while staying in London. Take the tour of our stay in this detailed post.

8. Begin to simulate, ever so slightly and gradually, the new time zone before you leave

While a subtle shift at home may not seem beneficial, for me, this is actually quite possible as I like to go to bed early, and an excuse to go to bed one hour sooner, wake up one hour earlier is not a detriment. Of course, this will depend on your work and home schedule, but if you can, it may reduce jet lag a bit so it won't last as long when you arrive.

9. Be gentle and patient with yourself, gradually shift into the new time schedule

Our brains are wonderful tools, but it takes time to change them, and that includes its sleep schedule. When our sleep schedule becomes disrupted, our mind is confused as to what it is supposed to do, so be gentle and patient with it.

When I returned home this past April, it took about 7-10 days to get over my jet lag. Finding myself falling asleep on the sofa at 5pm with eyelids I could not bribe to stay open at any cost, I let myself fall asleep, and pushed myself to stay awake an hour later each night until I was finally back to my regular bedtime routine.

With all of that said . . .

10. Understand there are many jet lag remedies, but honor what works for you

I won't list the suggestions I have received over the years I haven't found helpful for me, or the beliefs from other travelers about what is most difficult (direction of flight) because what is true for them is true for them. However, sharing what has worked and why I have discovered it does work, had I been able to understand these truths, is something I would have loved to have known earlier in my travels but likely could not have known. Knowing that I needed to, for want of a better phrase, 'feel my way' through jet lag to figure out what happens and how I respond to it gave me the tools to figure out how to reduce its effects that most negatively affected me. Self-awareness not only helps you live a life you love living in a general over-arching way; it also affords you helpful insights in how to work well with jet lag to best fit your needs to ensure the best trip and experience possible.

For example, as an HSP (highly sensitive person), sleep is especially important, whereas for non-HSPs being able to function well on 5-7 hours of sleep may be no problem. Not so in my case, so now that I know the value of sleep for my well-being, I invest in ensuring I receive a good night of sleep when I travel as I want to enjoy my trip as much as possible, and that includes on the flight.

When we have the fortunate opportunity to travel abroad and cross many time zones, the price of jet lag is a small price to expense, but being aware of how it affects our minds and physical well-being is helpful so that we don't blame our mental lag on the destination but rather our mind's gradual settling in to the new time zone we have taken it to.

Wishing you many wonderful trips and stamps in your passport! Bon Voyage!

britishairwayslounge

Petit Plaisir

~Herbed Salmon

~click here for the full recipe.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

~Top image: arriving in London, looking out over Kensington Gardens and Royal Albert Hall

Jul 04, 2022
The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life
37:58

"He who comes home with the most money doesn't win. He who comes home with the most experiences wins." - Steve Smith, contributor with Rick Steves in Rick Steves France 2015

The Simple Sophisticate, episode #23

One of the most exquisite pleasures in my experience has always been having time at home without a to-do list. To enjoy my sanctuary that comforts me, rejuvenates me and allows me to dream so that when I do step outside into the world I can do, seek and produce, is one of the things I most treasure about living simply luxuriously.

And so it began when I was a child, no doubt, as my mother always cultivated a warm home, but as I grew up and became responsible for establishing my own abode, it took much exploration, dead-ins from time to time and investment to create a space that allowed the everyday to be just as stimulating as new experiences brought about by travel.

And in so doing, paying attention to my home environment, I began to pay attention to how I spend my days. Was I exhausted and unfilled at the end or exhausted and feeling productive? Did I have time in my day to spend it with those I loved, converse with those who engaged in creative, uplifting and thought-provoking conversation or care for myself in such a way that respected my overall health? And depending upon my answer, I would tweak, eliminate, maximize or designate more or less time to those activities that improved the quality of living.

"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much."
-Bessie A. Stanley

As the quote reminds us, living well is truly about prioritizing how we spend our days. Did we make time to enjoy the day, spend it with those we hold dear, take time to respect what our minds and bodies need or did we cram everything into our waking hours in order to fit a mold that we weren't asked for input regarding its creation? Everyone's path to living well will be different, but the key is to know what you want - more loosely rather than specifically. Because as we know, our lives intermingle with the rest of the world, but if we bring our best selves, have good intentions and are willing to be true selves, success is possible when it comes to living well.

Recently, I was watching the travel guru Rick Steves discuss on PBS his explorations through the countryside of France. While staying at Chateau de Pray and dining on their outdoor terrace, his dining companion shared the quote listed at the beginning of today's post. And I couldn't agree more especially when it comes to travel, but why not bring a similar way of living into our everyday? Why not . . . live well each and every day? Why not use the nice china in the middle of the week? Why not treat ourselves regularly to dinner or lunch with a dear friend at a restaurant that piques our interest or tantalizes our taste buds? Why not sleep on silk pillowcases each night?

Many may quickly scoff at such ideas as being too indulgent, thus deflating the exhilaration that is felt when they are only experiences from time to time, but what I hope to bring to your attention today is that with patience and careful planning, everyday life can indeed be lived luxuriously and can actually enhance the quality of our lives. Below are 20 ways to foster a simply luxurious way of living, but these are just a taste. If you would like the full list inspired by the French way of living, check out chapter 10 "Indulging Your Inner Francophile" in Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide.

1. Cook at home. Find simple, yet delicious recipes and discover the pleasures of cooking on your own schedule for your own dietary needs and preferences. (View TSLL recipes here.)

2. Indulge in café time. Once, twice or three times a week depending up on your schedule and enjoyment, select a favorite local café and stop in for some reading time, moseying through magazine time, or chats with friends. Indulge in one of the patisseries delicious sweet treats and lose track of time.

~Les Deux Garcons cafe in Aix-en-Provence, cours Mirabeau~

3. Wear luxurious lingerie everyday. As I talk about in my book, lingerie is a necessity for the woman who wears it, not for those who might see her in it. Why? Because simply knowing we are wearing beautiful, comfortable, luxurious lingerie feels good. And everything begins with our thoughts. If we feel good, we smile more readily, we are more open to new experiences and our attitude is lifted.

4. Let go of busy. A powerful decision that will change your day-to-day living drastically for the better. Busy doesn't mean better or more productive, it simply reveals a life that perhaps could be managed better. After all, living well means living a life of quality. A life that focuses on what is necessary and lets go of the rest. And when you let go of busy, you have more time for moments of simple leisure and luxury that cultivate an everyday life to savor. (Click here to dive into this topic.)

5. Cultivate a capsule wardrobe for each season. Knowing you have in your closet clothes that will make you look and feel your best is a very powerful tool to possess as you begin your day. While this takes time and never really ends due to lives and bodies changing, it is worth our attention. (Click here to learn more about building a capsule wardrobe.)

6. Follow your own schedule. Perhaps it's Friday or even Saturday night, everyone must be out doing something, staying up late, right? Wrong. Your daily schedule is one that works for you and those you spend your time with. Perhaps you prefer Wednesday evenings out because Thursdays are lighter days at work and you enjoy spending your weekends waking up early and getting things done. Whatever schedule works for your goals, intentions, health, family, etc - adhere to it and don't apologize. After all, our lives, needs and desires change, listen to what is nudging you, calling your name and that is where you will find the unexpected beauty.

7. Discover a personal scent. Similar to knowing you are wearing luxurious lingerie is the choice of scent you layer upon your skin before stepping out the door for work or for play. A luxurious decision and investment, but one that will reveal your attention to detail.

8. Subscribe to daily/weekly/monthly periodicals. Running throughout the philosophy of living simply luxuriously is being well-read. Depending upon your lifestyle, curiosities, locale and interests, you will select reading material that interests you. Most importantly, gather knowledge, choose to learn something new each day, read a review of a new play or restaurant and be encouraged to give it a try. Become in the know of current events in order to strike up a conversation with anyone. Reading in truth, is a way of tickling your brain and refusing to live each day the same even if the events may be routine.

9. Save time and don't wash your hair everyday. Purchase a dry shampoo and have on hand for the days you don't lather up. Shampoo less often, thereby saving yourself more time in the morning, and believe it or not, improve the condition of your tresses. (Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk)

10. Invest in quality skincare products. In episode #13 of the podcast, specifics are shared on how to create glowing skin, and by investing in quality skincare products, your most beautiful skin will shine. The power of prevention is real, and while it takes time and a bit of investment, the pay-offs are tremendous.

11. Design a workout regimen to look forward to. Whether you enjoy exercising outdoors in Mother Nature or attending classes lead by instructors that inspire you and classmates that boost your mood, explore your interests and community to see what is available and what captures your needs and proclivities. Most people after having exercise will tell you that they feel better, energized and less stress, and if you can bring that into your everyday life, everything will be affected in a very positive way. (Revolver Yoga Studio, Walla Walla)

12. Find time to treasure hunt. Even if you are not necessarily going to buy, poke around in local consignment shops, yard sales, second-hand shops, antique boutiques and even boutiques that catch your eye. If nothing else, you will walk away with ideas on how to design, style and mix and match what you already have.

13. Be sincere, yet kind. While everyone has days that you are simply grumpy for any list of reasons, taking it out on others is something you will most likely regret. And even if you have to deliver news that isn't favorable, there is always a way to do so with kindness. Being conscious of how we treat people and our delivery will almost always be appreciated, and even if it is taken for granted, at least we can go home at night and feel good about the energy we put out into the world.

14. Shop at local vendors and boutiques. Perhaps you live in a town that you hand-selected for the community it offers, but what if you didn't? Either way, supporting local vendors when it comes to food or local boutiques when it comes to shopping for gifts, necessities and products not only builds good-will, but strengthens the economy of the local community. And additionally, when it comes to buying food locally, you benefit your overall health as most foods are free from pesticides and hold more nutritional value that your body craves.

15. Eat real food. Full of flavor that will satiate, real food is a choice your body will thank you for. Processed food may be more convenient and help you reduce the shopping trips to the grocery store, but in the long term, it is a bad investment. Returning home after a long day knowing the food you will be incorporating into your meal will be satisfying and nutritious will remove guilt and properly fuel your body for whatever it may be asked to do next.

16. Elevate the conversation. Easier said than done when we are exhausted, stressed and frustrated, but when you do your best to refrain from complaining and gossiping, you are less likely to go home in the evening regretting or feeling guilty about partaking. In fact, when conversations are full of curious information - books, local events, news, etc - you can walk away inspired, motivated and eager to do something new. Why not bring such a conversation to those in your world?

17. Create an evening routine to look forward to. At the end of the day, your body and mind may be entirely taxed which is why making time (even 15 minutes) for unwinding with a favorite pastime is crucial. Being able to look forward to this simple routine can be the silver lining no matter what your day has unearthed.

18. Schedule regular spa appointments for beauty and health maintenance. Much like exercise, caring for our bodies is a means to caring for our health, overall beauty and mind. So be sure to schedule your facial, massage, hair cut/color, waxing and any other must-dos before you walk out the door from your last appointment. They can often be the respite in a busy week and will no doubt leave you feeling rejuvenated.

19. Stock a bar cart for spur-of-the-moment entertaining. Whether you drink alcoholic beverages or not, stock a bar cart that has drinks and nibbles at the ready for last-minute guests. Even for one or two guests, having a bar with wine, beer or if it's morning - croissants and hot tea keeps the food with the conversation in the living room or sitting room. Luxurious and ready for any everyday occasion. (A glimpse of my

20. Fill your home with inspired music. For techies or retro audiophiles, have your turntable or playlists ready for any occasion. From leisurely jazz tunes when you return from work and wish to read the daily news to beautiful Bach in the morning as you get ready for work, set up your music station, turn off the television and forget about time, even if for a moment.

Whatever inspires you in your travels or remains memorable to you from your past, why not bring it into your everyday life if at all possible? Cultivate an everyday life that perhaps no one would believe is possible, but rest assured it is. After all, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Why not spend your life living well each and everyday?

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Episode #32: The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials

~10 Gifts of Mastering the French Mystique

~Why Not . . . Indulge Your Inner Francophile?

~Why Not . . . Find Your Je Ne Sais Quoi?

~10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile (episode #4)

~French-Inspired Living: Books to Enjoy

Petit Plaisir:

Befriend a local wine shop to ensure great wines no matter what the occasion.

~Liner & Elsen "One of America's six great main street wine shops." -Bon Appetit

2222 NW Quimby St. (off 22nd Ave.)
Portland, OR 97210

  • They can ship the wine to you!
  • Staff who've helped me in the past: Neil Thompson and Kevin Geller

~Chateau Du Grand Bos (2005) Bordeaux, France (wine enjoyed in the photo to the right).

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~Images: (1) a cafe in Paris in Montmartre captured by TSLL

Jun 23, 2022
332: The Power and Necessity of Regular and Frequent Reflection
46:16

 

"Your soul needs time for solitude and self-reflection. In order to love, lead, heal, and create, you must nourish yourself first." —Louise Hay

Whether you have ten minutes or an entire afternoon or day to give to quiet contemplation, otherwise known as reflection, when you choose to do so, you ground yourself, ensuring the next "step" in your life journey will be far more constructive and in alignment with a life of contentment.

 

Silence and the act of Reflecting go hand in hand, as we need to provide the space to recall, remember, examine and consider. As artist from the 16th and 17th century Francis Bacon states, “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” In order to understand, we must slow down. In order to find peace with our direction, we must find the time to be still and ponder all that we have experienced during the day, the week, etc..

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #332

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Jun 20, 2022
331: How to Notice the Awesomeness in Your Life and the World
48:57

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

"Our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default." —William James

To hold our attention on a singular point of focus exhibits a strength of being able to thwart the tugs of distraction. And to be able to thwart distraction takes conscious intention to notice, to choose to hold ourselves in the present and to be an observer.

An observer, contrary to what many may at first liken it to being, is not a wallflower or someone who is shy or passive in how they engage in life. No, an observer demonstrates awareness of the world beyond their inner world, beyond their own thoughts, worries, past experiences and biases. An observer acknowledges that the moment in which they find themselves is far more awesome when we step away from the past and choose not to look past today into the future and instead hold ourselves and our attention in the present without expectation of what we 'must' see or find.

There are many reasons for noticing of any sort - looking for the good, looking for the threat or simply observing - to become a honed, yet unconscious skill in our lives, and I will be addressing by the latter on this list of three can actually bring more awesomeness into your life.

Depending upon our childhood or our relationship with any caretaker during our youth, or in a culture where and if we were perceived as inferior or the minority, if the day's events unfolded based on how we engaged, what we said or didn't say, did or didn't do, we may have become very skilled at noticing others' moods, behaviors and tone of voice. Such 'noticing' was for survival, for a 'better', less contentious environment. However, it wasn't a noticing of what all that surrounded us, but rather a noticing in order to avoid threats, pain or belittling most specifically and solely.

If we were so fortunate to be raised and then as an adult live in an environment where joy was a regular and consistent feeling, good moments and peace-filled and happy feelings, even if different from those around us, were celebrated without judgment, then noticing the good is a muscle we have been toning and maybe didn't realize what a gift we were given.

I recently read The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker, and his introduction shares that the environment in which many of us find ourselves, if we aren't exercising our 'noticing' muscles, can detract our attention and thus prevent us from living well or fulfilled. Walker includes a quote from philosopher Georg Simmel who in 1903 wrote, "The stimulation of modern life . . . wears down the senses, leaving us dull, indifferent, and unable to focus on what really matters." That was in 1903 which while I know many may say, well, it has only gotten worse, I would counter an understandable remark by saying, its a perennial issue, an issue of whether or not to choose to notice the awesomeness, to notice when we need to turn off the noise (if we perceive it to be noise) and live more presently rather than just let what comes and what happens happen.

There is a reason stimulation of constant bombardment of noises - pings, quickly displayed images in movies, programming, advertisements and overlaying of music with films/shows/etc. - occur: to give you no space to think, and instead to tell you how to think. The only way such stimulation can work is if its creator knows where its audience is at the present moment. The advertiser, the media, the speaker has to meet the audience where it is, then they pull the audience (whose attention they now have) where they want them to go (or to think). If where they begin their messaging is too far removed from where we (the audience) are, their message or idea will not land and thus not be effective, so to this point, whether it is 1903 or 2023, the world around us will forever be trying to overstimulate us in order to wear us down to refrain from thinking and nudge us to just go along, letting us believe it was our idea. Our job is to be thinkers, critical thinkers, and choose to strengthen the skill of 'noticing' or as what is often described on TSLL blog, be fully present and thus mindful.

So how exactly do we become better at noticing all that is around us and thus witness, observe and savor the awesomeness in our life and the world? How do we see all that is around us clearly without the veneer of societal biases and norms? I'd like to share with you a list ideas for doing just that - seeing clearly, seeing the awesomeness and thus discovering how quite sweet everyday life is exactly where you live, call home and make your life.

1.Slow down

I can already see some readers/listeners' response to this first item on the list. The reasons for their inability to slow down are on the tip of their tongue. 😌 I don't disagree that the life you are currently living will not slow its pace to match yours when you choose to shift to a speed that enables you to notice the world and yourself as you live in it. However, my first question is, Whose needs are not being fulfilled when you slow down? Likely, it is others' needs, not yours because if you are acknowledging you would like to slow down but cannot, you are already expressing a need to take your foot off the pedal.

We cannot change anyone else's behavior but our own if we wish to engage in healthy relationships, so we cannot know why others feel they must go at the pace they travel, but if the pace you are traveling leaves you unable to feel fulfilled, leaves you regularly trying to catch your breath, hitting the snooze button, drinking one more cup of caffeine, etc. then slowing down is the first and best way to be able to notice anything that will be beneficial and incorporate it regularly into your life to see significant change.

When our regular everyday pace slows down, much like a train that has halted at the train station, we can situate ourselves, read the signs clearly, take in the scenery without it whizzing by and really observe the detail in our lives. When we observe, because we have slowed our pace, we are able to take note of what is working, what provides comfort, genuine support, real love, and what does not. Then, with this clear information, we begin to make better decisions. Not being rushed, we choose with confidence what and whom to engage with or to refrain from and know in our minds why we are doing so, and that it is our true self that is making the decision, not an outside influence.

2. Celebrate this truth about being human - "more than any other creature, humans can outmaneuver our own base instincts"

Base instincts in humans deal with surviving. Not thriving, but surviving, so in other words, we are programmed to instinctively look for the threat, not for what will make us smile, not for what will make us feel at ease or happy or loved. Instincts are not intuition, so let's not conflate these too. Instincts are pre-programmed based on experiences we have never had, but as human beings living in a civil, modern world, our instincts are leading us astray and causing us more harm and dulling a life that could be so much more fulfilling and peace-filled. Intuition is honed; it is a skill that takes time to understand because each of our intuitions, while residing within us, is waiting for our true selves to emerge and for us to consciously understand who that is. Once we come to understand our own language, translating what our intuition is telling us becomes second nature.

So back to the outmaneuvering our base instincts as shared by Rob Walker in the above quote.

For survival purposes as a child or as an adult who has to be constantly looking out for threats due to variables beyond their control, noticing takes on a negative, but necessary connotation. Even when the threat is no longer - we have removed ourselves from that environment, that person, etc. - our instinct is to stay vigilant and only keep an eye out for threats. This is where we must outmaneuver what we have done in the past, and instead begin to observe all that surrounds us.

Walker astutely points out that it is no coincidence that a civil and modern society that feels overwhelmed by stimulation is simultaneously seeing a rise in meditation and mindfulness practices, teachings and routines. This is a beautiful and constructive example of 'outmaneuvering'. Humans can bring about that necessary change for a more enriching life when we acknowledge how we are currently living is not fulfilling.

3. Embrace solitude

Discover the gift and nourishment sharing time in your own company can be.

A TSLL reader recently and bravely shared that it wasn't until they felt truly lonely, that they found their true selves. Why? Because by looking the feeling of lonely in the face, they came to understand what made them feel lonely, and as this reader journeyed through the feeling (she didn't avoid it or turn away from it once she met it), she found ways of living her days that included time in her own company partaking fully having intentionally chosen for no one else to be there but herself and finding deep enjoyment. why? Because it wasn't her being alone that made her feel lonely. What she discovered was her true self, and this self-knowledge was aided by letting herself run into feeling that was lonely which then led her to understanding what her true needs were to feel fulfilled and nourished.

Loneliness often is misdefined. Loneliness is not being without other people. Loneliness is not knowing what fulfills you and thus not feeling connected to the world in which you find yourself.

It is when you embrace solitude, a necessity, not a luxury, that you give yourself the ability to be the student of yourself. You are forced to be honest with yourself if you choose to be courageous enough to stand in the space where you are the only human being.

It is my regular moments of solitude where I am refueled, nourished and find clarity. It is in my regular moments of solitude where I reflect on my feelings, events and thus come to fully understand myself so that moving forward I know clearly how to engage well with others, to apply what I now know and connect more sincerely and deeply when I step out of my solitude.

4. Let your curiosity be your guide

Being curious leads you to new discoveries. And each step forward prompted by curiosity strengthens your ability to be vulnerable. Your first steps fueled by curiosity may be small and appear insignificant, but they all add up to you becoming a person who knows how to be present and keep an open mind, open to what will cross your path, and instead of judging it, exploring it.

Whatever it is that stirs your curiosity such discoveries are much like the cookie crumbs leading you to and on a trail of fulfillment. You begin to discover what brings you to life, what enlivens you in a way other activities may not have. And while other activities may prompt curiosity in others, you begin to celebrate the differences and realize that following anyone else's path is not the route to true contentment for you. All of this is to say, each of us finds our way to true contentment on different paths, and this is something to celebrate. Because when we find our path, we're not looking at other people's route, but grateful they have found the grounding peace just as we have.

Concrete Ideas for Noticing

Choosing to be an observer means we are holding ourselves fully in the present moment, and rather than judging what we see, which involves our unconscious biases, we are simply noting. We see it. This is what we see, hear, feel - the senses become our translators.

5. Choose to engage in only one task at a time

By choosing to engage in only one activity, we are not distracted by another tug of the other tasks. Our attention is given wholly, our focus is on one thing, and so we can take it all in and are less likely to rush and thus deepen the quality of our efforts.

6. Reflect regularly - Make a list weekly, yearly, etc. of just what is

To note what has evolved, changed, is no longer, has begun make a list first of what was just last week at this exact time. If you would like to go further, make a list of what what happening in your life one year ago today, perhaps even two years ago or three years ago. When you create such lists, you are not passing judgement, just stating facts - truths of what was happening, was in place, how you felt and why you felt it, etc.. I enjoy this regular practice for weekly reflection and what I have found, especially when I make the yearly and bi-yearly lists is that the headaches and bothers at the time are no longer remembered, and thankfully, often the large headaches have been overcome and that gives me calm and confidence. Moreover, I am reminded that any harried or fretful thinking I had didn't materialize and that savoring all that was going well was the best thing to do so that better engagement occurred (whether I wisely heeded this advice them or not, upon reflection I am encouraged to do so moving forward).

7. Allow silence in conversation to be present

While in a conversation, often when there is a span of silence, one or both people try to fill it. Why not . . . let the space of silence be. In so doing, you let thoughts marinate, you give time for a response rather than a reaction and how you hold yourself in this span of silence has the potential to provide comfort to the other that indeed, such a silence is okay and you are not rushing and you are choosing to be right where you are and with them.

Begin to notice in such moments how you feel. At first you may feel uncomfortable, unsettled as you acknowledge you want to fill the space but is there really anything that needs to be said at that moment if you don't know how to respond to what has just been shared? Give time and see how you feel not rushing to speak.

8. Just listen

My mother does this very well. She will just listen to me. She doesn't insert her opinion, pass judgment or interrupt and thus I meander in my words until sometimes I discover something I had not realized simply by sharing. Of course, just sitting silently all of the time doesn't consist of a conversation, but the practice is to know when to just listen. When you do this you open up space to just notice. You take in not only the words, but their physical movements, facial expression and all that is going on around them. You also again give yourself time to observe and thus when you choose to engage verbally in the conversation, you are responding having given thought to what you will say and how it will be received because you have wholly taken in all that the speaker has presented.

9. Regular digital silence

Walker suggests taking a week of digital silence to not engage or 'connect' on your social platforms, but instead just observe. You can check your email, your social media accounts, but if you are trying to become more aware of the world around you and really see what does surround you, do not comment, like or anything else that is engagement on your part. Instead, just observe and see what you notice. What really does draw your eye, and why? Discover if you really do need to respond and why you previously felt you needed to. Walker goes further to entertain the idea that if we had a limit to how many times we could comment or respond each week, where would we place our energy and focus? Why would we do this?

All of this silence we choose to welcome into our lives as shared by #7, #8, and #9 give you the opportunity to become more aware and thus discover if you are engaging in the world in a way that is in alignment with the life you want to live and how you want to show up in the world.

10. Audit your daily sonic profile

This particular suggestion by Walker caught my attention, especially as someone who lives alone, and for any TSLL readers who tune in to the monthly A Cuppa Moments, Norman's snoring (something I adore) is more pronounced than I realized when it is captured on video. This always makes me smile because when we take note of all of the sounds in our everydays we might discover certain ones provide comfort while others dull our experience and still others numb us to truly feeling what we need to feel.

I have spoken about this before but I have realized that as I have grown, I am more and more comfortable with silence and prefer it as unnecessary sounds if not soothing to my ear (I adore birdsong for example and find it nurtures and encourages my writing, but the sound of a leaf blower drives me up a wall leaving me unable to concentrate). What I have also realized is that part of why I needed some 'noises' in my life - the television on or the radio in the background - was because I was unable to be mindful, unable to master my mind and where it would wander. As well, advertisements are always muted or turned off when they appear during shows I am watching as after having taught rhetoric for many years in school, I am now aware of the subtle influences of skillful advertising companies and don't want to introduce any ideas I don't choose to watch or explore mindfully and entirely into my days when all I want to do is relax with a quality program.

The auditing of your sonic profile also includes the small, everyday sounds such as the dishwasher's humming, the dryer's whirling, ice crackling when you pour the liquid over the top for sipping. Observe the natural sounds that surround you as well - the drizzling of rain, the gentle breeze and dancing of the leaves. When you begin to notice all of the auditory details of your days and how they affect you, you begin to pay more attention to how to build a life, a day, that nourishes you, your mind and your being.

11. Be alone in public

I sincerely enjoy doing this and because of how I live my life, I am alone in public often, and am quite comfortable with it. Being alone in public also makes me more deeply appreciate when I am spending time with others out in public as I engage differently as my attention is primarily on the conversation I am having and what we are doing together rather than the exterior going-ons.

When I am alone in public I notice details far more quickly, easily and deeply. I also notice how others are not noticing all that is going on around them which, as I shared above, is what most of us (including myself) do when we are with someone we want to be with - we give them and our engagement with them our full attention (this is a good thing :)). The balancing of both time in public alone and with others enables us to become more aware of our environment and how the community we live in engages, organizes, what it enjoys, explores, celebrates, etc. I also find myself being open to new and unexpected conversations and opportunities when I am alone in public because you see more, and if you are observing and not judging, you are open to whatever may cross your path. This doesn't mean you have to engage, but you see it and that is what noticing is all about.

12. Journal your days

This one is my practice and suggestion. One that I have found when I don't know what to do with my mind due to feeling restless or confused or at the beginning of shifting my days to a slower pace. When I sit down to journal, I begin to notice what just thinking about what I noticed could not accomplish. Putting on paper how I felt when I woke up and how the morning sun streaming through the reading nook window brought a smile to my face reminds me of the awesomeness that I may have forgotten about by the end of the day. Such seemingly trivial 'noticings' are actually, as Walker states in his introduction, vital. "[Paying attention] connects us with others. It makes you eager to find interest in the everydays to notice what everybody else overlooks—these are vital skills and noble goals." When you begin to really pay attention to the present moment and observe with an open mind, you begin to realize "what matters to you" and you begin to let go of what was told to you that you should care about, what your life should look like and what next steps you should take, because you now know what brings you to life when certain details, events, people, activities, time alone awakens your true self.

Today and moving forward, infuse your everydays with more 'noticing', more observation and by doing so you will strengthen your ability to hold yourself in the present moment which strengthens your ability to be mindful which all contributes to your discovering how awesome your everydays are and the world you choose to live in fully.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

Toscana

episode-331-3

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #331

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Jun 06, 2022
330: 25 Ideas for Enjoying British Culture in Your Everyday Life
40:24

The British culture is varied and vast and while one person's affection for the culture may include punk rock along with their love for the Beatles, another's affinities may gravitate toward the gardening and afternoon tea. While my predilections lean more toward the latter, whenever a culture speaks to us that is not the one in which we grew up in or were raised entirely, we owe it to ourselves to continue to explore because our intuition is speaking.

As many readers of TSLL and listeners of the podcast know, TSLL derives much of its content from two cultures, the French and the British, specifically the ways of life that invite us to slow down, savor and invest in quality moments and approaches rather than quantity and superficial living to gain approval. Instead the only approval we seek is from within.

In episode #144 I shared 20 ways for welcoming the French culture into your everyday life, and so it is well overdue that I should share a similar list for welcoming the British culture into your everyday life. After having now visited London on three separate occasions and the English countryside on two separate occasions, I enjoyed compiling this list as my life in Bend is a marriage of both my love of the French and British culture, incorporating from both the everyday rituals I love, savoring approaches, tastes, décor and ways of life that reminds me of two cultures that tickle my curiosity and nurture my true self most sincerely.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Inspired by my most recent visit, but also drawing upon all of my experiences and fortunate opportunities to explore Britain, let's take a look at how we can welcome different ideas into our everyday life the British culture.

~Note to readers: Be sure to listen to the episode as each item listed below is discussed in much more detail in the audio version.

1. Create a tea ritual in your everyday routine

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

The feline host at The Rookery in London, Bagheera, joined us for our morning tea.

2. Know, use correctly with confidence and be able to explain the difference in conversation between saying England, Great Britain/Britain and the United Kingdom

~tune in to the audio version for this episode where the differences are explained

Check out this detailed and easy to follow post about the clear differences.

3. Subscribe to either AcornTV or BritBox (or both), and enjoy multiple series, films and BBC programs, some within hours of their airing in Britain

4. Grow a garden no matter how large or small your outdoor space or balcony

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Touring gardens was a primary focus on this most recent trip, and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens inspired many ideas as well as soothed the mind and being as I wandered the grounds for hours.

5. Invite others to 'tea' at your home or for a Cuppa

6. Celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year

~Have you entered the Grand Giveaway for your chance to win Fortnum & Mason's Jubilee Hamper? Click here to do so.

7. Welcome cozy upholstered furniture (reupholstered an old favorite) into your home décor

~Staying at The Pig at Bridge Place introduced many ideas for cozy upholstery inspiration.

8. Watch football (aka soccer), or not and instead watch tennis or cricket or rugby

9. Have biscuits (shortbread cookies) or something simple to nibble on when having tea with guests at your home

10. Tune in via television or radio to the BBC

"The oldest national broadcasting organisation in the world with a global reach, covering world events 24/7 and producing world-class entertainment".

11. Watch Ted Lasso on AppleTV+

A new season will likely be released this late summer/early fall. The first two seasons can be streamed in entirety now.

12. Acquire a high quality umbrella (and use it when it rains)

~James Smith & Sons in London on New Oxford was a must-stop during my recent trip to London.

13. Layer with pillows, let go of matchy-matchy

Instead keep in the same color tone, and mix large and small prints with the occasional solid.

14. Find time to spend time at the oceanside

15. Make and enjoy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam

16. Watch Come Dine With Me (on Channel 4)

Premiering in 2005 and running for 27 seasons, so far, this reality series is a hit across Britain.

17. Find your favorite color of a pair of wellies and have them on hand

18. Make and enjoy a traditional Cornish Pasty

19. Watch The Great British Bake-Off each late summer/early fall

20. Enjoy a proper English Breakfast

What exactly is a traditional English Breakfast (we're not talking about the tea here)? Sausages, back bacon (not a crispy version, but rather more hearty as it consists of a little bit of the loin and is smoked), eggs, tomatoes - pan seared and seasoned with salt and pepper, mushrooms, fried bread, and beans.

21. Practice your French

Did you know that the Queen looks over the weekly menu given to her by the chef who writes the menu in French, as has every chef dating back to Queen Victoria's reign? Yep, and just another lovely reason to incorporate both cultures in some way into your daily life. :)

22. Practice thoughtful manners

Give personal space (an arm's length distance), use both a fork and knife when dining, don't ask nosey questions, please and thank you, respect the queue, refrain from superlatives (i.e. the best, greatest, worst, tallest, shortest, most exciting, etc.)

23. Make and enjoy Yorkshire pudding (and it isn't a 'pudding')

24. Welcome trays into your everyday for serving tea, meals, courses, etc.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

~Be sure to enter this giveaway to win a high quality, handmade rectangular tray with glass top.

25. Enjoy daily walks with your pups and say hello to passing pups

shannonwalkinglondon-1

During this trip walking was done both in the heart of London (seen here with Big Ben in the background) and in the English countryside as we toured Sissinghurst Castle Garden. This photo was captured after just having departed from The Tube in the morning on our way to Westminster Abbey, followed by a visit to The National Gallery and then to Claridge's for Afternoon Tea. Needless to say, Norman was missed, and our reunion upon arriving back in Bend was quite sweet.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Enjoy English tea at home in Bend, Oregon, with Norman as my companion. Bliss.

SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

~Downton Abbey: A New Era

-premiering in the states May 20, 2022 (in the UK April 29th)

pp330downtonabbey

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #330

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

~Explore all of the posts shared during this year's Annual British Week. Today's episode wraps up all of the new posts that will be shared (16 in total), and be sure to enter to win all of the five giveaways by 4pm (Pacific) today. All winners will be announced in a detailed post tomorrow on the blog. Thank you to everyone who stopped by this week. What a fun week it was! To talk all things British's and reminisce and hear your stories of travel as well as future trips, I am excited for everyone as each of us welcomes the British culture in our own way of everyday life continues. Have a wonderful weekend.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

May 21, 2022
329: 20 Life Lessons Learned on My Recent Trip to England
01:11:36

 

 

To feel intrinsically connected with a culture other than the one you were raised involves the feeling of a coming home. A 'coming home' in a way that seems impossible until you feel it first-hand, deep in the marrow of your bones. As I share in detail in the introduction of the month of May in my new book The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, my first trip and time spent in the English countryside spoke to my inner most true self in a way I didn't expect, but completely understood.

Returning to England this past April was life lifting. Noting not having visited since 2017, which I didn't realize consciously is nearly 5 years, ended a drought of British culture seen with my own eyes that I needed more than I realized. It was a figurative deep breath of fresh air that upon taking in, immediately brought a smile to my face and a calm to my being. While I didn't spend my time as I most enjoy for most of my days when I am in England, which is to rent a vacation rental out in the countryside and go about many days just savoring the everyday routines and visiting an occasional destination of interest, I was in Britain, and that was all that mattered. I saw places and spent time partaking in activities that further introduced a culture to me I had not done before, and for that I am grateful.

In today's episode/post, I'd like to share with you 20 Life Lessons learned during these 3 1/2 days in Britain - both in London and in Kent as we took a train ride out to the southeast countryside of England and spent the night as we were intent to visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and oh what a treat that was.

Let's take a look at the list:

~Note, if you tune in to the audio version, I share much more detail about each item on the list. Be sure to check out the podcast wherever you enjoy your favorite shows.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #329

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

May 16, 2022
328: 15 Ideas to Savor Paris
47:43

Today I would like to share with you 16 ideas for savoring Paris fully no matter how short your stay may be. As I have written about in my first book and referred to in my third, the Paris Syndrome is real, but the magic of Paris is real as well.

Admittedly, I thoroughly enjoy the French countryside and appreciate and utilize my time in Paris for punctuating my visits as my trips begin and then as I conclude them before making my way to the airport or heading to England via the Eurostar. While in Paris, I give myself a day or two to soak up opportunities to explore exhibits, try new and different restaurants, step inside places I am most curious about as there is always something I have yet to see with my own eyes or simply sit on a terrasse and watch the city go about its day. The energy, the city itself is like no other, and it does seem to breathe new life, excite new ideas and bring them to the forefront for my attention to cease.

My recent trip found me traveling with my mother who I invited to join me as I wanted to get my feet back onto the terra firma of the two countries I adore and write about here on TSLL after the nearly three year hiatus. With this being my mother's first trip to either country (France and Britain), I decided against stepping outside of Paris and instead tried to give her a taste of what makes the City of Light so special. Seeing so much in the span of just under three days was a bit overwhelming, but each experience was quite special. However, with this being my seventh visit to Paris, it solidified even more concretely what I enjoy spending my time doing when I visit no matter how much time I have and what enables me to truly savor, appreciate and revel in any opportunity to be there in person. Let's take a look at the list.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #328

 

May 02, 2022
327: How to Change Your Brain So Your Mind (and thus you!) Can Thrive
57:09

"Although your true nature may be hidden momentarily by stress and worry, anger and unfulfilled longings, it still continues to exist. Knowing this can be a great comfort."—Rick Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, MD, Buddha's Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom

The mind's default is dialed to 'survive', not to thrive. However, the wonderful 'gift' that our brain has within it is the toolbox full of tools (i.e. capabilities) to learn the skills to change the dial to 'thrive'.

There is a distinction, however slight between the brain and the mind, and while the two are often conflated, think of the brain as the physical entity within your skull and the mind, the conceptual idea maker that thinks due to the capabilities of the brain.

With that said, the title refers to the truth of what will change your life for the better. The author of Buddha's Brain, Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist shares along with the contributor, doctor in neurology Richard Mendius, "If I know one thing for sure, it's that you can do small things inside your mind that will lead to big changes in your brain and your experience of living . . . you really can nudge your whole being in a better direction every day. When you change your brain, you change your life."

The secret that is often unknown unless we are taught, learn or observe it, is that we have to change the dial from 'survive' to 'thrive' and it is a muscle we have to keep toned. The question I have been asking for over two decades is How. And while I have been grateful to find books over the past twelve years, sharing so many of them and what I have here on TSLL, it was reading Buddha's Brain that provided the science that help me make sense of why my brain encourages my mind to default in certain ways that in hindsight are not helpful. (I will list the other previous books and their post/episodes below.)

1.Practice the three fundamentals of Buddha's teachings: Virtue, Mindfulness and Wisdom

Since our brain and how it functions is the reason we suffer, yet we can change the brain, then we can also cure the suffering. Hanson summarizes what Siddartha who over two thousand years ago, at the time not yet called Buddha, discovered as he trained his mind "thus his brain" while understanding the causes of suffering, also discovered the "path to freedom from suffering".

Let's take a look at what each of these three look like in everyday life:

  • Virtue: "regulating your actions, words and thoughts to create benefits rather than harm yourself or others"
  • Mindfulness: "the skillful use of attention to both your inner and outer worlds"
  • Wisdom: "applied common sense . . . first, come to understand what hurts and what helps . . . then based on this understanding, let go of those things that hurt and strengthen those that help . . . as a result, over time you'll feel more connected with everything, more serene about how all things change and end, and more able to meet pleasure and pain without grasping after the one and struggling with the other"

2. Prolong feelings of happiness

Did you know that as "you become a happier person, the left front region of your brain becomes more active"? Yep. And this is a very good thing because the left frontal region of your brain is where your skills for communication and thinking abstractly as well as understanding abstraction are rooted. When we consciously prolong and hold ourselves in moments of happiness, in other words, savor them deeply, we are actually rewiring our brain, and "when neurons fire together, they wire together". When we do this regularly, savoring what is good, what makes us happy, we are gradually, yet steadily and significantly changing our brains, and thus 'how we think' for the better.

3. You don't need more resources, you already have what you need

The key to changing our brains is not to have more money, more time or well, anything outside of ourselves, which is very good news. The key is awareness, knowledge of how to change the brain, and the will and restraint to do so. So, look back to #2, that is a great place to start - savor the moments of happiness.

4. Understand why we 'suffer' when we step away from what we know

From ending a relationship and moving on, to changing jobs and thus the colleagues you surround yourselves with, the first year at college away from your family after having lived with them your entire life thus far, leaving your home to travel and experiencing home sickness or even the Paris Syndrome, your mind defaults to 'surviving' and is not concerning itself with what is best for you to thrive.

Within our brain, the Lizard brain as it is often called, when we separate from what we have done, when we choose to be independent and start something new or go somewhere new, our brain will push back and "produce painful signals of disturbance and see your choice as a threat". Thus the struggle with the mind, and the emotions, for a temporary period of time. Often, people don't understand such feelings are temporary and retreat to what they've known which is what the Lizard brain and brain set to the default of 'survive' wants you to do, but that is not thriving.

5. Understand how past negative experiences trigger the mind in the present more powerfully than positive memories

"The brain is drawn to bad news."

Velcro versus Teflon.

Since our brain is set to default to survive, "the hippocampus makes sure [negative events are] stored carefully for future reference", our negative experiences tend to have more of an impact than positive ones unless we live consciously and understand why the brain does this.

I found this section of the book incredibly powerful because once I understood why the brain kept pulling me back to worry, doubt, anger, sorrow, shame, any negative feeling to prevent me from stretching, changing, growing, progressing, even hoping, I could then take the wheel and pause its previously unstoppable progression toward an unhelpful state of mind. Keep the following quote in mind if you too have a mind that you might right now think cannot be controlled (the good news, and why I am writing this post, is that it can):

"[The brain] highlights past losses and failures, it downplays present abilities, and it exaggerates future obstacles. Consequently, the mind continually tends to render unfair verdicts about a person's character, conduct and possibilities. The weight of those judgments can really wear you down."

6. Stop living in simulations

Simulations are moments that the brain plays, or replays over and over again. Whether you are rehashing an argument or situation that didn't go as you had hoped, or thinking ahead to the future and imagining every possible outcome, every single one is a simulation and it pulls you away from the present moment. Hanson calls simulations 'mini-movies', and shares, "Mini-movies keep us stuck by their simplistic view of the past and by their defining out of existence real possibilities for the future, such as new ways to reach out to others or dream big dreams."

Essentially when we let ourselves get lost and wander about in simulations we are putting ourselves into an invisible cage, and as Hanson rightly reminds, trapping ourselves in a life that is smaller than the one you could actually have.

7. Practice regular self-compassion

We often know how to give compassion or extend compassion to others. It is important to note that compassion is not pity. Compassion instead involves extending "warmth, concern and good wishes". In 2016 I wrote a detailed episode (#122) sharing how to extend compassion to yourself, and why it is important. When you practice self-compassion you are creating a refuge, an island of calm as author Dr. Kristin Neff describes it for you to just be - stepping away from all negative and positive energy that you may have running in your mind, letting go of self-doubt and extending kindness to yourself.

When we practice regular self-compassion, we are exercising self-awareness as we give ourselves what we need, and we are in that moment, in a state of true contentment because no matter what is swirling around us - in the outside world or within our mind, we are stepping back and finding stillness, observing, but not engaging, and providing care to ourselves so that we can respond well when we are ready, rather than reacting.

8. Stop throwing the Second Dart

Oh, oh, oh! This was a big aha moment for me.

Since we're talking about a Second Dart, there must be a First Dart, and there is. As Dr. Hanson explains, the First Dart is out of our control - a negative or unwanted experience happens, but it is HOW we react to the First Dart that creates a Second Dart, and we can prevent the latter from ever being thrown in the first place by becoming aware of ourselves and choosing to respond rather than react.

The reason Second Darts need to cease being thrown is because they are often more hurtful, painful and destructive. And here's the best news of all, Second Darts are entirely avoidable and never unavoidable. In other words, we need to stop hurting ourselves in such a way that is entirely avoidable to do so.

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An example of what a Second Dart looks like: Your boss or colleague gives you the cold shoulder at work or doesn't consider your idea, or even invite you to share (first dart); immediately, in your mind, you rush to doubt yourself, become angry for being ignored and immediately assume their treatment must be all about something you did/lack/didn't do/are not enough of/etc. (second dart). The second dart lacks any evidence and takes in no context for any other extenuating circumstances, and causing unnecessary suffering.

Dr. Hanson warns that sadly, some second darts can be thrown that are a result of a positive first dart that we, refuse to see as positive because we are doubtful and distrustful of ourselves. Example: you receive a genuine compliment and immediately question (in your mind) how it could be possible that someone sees something good, or you are fearful they will see through you. Again, you've caused yourself unnecessary suffering and you are creating neural connections that actually decrease positive growth in the mind.

Long story short, refrain from throwing a Second Dart, ever, ever, ever.

9. Consciously create a life of more moments and experiences to savor every day

Our brain has a negativity bias as discussed above. Understand this and you understand the vital importance of savoring, savoring, savoring. I often repeat in triplet this verb and it's not on accident. When we savor, don't just do it once, hold yourself in the moment, create an imprint of this awesome moment in your mind. Your brain is changing for the better, and thus your mind thinks better and your life changes for the better.

Hanson shares ideas that I have a feeling will look quite familiar to readers and listeners of TSLL blog and the corresponding podcast. (1) look around you, throughout your day and your life for what you are grateful for, look for the good news in other words and so much of the good news is seemingly small and insignificant, but it is not insignificant at all - it is fuel to focus on to improve your life - beautiful scents, steady steps toward a goal, your favorite weather forecast, a healthy body!, clean water; (2) savor the experience for longer than you may have thought necessary - hold it in your awareness, drink it up - the longer you do, the "more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory"; (3) recall the journey of challenges you overcame to arrive where you are and are grateful to be - this rewires the brain, deepens savoring and adds to our list of what we are grateful for; and (4) take in all of the good sensations from past good memories and current ones - the warmth of the sun, the peace you felt when you heard the good news, the first time you laid eyes on [insert destination/person/outcome].

10. Understand the process to rewiring the brain so that the mind can thrive

Begin the journey of mind transformation by keeping this truth in mind (pun not intended): it will take regular practice, but your mind will eventually change for the better. It will get rather difficult in the middle of the journey before it gets easier, so stick with it.

Hanson delineates the four stages we move through (the goal being stage 4) to reach a state of full awareness and awakening of the mind, in other words, strengthening our mind's ability to thrive.

  • Stage One: "you're caught in a second-dart reaction and you don't even know it"
  • Stage Two: "you realize you've been hijacked and must engage with the second-dart, but cannot help it"
  • Stage Three: "some aspect of the reaction arises, but you don't act it out"
  • Stage Four: "the reaction doesn't even come up, and sometimes you forget you ever had the issue"

Hanson explains that we often get stuck in Stage Two, thinking it is impossible to move forward into stage three. Why? Often because we have the incorrect idea that the life around us must change to suit us, but that is faulty thinking. Remember, we live in awareness and how we respond to what we cannot control will determine our ability to either simply survive or thrive. It's important to state this again (as much for myself as for readers/listeners), don't throw the second-dart. Simply don't do it, and you're already well on your way to Stage Three. The goal for growth is to aim for Stage Three and Four, but if you are living consciously in awareness and practicing the above steps shared, you'll get there and your life will be be full of more 'happiness, love and wisdom'.

"Over time, through training and shaping your mind and brain, you can even change what arises, increasing what's positive and decreasing what's negative. In the meantime, you can rest in and be nourished by a growing sense of the peace and clarity in your true nature."

There is far more worth understanding and exploring in this book, Buddha's Brain. Today I wanted to introduce you to the fundamental science behind why our brains are not our friend if we don't know how they work and just let it lead us where it will. We cannot let that happen or we won't find true contentment.

I think it is also important to point out, by focusing on the good, celebrating the awesome moments in life, Hanson explains, "[It] is not about putting a happy shiny face on everything, nor is it about turning away from the hard things in life. It's about nourishing your well-being, contentment, and peace inside that are refuges you can always come from and return to."

When we understand how our mind is initially designed, but at the same time understand what it is capable of, we set ourselves free to no longer be stuck in a cage we have the key to unlock.

Books, Blog Posts and Podcast Episodes previous shared about the Mind

Petit Plaisir

Maisie Dobbs mystery series

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #327

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Apr 18, 2022
326: A Life of Abundant Bliss: A Natural State of True Contentment
49:31

 

 

"To attain wealth, the lasting kind, the kind that gives your life meaning, value and sustenance, base your daily existence on the generosity of spirit. Everything else you desire will follow of its own accord." —Deepak Chopra, Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth

To experience great joy in our everydays is to experience bliss.

If ever you find yourself smiling in the middle of your everydays just because, if you are me anyway, you are experiencing a bliss-filled moment.

We may find it surprising or difficult at first to imagine the possibility to experience such a natural state going about a life routine that happens nearly everyday, but that is exactly the point to living consciously. This is exactly why choosing to understand what true contentment is makes all the difference.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #326

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Apr 04, 2022
325: 10 Ideas for Reveling in the Spring Season
49:36

 

 

Spring kicked off officially yesterday, March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere, and as I worked out in my garden, ever so gently, signs of spring were definitely emerging.

Over the years here on the blog and podcast, there have been many posts celebrating the arrival of the spring season, and well, we all could be nourished by some brightness of spring, so I thought I would bring yet another such post/episode your way.

Below are 10 more ideas for reveling in the start of a season that arrives with the buoyant determination to grow, restart and find the awesomeness that surrounds us.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #325

View the Show Notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast325

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Mar 21, 2022
324: 13 Ideas for Being Extraordinary at the Ordinary
56:47

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious LIfe

“Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinarily well.” —Henry David Thoreau

It's morning, early in our house. Norman has finished his breakfast served in the mudroom which is adjacent to the kitchen, and I begin toasting my steel cut oats. The clanking of pans being chosen for the two egg omelette, the whisk of the eggs in the mixing bowl provide the soundtrack of our mornings, and Norman finds his way onto the rug in front of the stove to enjoy his daily dental chewy. An ordinary moment that happens every single morning and to me it is extraordinary.

"Be extraordinary at the ordinary." —Andy Puddicombe, meditation teacher

One of the common refrains I heard from TSLL readers over the past two years was while disheartened and pained by the reason for the slower pace of life, was that it was in fact a pace they appreciated. No longer did they have to fight back or expend energy to explain why indeed the slower pace suited them and nourished them. Now that lives and schedules and expectations are beginning to pick up steam and the ability to pursue, travel and experience those unique and intriguing occasions we longed for as we were unable to for some time return, the importance of choosing our pace in our everydays and how we hold ourselves in our everydays, having seen the difference in ourselves, a better time could not be had to continue to, or fine-tune so as to improve how we go about living in the ordinary moments.

Often the word ordinary connotes a 'hum-drum' energy, an energy not desired or seen as inferior especially when we think of its relation to the word 'extraordinary'. However, all ordinary means is that it, whatever 'it' is, is commonplace. And for our purposes in today's episode/post, ordinary simply refers to the ability to have a day without strife, to tend to a job or a task to make money so that we can live our lives, to eat our daily meals and move about our home and community engaging with our family and coworkers and neighbors as they too move about a schedule similarly including the same elements.

Why I gravitated to the quote I share above - be extraordinary at the ordinary - is because at its core we are choosing to focus on what is necessary, and so thereby we keep those necessities in our days, eliminate what weighs down or expends energy unnecessarily, and thus, we are choosing to focus on quality over quantity which is a core premise of living simply luxuriously.

daffodilsteacup

An example from Shannon's life of making ordinary extraordinary in our everyday lives

As I type, it is early morning at Le Papillon. Norman is snuggled up next to me, softly snoring, and the house begins to warm up while the classical music plays softly providing a gentle easing into the day. The day, by objective definitions, is ordinary, but in this moment, it feels extraordinary. The companionship and good health of my pup, a home and thus a roof over my head to keep me warm and safe, the means (my computer) to do my work well, and the beauty of art (the music) to lift the day, yet keep it calm.

How exactly do we elevate the ordinary to the status of extraordinary? Start with how you move through your everydays.

While Henry David Thoreau's quote shared above is less known, it partners well with the quote that immediately springs to my mind, and more widely recognized, as is a mantra I display in my office as a way to ground me. I change the pronouns of course and do so as well here.

"I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of [her] dreams, and endeavors to live the life which [she] has imagined, [she] will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

The awesomeness of life happens in the everydays, and guess what? The super majority of the days of our lives are everydays. Therefore we have so many opportunities to make them extraordinary.

Let's break it down a bit further. Here is a list of concrete practices to incorporate into how you live in your everydays to welcome the extraordinary to be experienced:

  1. Understand the power of presence and then hold yourself in the present moment each day, each moment
  2. Learn the skill of savoring (doing so is one way to hold yourself in the present), listen to episode #323
  3. Celebrate and appreciate all that is going well around you and don't hold it all inside - express it - say thank you, share what you enjoy (not what you dislike), be brave and vulnerable in sharing what makes you smile
  4. Slow down when you eat your meals - make them an opportunity to connect and refrain from watching the clock
  5. Grow and nurture a garden
  6. Take on the serious responsibility of caring for a pet and nurture them as you would yourself or a child (literally, clean their teeth, create healthy routines, regular exercise, build trust)
  7. Make and revel in daily, weekly or monthly rituals - make them special and important - and hold them firm as you would an appointment.
  8. Engage in one activity at a time
  9. Give yourself permission to not be engaged in any activity at all for a period of time each day - just be still, rest, relax
  10. Quality ingredients, seasonal fare for delicious everyday meals (fewer ingredients are necessary and appetites are satiated more quickly as the food is full of flavor and balanced for what the body needs
  11. Become a student of the mind, exercise (thereby strengthen) it regularly, put yourself in the driver seat so emotions that spring up due to events out of your control don't derail your day, your relationships, your life, as you know all emotions are evanescent.
  12. Fall in love with reading and have something to read that holds you in the pages - for pleasure or learning something new and deepening your knowledge.
  13. Thoughtfully and patiently curate a home, a wardrobe, a routine for your days that is an investment that will last and nurture your priorities.

Each of the ideas suggested are merely a sampling of how we can elevate the 'ordinary' everyday to something extraordinary to experience each day. If you have been a long-time reader of the blog or listener of the podcast, you know that nearly all of the content you find shares inspiration, ideas and examples of how to do exactly this - live an extraordinary life in the ordinary moments.

A key component, something we've tangentially talked about in a variety of ways is to understand why we/you place so much value on the extraordinary moments celebrated by outside sources - the awards, the status symbols, the life markers set by society one must achieve. While we are social creatures, and we want to feel included, we want to feel seen, appreciated, applauded and accepted, when we seek out healthy sources of each of the A's as David Richo describes as the 5 Key A's in a healthy adult relationship (ep. #287), we can find them and savor them in our everydays.

So often we seek something that is already within each of us or capable of being nurtured with those in our everyday lives already. When we discover how rich we already are for living an extraordinary life in our everydays, the supposed 'grand' achievements become less tempting to pursue especially if doing so takes us away from what we know is quite special and we are quite fortunate to have - healthy, loving relationships, a career or calling that fulfills us, a home that gives us safety, shelter and security, a community that is at peace, small, yet significant opportunities to learn and grow.

When we choose to embrace the choice of living extraordinarily in our everydays as Thoreau advises, it becomes easier to hold ourselves in the present moment, and because we are doing our best in those moments that each day offers, we go to bed each night more at peace and thus slumber is deeper, more nourishing which makes the new day that we awake to full of all the more potential to be extraordinary all over again. The cycle feeds itself, and we hold the key in how we hold ourselves, what we notice, what we engage in, how we engage, what we let go, etc. . Expend energy on the things that bring value, find strength to let go of unhelpful, unnecessary or detrimental tasks, habits or relationships, and your life will begin to feel quite extraordinary.

Find inspiration for each day of the year, how to live well in your everydays in TSLL's new book - The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment (available now).

~Take a peek inside the book, listen to an excerpt and discover why the title - Le Papillon - was chosen in this 15 minute video with Norman and I.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Petit Plaisir

Murder in Provence, BritBox (based on M.L. Longworth's Provençal mystery series)

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life


~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #324

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Mar 07, 2022
323: The Art of Savoring: 6 Everyday Moments to Savor, Part Deux
59:38

dinnerafterparty

The clock neared midnight, the candles on the table still flickered just at a slightly lower height than when they were lit only six hours ago, the kitchen was full of dishes and the platters of food offered crumbs and hints at the menu that had just recently been shared and enjoyed amongst friends.

The first dinner party at Le Papillon took place over this past weekend, and after being thoughtful about when to invite friends in a large gathering into my home, honoring each's comfort level and ensuring safety and health precautions were clearly communicated so all could relax and enjoy the evening (all friends were boosted, and tests were made available to ease everyone's mind), the date was set, and the menu began being planned as well as how to inaugurate Le Papillon as this would be the first dinner party ever held.

My friends said yes. Each showed up with an enthusiasm and welcoming spirit that warmed my heart and reminded me of so much that I missed during these past two years. As each course was served, each glass poured - sipped and held up to toast, the volume of the playlist was turned up ever so slightly as the ease of stepping back into the conviviality of seeing each other, talking intimately, laughing heartedly and listening closely felt second-nature despite the delay of enjoying such a setting.

As goodbyes were exchanged, fresh-from the oven cookies were given to each guest to enjoy on the car-ride home. I closed the door, turning around to look at my home and the visual reminder of all that just been shared and enjoyed. I sighed deeply and my smile grew widely. Gratitude washed over me, and I knew I wouldn't be going to bed soon. Not because there were dishes to be cleaned, but because I was energized in a way only such occasions can lift my spirits naturally. And so I reminded myself to savor.

In episode #213 in 2018 I detailed in nine steps and ideas how to savor any given moment in which you find yourself wanting to remain in the present moment, taking all that you are experiencing in fully so as to hold it in your memory, but as well, to let it be what it is, not forcing it be what you want it to be. Today I would like to further the conversation on savoring and share with you 6 everyday moments to savor or moments in which we may forget to savor well, giving ourselves permission to take it in, slow down and revel in the awesome gifts received by the moment that we are delighting in.

Studies have taught us that there are three different ways to savor life moments, and when we do consciously welcome the art of savoring into our lives, we improve our well-being. So while it may see indulgent, even selfish and at the very least unnecessary to engage in savoring, the truth is, to know how to savor, and incorporate doing so into our everyday life, is to increase the quality of our life.

As detailed through extensive research by Dr. Jordi Quoidbach of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, the three types of savoring depend upon when and what you are savoring as it relates to time:

  • Anticipatory Savoring: looking forward toward an event that will be occurring in your future
    • the act of savoring in this definition would be reading books to prepare you for the event so you are well prepared, planning your wardrobe, watching films, preparing necessary information, anything that might enhance your experience when the event actually arrives
  • Experiential Savoring: holding yourself in the present moment.
    • using your senses to appreciate all that is taking place around you and not letting your mind wander ahead into your schedule or dilly-dally back into the past.
  • Reminiscent Savoring: consciously savoring an event, moment, experience that while you know it would have an end, you hold space for the feelings that were created by the event in your memory.
    • A concept introduced was Peak-Theory which is caused when we consciously plan a positive activity to experience at the end of the trip, occasion, moment that we had been long anticipated, greatly enjoyed when it arrived, but also knew it would last forever. The Peak-Theory concludes the moment with a grand positive note, so that we savor the experience all the more in our memories in Reminiscent Savoring.

Much of what will be shared in the list below are moments that we have long anticipated and hoped would go well, and upon such an event going well, we consciously choose to create space for a Peak-Theory moment as a way to fully savor what has just concluded and deepen the much appreciated event even more.

Following my first dinner party held in far too long, offered such such an opportunity to create a Peak-Theory experience.

For me, when any of the moments listed below occurs, I give myself permission to just be still. I edit out most if not all plans or consciously choose to not make any new plans, and give myself an hour, a morning, afternoon, evening or, if I can, a full day, to just let the good memories wash over me one more time. Partly I do this so that I do not forget a moment. I will even sit down and put it all into my journal as I know I will forgot those small details that made the evening/event/experience so special. Usually I am home for this carved out time, so I will make sure I have a fridge with food for a good meal to be enjoyed, I will snuggle up in my cozy pajamas or leisure clothes, make a pot of tea, soak in a hot bath at some point during the day, maybe (most likely) take a nap at some point and if I am not at home, but perhaps traveling, I will let myself just wander about the city, town or countryside I am visiting, give myself permission to then lounge about in the accommodations and drink in the momentary state of appreciation, calm and giddiness I may be feeling.

One of the key components and truths of savoring to remember is that savoring is all the more important because it will never be that all is going perfectly in our lives. We cannot wait to savor siting the need for there not to be any hiccups or stresses occurring - bills still need to be paid, jobs still need to be tended to, the world is still grappling with unrelenting pains. In fact, it is precisely because there will always be some kind of unwanted thing happening in our most intimate lives as well as the grander world that we must incorporate savoring into our lives.

When we teach ourselves that savoring is not indulgent but necessary, when we acknowledge that such awesome moments, as the ones listed below, but there are undoubtedly many more, do not happen every day, we are living in the present, we are living consciously and we are elevating the quality of our lives. We are appreciating being alive, being human and are stress-levels gradually decrease, we become better able to navigate through unwanted moments and we find a deeper, steady, resting state of contentment. Simply put, savoring life doesn't require perfection, rather the art of living a life you love requires savoring.

Let's take a look at ten moments in life to encourage you to savor by engaging in a Peak-Theory moment in which you linger a little longer after the much loved event/moment/experience in order to hold it in your memory and deepen your appreciation.

1.The moments as well as day after a long anticipated event - dinner party, celebration

As shared above, whether you have just hosted a dinner party that went well, perhaps after a big event that required much coordination - a charity gala, a wedding, an anniversary party, a reunion, a birthday party, etc. - let yourself savor immediately after by doing whatever enables you to just take it all in again, reliving it, thinking about, letting yourself smile and doodle about, doing any task or no task at all that lets it all soak in even more. Take the next day, the next half day, whatever you need to let the awesome memories marinate so they won't soon be forgotten.

2. Upon seeing/reaching/holding in your hands the outcome you have longed worked so hard for

Whether a work-related project or a personal goal being reached, once you have reached your mark - holding the published book in your hands, shaking hands with your new boss on the new job you just landed, finishing the home project you planned and saved for, arriving at the airport for the trip you saved up for - once you've reached where you've worked so hard to arrive, create a moment, hours, whatever time you need to drink in all that you have done to arrive where you long wished to be. Let yourself rewind and play back all that you overcame to be where you are so that you never forget and thus appreciate your arrival all the more.

3. Seasonal weather long missed - the first rain fall in weeks/months, the long anticipated snowfall, the break in the clouds after days of rain, clear skies after smokey, hazy, or foggy oppression

Just yesterday, the snow finally came back to Bend. Even if for a few short hours, we have not seen snowfall in Bend since late December. I reveled in it. I stayed inside, let myself cozy in and just gazed outside and smiled, smiled and smiled a bit more. Mother Nature will bring what she brings, and each of us based our preferences and where we live have weather we most enjoy. When it has not happened in far too long, when it does arrive, let yourself savor.

4. Finishing a book that transported you, moved you, taught you something unexpected, deepened your understanding in a way you had never known before

Upon finishing the book, reading the last word, last page, last chapter. You close it slowly, looking up at nothing in particular, and perhaps you smile as your thoughts seem to have been renewed and enlivened. Sit with this feeling of great expansion, and let yourself savor the gift you just gave yourself. You are changed, you are growing, you are living and that is an exciting place to find yourself and realize about yourself.

5. The first daffodil in the garden to bloom, the first of any perennial, tree blossom, favorite flower to return since the previous year

Whether you sit outside and simply gaze in awe at the beauty that has revealed itself, let yourself delight in the awesomeness of Mother Nature. If the weather is warm, I will sit on my porch or somewhere nearby the bloom(s) and take more than a moment to be in that space with the natural beauty. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I will sit with a cuppa, and sometimes I will just close my eyes and feel the fresh air kiss my skin. Savor such arrivals because they won't arrive in their first form such as this for another twelve months.

6. Stepping foot on the terra firma of a beloved destination, country, town, or home after a long absence

Perhaps you know you will be traveling soon or have just returned from traveling to a place you have longed to visit or return to after a much delayed absence. If so, think about how you will or can savor how it feels to see this place with your own eyes, feel the air of that place, the energy of that place, so you can hold it with you in your memory when you do have to eventually leave again. Is it visiting a favorite haunt and just sitting, taking all the going-ons around you? Is it taking part in a certain activity that you can only do at this locale? Or maybe it is a favorite food or drink you enjoy. Whatever it may be, let yourself savor the good fortune to have been able to return.


Knowing how to savor and why it is important to do so not only strengthens our muscle of mindfulness as it involves the awareness of our mind and where we let it travel and where we hold our thoughts, it also shows us how awesome our one and only life is. When we pay attention to how certain moments that make us feel good in a natural way, we are honoring our most true selves. When we honor our true selves the quality of our days improves and thus the quality of our lives.

The powerful truth of savoring is that it reminds us that whether the good moments in our lives are large or small, seemingly significant to the outside world or not seen at all, we become more in tune and aware as to how truly rich our lives are, and what we think we lack is actually far less than previously thought. In fact, we may have all that we need if we would only give ourselves permission to savor more regularly. The exciting truth is, everyday moments abound for us to savor if only we would have the courage to lose our inhibitions and revel in them and then hold them close so that we never forgot how great life truly is.

book3-sidebar

~Learn more about purchasing/pre-ordering a copy of TSLL's 3rd book - The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment

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Petit Plaisir



thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Murder In . . . (French mystery series)


~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #323

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Feb 21, 2022
322: Everyday Parisian Blogger, Rebecca Plotnick on Traveling to Paris during Covid
43:45

Photographer and Paris blogger, founder of Everyday Parisian, Rebecca Plotnick joins me on today's episode to talk about traveling to Paris during the time of Covid. Travelers are gradually beginning to make travel plans abroad, and as Rebecca traveled to Paris this past October, I invited her on the show to share her experience as well as assuage travelers who may wonder exactly how to meet the requirements for testing and proof of vaccination.

This past August, Rebecca shared a detailed Q & A here on the blog during TSLL's Annual French Week; however, I purposely waited for her to join the podcast until after she returned from Paris as I wanted her to talk specifically about what travelers can expect and thus prepare for as they step back on plans to visit the City of Light.

I recently read that Paris is the #4 destination American travelers have booked flights to for their summer 2022 travels, and as you will hear in our conversation, while visiting any time of year is wonderful, visiting in spring may be quite a special time to take in the natural beauty as well as the other sites and favorite tastes of a city so many TSLL readers love.

~NOTE: Since the recording of this episode, France as updated their requirement of a proof of vaccination (US Embassy for France) (French (French website - in English). You will need to secure a Vaccine Pass, but their online site is temporarily unusable. Currently what you can do, is as soon as you arrive in Paris, visit a local pharmacy, and for $40, show them your proof of vaccination (CDC card), as well as your passport, and you will be able to attain the necessary health pass to ensure access to all of the sites you came to Paris to see.

Links shared in today's episode:

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #322

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Feb 07, 2022
321: 9 Tips for Resetting into a Life Rhythm to Harmonize with Your Life's Desired Composition
45:14

hydrangeasbedroom-1

December has the ability to take us out of our daily and weekly rhythms. With all of the joviality and celebration, we often excitedly step into the change and welcome the shift of energy and focus.

Similarly, when we have chosen a temporary project to focus our attention, our life routine, where we place our energies, what is prioritized and how we go about our days voluntarily changes. However, what we realize, is the routine preceding December or the commencement of the project, if we intentionally cultivated it, was created for a helpful reason.

As shared in episode #316, our lives need 'white space' as that is where we breathe, think, settle, found the ground and our balance before moving forward well into whatever is in front of us. To look at it another way, why is beautiful music so beautiful? Claude Debussy explains, 'Music is the space between the notes.' When our lives become too full, too jammed with demands, even if they lead us to supposed exciting results, our beings suffer, our peace of mind suffers and we ultimately end up exhausted gasping for space to catch our breath, unable to connect well or fully in a way that would actually foster the life we love living.

Inspired by my own life at the moment, the week ahead is my first week stepping back into the weekly and daily routines I have longed desired to be a part of my everyday life. The contractors are done. I have one job to hold my focus during the workday hours and I have five days in front of me to reset.

Resetting does not necessarily mean returning to what was. After all, the project has concluded bringing a result not previously part of your life, and if you are resetting after the winter holidays, you no doubt experienced either connections, conversations, or moments that deepened, awoken or informed you about something unknown prior to the month of December. You have the opportunity to apply what you are now aware of and enhance your way of dancing with your days and weeks.

How to reset constructively:

1. Let the rest and recovery happen

Your body is likely more tired than you realize as you have been traveling at a different pace and it has been carrying you with adrenaline to push through; however, this is not sustainable for clear thinking or engaging.

Often you know you need to give yourself excessive rest when you fall asleep far earlier than you ever would (7pm on the sofa - zonked out). Your body is trying to speak to you. This is not a bad habit because it is not a habit. It is a need, and when the body is fully rested, you will be able to return to your regular 7-9 hours of sleep, turning in at your usual time and waking up to begin your day well. However, in the meantime, honor what your body is asking for.


2. Reflect on your previous routine pre-project/holidays

What I have done and did do this past weekend was pull out my old journals as I keep a list of my daily schedules as they evolved over time. I read them closely to understand how and why I chose them, and even though you may think you will remember, often, it is the details of the day that make it harmonize with what you need, so read and look closely.

Bring back what you missed, ignore what was a headache, and then read #3 . . .


3. Decompress

Now is the time to just put down on paper in a journal or talk with a counselor what you are relieved about, anxious about, hopeful about, excited about, etc..

Often we think by 'thinking about' each of these items in our head, we've helped ourselves out, but actually, they remain jumbled in our mind and we haven't sorted out the 'why' clearly or rationally.

When we see our thoughts on paper, when we hear our words spoken outloud and being received by another person who is objective, we can ascertain where we are being constructive in our thinking and where we are still stuck in the stress or jazzed-up, adrenaline fueled energy (that is unsustainable) caused by the project or holiday season.

Before we make any changes, additions or deletions, we want to make sure our mind is grounded, and our clarity of what we want our daily and weekly routine to foster understood without confusion by the previous temporary shifting of how we were going about our lives.


4. Don't do anything drastic

Often January turns into the month of extreme restriction - dry January or excessive working out. Essentially, reverting to extremes that are never intended to be a regular rhythm keeps us in a state of instability. No wonder we get out of rhythm easily and have difficulty shifting to a helpful pace if we swing from one extreme to the next. When we have a steady, grounding daily and weekly routine, we can savor those extras, those beautiful surprises, those moments that exceed our imaginations whenever they arise whether in January, December or anywhere in between for whatever reason.


5.Strengthen the foundation - food, exercise and mental massage

The tripod of health is something long talked about here on the blog. Make sure your three pillars of good health are tended to and brought back into rhythm in your routines - (1) what you eat, (2) your consistent physical exercise routine (aerobic, strength) and (3) regular strengthening of your mind.

In my case, my weekly grocery shopping became irregular as I usually shop on Mondays after reading through cookbooks and planning the week on Sundays. I look forward to returning to this weekly routine as the markets are quieter, often restocked after the weekend and the week becomes fresh and full of delicious meals waiting to be enjoyed.

My exercise thankfully does not need to be revamped as that was the self-care component that kept me steady throughout the regular changes and arrivals and tasks in the house happening - each week different than the next. The one thing the contractors did know was that Shannon would be out of the house in the morning with Norman taking a walk and would be back to answer questions momentarily.

My meditation and mindfulness practice wasn't perfectly steady, but it was inconsistently steady. So while I need to improve it, it will be easier to reset as I have been returning to it as often as my days allowed and always, without fail, felt steadier after each morning practice.


6. Find space and time for your social connections

Begin to look outside of your work schedule, if the project that was all consuming was work-related, and connect with people and events simply because you enjoy their company and/or the activities you were not able to make time for. While truthfully, we should not extricate time with either as it reveals we have taken them a bit too much for granted, spend time and energy to acknowledge this awareness and step back or toward what you know is vital to your connection for social engagement.

From carving out time for visiting a local bookshop with no intended purchase in mind, meeting a friend for drinks, taking in a local theater production, taking a day-trip with a loved one somewhere that catches the curiosity for you both, make time and share time together.


7. Finding Your Financial Footing

After the holidays, often our budgets take a hit, and after a project we've invested in, the same too may be the case.

It may seem the best idea is to go to extremes, and really ratchet down your spending, but often this is counter-intuitive, similar to drastic dieting.

The best idea is to set a plan for, yes, reduction of spending, but also for paying off what needs your financial attention. Take the long-term, intentional approach, to slow your speed and find a rhythm with money that will last not just through January, but ensure you don't ratchet up the excessive spending or investment again next December or when it comes to projects, keep in perspective your appreciation for what you have put your money into and not rush to the next project just to keep your 'mind' busy.

If you do want to do a hard, but not excessive reset, simply take one full week off in January from spending anything. This will give you time to assess, find your footing and clarify any decisions moving forward.


8. Begin to think less about the future and more about today

Initially this may seem counter-intuitive, but likely as the year began you set either resolutions or revolutions or at least an intention for the year. I have included a post below full of ideas for creating a fresh start.

Once you have approximately 3 (but no more than 5) specific outcomes you wish you attain over the year, clarify the behavior, activities and small steps you need to tend to in your everydays. Then, let go of thinking about the future, and focus on how you move through your days.

If your intention is to learn specific skills on becoming a better master of your mind, or a better communicator or more loving, explore this list of books and instead of seeing them as a huge task to conquer, purchase one book and move through it in your own time, in your own everydays, without evening thinking about what will be next. You know where to look when you are ready to for the next book should you want to read it, but for now, focus on what you are doing now.

In other words, when you were immersed in the project, you were likely thinking about the outcome more than you wanted to, which pulled you away from your everyday focus, savoring the life you have the good fortune to live, investing well in certain relationships because you were all-in on the project. However, that needs to change, and the change needs to bring us back into the present. Trusting we've put into place the small tasks to tend to that will lead us where we desire to arrive, but along the way, keep us open to the beauty of the everyday.


9. Now, let go

When we are so hyper focused on one aspect of life - the holidays or a project we hope will change our lives for the better, we have planned, we have looked ahead, and we then are often so laser focused, but we often forget to just be, to just let go, to fully see what is presented by the people we happen to meet, the events as they happen to occur, the weather that dances around the days we try to structure so rigidly.

Let go, immerse yourself in the life you love living, savoring the simple pleasures along the way, listening well and sharing yourself fully, and see what happens.

January need not be the extreme month of deprivation or punishment it often becomes, but rather a month to reset, to take a deep cleansing breath and settle into a rhythm that elevates our everydays, setting precedent for how we will move through the entire year that awaits our travel forward.


The Extra Item for the Blog Reader (not heard on the episode)

10. Have patience and be gentle with yourself

Often, especially after a jarring life event (if unwanted), all we want is to get back to steady, to get back to calm, and even if we love the outcome of the holidays or the project we have just wrapped up, we want to be able to snap our fingers and be back into our regular rolling through the day, but more time is needed.

It takes time to acclimate to any new or new-as-of-late routine or rhythm, and when we understand this, we can be gentle with ourselves. This is why, bringing back more self-care than you may normally do on a regular basis would be a good idea. Take an extra bath this week, be okay, spend more time meditating than you may normally do on a regular day, take on less work if you can manage that, just so you get your sea-legs back.

The rhythm you are resetting your life to follow will return but instead of demanding it arrive and becoming frustrated when you don't feel settled as quickly as you had hoped, know that its slow arrival will ensure it stays in your days for a good long while.

Now I am off to take a bubble bath and settle into my evening. Bonsoir.

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Petit Plaisir

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #321

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Jan 17, 2022
320: What If . . . This Was the Year It All Came Together? Are You Ready?
51:25

“You were brave and it paid off.”

I am starting with where you will be at the end of 2022 because it is absolutely possible.

Yes, it is.

Let me first acknowledge where you might find your mind when you first read the title of today's post/episode followed by the quote. Doubtful, skeptical, it is wishful and empty thinking you present Shannon.

Okay, I hear you, I acknowledge those same feelings arose in my own mind when such a question - What If . . . ? and just that quote regarding being brave first crossed my path. After all, we all have reason to be terrified after the past two years due to everything that has unfolded, what has been revealed, what we have had to do to make it through. We all have beyond justifiable reason to play it safe, to hold on to what is left (or what we think is left), to be scared, to be doubtful, but I am choosing to look at it differently, and this will come as no surprise to readers of the blog and this podcast as the content shared on TSLL especially over the past two years, but over the entire life of the blog (12 years) has defaulted to possibilities becoming reality.

More than any time previously, collectively speaking, the world has witnessed both the privilege and the disparity, the unexpected and never predicted as well as the power of people. We can utilize what we have witnessed and elevate not only the lives of those around us, but our own life or we can ignore it and continue to just get along.

I choose the former and I am confident you will as well.

In the Broadway play If/Then with Idina Menzel cast in the lead role, a play I had the good fortune to watch in 2014 - my first ever to see with my own eyes in NYC - the idea is presented regarding what happens when two different paths are chosen by the same person. How does one's life unfold? Will we end up in the same place years removed or will we give up opportunity? Does fate play a role or not? From romance to career, to friendships, (there is even a song titled, What If? - listen to here or below), both storylines play out before theater-goers' eyes, and what is witnessed is that our choices do matter, our bravery matters; however, in both storylines, we cannot control the other pieces of the story - the other people, the world events, the interactions and storylines of other people and what they are going through in their own lives. But we can dare to love, dare to step forward into the unknown, dare to try, dare to be fully human and be kind and curious because when we choose this approach, we let love into our lives in both hoped for and unexpected ways, we create memories we never want to forget and we build relationships and legacies we are proud to have taken part in with our whole heart.

https://youtu.be/IiqiSEc1Msc

Below I have gathered up potential hoped for and desired scenarios you may hold in your heart as you stride into 2022 as Norman is striding onto the beach in the picture below. Paired with each I have included what each of us will need to do in our lives to ensure the best possibility for our hope to materialize. In other words, we cannot sit, cross our fingers and be passive. No, we must act, we must take part, we must engage and do so in constructive and secure ways to give the opportunity the best enticement to unfold before our very eyes.

Let's take a look at the list below.

What If . . . your health flourished?

What If . . . you met and built a healthy, loving relationship with someone?

  • Dare to trust and let go of stories: episode #319

  • Learn the skill of non-violent communication: check out #4 in this post/episode #294

  • Teach yourself how to be love in your everyday interactions.

  • Practice patience: be investigative rather than expectant, let yourself be amazed as you courageously reveal yourself gradually and attentively observe them as they reveal themselves to you.

What If . . . the world changed in a way that opened up unexpected possibilities in which your skill-set soars?

What If . . . you found a steady peace of mind in your everydays?

What If . . . you fell in love with the work you do or began doing work you love?

Our lives are unfolding as we read this post. And the gift to each of us is that we are here, alive and capable of being the main character in our story if we choose to engage fully.

By choosing to engage with loving-kindness and integrity in each of our actions, we build a force of energy full of peace of mind as we know while we have been true to ourselves we have also considered those we love and what selflessly is what will honor their journey as well. We don't ignore ourselves, but rather respect ourselves. We are loving in the thoughts we let about in our mind which further strengthens our peace of mind and how we 'see' the world, we are loving in our actions, we are loving with our words. But rest assured, being loving doesn't mean being weak or soft or a push-over, but it does require us to allow others to be who they are even when it doesn't make sense to us, even if it is different than how we would live our lives. Loving asks us to extend appreciation, sincerely and often which means we must look for what is going well all the time which makes it far more difficult to look for what is not going well, thus limiting or eliminating any reason to complain. Loving asks us to be affectionate, to be vulnerable and not withhold giving love to others - a touch of the arm, a hug, a kiss, a kind word.

So won't you too step forward and dare to elevate the potential of what this year can bring into your life and those you love?

Living in the mindset of "What If . . . ?" is not to hold on to hope. In the context of what we are talking about today, it is a taking responsibility of our actions, how we present ourselves - the thoughts that turn into words, the words we use, the tone surrounding those words, the actions we take rather than being passive, what we step toward and engage with and what we let go and let be.

Living in the mindset of 'What If . . .?" removes us from the director's chair and puts us on the stage of life to engage with what is presented by others on the stage with us at any given moment.

Living in the mindset of 'What If . . . ?' requires us to live in awareness and to take action where we acknowledge we need to grow, where we are hindered by our current choices/actions/thoughts the life we desire from materializing. It requires us to handle our egos with command of understanding when it is unhelpful and guiding us down a path that will not be fortuitous, and also knowing when it can help us, but never letting it lead.

Living in the mindset of 'What If . . . ?' reiterates the importance of putting in the time. Time when we are not recognized, not out in front of the crowd, not receiving attention, but instead trusting ourselves to invest with both our time, our money, our focus to create the possibility of a new reality.

May 2022 delight and amaze you, and may you find the courage to be brave. Here we go!

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY



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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #320

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Jan 03, 2022
319: How to Trust, How to Be Trustworthy and How Understanding Both Will Transform Your Entire Life
01:07:09

"As we practice unconditional trustworthiness, we notice a healing result: we are no longer devastated when others fail us. Our focus has shifted from ourselves as victims of others' betrayals of fidelity to our own commitment to trustworthiness. We still see that some people are not trustworthy, and we feel sad and injured. But as long as we do not follow suit, we are not so hurt as we once were—and we like ourselves more. This does not mean that we have become naive or gullible. It actually shows that we trust ourselves more. Then we become more discriminating in recognizing trustworthiness in others." —David Richo, author of Daring to Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love & Intimacy

Often the word trust is expressed as a fundamental desire to find in other people, but what often is forgotten is how we play a role in both being fully trustworthy, but also trusting ourselves. Having self-trust, David Richo shares in his book Daring to Trust is one of the four types of trust we must possess in order to live a deeply enriching and fulfilling life.

What are the other three types of trust you may be wondering? We will talk about those in today's post/episode.

Over the course of this podcast, I have shared many discoveries from a vast range of books on how to improve the skills that will improve the quality of our lives (see the list of the most recent, the past two years, below). I found it especially poignant and timely that I read Daring to Trust as the year 2021 wound down.

Often we aren't certain or cannot pinpoint what exactly is preventing us from living a life of true contentment. Perhaps we have come quite close, have felt it from time to time, but not consistently. There are moments of deep fulfillment and peace, but it eludes us at other times, and we wonder what we have done wrong. For me, after reading the following books listed above (link to the episode each book inspired), I felt confident I had the ingredients to live a life of everyday contentment, and largely I did, but the said contentment would flit away when certain moments would present themselves, and so I kept searching. I told myself, there must be a missing ingredient I have overlooked. I must have missed a crucial skill for holding myself steadily in contentment each day.

Turns out it was understanding what true trust is and how to be fully trustworthy all the while acknowledging that we (and others) are human. Both of these concepts are what will be discussed in today's episode/post.

First, let's find common ground on what trust is. David Richo defines it simply as reliance on reliability. He underscores, "[Trust] is not dependency but rather an inner assurance, a confidence that gives us a sense of security."

1. Strengthen your trust IQ: Know when to walk away

"We trust others when we feel safe and secure in their presence. Our insistence that we will spend time only with those with whom we feel safe increases our trust IQ. Over time, we become more adept at telling the difference between a con artist and a straight-up guy. When we feel unsafe with someone and still stay with them, we damage our ability to discern trustworthiness in those we will meet in the future."

Understanding true trust in others and exercising trustworthiness in how we live our lives gives us the tools to know when to stay and when to leave. Richo's quote above brings to our attention the importance of how we hurt this skill of discernment each time we distrust what we know about trust.

When we know we can trust, "we know longer have to protect ourselves" and the cultivation of true intimacy becomes possible.

But first, what is adult trust? In other words, what is the trust we need to understand?

2. What is trust, adult trust?

When I read the first chapter of David Richo's book I became immediately aware of how I had approached trust incorrectly throughout my adult life. I had placed the responsibility on the other to show trust or to be trustworthy, placing the power in someone else; however, I had it backwards and I disempowered myself in the process. Let me explain:

Adult trust is "I trust myself with whatever you do" instead of "You will never hurt me." Sounds crazy to choose to let go of the latter statement, but again, you are taking back your power, taking responsibility for being trustworthy and being able to accurately determine if someone is available to be trusted. Richo points out that when we make this shift to adult trust, we remove the victim mentality and own our life, our choices and honor ourselves which improves our ability to observe those who are capable of being trusted as we move forward.

By putting the trust in ourselves to discern if others are trustworthy, knowing we can walk away at the worst of it, speak up with assertiveness (not aggression) we exhibit security in ourselves. And when we demonstrate we are a secure individual, we attract healthier individuals to us as we are not seen as a burden to someone else, not seen as a victim in need of someone else's care.

3. True trust takes time

As much as we desire to flat out trust the person who captures our eye, our libido, our hopes, to say we fully trust someone so quickly is foolhardy.

In fact, we must count ourselves fortunate if we grew up in a family home where a healthy installation of trust as Richo calls it was part of our upbringing because we will know what true trust looks and feels like in others as we navigate into our adult lives. However, if such a childhood was not part of our life story, it is important to learn what true trust is so that we will begin to seek out those we can trust and let go of those we cannot.

We forget that as a baby, our whole lives were placed in the responsibility and care of adults we didn't get to choose. Over the course of our childhood - 18 years or so - we either have a mountain of evidence that our parents were trustworthy to provide security and care or we don't, but it took time, and our parents were not perfect, so they made mistakes, but most likely, they are people you could trust. The imperfection is important to note, as is the time factor. Trust takes time.

No matter how attracted you are to someone, no matter how hotly charged the chemistry that runs between you two, neither have anything to do with whether or not you can trust them. You may want to trust them, but you do not have enough experience with them, time with them or exploration of them to know whether you can or not.

What does taking time to trust look like?

  • We open a space to explore and let someone in, but gradually.
  • We move forward when appropriate and accept when moving on is what will fit best based on the response or lack thereof from the other
  • We keep our ego in check - we are not entitled to someone else's trust no matter how badly we want them to trust us. The building of trust is a two-way street, and each of us are in different vehicles having traveled different life journeys with trust.
  • If someone hurts our trust as we have been open to them, we tell them - clearly but with courtesy - so they can know, and we can set a boundary and we observe if they learn from it (or visa versus - we listen we someone tells us we have hurt them and apply the lesson).
  • Let self-disclosure happen in increments, not all at once.
  • We are investigating with each interaction, listening closely, opening up gradually, and observing to see if the 5 A's (shared below) are present all the while exercising the 5 A's with each engagement.
  • We engage with loving kindness, and also are loyal to an "unconditional yes to what is". We accept reality. We cannot control the other, only ourselves.
  • We only have control over our own trustworthiness.

"Our companion practice of the unconditional yes to what is directs us to be thankful for trustworthiness from others when it comes our way and be open to disappointment sometimes too."

4. Often sex is desired when it is trust we seek

"Regarding touching, it is central to trusting."

While there are the five languages of love as Gary Chapman talks about in his book which was the central focus of episode #87 - Romantic Love: What is it and How to Maintain It, touch is often something each of us is starved for. Healthy touch, loving touch, a safe touch. Richo brings to our attention that "in adulthood we may look to sex as a substitute for the touch and holding we need" when what we are actually seeking is a heart connection which can happen in many other ways of touching. However, because we know that other forms of touching prompt great emotional response, we are fearful of the emotion that will arise, so the sex gives us temporarily what we long for, but isn't fulfilling if it isn't with someone we trust.

On the trustworthy side, which is something we have entire control over (we'll talk about what that is in the next point), when we trust ourselves (self-trust) we aren't afraid to express our emotions or let ourselves feel the emotions we have while with another, and so we are able to let go of our unnecessary inhibitions and extend touch - whether in an arm around the shoulder, a touch of the hand or a kiss. All of these actions again are exchanged with someone we trust and motivated by sincere exchange of feeling knowing the person with whom we are exchanging feels safe with us.

5. Be wholly trustworthy in your daily actions

When we are trustworthy, David Richo explains, we are living with and engaging with the world with integrity and loving kindness.

When we act with integrity, we may be rejected, we may even be laughed at, but because we are mature enough to understand how trust can be built with another, the opinions of those who reject or laugh or scoff matter less because we have strengthened our inner resources and know to walk away. We do not take revenge, retaliate or act in a way that is against our integrity, but instead engage with loving kindness. Richo shares this detailed list of the many ways you express loving kindness and integrity. Here is just a taste:

  • do your best to keep your commitments, honor your word and follow through on tasks committed to
  • take care of your body and your health (mental and physical)
  • forgo taking advantage of others in a vulnerable situation simply because I have authority or the power to do so
  • refrain from ingratiating myself to gain approval
  • appreciate the love given, and have no expectations that I receive it
  • ask for what I need with assertiveness, not aggression - ask for the love I long for otherwise how will someone know?
  • accept, without judgment, the given of sudden unexplained absence, ghosting, or the silent treatment by others and do not use those styles myself

6. Build a full and healthy life: Rely on your partner for only 25% of your needs fulfillment

It is not just a romantic partner we shouldn't rely on for more than 25% of our needs fulfillment but any one person. Why? If we remain in the child-parent trust model which is a survival approach, we are in a dependency-relationship which thwarts any attempt for a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

Ironically, we are programmed to have our survival needs met - the child-parent model - but we must shift away from this comfort seeking and step into the challenge approach to living which requires that we become more comfortable with the unknown and cultivate more self-trust (we'll talk about this type of trust below). The shift occurs when we start seeking safety and security from within rather than outside of ourselves. When we make this shift, our world changes for the better. Our days and relationships more enriching and our contentment grounding. Richo shares a quote from Henry David Thoreau which I found quite succinct and accurate to describe what we seek in relationships, "I will come to you, my friend, when I no longer need you. Then you will find a palace, not an almshouse."

So where does the rest of our need fulfillment come from if only 25% can come from any one person? It comes from the healthy social circle and self-care you have thoughtfully nurtured over time, and that doesn't just mean people. In this post, I share a list of different connections and relationships worth investing in and then in this post share the elements of a strong social well-being. Simply put, your friends, family, yes, even your pets, and of course your career, spiritual practice, Mother Nature and any other resource that strengthens your sense of safety and security make up the remaining 75% of your needs fulfillment.

7. Exercise, as well as be able to identify, the five A's

In episode #287 - 5 Things to Do to Build Healthy Relationships, David Richo's first book How to Be An Adult in Relationships: The 5 Keys to Mindful Loving inspired the content. Detailing the five A's necessary to be exercised by both individuals in any mutually satisfying and fulfilling relationships, these 5 A's play a fundamental part in building trust. What are the A's?

  • Attention
  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Affection
  • Allowing

We are being trustworthy when we express each of these in relationships. We know someone is worthy of being trusted when they exercise them in return. (read this post to explore each of the A's in more detail).

8. When we have self-trust, there is no need, or desire, to control others

"The yes of surrender to the limits in our relationship leads to serenity, the safety and security that happen from within us. Such surrender is our proof to ourselves that we really can trust ourselves. We begin to redirect our trust, an empowering venture."

An intimate relationship takes time to build as both involved have taken the time to show they are trustworthy. When we trust the other, we gradually and then more largely surrender, and surrendering is possible because we hold fast and steadily to strong trust of ourselves.

The surrendering has as much to do with being with another human being as it has to do with letting our feelings be what they will be in the midst of all the experiences that will arise. And letting ourselves fully feel these feelings without suppression. I speak largely of the awesome feelings that we may have thought were never possible.

We are more comfortable with surrender because we trust ourselves to respond rather than react, to speak up with assertiveness not aggression when our needs are not being met as well as knowing what our needs are and why because we have done the homework of ourselves as well as acknowledged that we are still growing and learning and evolving.

Richo writes about men in American culture and how often when men deny or step away from the potential of a relationship with a real, healthy and secure individual, stating the reason is because they fear losing their freedom, it is actually an inaccurate reason. Let me explain. If the person they are stepping towards is indeed real, secure and has self-trust, then what men actually fear is not the loss of their freedom, but rather the feelings that may arise when they surrender themselves to what the relationship, what the intimacy, may actually be and who they will become when they surrender to the truth of what they feel.

In other words, two self-trusting adults who exchange all of the 5 A's create a space, a life of fulfillment without controlling the other. Why? Because we are not forcing the other to be engaged with us. They want to be with us because we each find comfort, affirmation, love and community with each other. It feels good because it is good to feel our best, and if we feel our best with them, even when we unintentionally make mistakes or life trips us up, so long as we are acting with integrity and loving kindness, the intimacy remains and actually strengthens. Such strength in a relationship takes time to build, just as trust does and that is why true intimacy, true fulfillment, true love, takes time and is never at first sight.

9. Strengthen your core trust and become curious about your own life journey

Essentially our core trust is acceptance in the reality of the world. A letting go, a trusting in magic and truth of things beyond our control. It doesn't mean we do not engage or act passively, but we do not strangle life. We let it unfold while dancing with it.

When we exercise our core trust we "generate a calm abiding, a serenity that energizes. The opposite of being in control is resting secure and being alert to what comes next."

"To open to reality is to turn toward it and to trust that it makes room for us in that very same moment . . . all this happens as we let go of control and stay with whatever happens until it transforms."

Understanding what core trust is and how it can open up our lives was an aha moment for me. In many ways over the past 12 years I have been exercising a core trust even though I was doing so unconsciously. When we take our life experiences and mine them for wisdom rather than wallow in them and lament about how things may have been different, we are choosing to embrace our journey and figure out what is our calling, how can we marry what we are passionate about with what the world needs - our dharma as Jay Shetty calls it and in so doing, our journey unfolds in ways we could never have imagined. We are open to possibility and brave enough to explore the unknown while staying grounded in our self-trust - our boundaries maintained, our values held once questioned and evaluated to truly be our own.

"When I give up trying to direct the show and instead keep opening to how it unfolds, I unfold."

Richo reminds that "without core trust, we can't relax our grasp and let reality unfold as it needs to . . . with core trust, we gain confidence that nothing can happen to us that does not offer a fulfillment of our ineradicable yearning for wholeness. Thus everything in our lives, whether from events or from people, is just what is needed for our unique story to be told." How exciting is that! How freeing is that to know that it is in the letting go, engaging, but not demanding or manipulating, that we actually infuse our life with awesome possibility.

10. As your trust strengthens, your wisdom grows

"Wisdom requires us to open to what happens and be discriminating about what we let in."

As we come to understand what constitutes trust in someone else, as we explore our own feelings to accurately access what our needs are and why we are feeling what we are feeling, as we communicate with assertiveness paired with courtesy our needs, as we experience the walking away and opening up to new people, as our self-trust grows, as our core trust grows, we are better able to know who to begin letting into our lives and who to walk past.

11. Understand where the need to control originates

"Our need to control is actually not a need; it is a panic that our needs will not be met unless we take full charge."

Richo's explanation of the truth he states above prompted many lightbulb moments to go off in my own head. I found myself shaking my head in agreement, acknowledging the truth of my own desire to control in a variety of different instances in my life, and I felt grateful to finally have found his insights as they helped me better understand myself.

The truth is, when we demand to control, we let go of the core trust we must have in order to live a life of fulfillment. The ego wins when we require something go exactly our way, and when the ego wins, we are relinquishing the belief in our own powers. We are far more capable than we acknowledge in such moments, and letting the ego win keeps us in a state of dependency rather than trust in the world around us and in ourselves.

12. The four directions we give our trust

In today's episode so far we have talked about self-trust (#8) and core trust (#9), and now I would like to talk about the other two because once we have all four types of trust being exercised in our lives, the quality of our relationships and our experience of life, thus a life of fulfillment, elevates.

When we exercise self-trust we become better able to determine who is trustworthy and who to continue to get to know in a variety of types of relationships. Exercising self-trust in this way ushers in the third type of trust - interpersonal trust.

  • Interpersonal trust - Richo defines it as "we believe that they have our best interests at heart. We trust that they will come through for us, stand by us, and be there for us when we need them. We believe they will not knowingly or purposely betray, disappoint, deceive or hurt us. If they do, we trust ourselves to handle those experiences by grieving and attempting to reconcile if that is appropriate to the situation."

As we nurture a variety of interpersonal relationships of trust, we make sure not to place more than 25% of our needs in any one relationship. We do so because we trust ourselves, we have a core trust and, to introduce the fourth type of trust, we have trust in a higher power. Do not jump to conclusions. A "higher power" as defined by Richo "can mean belief in a personal God or in any force or spirit in nature or the universe that transcends ego and can be relied upon for grace and support. In many ways, our core trust and trust in a higher power are one. Richo is not saying our destiny has already been pre-ordained or even that there is intervention by something we don't understand. No. What he is saying is that we can have "confidence that no power on earth can hold us captive to hate or prohibit us from loving." This does not require us to have faith in a literal God, but rather to understand something we cannot fully understand but have the courage to believe in the 'friendliness of the universe'.

Richo goes on to talk about Grace-full Coincidence in his epilogue, further encouragement to each of us to let go, act with integrity and loving kindness in each of our days, be engaged with the world, but not demanding, and trust in something magical. He poses this question: Does the universe position things so carefully that our hearts can open at just the right time? What mysterious power makes it all come together just like that? Is it that friendly? How can we ever doubt that we can dare to trust? My immediate response and annotation in my book was, I hope so. And so I am consciously daring to trust, to open my heart to that possibility and take control of what I can, which is only myself and how I engage. Remembering to exercise the 5 A's, remove the stories from my mind and walk with patience and self-trust along with all of the other trusts, grateful for the gift of being here on this earth. I dare you to do the same and am confident your life journey will delight and amaze you when you do.

Explore the full book here.

Petit Plaisir

—John Coltrane's Giant Steps album

https://youtu.be/30FTr6G53VU

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #319

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Dec 20, 2021
318: How to Become A Secure Adult in Relationships
51:13

"If we feel secure, the world is at our feet. We can take risks, be creative, and pursue our dreams." —Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A., authors of Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love

Until we know the priceless gift of peace security in relationships of any type bring into our everydays, it can seem unfathomable to trust such peace is possible.

On the flip-side, if all that we have ever known due to the good fortunate of our upbringing with secure, loving parents and community is a life and way of being that enables us to try, explore, and soar, then it isn't until we meet someone or try to engage with someone who is insecure that we realize the awesomeness of being secure in a relationship.

During the height of the pandemic lockdowns, a book that was published in 2010 hit record sales as those in relationships sought advice on how to strengthen their relationships, those desiring a relationship inquired how to be and find and build a secure relationship and wherever else readers may have fallen on the continuum of wondering about relationships picked up the book Attached.: The new sequence of adult attachment and how it can help you find—and keep—love by Dr. Amir Levin and Rachel S.F. Heller.

Without the tools or knowledge to understand what feeling and behaving in a secure way might be, we do our best to navigate the emotions that naturally arise when we take the risk of meeting someone knew and intertwining two different people's lives into one, yet hoping to ensure contentment for both. However, if we don't know ourselves well, don't know how to communicate clearly, yet kindly and without harm, and our partner doesn't either know themselves well or doesn't communicate effectively, how are we know what works for the two individuals involved?

The good news for all of us is that having a Secure attachment style can be learned. We are not born with or without it. We are taught or modeled different attachment styles during childhood and then through adulthood; the key is to be aware and knowledgeable of each, and to acquire and practice the skills of being Secure. And as for seeking out a partner, become a secure adult enables to understand what is shown from those we consider entering into a relationship with so that we choose wisely and engage in a healthy manner to put the odds in our favor of finding and keeping a healthy, loving relationship.

"Time and again, research shows that the best predictor of happiness in a relationship is a secure attachment style."

Benefits of being a secure individual in life and in relationships:

  • high levels of relationship satisfaction
  • high levels of commitment in relationships
  • high levels of trust in relationships

What are the characteristics of a secure individual?

First, it is important to note that you cannot determine simply by looking at someone that they are secure. Simply because someone is friendly, likable and sociable does not mean they are secure. The author adamantly refutes the belief that a secure individual can be determined by their "charm, composure and/or self-confidence. As with other attachment styles, personality or physical traits won't give secures away. Secure people fit almost every description across the personality spectrum."

But back to the question: what are the characteristics of a secure individual?

"(1) They are programmed to expect their partners to be loving and responsive and (2) don't worry much about losing their partner's love. (3) They feel extremely comfortable with intimacy and closeness and (4) have an uncanny ability to communicate their needs and (5) respond to their partners' needs."

I picked up the book early this fall after reading an article in The New York Times by Foster Kamer. While I had heard of the three, technically four different types of attachment styles, I had never deeply explored them to fully understand them. Of course, being, feeling and engaging with Secure attachment styles sounded to me to be a no-brainer, but I knew I didn't always fall into that category . . . and I wanted to. For the sake of my own well-being, but also for all relationships I was part of, especially an intimate, romantic relationship, I chose to pick up the book and become a student. Guessing how to be Secure didn't seem to me to be a recipe for success, so I chose to be a student, purchased the book, and have since read it three times, re-reading certain sections based on what I needed to more fully understand.

Once I read the book I knew I wanted to bring it to listeners of the podcast and readers of TSLL blog, so today, I will be sharing 13 skills and insights for becoming a Secure adult in relationships. By no means is what I share with you today the full breadth and depth of what the book details, so I highly recommend, if this topic interests you, to pick up the book. Let's get started.

~Note to Readers: Be sure to tune in to the audio version as each point listed below is discussed in detail, content that is not included in the written post.

1. Understand the Dependency Paradox

"Does [being programmed to connect with someone special] mean that in order to be happy in a relationship we need to be joined with our partner at the hip or give up other aspects of our life such as our careers or friends? Paradoxically, the opposite is true! It turns out that the ability to step into the world on our own often stems from the knowledge that there is someone beside us who we can count on—this is the "dependency paradox".

(p. 29)

"If you want to take the road to independence and happiness, find the right person to depend on and travel down it with that person. Once you understand this, you've grasped the essence of attachment theory."

2. Understand your current attachment style (it can change, it is not permanent)

"Attachment styles are stable but plastic. Knowing your specific attachment profile will help you understand yourself better and guide you in your interactions with others. Ideally this will result in more happiness in your relationships."

Know thyself. A common refrain here on TSLL blog and podcast, but the truth is you need to know where you are now in order to acquire the correct instructions to arrive at your desired destination.

3. Learn how to effectively communicate your needs - be clear and kind

"[Secure individuals] are able to sensitively and empathetically—and most importantly, coherently—discuss their emotions".

Speaking at someone is different than speaking with someone, and how we speak with someone will determine the potential for our needs to be heard. To speak with kindness is to be inoffensive and to "not put your partner on the spot". Use "I feel" statements or "I need" statements to express why you wish to share what you are sharing.

The practice of effective communication stretches across all types of relationships and it is never too early or too late to start. Often our goal in communicating is to gain what we desire, but the truth is, we may not immediately gain what we desire, but we will at least become clear about who can or cannot be what we need or give us what we need. Of course, immediate actions from our partner, friend, child or boss doesn't mean they cannot or won't be able to as sometimes it takes time to process, to work on logistics, etc., but if you don't effectively and kindly communicate your needs, no one will know them.

"Effective communication is the quickest, most direct way to determine whether your prospective partner will be able to meet your needs."

4. Don't play games

5. Refrain from engaging in the 'relationship dance'

Defined as 'one partner getting closer while the other steps back in order to maintain a certain distance in the relationship at all times', with a secure partner you don't step too closely too quickly, simply at a steady and reasonable pace that the two people involved feel comfortable moving. There is no rushing as there is a groundedness in one's self and a secure person is "comfortable with closeness" and isn't afraid to step forward once they know themselves and who they are stepping toward or someone they want to get to know better.

This is not to say a secure person knows it will work out, but rather they have a sense of steady assurance in themselves and that what they give is real and worth exploring.

~Post to explore: 10 Ways to Strengthen Your Self-Worth

6. View "sex and emotional intimacy as one"

Distance is created when the two are separated. Again, such a view speaks to the ability to be comfortable with closeness once both partners have been vulnerable beyond the bedroom as they get to know each other and are drawn to each other beyond the physical chemistry.

7. Responsive and expect it in return (remember, no games)

Having communicated their needs and listening sincerely to their partner's needs, the reciprocity of responsiveness rather than dismissal strengthens the trust and intimate connection.

8. Be available

Physically and emotionally being present for your partner is the action of a secure individual. When we communicate our needs and tend to them as well as observe our partner is responsive to our needs, we in turn are also showing up and making ourselves available.

9. Support without interference

"Provide behind-the-scenes-support for [your partner's] endeavors." Allowing your partner to pursue what they are passionate about, helping without over-taking or taking the credit so that their gifts shine is the support of a secure individual. As a secure individual you are helping because you want to support your partner, yet are securely tending to your own passions and need no spotlight, need not be in control, rather only present to help as needed without being recognized by anyone other than your partner.

10. Understand there are many potential partners

11. Don't feel a need to act defensively or punish

In other words, secure individuals can see a situation more objectively. They can effectively diffuse the conflict, observe in their partner what really provoked their outburst or anger, and not add fuel to the fire.

12. More likely to step into a healthy relationship

We must keep in mind that a secure individual tends to be savvy in their partner selection. It doesn't mean if you are secure, you will always select a secure partner, but through clear and effective communication as the getting to know you phase unfolds, you can observe red flags early-on and find the right partner more easily. I didn't say quickly, but being secure does help you not step forward too far with someone who would not be the right person.

13. Expects to be treated with respect, dignity and love

Dovetailing with #12, a secure person begins any relationship with effectively communicating their needs which is why knowing yourself highly benefits the ability to choose a partner to begin to get to know. The fundamental foundation piece for a healthy relationship is believing, yes, knowing, you are worthy of respect because you extend it in your everyday life. When you present yourself to a potential partner holding yourself in a space of self-respect, knowing you deserve to be treated with dignity and love, then you can quickly discern to whom to begin engaging with and whom to walk away from.


Of course, even as this book points out, research findings change with hindsight, time and more examination, and it is never wise to take an entire book at face-value but rather to read with a critical mind and discerning objectivity. However, what I am confident you will find is that no matter what your relationship status when you apply the tools and skills explored and taught in this book, you will find a deeper peace and inner calm that you may not have had prior to including them in your life.

After all, at the core of the definition of contentment is to find a peace within no matter what is swirling about outside of you. How we choose to engage, what we step forward toward and refrain from engaging in determines the quality of our lives, and if we apply the knowledge we have about ourselves and what we desire to cultivate in our everydays which absolutely, relationships play a significant role, we begin to realize the amazing gift we give ourselves when we become a secure adult.

Petit Plaisir

Winter Flower Bouquet with Ornamental Cabbages

Click on the link above to learn more about how to arrange your own bouquet - so simple and quite inexpensive (under $20).

SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY



~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #318

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Dec 06, 2021
317: How to Handle Travel Plans that Go Awry
26:04

The busy holiday travel season is upon us. After two years in which many people have not been able to gather with loved ones, the liklihood that even more people than usual will be hopping on the road, the plane or the train this time of year is to be expected. Even with unforeseen hiccups along the way, arriving at the doorstep of a loved one will often erase any stress caused and make for a story to chuckle about over a glass of mulled wine or while sipping brandy after a long anticipated delicious meal with hearty, heated, yet playful exchange.

Having just shared one idea for handling well travel headaches (finding the hilarity in it all and sharing a moment with a loved one to savor), I'd like to share a few more to help assuage the stress and enable you to move past them quickly so you may enjoy your visit, stay, and the experience you have been eager to partake in after having planned, saved and waited. Each of the examples have been experienced first-hand. I feel fortunate to not have experienced others that are far worse, so can only speak to my own travels (thus far and fingers crossed for continued good fortune). With that said, let's take a look!

1.The accommodation's description was less than accurate in a disappointing way

Just this past August, a vacation rental on the coast boasted their lovely accommodations (a place we had never stayed before); however, they neglected to share important information that would have steered me away as I was traveling with my two boys (lots of stairs and very little grassy areas for quick potty breaks). However, while only planning to stay one night, I did what I could to make it easier for my pups, and had I planned on staying more than one night, I would have found a different rental or changed my travel plans because enduring accommodations that make everyone uncomfortable is not something to spend money on.

Waking early in the morning, be scooted down the coast for a beautiful early morning walk on a new-to-us beach. Had the accommodations been lovely, we may have lingered longer, but I looked for the "lemonade" in the situation and found a lovely outdoor excursion that I had not planned on.

As well, I chose not to write a review as I find it unhelpful to leave negative feedback when my expectations may not be someone else's. I have in the past directly emailed the owner of rentals to provide feedback that may benefit future travelers, but preferring to only share positive reviews online while sharing specifics as to why I enjoyed my stay. This approach is a way to extend gratitude and also leaves me with peace of mind. Sometimes we travel with high expectations, and venting in the form of a negative review isn't as therapeutic as we may initially think it will be.

The next time the accommodations you have arranged are not what you had hoped, don't be afraid to change your plans. The spontaneity may usher in an unexpected wonderfully memorable moment or experience.

2. You cannot find your vacation rental (or think you cannot)

During the summer of 2018, I had finished a week of cooking with Patricia Wells and was now in my rental car (picked up in Avignon) to the Luberon area of Provence - the Golden Triangle as it is often called. Searching for a hamlet off one of the many less traveled roads that wind through vineyards, I had turned around and retraced the notes received from the owners multiple times. Having driven through Gourdes (gorgeous!) which I later learned was too far southwest, and then finally arriving at the home, I scratched my head: A very nondescript property with no similar vignettes as shown in the online posting and nobody to be seen. I had to be at the wrong house.

I asked one of the neighbors who was out in their yard if they knew the owner (whose name I had from our correspondence). It turned out they were also a traveler, traveling with their family from Australia enjoying their yearly stay in the region. Unable to determine if indeed I was in the right place, I emailed the owners. It turned out I was at the correct location, and they were on their way to open the doors. Their home was hidden behind large barn doors that upon opening revealed a gorgeous Provence three-story refurbished house (view the tour here).

While I waited to hear from them, I stayed put, stepped out of my car and began walking around the hamlet, capturing pictures of sunflowers, and the sublime Provençal blue sky. Turns out I could trust my directions and my sense of direction. Sometimes we become a bit more flustered and doubt our ability to read directions properly when we are in a new place, a new country and communicating with someone new. The best advice I have found is to yes, double-check and triple-check the directions by rereading them slowly. If you have someone else with you, have them read the directions as well. Follow the directions as best as you can and when you arrive, if nobody is about yet to let you in (should that be part of the accommodations), let yourself wander about and get to know the area. Chat with neighbors to ask for help or to ensure you are in the right spot. And absolutely reach out to the owner to alert them to your arrival.

3. Lost luggage

With more reliable tracking than ever before, most often if our luggage doesn't arrive when we do, it isn't lost. It simply hasn't arrived yet. The bags may have been put on a different plane leaving for the same city that hasn't landed at the airport. However, as your bags are not on the conveyer belt, be sure to check in with the information desk in the luggage area to let them check where your luggage actually is and where and approximately when you can pick it up.

Upon arriving in France in 2018, one of my pieces of luggage was not on the same plane as I had been (one was and I saw and collected it per usual). I checked in with the luggage information desk, they scanned the bar code I had received when I checked my luggage, and they were able to tell me at which station to pick it up and when it should be available. They were right and within 30 minutes to an hour, I was reunited with my bag.

4. Miscommunication

When traveling to a country where English is not the primary language spoken, making reservations can be difficult if not done online. When I chose a small boutique hotel for my accommodations in Paris a couple of years ago, the manager's English was about as strong as my French, actually his English was far better than my French but not by much. While I did successfully make my accommodations, the taxi pick-up at the airport didn't happen for some reason, and completing payment was delayed for three weeks (I began my trip in Paris at the same location I ended it three weeks later). However, all of this may sound avoidable or absurd to us Americans who expect everything to happen swiftly, but the manager of the hotel particulier was not worried in the least, especially about the latter snafu. "We'll finish payment when you return. Do not worry!"

Often we bring our culture conditioning into situations - what causes us stress, our expectations while visiting - when what we need to do is take a breath, knowing we have what we need in order arrive, stay and enjoy, and then let go. Communicate as much as needed to confirm, say what you desire to know repeatedly, but then take a breath and enjoy your stay.

What eventually helped me to relax was my knowing the credibility of the accommodation, so after a quick phone call with the manager after my first stay, I chose to relax and yep, indeed all was tended to and paid for when I returned.

When we've done the necessary homework ahead of time, often the best thing to do is the reason we take vacations in the first place - relax.

5. You don't get what you don't ask for

I have quickly realized, especially in larger cities, if you don't confirm what floor, what type of view, etc. you want, you likely will not get the one you imagined. Case in point, for a one-night stay in London before my flight back home to the states in November 2017, I stayed at the Portobello Boutique Hotel in Notting Hill (see the street on which the hotel is located below in my IG post). A beautiful hotel and wonderfully located, my room was in the basement. The room itself lovely, but as someone who doesn't like basements as a general rule, I was surprised. Well, at least the price was nicer than a room on a higher floor, but still, it is always important to share your preferences. Even if they cannot accommodate them or only a few of them, at least you did your best to tailor your experience.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bb5Zwpzgr5v/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

6. You forget to pack your necessary toiletries

Last New Years the boys and I headed to the coast to ring in the new year. I packed all of my necessities neatly in their containers, totes and bags, and set out for the four hour drive. Upon arrival at my accommodations, I unpacked my entire suitcase and situated everything as to make the home-away-from-home just that, as much of a home as possible. Well, I couldn't find my toiletries bag, and I remembered vividly packing it . . . ahhh . . . I packed it, but I then left it on my bedroom chair where it was neatly sitting when I arrived back home after our two days and nights away.

What to do? Not wanting to incur too much expense but still needing necessary items such as moisturizer for my skin, floss for my teeth and contact solution, I made a quick trip to the local grocery store. I didn't purchase anything terribly expensive, but I did purchase items I would use again should this mistake occur. Those items now are left in my main piece of luggage and NEVER leave it as my toiletries bag that I usually prefer to bring requires I add a handful of items I use at home on a daily basis (I do have travel sizes of most items that never leave my luggage, but again, the toiletry bag was removed to stock it and never made it back to the main luggage piece).

I will acknowledge with great thanksgiving, if these are the worst of travels gone awry, all is going quite well. The truth is, very often most of our travel plans go very well, even unexpectedly amazing. To remember to celebrate when such is the case is a practice in gratitude and holding ourselves in the present to witness and savor fully.

Travel of any kind requires us to be malleable, to stretch, to bend, and not to break and throw in the towel when all does not go precisely as we had hoped. Perhaps yet another lesson presents itself: set aside expectations and instead while plans may be in place, bring your preparation without rigid and narrow expectations of what must happen. Let it all unfold as it will and engage with your whole, true self so that you can drink up the beautiful surprises, connections and memories created along the way.

Petit Plaisir

Bingley Brass Candlesticks (with and without handle), Rowen & Wren

Through Wednesday November 24th, use promo code GIFTSAPLENTY to save 12% off your order.

View all TSLL Petit Plaisirs here

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #317

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Nov 22, 2021
316: How to Cultivate A Life Full of Vitality (and how it contributes to your overall well-being)
49:34

 

"Vitality involves intersection with and participation in the world around you. It is not predicated on taking a year off to find yourself. It doesn't require making a drastic change. You don't need to lose yourself in self-reflection. You don't need to overhaul your existence, or reinvent your life, or wait until the chaos [subsides]." —Dr. Samantha Boardman, author of Everyday Vitality

What is Vitality?

Vitality elevates the quality of each day, and it is something you cultivate with your actions, engagements and approach to living. "Health of spirit" is an oft definition of vitality, a "sense of feeling psychologically and physically up to the task". Most directly, "Vitality—the positive feeling of aliveness and energy that lies at the core of well-being."

  • get the most out of each day
  • created by deliberate actions
  • associated with positive health outcomes such as (1) productivity; (2) better coping skills when stress and challenges arise; (3) greater mental health; (4) ability to manage negative emotions

It is important to note what writer and psychologist Andrew Solomon shares. "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."

Picking up Dr. Samantha Boardman's book Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress into Strength initially gave me pause. First of all, based on previous readings and research and my own experience, we shouldn't be managing stress, we should be assessing and eliminating it at the source when and where possible. So it was her subtitle that almost had me backing away from reading the book. However, as soon as I read the introduction it was clear, much of the stress that is in our lives is self-made and thus can be reduced and/or eliminated. Her book is full of specific approaches, backed by research and multiple studies to demonstrate the significant shift and beneficial shift our lives make when we approach our everydays - how we interact, that indeed we do interact with the outside world and how we hold ourselves as we navigate through our days - thoughtfully and intentionally. In other words, actively engaging rather than passively observing.

Today I have ten approaches, tips and tools for improving the vitality in your everydays. There are far more than ten to be found in her book, so hopefully today's episode will be a nice taste of what you may want to explore more if you pick up her book.

Visit the show notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast316

Nov 15, 2021
315: Being in Love, Being HSP and Being at Peace with Ourselves and the One We Love
59:41

"We fall in love harder and fear it more because we are drawn to the depth and complexity of the emotions we are going to unleash, but we also know that the consequences of such deep love are unforeseeable, a situation we never relish."—Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You

Being in a loving relationship, of the romantic persuasion, can seem evanescent or near impossible for HSPs (a Highly Sensitive Person). In episode #44 of this podcast (one of the most downloaded episodes of the show), I detail the many gifts of being an HSP (of which I self-identify). Sharing 26 awesome benefits of identifying as HSP after reading Dr. Elaine Aron's first book  The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You ushered in a breath of not only fresh air, but relief as I felt that finally I understood what for my entire life existed, but I could not understand or explain, let alone receive understanding from others who just didn't 'get me'.

Enter into the world of trying to be one part of a healthy, loving, respectful, equally fulfilling romantic relationship, and my confusion did not dissipate however because even though I tried my best to communicate what I now better understood about myself, I was missing a better understanding of how to first meet people more likely to mesh well with me. I was looking in the wrong places, misreading the indicators of my own feelings I had relied on my default in my pre-HSP-aware years.

Introduced to Elaine Aron's second book The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, I found a valuable resource that translated the once foreign language of my own self and feelings and also gave me tools to successfully and more confidently move forward.

In today's episode I am going to share 10 aha moments I found while reading the book, but there are FAR more than 10. Consider this a taste of what you will find in the book which is now a highly annotated book in my library and one I am thankful to be able to return to as my life journey unfolds.

1.Your partner does not need to be HSP as well (but it helps if they fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of sensitivity)

With 15-20 percent of humans "born with a nervous system genetically designed to be more sensitive to subtleties, more prone to deep reflection on inner experience and therefore inevitably more easily overwhelmed by outer events", it can at first seem (if you identify as HSP), that you are alone, different, odd and something must be wrong with you. First, let me state emphatically - nothing is wrong with you. As shared above in the introduction, you have awesome gifts and now that you know you are HSP you can begin tapping into them. It is also important to know there is a spectrum of HSP, and Aron provides a HSP Self-Test to help you find where you and your partner might fall on it as a way to provide further insight into ourselves and our partner.

As well, it is important to know, one gender does not have a tendency to be more likely HSP or not HSP. "Just as many men as women are born highly sensitive, even though women are stereotyped as being sensitive to subtitles and men being tough and not noticing much." Not only is the stereotyping wrong and limiting, it is hurtful, yes to women, but especially to men as they are essentially bullied into hiding their true gifts if they are HSP.

Aron begins her book by talking about her own marriage with her husband who is not HSP; however, he has many sensitivities and awareness and appreciation for the world around him that enabled them to have many shared experiences which they both enjoyed. As you will find in the following points, a desire to understand one another and for each partner to be able to communicate and know who they are is key as well as desiring to be part of the partnership in a constructive way without losing one's core needs to thrive.

2. One of the biggest overlooked areas in relationship 'self-help' is the dismissal of one's degree of sensitivity and inherited temperament

Aron does temper the truth that for far too long relationship problems dismissed the awareness of each individual's degree of sensitivity and inherited temperament by saying that "relationship problems are still social, not genetic". She goes on to say, "The heritability of divorce only means that something about people's genetics is influencing divorce—I believe it's not our inherited temperaments that are causing trouble, but that we deal with some temperaments poorly."

Something we've distinguished in the past, but bears repeating - temperament is something you are born with, your personality is nurtured as you are socially conditioned - what is applauded, what is teased, etc..

And while we may not feel we can change our temperament, we first need to be aware of what it actually is, and often our personality is such a strong façade we have presented for so long, it is hard to know what our true temperament is. With all of that said, Aron underscores that "50 percent of your risk of divorcing has something to do with your genes. This makes inherited temperament a very important and neglected fact in relationship harmony."

3. Understanding your optimal level of arousal is crucial

"All organisms like an optimal level of arousal, and all day we humans make adjustments to stay there—we put on the radio to increase arousal, take a nap to decrease it, call a friend to increase it, turn off the TV to decrease it, and so forth. We do this over longer intervals too—change jobs to increase it, avoid divorce to decrease it, travel overseas to increase it, move to the country to decrease it."

Whether or not we identify as HSP, as Aron states in the quote above, each of us throughout our days and our lives are trying to maintain the optimal arousal level. What must be understood about HSPs is that "we get overaroused a little sooner than others" and that is perfectly fine, even if others may try to make you feel as though something is wrong and you should push through and just deal with it - discomfort or not. Don't buy into their ignorance or dismissal because it's more than discomfort, it is disrespecting your true nature and if you chronically dismiss what you need, your relationships suffer because you cannot be fully yourself or at peace.

4. Understand the culture you live in and what it values, and then don't be bullied to change

"HSPs growing up in cultures in which they are not respected have to be affected by this lack of respect."

Looking at the same study which took place in China and Canada "comparing elementary school children [it was] found that sensitive, quiet children in China were among the most respected by their peers, and in Canada they were among the least respected."

Aron shares insightful examples of how even science and its findings are influenced by what the culture values (see p. 32 in her book). I share this insight of Aron's to help HSPs become aware of the media, culture, voices and leaders that surround them and to listen and examine what you hear, see and witness being praised with a critical mind. If the predominant behavior in men that is applauded is loud, dismissive, unfeeling, more men will gravitate toward such behavior (unconsciously or consciously, likely the former) because of social acceptance. The same for women, if the behavior is to be the harried mother who just deals with it and is applauded for being exhausted, but still she is put up on a pedestal for burning the candle at both ends, instead of fighting the culture (they are exhausted after all), they go along because at least they are being praised.

Those are two general, and in some ways extreme examples, but all of it is to say, if we become aware first of our own true temperament and then of the culture that surrounds us, we can then live in alignment to our true selves and if the culture we live in doesn't applaud our natural tendencies to find peace, we can find our own peace and those who no doubt also exist in our culture and simply wish to find strength in others who understand.

5. Establishing good boundaries is essential

First, reflect upon your own life at the moment. If you feel overworked, are constantly saying yes, but as Aron describes "resent it later", you are likely not setting good boundaries. You may even occasionally put down boundaries, but they are severe and shut out everything and everyone. Again, these are not good boundaries, even if they are boundaries.

Another important truth to know about the harm of not establishing good boundaries is when we haven't put them in place we allow others to tell us hurtful false truths about ourselves - "you are weak, nonassertive, insensitive, rigid, etc.".

~Explore this post and episode on boundaries and relationships: episode #126: A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability

6. You can "fall in love" and not even be in a relationship with the person

I have put 'fall in love' in quotes because, "research shows that the longer you contemplate an object in an emotional way, the more intense the emotions toward that object will become". I will just admit, in my early twenties I held on to a hope for someone that while maybe it kept me out of some not-great relationships, it also kept me out of living and being present with others. All of this is to say, we need to simply spend time with the person, take our time getting to know them but also being ourselves around them and not over-processing what is revealed, but rather let it unfold as it will. Why? Because when we expend more emotion and 'more processing' we fall in love more intensely, and sometimes we fall too quickly.

7. Know where to meet a fellow HSP and How to Meet Non-HSPs Well

As an HSP, you likely enjoy your own company and find peace in hours of solitary activities. Knowing this also tells you that you will need to go out alone in order to have conversations with other HSPs. Aron suggests going where fellow HSPs might go (if it's somewhere you'd enjoy going as well). From seminars, lectures, art exhibits, heading out into nature, etc..

As I mentioned in #1, being in a healthy, loving relationship as an HSP doesn't mean you have to be with a fellow HSP, but you do need to know how to hold yourself in a respectful way so both in the relationship are understood. If you are amongst a group of non-HSPs, Aron suggests moving out of the group in some way, and find a way to talk in a more one-on-one manner. Listen and ask questions but remember to bring your emphatic dialogue skills which is what we will talk about in #8.

8. Practice Empathetic Listening and Emphatic Dialogue

Studies have shown that when one person in a relationship holds the majority of the power and influence - what they want to do, what they believe is the default - neither partner is happy long term. And while it may seem emotionally easier to just go along with what your partner wants to keep the relationship steady, calm and void of upheaval or disagreement, it is actually the best thing you can do to speak "plainly, honestly, without blaming . . . but without flinching, your authentic truth". Thus the definition of Emphatic Dialogue.

Empathetic Listening involves more than just paying attention to the words that are being spoken. "The listener attends to the feelings as well as the content and does not interrupt, interpret, advise or even offer his or her own experience or ask questions." I am putting this definition in bold because so often, we heard the advice - which comes from a good place - to simply listen. But we aren't often told or shown how to do so well. I find Aron's definition to be incredibly clear and something I still practice as I make mistakes, but awareness of how to listen well is the key, and with practice we become more proficient and thus better partners in a healthy relationship.

9. Refrain from jumping to the wrong conclusions (i.e don't make blanket assumptions)

"Both self-love and other-love increases when we don't make too many personality attributions about ourselves and others, when we recognize that people cannot be completely explained with a label such as shy, rude or even highly sensitive, and that situations are complex, rich, often unpredictable and infinitely interesting."

In #4 we talked about how a culture will favor one temperament over another. If you live in a culture that values the temperament you do not align with and you have not had a support system to strengthen your confidence in your awesomeness that you are, you may have a low self-esteem (which can be strengthened, but awareness as to why is helpful to reverse the lack). Because of our low self-esteem or negative past experiences in relationships, when a person we are interested in, perhaps have gone on a date or two, hasn't called back, we can jump to negative assumptions - about them and about ourselves. Don't go there. Instead, do the following:

Self-reflect and be honest with yourself about your own reactions. Aron suggests that maybe you actually are not as interested as you think you should be, but you are trying to make it be something it is not. In other words, take a breath, practice patience and go on about your life. If you wanted to call them, do so. Be your true self, express your interest, but keep your healthy boundaries. This will take practice, there will be rejection, by them but also by you, but there will also be peace because you have honored who you are, communicated your feelings and strengthened your muscle of mastering your overarousal.

10. How to prevent overarousal

During times of conflict, overarousal can often occur if we are not aware of the signs we are nearing such a state. Again, self-awareness is key. It is also important to note that when we reach a state of overarousal, especially in a situation of conflict, any contribution we attempt or any new information shared is not being processed, which means all engagement is pretty much wasted energy. All of this is to say, knowing how to prevent being overaroused is important.

First, if you have spoken out of a state of overarousal - name called, etc. - Aron states, with the support of research, "83 percent of marriages last if the partners show [the] repair skill" of "saying right away 'I shouldn't have said that—I'm sorry'." Apologizing is not a weakness. In fact, it can strengthen relationships and build trust if the same mistake is not made again and again.

Aron lists more than a few specific tools to avoid overarousal, and they begin with self-awareness. Are you stressed already? Are you tired? Once you know yourself, how you are feeling in a particular moment due to other circumstances - work, previous conversations, the news, etc. - you can best decide if you should enter into a conversation that you know will increase your arousal and whether you have the strength at that moment to remain in a helpful state of conversation and engagement.

In a healthy relationship, compromise does occur, BUT it is important to hold yourself in your awareness here most especially. "Look for every place where you can compromise or give in without feeling you have violated your own needs". And one of the most important approaches, and without it can actually cause more stress on an HSP, is to "agree about when you will resume your discussion and don't put it off too long".

11. Take a breath and take time

"HSPs in particular need time to decide about others—you need time, and if the other is an HSP, that person does too. You need time together and you need time between to think it over . . . if you persist, love may grow, or it may die. But time is on your side, in that the more you know each other, the more it will be that whatever happens will be for the best."

The willingness to let the relationship evolve naturally, at a pace both are comfortable with can be hard in that sometimes we don't realize we are rushing due to cultural pressure or pulling back out of unexamined fear from past hurts or confusion about our feelings. Again, this is where self-awareness and a confidence in exploring our feelings and then expressing them calmly, yet with strength as to clarify healthy boundaries, moves the relationship forward if both parties continue to be interested. We learn about each other as we spend time together in shared experiences and when we force desired experiences, we sometimes lose the potential of what could be. This is not to say, if we don't force and if we are patient that the relationship will work out as we had hoped. We cannot know how it will turn out, but being ourselves, taking the relationship at the pace it goes while partaking (not sitting back and letting the other person call the shots or not call them and thus letting it dwindle away) is the only way to know what the next right step is.

12. The truth of loving is especially hard for HSPs, love anyway

"HSPs especially tend not to want anything to change or die, so this message is important: In long-term relationships you must be ready to endure the nice-friendship aspect of your relationships being betrayed, perhaps through a terrible fight, in order for the passion of the Self, through essential spirit, to be reborn."

I wanted to share this last, additional point. Part of the reason I know I have avoid relationships in the past is because it hurts so incredibly much when that person is no longer in my life. Whether in a romantic relationships or friendships and family, our beloved pets. However, part of the reason it hurts is because we loved deeply, and as HSPs, we really do love incredibly deeply. The tools I did not have however in those past relationships are shared in Elaine Aron's book, and I am gradually and consciously trying to use them to build better relationships with more awareness which ultimately deepens my appreciation, holds me in the present moment and reduces the the chance of any regret when the end of the relationship occurs whether by separation or death.

I hope today's episode has shared insights you too can use in your own life to strengthen the love you experience and bring ease as you better come to understand and celebrate your self and the gifts of being HSP.

The Highly Sensitive Person in Love by Dr. Elaine N. Aron published in 2001

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

The Gardener (2018), documentary

~learn more about why I chose the film here and watch the trailer.

View all TSLL Petit Plaisirs here

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #315

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Nov 01, 2021
314: Dive Deep into Life Instead of Paddling on the Surface
38:17

"The missing element of oxygen, when brought home, gives us time in which we can record the tiny, visceral, magnificent details of living. The shower after a sweaty workout, a belly laugh with a friend, the warmth of fine whiskey, rain on the roof, or a tight and lasting hug . . . Busy can make you miss it all. Busy keeps you paddling along the surface of the water instead of diving down to see the parrot fish and the fan coral." —Juliet Funt, author of A Minute to Think: Reclaim creativity, conquer busyness and do your best work

A thinking life is a happy life. But if you don't give yourself regular time to think well, living well is near impossible.

Inspired by my own aha moments most recently as work shifted temporarily to being at home during the pandemic restrictions for in-person work environments, but also throughout my life when I would notice my productivity rise and fall based on the rigidity of my schedule, I witnessed which approach blatantly not only produced the best productivity, but the most joy as well. They were not mutually exclusive.

In fact, each time I have had the opportunity to travel to France, I witness the daily routines of the French, the long lunches, the deliciously untempered dinners that stretch into nearly early morning, and I remind myself to value quality engagement over the quantity of doing more and fitting more into a day's work or even play schedule.

A new book, A Minute to Think provides encouraging evidence predominantly from inside the corporate world of the benefit of shifting away from more and instead investing in less. Today I would like to share with you seven ideas to ponder when it comes to how to live a life, that includes work, but is not driven by work, but rather living a fulfilling life, that brings you deeper contentment, joy and satisfaction.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #314

 

Oct 18, 2021
313: The Importance of Finding Meaning in Life: 9 Lessons taught by Viktor E. Frankl
58:54

"Man's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a 'secondary rationalization' of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning." —Viktor E. Frankl

First published in Germany in 1946, Viktor Emil Frankl's seminal work Man's Search for Meaning and the desire to write his first book (to be titled The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy) that largely gave him the will to live while imprisoned at Auschwitz during WWII. Marrying psychology and philosophy, a primary focus of his work throughout his life, Frankl shares "Certainly, my deep desire to write this manuscript anew helped me to survive the rigors of the camps I was in."

Now with more than 16 million copies sold worldwide, Man's Search for Meaning continues to be a book to read, understand and reread. While not having the opportunity to read it until now, I am grateful that at least I finally did read it, and I would like to share with you today nine lessons learned about the importance of finding meaning in our lives.

Much of the premise of a simply luxurious life is centering our lives, our selves, or perhaps a better word is grounding ourselves in priorities that marry what we can uniquely give, but also what the world desperately needs to progress and cultivate a more civil, loving and peaceful place for not only ourselves, but future generations. At first, such a task given to each of us may sound ginormous and far too weighty a task, but when we drill down, ultimately, love, sincere love, being able to share our true selves and be accepted begins to create a harmony of contentment that cannot help but create a symphonic awareness grounded in a desire to live more peacefully and lovingly with each other. Too far reaching some may contest, but if my own life journey, which indeed is filled with good fortune and privilege beyond my choice or control, demonstrates, when we have not found our meaning, when we are discontent, building healthy relationships is incredibly difficult, and often fraught as while trying to make sense of our lack of purpose, we displace our pain, so I wholeheartedly find worthwhile value in exploring what Viktor Frankl teaches, and hope it will offer tools for you as well to tap into what gives you meaning and share it with not only the world but yourself so that your everydays may be full of contentment. Let's take a look at the nine lessons.

1.Choose to pursue the will to meaning

Frankl defines the will to meaning as "the striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence". For when we find our individual will to meaning, the healing begins. Existential frustration subsides, neuroses find solutions, anxieties wane and contentment soars.

2. Find your meaning, find your way forward

Frankl shares an anecdote of an American diplomat who came to his (Frankl's) in Vienna discontent with his current career. Following five unfruitful years with his former psychological analyst who claimed the discontent came from the need to reconcile himself with his father as the analyst made a parallel with the father and the U.S. being a superior figure, upon visiting Frankl, and following only a few visits, the patient realized with clarity that his "will to meaning was frustrated by his vocation, and he actually longed to be engaged in some other kind of work. As there was no reason for not giving up his profession and embarking on a different one, he did so, with most gratifying results."

3. Nothing is wrong with you if you feel existential distress; in fact, you are heading in the right direction

Frankl points out, moreso for practicing therapists, to not equate existential distress with mental disease. Asserting, "it is [the task of the therapist], rather, to pilot the patient through [their] existential crises of growth and development."

So often in my own life journey, the distress of frustration by my career, my relationships (or lack thereof), and what I was meant to do with my finite days on earth, felt as though it was a burden, not good fortune. Something was 'wrong' with me for not having figured out my life journey immediately, quickly and feeling at ease. Thankfully, the opposite is true, all was well. I was listening to myself, I was acknowledging something didn't 'fit', what I was giving, what I was spending my time doing either wasn't enough or it wasn't aligned with my talents and what the world potentially needed.

In this post - 9 Ways to Think Like a Monk, as taught by Jay Shetty - Shetty's idea of Dharma is shared.

Passion + Expertise + Usefulness = Dharma

In many ways, finding our Dharma is to find our will to meaning.

4. The unexpected gift of tension

"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

I chose to bold the phrase 'freely chosen' because I find it to be an essential element to finding true contentment. Even if your life is charmed, yet you still feel discontent and frustration, yet society applauds, your family applauds, your friends cheer for what you are doing with your life, most likely, you have unconsciously not chosen for yourself the life you are living, but rather have been steered by approval, expectation and mores to take the steps and make the choices you have without truly acknowledging what you long for. Which leads me to the next item on the list, but first . . .

Welcoming tension in your life must be thoughtfully done. After all, unnecessary stress is harmful to our health. No, what Frankl means by stating tension is healthy has everything to do with pursuing what gives you meaning. If you derive meaning from advocating for a cause, then the path forward will undoubtedly be fraught as you are striving for progress, but you strive forward anyway because it is your will to meaning. If you derive meaning from raising a family, nurturing your children as to give them their own wings with which to fly, the journey together will be a mingle of emotions, but you strive forward because it is your will to meaning. If you derive meaning from contributing through your chosen career path to improve the lives of others, you navigate through the frustrations, setbacks and hurdles because it is your will to meaning and you know why you are pursuing it.

When the path we are on does not fulfill our will to meaning, similar to the anecdote of the American diplomat mentioned above, then the tension becomes unhealthy. Then we must be frank with ourselves and find the courage to change course and bravely do so, not only for our own well being, but for those we love and the world at large. Why? Because the world needs what you uniquely have to give. Figure out what that is and then begin giving what you discover. Your tension will be reduced to a healthy amount and your contentment will soar.

5. Discover what you long for and find your contentment

The term Logotherapy as defined by Viktor E. Frankl derives its meaning from the Greek root Logos which is defined as "meaning". Logotherapy "strives to find a meaning in one's life as the primary motivational force of man". Logotherapy opens itself up while including 'instinctual facts within the individual's unconscious [it] . . . also cares for existential realities, such as the potential meaning of his existence to be fulfilled as well as his will to meaning." In other words, Logotherapy assists the patient to become aware of "what he actually longs for in the depth of his being".

Understanding the language of your true self can sometimes be difficult and take time especially if we have suppressed it for some time; however, we are each capable of learning our language when we choose to be a student of ourselves.

As I share in my About page (I recently updated it to reflect more accurately and specifically what TSLL is all about, but the shared portion below remains the same as it did in 2009), while I valued and gave my all to teaching, in 2009 I finally acknowledged that something wasn't entirely being satiated by solely working in the classroom." (see the excerpt below)

The Simply Luxurious Life came into fruition in 2009 when I realized the life I enjoy living—a life full of simplicity, yet punctuated with everyday luxuries found even in the most routine of days, was something I wanted to explore more fully due to the immense contentment it brought into my life. In fact, I needed to explore it more intentionally because while many people didn’t understand how I could live well and contentedly on the everyday income as a public school teacher (I retired in 2021 after twenty years), I had a curiosity for the world, especially the French culture followed by my appreciation for the British countryside and their gardening wonderland, that wasn’t entirely being satiated by working in the classroom. And this is an example of our lives speaking to us. 

Thankfully I listened and decided to share my discoveries, passions, and ideas as a way to inspire others so that they too could find their passion as a way to living a life full of true contentment by clearing out the clutter (figurative and literal) and bringing in the luxurious necessities to enliven and inspire each day no matter what their income, age, location or relationships status.

—TSLL's About page (Start Here)

When we find meaning, even if nobody else understands why such a path speaks to us and brings us to life, we have found the motivation of infinite energy, creativity, tenacity and strength.

6. Find your meaning, eradicate boredom

Frankl coins the term 'Sunday neurosis" as "that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest." He goes on while speaking about the existential vacuum to share that without the will of meaning, and with the improved automatization of our 21st century, "many will not know what to do with all of their newly acquired free time". Which is to say boredom, anxiety, distress and lack of direction cause more solvable problems that he argues can be largely solved when we find our will to meaning.

This is not to say you have to be busy every moment, pack your schedule with appointments; in fact, I would argue, it is the opposite. Or perhaps, more accurately, it is a knowing what supports and nourishes your will to meaning and thereby finding comfort with your down-time that is a part of your self-care and confidently engaging in your productive time when on task.

7. Your next best step toward meaning is what is best for you

"The meaning of life differs from [person] to [person], from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment."

I found it helpful to note that Frankl directly advises not to search for an abstract meaning of life, but rather a concrete 'assignment which demands fulfillment'. In other words, don't commodify yourself, but rather what is it you bring that is helpful and that you find fulfillment in giving? "Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it."

8. Finding strength during times of suffering

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."

Just as Frankl's own life exemplifies harnessing his will to meaning to survive the unthinkable tragedies and struggles during WWII, he writes, "In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice." However, and this is crucially important to absorb, he continues on in the same section of the book to point out "But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering—provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable."

9. Hold yourself in the present fully for all the days of your life

Frankl writes that we must refrain from being pessimistic and instead be activistic when it comes to our human existence. That is to say,

"The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest."

He goes on to suggest there is no need to envy the young because we have lived fully each of our days, holding ourselves in the present, motivated by our will to meaning, and "instead of possibilities . . . have realities [from our past experiences] . . . not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered."

Just as happiness cannot be experienced in every moment, suffering cannot be wholly avoided when we find our will to meaning and let it guide us forward. However, by holding ourselves in the present moment, while we cannot avoid experiencing the loss of loved ones, we can love fully, so that when we reflect, we are filled with joy and reminded of the riches of our lives, riches we, by bravely living well, engaging with our humanity, courageously stepping into what we discover is our will of meaning, helped to bring forth into our lives.


Upon learning about Viktor E. Frankl's approach to therapy and perspective on the meaning of humans, I found an alignment that has unconsciously spoke to me to honor for decades. Although never making sense, and not having the opportunity, nor pursuing more intentionally philosophy courses in college, the ideas danced about in my mind, and while I, at the time, wanted them to leave me alone because they were so perplexing, they thankfully waited for me to make sense of them, to trust them.

The world swirling around us via media, messaging, our community can be deafening and hold us off course if we let it. But when we understand that the feeling of frustration is actually a sign that we are hearing our inner voice, we can find peace. Because in that moment of aha, we can take a breath, and continue to pursue the questions that keep bouncing around in our mind, because, if my own journey is any indication it is a path that will lead you to everyday contentment.

I do hope you enjoy this week's episode of the podcast. Thank you for stopping by and tuning in.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:


Petit Plaisirs

Ted Lasso, Apple TV+ (click here to learn more about the recommendation, watch the trailers of both seasons and the original ad which began the idea for the show)


View more Petit Plaisirs here.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #313

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Oct 04, 2021
312: The New Hello, my conversation with The Confidence Project founder Tracy Hooper
55:09

The workplace has shifted in a short amount of time, largely due to the pandemic, but also prompted by many other social and environmental awakenings. Communication, civil communication, remains at the epicenter of a civil society; however, currently, a significant learning curve has taken place, and we need to keep up in order to strengthen connections, build trust and foster workspaces of inclusion.

My guest on today's podcast, Tracy Hooper, the founder of The Confidence Project, released a new book The New Hello: What to Say, What to Do, in the New World of Work this past year to share with us all the how and the why to practicing and learning the skills of clear communication paired with acute awareness of others to create a workplace of mutual, positive benefit and exchange.

Having known Ms. Hooper for ten years (she was a guest on the show during its first season), we had a wonderful video chat for today's episode (audio only). Listeners will learn specific examples of skills to utilize not only in their work life, but their personal life as well to strengthen relationships and honor our own boundaries and voice.

Items of Discussion in today's episode:

  • The fundamental component and importance of strengthening our own confidence (how it benefits us and those we connect with at work and in our personal lives)

  • Tangible tools for effective, confident communication on video calls and in person will be exemplified in our conversation.

  • Shifting from the default of saying "I'm sorry" to saying "Thank You" - why we need to make the shift and how to do it.

  • What is our personal currency and how it makes a tremendous difference in our lives.

  • Much more

I highly recommend The New Hello for not only our current times, but all times, as Tracy shares years of research and experience with a vast variety of workers and individuals, teaching the importance of self-awareness (how we speak - the words we use and what is conveyed, whether we intentional or by default; as well as our body language) and awareness of our surroundings and those we work with ensuring all parties feel comfortable, welcome and heard.

Links to explore:

Learn more about The New Hello (available in paperback and audio)

~I greatly appreciate what Tracy shares in this IG video (below) about standards and respecting the ones we have for ourselves whether in business or in our personal lives

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7mT04el0Gy/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Petit Plaisir

As well, Tracy shares this episode's Petit Plaisir, a priceless example, something each of us can incorporate into our daily lives, to deepen our contentment, calm our minds and settle our being. Shared below, Tracy's zinnias surround her outdoor space at home to sit, relax and slow down during the summer months.

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View more Petit Plaisirs here.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #312

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Sep 20, 2021
311: How Accepting Your Mortality Sets You Free to Live More Deeply
58:20

 

"The world is already broken. And what's true of the state of civilization is equally true of your life: it was always already the case that you would never experience a life of perfect accomplishment or security. And your four thousand weeks have always been running out. It's a revelation, though: when you begin to internalize all this even just a bit, the result is not despair, but an energizing surge of motivation . . . You realize that you never really needed the feeling of complete security you'd previously felt so desperate to attain. This is liberation." —Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time management for mortals

Admittedly, the length of a human life is short when we take the long view of civilization, so it is understandable for us to make the most of our time. However, in so doing, we often go about 'making the most of it' in unhelpful, counter-intuitive ways.

Oliver Burkeman wrote a long-running and award-winning weekly column for The Guardian up until last year. He is also the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, and so after reading his final column for The Guardian, and the synopsis for his first book, I had an idea of his frank, yet considered and sincere approach to what he shares with his readers. Four Thousand Weeks is not your typical time management book.

Thank goodness.

It is a book to open our eyes to the reality of our mortality, no matter how much we may profess we accept that we will die, we demonstrate through our actions, how we live, we may not have fully absorb this life truth. But don't worry, Burkeman shares in his introduction, his objective is to write a book that helps each of us "redress the balance [of our finite time on this planet and engage productively with fellow citizens, current events and the fate of the environment]—to see if we can't discover, or recover, some ways of thinking about time that do justice to our real situation: to the outrageous brevity and shimmering possibilities of our four thousand weeks."

I have pulled ten tips he shares about how to live more deeply, and thus more contentedly in our everydays and thus our entire life; however, there is much more in the book and I highly recommend reading it in its entirety. Let's take a look at the list.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast311

Sep 06, 2021
Season 8 Schedule of the Podcast Announced
12:25

 

In just one week's time, a new season, Season 8, of The Simple Sophisticate podcast will begin. Already, my bookstand is full of titles that have piqued my interest to compile into podcast episodes to inspire, inform and motivate you to cultivate your own unique simply luxurious life.

Below is a visual of the entire season running from September of this year through August of 2022. You may also download a pdf of the schedule here.

With more than 20 episodes, sharing two new episodes every month on the first and third Monday of each month (even April and May which were previously removed from the schedule in previous seasons due to my teaching schedule), the only month off will be July which gives me time to produce my cooking show's latest season which debuts each September. In November, you'll notice, there are three new episodes as many listeners are traveling during this time of year, and I thought what better time to provide more listening material?

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcastseason8schedule

 

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Aug 30, 2021
310: Murder in Provence, M.L. Longworth Talks about Her Series Coming to BritBox
27:17

Provencal mystery writer M.L. Longworth joins me on the podcast for this year's French Week to share some exciting news about her series.

I invited Mary Lou back to the show (see our previous conversations here - ep. #268 - and here - ep. #203) as I recently learned her novels had been optioned for a television series to air on BritBox. Longworth shares many details about the cast, when it will premiere, which books will be included in season one and much more. Be sure to take the tour of Aix-en-Provence she gave me in this post to enjoy a taste of the world of Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, and tune in to today's episode as she talks about food, shares a delicious recipe AND shares the synopsis for her upcoming 10th mystery and when to expect it to be released.

Links mentioned during our conversation:


M.L. Longworth's Lentil & Duck Breast Salad

As shared during episode #310 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, Provençal mystery writer M.L. Longworth shared a recipe during our conversation that offers a quintessential taste of summer in Provence.

  • 1/2 cup French lentils (cooked) (follow the directions on the package or simply boil in water for about 10-15 minutes, then drain. )
  • 6 Tbsp walnut oil or vinagriette
  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 cups mache (lamb's tongue lettuce) or watercress (washed and roughly chopped)
  • 1-2 ounces thin slices of cooked duck breast (substitute - prosciutto)
  1. Prepare the lentils: add the lentils to water and bring to a boil, simmer for 10-15 minutes until to desired tenderness. Drain out excess water.

  2. Prepare the vinegriette: in a small bowl add the vinegar, dijon and then slowly add and whisk in the walnut oil. Finish with freshly ground pepper to taste.

  3. If you are unable to find duck and cook yourself (often you can find cooked duck breast in the markets in France), a great substitute is ham or prosciutto - thinly sliced.

  4. Divide the vinegriette. Dress the salad with half and then add the lentils to the salad and add gradually the remaining vinegriette to dress the rest of the salad (you may not need to use all of the vinegriette or you may need to make more - just keep the proportions the same). Plate the lentils and lettuce and top with the duck breast. Enjoy with a glass of rosé - bien sûr!


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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #310

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

EXPLORE MORE POSTS FROM FRENCH WEEK 2021






~View more TSLL French-Inspired posts in the Archives

Aug 12, 2021
309: Let's Travel to Paris! My Discussion with Paris Perfect Vacation Rentals' Founder Madelyn Byrne
41:34

One day in the not too distant future, the dream will be realized for each one of us who longs to hop on a plane and slip away to Paris. Frequently during my daydreams I envision just this scenario happening, and when I do, I will find peace of mind knowing my accommodations with Paris Perfect await my arrival.

On today's episode discover just exactly makes each rental perfect for travelers looking to savor all that Paris has to offer - from the thoughtful attention to every detail down to how many outlets are in each apartment to carefully considered mattresses made in France and sofas made in Italy. Everything from the moment you arrive at the airport to any question you might have while you are in the city of light has been addressed. And who wouldn't want to wake up to a view of the Eiffel Tower? As so many Paris Perfect rentals offer, explore and find the ideal home-away-from-home for your next trip.

I am incredibly tickled to welcome to today's episode of the podcast the founder of Paris Perfect and London Perfect Madelyn Byrne (seen right). Her sister, Lisa Byrne is the General Manager of Paris Perfect, London Perfect, Italy Perfect as well as the Founder of Italy Perfect, and kindly arranged for this opportunity. What Madelyn shares will, I have a feeling, entice you to want to purchase that ticket to France sooner rather than later. ❤️🇫🇷☺️

Tune in to the latest episode of the podcast, in celebration of TSLL's 6th Annual French Week and discover why I personally recommend making reservations with the Paris, London and Italy Perfect team, as well Madelyn shares tips for success in any business venture you may be dreaming about, what life is like currently (as of June 2021 when the conversation was recorded) in both France and Italy at the moment due to covid, two Petit Plaisirs and much more. I do hope you enjoy today's episode.

~Tour the London Perfect flat I stayed at as discussed in our conversation in today's episode: London Perfect: A Traveler's Sanctuary

Visit and/or Follow Paris, London and Italy Perfect via the links below:

~Viognier rental~

~La Lande rental~

~Beaujoulais rental~

Madelyn & Philippe

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #309

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Explore All Posts/Episodes from this year's 6th Annual French Week





~All images courtesy of Paris Perfect

Aug 09, 2021
308: 15 Ideas for Welcoming Provence Style into Your Home & Garden
44:59

Ten years of visiting, followed by three years of construction and refurbishing, and now Shauna Varvel's family Provençal mas situated just outside of Avignon, France, is an exquisite Provençal destination to see both inside and out.

Feasting first on the thoughtfully designed and decorated property through Instagram beginning in 2018, I continued to follow her as the property named Le Mas des Poiriers as well as serving as a family home for her and her husband, their adult children and the growing grandchildren, is also now available for rent (although, likely for the most elite due to the price point - which it is worth based on the expansive grounds and thoughtful decor).

Featured in Veranda's April 2019 issue, inspiration abounds whether or not we will be able to visit and see with our own eyes, as Varvel's new book Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair (published by Vendome, photography Luke White) was just released earlier this month.

With today being the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, I thought what better way to celebrate the ideal season during which to visit Provence than by dedicating this week's podcast episode entirely to welcoming the Provençal decor and garden ideas into our home and lives wherever we may call home.

Having had the opportunity to receive and read Shauna's book, if you are looking for visual inspiration as well as a historical exploration of the design styles associated with Provence, Provence Style is a book you will appreciate and find incredibly resourceful.

In today's episode I have gathered 15 ideas adding a touch or a wealth of Provençal decor inspiration to our sanctuaries. Let's take a look.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast308

Jun 21, 2021
307: How to Step into your Fullest True Self — The Way of Integrity, as taught by Martha Beck
01:01:23

"Your life will tell you the truth." —Martha Beck, author of The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self

Divided. Compartmentalized. Unable to give what is needed, not by choice, but by pure, sincere inability due to time and energy. Signs of living a life off the track of the way of integrity.

Martha Beck explains in her new book, The Way of Integrity, the word integrity originates from the Latin integer meaning "in tact" and therefore cementing the definition of integrity as "to be one thing, whole and undivided".

When we are not living a life of integrity, we are not being true to ourselves, nor the world. Now you might be thinking about the general and more commonly understood definition of integrity - living by your 'values' or abiding by the morals society applauds, but this is not what Beck writes about in her book. Instead, Beck looks at the true meaning of the word and applies it to each of us individually, daring to step away from any culture’s expectations - a life of integrity is one when you have aligned your body, mind, heart and soul - your actions, your mental strength, your true self - you set yourself free. In the introduction she uses a phrase commonly known on this blog/podcast - you achieve a sustainable joie de vivre. "You may not believe that such a fulfilling life is possible. It is," Beck states with calm, assured confidence and goes on throughout the rest of the book, speaking from her own incredibly challenging and terrifying and finally liberating life journey, indeed what she shares is true.

"No matter how far you think you've strayed from your true path, the moment you say I'm going to trust myself, I'm going to follow my truth, the healing begins."

Beck's book crossed my path just after I had officially and publicly announced a resolve to live my own life of integrity as I had turned in my resignation papers concluding a 20-year career in teaching public education at the secondary level. I arrived at my decision after more than a few years of hemming and hawing about such a choice being necessary for me to live fully in alignment with what I knew to be true in my heart of hearts. And, as I shared in my May episode of the video series A Cuppa Moments (learn more about becoming a TOP Tier subscriber and discover more intimately why I made this decision here), it wasn't about running away; it was about running toward something I loved even more.

Another way of looking at the way of integrity is much like putting together a puzzle. It can be especially hard to rationalize why we should leave something when on paper and to onlookers everything hums along beautifully, but if the puzzle doesn't allow your true nature to be nurtured, as Beck describes, when you are "rushing to conform . . . often ignoring or overruling [y]our genuine feelings—even intense one, like longing or anguish—to please your culture . . . you've divided yourself. [You] aren't in integrity (one thing) but in duplicity (two things)." In other words, the puzzle isn't your puzzle to be a part of. Having the courage to step away from something that works, even if we languish while others shine is not living a life of integrity.

"When you pursue a career that pulls you away from your true self, your talent and enthusiasm will quit on you like a bored intern."

The question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Does the culture nurture your nature?" Pause for a second before answering because I would have answered yes a couple of years ago as the quality of my overall life improved immensely having moved to Bend, Oregon. And what enabled me to move to this dream-of-a-town in my eyes? A teaching job; however, upon reflection, with more truths revealed, and after reading her book, my answer whilst trying to teach and write, is most certainly no.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast307

Jun 07, 2021
306: 25 British Petit Plaisirs (and a new category for all of TSLL's Simple Pleasures)
36:39

The French define le Petit Plaisir as a simple indulgence that brings great pleasure and enjoyment. In English, the translation is easy to note - small pleasures, yet significant in their ability to elevate the everyday.

This week on the blog is TSLL's 3rd Annual British Week, and while yes, the term Petit Plaisirs is notably French, my affinity for the British culture is grounded in so many of the Brits' daily rituals, appreciation for nature which surrounds each waking day, and the dogged determination to keep calm and carry on coined and released to the public in 1939 in an effort to steel the nerves and assuage the fears of the impeding war.

As I sat down this past Saturday, savoring a weekend to spent entirely at home, I took a moment and glanced about. So much of how I structure my own everydays welcomes British influences. Most seemingly simple, but others which have come about intentionally, with patience and clear-eyed understanding of the comfort they would bring into my life and sanctuary.

Today I would like to share with you 25 British-inspired Petit Plaisirs, and please do share in the comments, rituals or routines you welcome into your own life which are inspired by your Anglophile predilections.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast306

May 17, 2021
305: 36 Bedtime Daily Rituals and Essential Details to Ensure A Restful Slumber
40:53

Awaking without an alarm clock. Letting the body and mind in tandem wake up after having receiving the necessary amounts of sleep, my goal as I move forward in life is to have more mornings awoken only by the morning murmurs of the fresh air, the birdsong, the quiet of the house as the sun begins to gently start the day.

If you have ever experienced jet lag, you know what it feels like, what it sounds like when your body and mind to speak, asking, "Why aren't we sleeping right now?". Whether you are traveling across multiple time zones or not, your body and mind need deep consistent rest, and when we listen to and honor what we hear, we begin to live a life of healthy harmony. We are better able to manage our emotions, stay present, be patient, think clearing and so much more. Sharing the nine benefits of a good night's sleep a couple of years ago, I have no doubt you know the importance and value of a good night's sleep, but knowing and creating a space in our sanctuaries to offer a nightly restful slumber can be two different things.

Today, inspired by the completion of my primary bedroom's restyling (tour the full bedroom customizataion here - Parisian Elegance marries English Country Comfort Aesthetics in TSLL's Primary Bedroom Reveal - view before and after photos included along with all of the details, links and decisions behind the choices), I wanted to introduce next week's post with a post sharing 36 Bedtime Daily Rituals and Essential Details for a restful slumber.

To know what we need is one thing. To know how to cultivate it can be a bit more difficult to ascertain, but what I have learned over the years having never used an alarm clock during my teenage years, the daily necessary ingredient for an everyday of contentment is a good night's sleep.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast305

Apr 19, 2021
304: Artists in Residence writer and illustrator Melissa Wyse and Kate Lewis
38:49

 

Today on the podcast, the creators of the new book Artists in Residence join me to talk about not only their collaboration, but also how readers can find inspiration to look at their own sanctuaries as a haven, decorating it in such a way as to nurture presence and the unique creativity each inhabitant would like to share with the world.

Melissa Wyse is the writer and through her research, so many details largely unknown to the wider public are shared about each of the 17 artists' residences and their life stories. Kate Lewis brings to vivid imagery each of the intimate spaces with her illustrations. yYou will find yourself looking at all of the detail, going back and forth between the written word and the painted peek to gain a sense of how the artist lived. Not only a book to feast upon with the eyes, but inspire you to honor your own gifts, find time to explore and share them and motivate others to do the same just as Kate and Melissa have done.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast304

Apr 05, 2021
303: 33 Ways to Live Your Fullest Life, as taught by Norma Kamali
51:30

 

"Living your purpose will make it possible to do all the things you need to do to reach the goals you need to reach in order to fulfill your dreams, which are as big as the world and as optimistic as your mind can imagine." —Norma Kamali, author of I Am Invincible

Change is inevitable, in the world, our bodies and our lives. How we navigate life's endless changes determines the quality of our lives, especially during our everydays and how we experience each 24-hours, but from the longview of life, it will determine the legacy we create, the connections and relationships we make and build and how or if we contribute positively to a better world tomorrow.

Fashion designer Norma Kamali's new book, part memoir, part lifestyle/self-esteem builder I Am Invincible is aptly described by Cynthia Rowley as "personal power with a side of popcorn".

Upon the book's arrival, I read it in one day. Highlighting constantly, stopping and rereading, taking closer notes so as not to forget and apply immediately her wisdom to my life, I couldn't wait to share with podcast listeners and blog readers (where does the 'side of popcorn come in you may be wondering? she shares a simple, yet delicious recipe for homemade popcorn - I tried it the next day - yep, loved it).

Her book begins with the driving question: If you can control the quality of your life, why not do it? And while she definitely had me at Why Not . . . ? I couldn't agree more that indeed we should invest and apply in all the areas we can to elevate the quality of our lives.

Today's episode/post shares 33 of which there are many more lessons discovered as I read her book. I hope you enjoy.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast303

Mar 15, 2021
302: 21 Lessons Learned in my 42nd Year
26:55

Over the weekend I quietly celebrated my 42nd birthday. It was lovely. It was full of much contemplation. It included delicious food and wine and the last day of the year brought the sunshine which found me out in my garden preparing for spring.

Over the past 12 months all of our lives experienced unexpected moments, ahas, wonderings, fears, break-throughs and endless other unplanned daily routine shifts and lifestyle adjustments.

Perhaps some of the lessons I share today won't come as a surprise to you if you follow TSLL blog and podcast and for every lesson I share, if there is a post or episode which explores the idea further, I will be sure to link it for further reader. All in all, much has been learned, much unexpected, and much I am incredibly thankful presented itself and equally am I thankful I chose to try to understand why it said hello in my life.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast302

Mar 01, 2021
301: The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment
49:46

"People can change and be happy from this moment onward . . . the problem is not one of ability, but of courage." —from the book The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

"As long as one keeps searching, the answers come." American folk singer Joan Baez certainly narrows down succinctly and accurately the practice of finding our way; however, along the way toward the revelation of the answers, we must be courageous enough to feel uncomfortable for portions of the journey as well as capable of homing in on the gems of wisdom and letting go of needing to be agile when trying something new in our lives.

Today, I am excited to share with you a handful of insights the book The Courage to Be Disliked taught me (there are soooooo many more - I highly recommend reading the book). On the surface, each is easy to comprehend, but the first time we put the practice into use, it may be difficult. With time and consistent effort however, the practice will become habituated and before we realize it, our lives, our everyday lives and the longview of our lives, will change for the better. Let's take a look at the list.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast301

Feb 15, 2021
300: Plat du Jour - French Dinners Made Easy w/Susan Herrmann Loomis
36:43

France, food, seasonally fresh produce.

American expat cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis has just released a new cookbook and it is good. Deliciously good. Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy was just released on January 12th, and I excitedly welcomed it into my cookbook library.

Today, Susan returned to join me on the podcast to talk about her new cookbook. Sharing the inspiration for the book, the history of the phrase Plat du Jour, recipes to enjoy during the middle of winter, much more along with another Petit Plaisir that will remind us all how powerfully delicious waiting for something delicious can be.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast300

Feb 01, 2021
299: How to Live a Life with Less Stress & Why It's Vital for Good Health
35:24

"The lack of meaning in our lives stresses us out, but too much stress makes it harder to find meaning." —Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, author of The Stress Solution

Yesterday, for the entire day, aside from letting my pups outside from time to time and feeding them, I wallpapered. I turned on old British cosy mysteries (Poirot with David Suchet), and went to town (hopefully) transforming my primary bedroom from a gray space to a French/English Countryside cottage space.

After such focused projects, I sleep deeply. Stress? Nonexistent.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee explains in The Stress Solution how when you've found something you love "time, and even you sense of self, will seem to vanish when you're busy with it." Yep, this is the 'flow state' we've heard so much about. Your emotional brain finds it difficult to grab your attention as your rational brain is being fully encouraged to grow he further teaches. All of this is to say, any negative thoughts, cannot grab hold because you are intently engrossed in something your full attention needs to be engaged with.

Dr. Chatterjee shares more specifically as psycholoist Mihaly Csikszemtimihalyi (who coined the phrase - flow state) found, flow is only fully reached when we are challenged. Which makes it all the more important to find something to give your attention to regularly you not only love doing but also steadily gives you the opportunity to grow.

All of this is to say, we can alleviate and solve the problem of unnecessary stress in our lives. And when we do so, not only will our overall health improve - in the short and long term, but we will deepen the daily contentment we experience and improve our everyday lives.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast299

Jan 18, 2021
298: 28 Ways to Simplify Your Entire Life
48:32

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." —Hans Hofmann

Simplifying.

Far different from minimizing, simplifying requires that we consciously explore what is of value in our lives and then thoughtfully edit in order for what we deem most important to shine as fully as possible.

Upon recently rereading Carl Phillips' book 22 Ways to Simpler Living and a couple of other books which help me to assess how simplified I have kept my life or where I need to check-in and adjust or make improvements, I was inspired to make a list to serve as a refresher. I have a feeling each reader/listener stopping by today's post has simplified their lives in some way at some point if not multiple times throughout their lives, so today's post is a check-in so to speak. An opportunity to ensure we are each truly living a simple life for ourselves so we can then live truly simply luxuriously and find true contentment in our everydays. Let's take a look at the list.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast298

Jan 04, 2021
297: 10 Ideas for Making the Most of "Between the Years"
38:34

In the spirit of nurturing ourselves, healing ourselves and opening a door to a better year in 2021, today's episode/post is shared with the intention of providing inspiration for you to do just that as you tailor the final week of the year - the Between the Years as my readers taught me last year (read this post from last year which was inspired by this aha of the term) - to nurture you, heal you, open your eyes to a better, more deeply contented 2021.

 

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast297
Dec 21, 2020
296: The Necessity of Personal Privacy: A Delicate & Important Dance
35:26

 

“Privacy - like eating and breathing - is one of life's basic requirements.” 
― Katherine Neville, author

The sanctuaries we call home, no matter how large or small, provide the comfort and necessary gift of privacy. We hold the key to whom will enter, who lives, who dines, who sleeps, within the four walls we pay each month a large portion of our hard earned money.

Similar to our sanctuaries, we are given choices in our lives, many which take time to materialize, but with clear-eyed effort, the beauty, the serenity, can be achieved. Much like the cleanliness and tidiness of a home, we provide self-care, tend to our physical and mental well-being so we can think clearly, decide well and experience true contentment each day. The ideas, the people, the conversations, the energy we open our doors to in our physical house affect the quality of our home-life. And the good news is, we hold the key to the door.

Immediately, when I think of a home and privacy, the voice of Diane Lane's character Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun dances through my mind, "What are four walls, anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer." And we all need to dream, to give ourselves time and the space to explore our wildest hopes and desires, to become fully acquainted with what sparks joy in our own hearts and minds void of society's influence.

A crucial component to living a life of sincerity, to tapping into and discovering our unique potential which the world wants us to share is having the privacy to do so, to finding a steady contentment in each of our days no matter what is swirling around us. So much of our lives is out of our control, but there is much that can be within our control when we become aware of these aspects of our lives (explore these posts and episodes on this exact topic of control).

"Maintaining some degree of control over interactions with other people is crucial to our psychological well-being." —Dr. Frank T. McAndrew

The key to a home of tranquility and the key to a tranquil life is to establish a personal privacy  approach determining who and what can have access to various aspects of your life. Professor of Psychology Dr. Frank T. McAndrew explains how we have four types of privacy in our lives - solitude, intimacy, anonymity, and reserve. Understanding what each type of privacy is as well as how much we need of each (and we do need some level of each in our lives - although, the amount will differ from person to person) helps us to better understand how to find deeper contentment in our everyday lives.

Today we'll explore how to find the balance of healthy personal privacy which can elevate the quality of our lives. Recently, as many TSLL readers and podcast listeners know, I reformed my own privacy boundaries here on the blog this past October and while there were some who pushed back as I was changing what they had become accustomed, the personal peace I gave myself has been priceless.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast296

Dec 14, 2020
295: The Gift of Discontentment (yep, that's no typo)
45:26

 

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” - Thomas Edison

True contentment runs like a river feeding our everyday lives with constant inner peace.

Whether the weather for the day is a turbulent snow storm or a sunny Blue Bird day as we call them in Bend, the river of True Contentment continues to run so long as we feed it with conscious awareness and staying fully present much like a healthy snowpack which keeps the river flowing throughout the entire year.

To reach the river of True Contentment we have to create the map for ourselves, not find the map which already exists because it doesn't. It doesn't exist in a bookstore, a welcome vestibule at the beginning of your journey, no. And it is even more interesting to note, the map to true contentment is not an entire life-long journey. Rather, it is a map which materializes as we each navigate forward, choosing to learn and hone skills along the way, asking the scary questions our lives present and trust ourselves walk forward alone.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast295

Dec 07, 2020
294: How to be the Director of Your Life: 6 Key Components
31:58

"You shouldn't dream your film, you should make it!" —Steven Spielberg

To live actively requires we take action.

Seems simple enough, but if teaching my students as well as myself to refrain from using passive verbs versus active verbs in writing indicates anything, defaulting to the passive is happens to be a hard habit to break.

What if we are defaulting in the same way in our everyday life and, even more largely, in our vision of how our journey will unfold?

A new-to-me podcast, Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life, shared an insightful approach to living life which caught my attention immediately. What if we, instead of being the hero of our own lives, choose to be the director?

Think about it for a moment. When we look at a film from the point-of-view from the real world, the hero in the film/movie/novel/play merely follows the directions of the person behind the camera - the Greta Gerwigs (Oscar nominated director for Little Women), the Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar winning director for The Hurt Locker), the Steven Spielbergs (Oscar winning director for Lincoln), the Amma Asantes (Mrs. America), the Jennifer Getzingers (Orange is the New Black and Mad Men), the Julie Delpys (2 Days in Paris), and the Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman).

“Humble perseverance and the ability to observe and grow, in pursuit of making what you love and believe in. Really. THAT is the secret”. —Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman

To be the director of our lives assumes the responsibility of having a larger vision for the purpose of each scene, each chapter; however, within each moment, each interaction and revelation, the director knows fully how to craft a scene so as to bring forth a dedication to being present, fully engaged and intentionally clear and knowing about living fully.

Being a hero, in theory, is not a bad directive, but it neglects the reality of being a hero - whether saving themselves or another or an entire vast swath of others - the climatic drama of adversity is assumed. And then there is the tragic hero. No thank you.

This is not to say that we can direct ourselves to avoid all conflict and adversity. No. From such unwanted and unplanned pains, we grow, we learn, and we gain wisdom, clarity, and strength; however, if we only relegate ourselves to being the hero, we follow a script written by another and directed by someone else as well. While there have been directors who directed themselves, there is a reason why only one has done so and been able to capture an Oscar for both roles - Roberto Benigini in Life is Beautiful (1999), winning one for best Foreign Film as well. It's hard to see yourself clearly - your actions, facial expressions, energy on screen with another, etc..

But wait, if you direct your life, aren't you also the hero? Valid point, and an important one to make. Yes. You are in all actuality both the director and the hero, but again, the director decides who leaves a scene when, how the interactions with others will play out, which details must be included in a shot to further understanding for the audience, what remains out of the shot, the colors of the attire, where the scene is set, the background, the music, all of the details as well as the over-arching storyline (and while often the director is also the playwright or at the very least has some say in how the screenplay is depicted and can mold and tweak it to what would be best for the film, the director has the full reins of the production). What I am saying is we must not forget our primary job - to be the director of our one and only life.

Let's take a look at everyday and large over-arching choices and actions imperative for directing our lives well.

1.Who are you?

Taking the time to know yourself, unearth your talents, becoming honest about your weaknesses but refusing to let them halt the direction you wish to travel sits at the foundation of a well-lived life.

~Read this three-part series on How to Get To Know Yourself

~Read/Listen to this post/episode to discover how knowing ourselves is the most important ingredient for a healthy relationship with another (episode #179)

2. Learn how to love well

Loving well is a skill. We do not know innately how to love another human being as doing so involves emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Models of love or what is purported as love surround us, but many are faulty and derive from a genesis rooted in control, insecurity and many other unhealthy constructs. To follow leads to pain. Knowing leads to peace. Know how to love, and life will blossom.

~In episode #287, discover 5 Things to Do to Build a Healthy Relationship (inspired by the book - How to Be An Adult in a Relationship)

~Listen to episode #166 to discover how to be One Half of a Healthy Relationship

~One of my favorite books on love and being loving in a relationship inspired episode #128 - The Quest for a Soulmate: The Myth Hindering an Amazing Love Life

3. Understand the value of boundaries and understand they will evolve

Boundaries define us, as Henry Cloud reminds. Literally, the lines we put in our lives define what we will step forward toward and try and what we will not. Boundaries can limit us. Boundaries can protect us. Boundaries paradoxically can set us free.

Knowing how to set boundaries after we have discovered what our boundaries need to be for the chapter in our life we find ourselves gifts us with a powerful foundation. Without boundaries, the wind can take us where it will because we don't know where we want to go and we certainly don't know how to head in the right direction.

On the flipside, rigidity when it comes to boundaries can be harmful if it prevents us from exploring what we are capable of sharing with the world. Ah, a tenuous dance which requires of each of us to do our own homework, not follow, because it is our heart, our life that will be set free when we find the sweet spot between the right boundaries and vulnerability. (Listen to episode #126 to discover the Powerful Couple that is Boundaries & Vulnerability.)

4. Learn the skill of effective nonviolent communication

For every director who wins praise from their cast and crew, there is a director who bullies, rants and whines. Effective communication, nonviolent communication, is a skill we must choose to learn if we want to have a fulfilling life and strong and healthy relationships with others.

To model said communication, observe someone who understands the components of nonviolent communication certainly helps us to acquire the skill, but we must take it one step further to understand why they are communicating as they are. We must again be the student for our lives to reach their fullest potential.

As I shared in episode #293, I highly recommend reading Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. I have read and will reread this book for understanding how to understand anger, understanding the four basic steps of clear, effective, empathetic communication, and how to honor my own journey, letting go of guilt, shame, anything the outside world wishes me to feel in order to stop me from traveling a path that brings joy.

Effective communication with ourselves and others is the way toward directing an award-winning life to continue with the analogy. To clearly convey and know what you wish to materialize, you need to be able to work with others being empathetic and aware along the way, not only of those who will walk with you or cross your path, but with yourself.

5. Understand and practice the fundamental physical components of you

To delve a bit deeper into the physical aspect of #1, knowing how your body, your mind, your temperament function and how they can function well will give you a roadmap of how to design the set of your life. It will also help you clearly understand what your boundaries need to be.

6. Be Brave

Living an active life, being the director of your own life demands of you to take action.

You cannot wait to see what someone else thinks, whether someone else approves, whether the prices will be this or that or another, at some point, you simply need to act.

Wait a second, you may be saying, didn't I say each of us is the director not the actor? Okay, perhaps a poor choice of words, but not really. Remember, you are the director of those actions. You decide when to take the first steps, when to set out and try something for the first time, when to let go, when to say yes, when to determine a certain chapter of your life has now concluded and you will be stepping into the next.

Being brave. A choice made by the director, and it is no act. Being brave takes raw courage after months, perhaps years of deliberating about when or if you should indeed do just that - be brave. Let me reassure you, being brave will set you free. In the meantime, you will quake, but you will not crumble if what you seek aligns with what you know to be true about yourself (remember #1).

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” —Helen Keller

The analogy of the director does not perfectly align with living our one and only life. After all, we are talking about a fictitious story capable of being enjoyed for generations. Our lives are anything but fictitious. No, we know our lives are all too real, but do we?

I ask this question because what if poet David Whyte correctly nailed it when he wrote "What if the world is holding its breath - waiting for you to take the place only you can fill?" Why aren't we filling it? Perhaps because we have chosen to follow someone else's script, and not direct our own. Perhaps because we have forgotten to write our own script and direct it as well. We can have chapters in our own lives, the one prior being necessary for the next, not less relevant or bad, simply vital to live the journey we are on, trusting the steps we need to take in a new direction.

Today, tap yourself, hire yourself, assign yourself purposely and intentionally as the director of your life, and I am confident, you will begin to see the positive and desired change which may have only been a dream previously.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life, episode #40

Petit Plaisir

Un Soir à L'Opera candles

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #294

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Nov 16, 2020
293: Choose a Life You Love Living Each Day (yes, it is possible)
24:44

"When we speak a language that denies us choice, we forget the life in ourselves for a robotlike mentality that disconnects us from our own core." —Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Two lives may look like one another, but one may indeed be fulfilling, while the other a life of disdain and pain.

Choosing to live as we do versus living a life out of an expectation, obligation, avoidance of guilt, approval, to avoid shame, or to gain money is to choose a life of integrity according to Marshall Rosenberg. When we choose a life of integrity, we discover the ability to tap into our essential and most sincere self, and enable ourselves to share with the world the gift and talent only we can give.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast293

Nov 09, 2020
292: 7 Truths About Experiencing Happiness
33:48

Books about happiness ubiquitously fill the publishing world, but the fundamentals of happiness quite simply are just that, simple. We become overwhelmed, and then it becomes easier to fixate, and often superficially so, which expends our finite energy rather than focusing our attention on the core fundamentals and choices of what happiness requires to be deeply and sincerely felt.

When the directions are wrong you will never see materialize what you desire.

Stop the pursuit. This is something I’ve discussed on the blog before, but I think it is worth exploring again. This time, I am going to explore more concretely the fundamental components of experiences real happiness, and much more of it in our everydays. Let's get to the seven truths in today's episode.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast292

Nov 02, 2020
291: 6 Ways To Dance with Life (and Have An Amazing Experience)
35:22

 

“Your inner purpose is to awaken.” —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth

To observe the seamless fluidity of a dancing pair with years of professional dancing experience float across the floor no matter what type of dance is asked of them is to observe a deep awareness and skill of their craft. Foxtrot. No problem. Viennese Waltz. Got it. Tango. Oh my, yes. Swing. Yep!

In 2017, in episode #143, the skill of self-awareness was explored in-depth here on the podcast/blog. For a quick refresher, to be self-aware is to be able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. 

When we are fully self-aware, we gain the instructions of how to live well even though we do not know what the next minute will reveal, the next week, month, year, and so on, will reveal.

When we become self-aware, we are awake and capable of noticing when we need to grow and in what way will help us navigate through whatever life may present.

I chose today's topic because no matter where you find yourself in the mix of stress, loss, pain, and confusion regarding our current situation, many readers have shared with me they are presented with new situations of questions, confusion, doubt, [fill-in-the-blank of an unwanted and somewhat or significantly new emotion] from time to time in a manner that perhaps was not present pre-pandemic.

"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment." —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth

Borrowing Tolle's advice from the quote above, seize these unanticipated and initially unwanted moments and feelings and let them be your guide to deeper self-awareness and an improved everyday life. Assuage any grief, quandary, angst, by reassuring yourself that you have been presented with this moment for a reason. Don't toss it. Don't avoid it. Explore it.

Today I would like to look at six unwanted examples that may be happening in your life and how to step forward and do the latter to each in order to improve the quality of your life moving forward and through our current situation.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast291

Oct 19, 2020
290: 10 Life Choices to Simplify & Welcome a Calm & Contented Everyday Life
26:41

"Creating an environment in which you can have a greater sense of clarity and calm . . . The result is a mind that feels much calmer and clear." —Andy Puddicomb

Having an abundance of choices is a valuable asset and an extraordinary opportunity. However, unconsciously, when we don't filter our seemingly unlimited choices, we welcome more unnecessary stress into our daily lives.

As someone who wholeheartedly embraces and celebrates choice, understanding the right balance of how much choice is helpful until it tips over into distraction, confusion and paralyzation, upon obtaining, significantly increases the level of contentment in everyday life.

Andy Puddicomb's seemingly simple advice is too often overlooked or forgotten, however is insightful and sage advice if we are seeking tranquility in our everydays.

The clarity we may need to welcome into our lives could be ushered in seemingly anywhere and everywhere. The variable is each of us. Where do we need calm in our lives? Where are we feeling harried, run-down and over-extended? Often we don't realize it is the over-abundance of options that is standing in the way of a sea of calm that carries us more gently and enjoyably through our days.

It has been argued that a large portion of our life experience is determined by a few key decisions. Coined the 80/20 rule, or more officially, the Pareto Principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 to describe the wealth inequality at the time, the concept has expanded to apply to a variety of aspects of life beyond business.

And while, the formula isn't exact, it is a concept worth pondering. When we think about our choices as investments in our lives, what choices will reap the most benefit, the best and longest lasting outcomes? Whether regarding our health or contentment or financial stability, quality choices, purchases and pursuits are wise investments which eliminate excessive, repetitive and time-consuming choices that may fill up our days and minds unnecessarily.

Today, discover 10 areas of life to consider paring down your choices and thereby, scaling up the overall quality of your everyday life and peace of mind.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast290

Oct 12, 2020
289: Anne Willan Talks About Women in the Kitchen
43:27

"The thread of all good cooking: the right ingredients, fresh and the way they should be - not fancy or expensive." —Anne Willan, author of Women in the Kitchen and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris

One of the world's preeminent authors on French cooking, a James Beard Award-winning author and the founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, Anne Willan joins me on the podcast today to talk about her new book Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today.

In today's episode we will talk about seven of the women featured in the book, as well as talk about Anne's time managing and founding La Varenne and much more.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast289

 

Oct 05, 2020
288: Cultivating a New Normal
24:18

 

The Atlantic recently posted an article asserting there won't be a clear end to the pandemic. Rather, the end for each of us will be as unique and differentiated as each one of us and occur on a different timeline.

Frequently, the yearning for "returning to normal" may be voiced by those around us, strangers or intimate relations, or we may be simply thinking such thoughts, constantly, as we grieve the parts of our lives we enjoyed that are no longer readily available or available at all.

However, even before the pandemic introduced itself and in what seemed for many to change our lives much like a light-switch, the psychological experts have been talking about this word that seems to roll off our tongues more often than ever before in recent times - normal. Writing in 2009 on Pyschology Today, "The fate of normality is very much in the balance," wrote Peter Kramer.

While speaking about individuals as to their neurosis or so-called normal behaviors and the perameters of what constitutes "normal", he shared a final thought which may help reframe how we strive forward in our current times as we are more broadly looking at an entire world, culture, etc. and what "normal", the new normal, may be:

Normality may be a myth we have allowed ourselves to enjoy for decades, sacrificed now to the increasing recognition of differences. The awareness that we all bear flaws is humbling. But it could lead us to a new sense of inclusiveness and tolerance, recognition that imperfection is the condition of every life.

—Peter Kramer, psychatrist at Brown Medical School

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast288

Sep 21, 2020
287: 5 Things to Do to Build Healthy Relationships and 4 Things to Let Go
39:43

 

"We are born with a capacity to dance together but not with the necessary training."

—David Richo

As soon as I read the first line in chapter one shown above, the analogy made crystal clear sense of my ignorance about relationships and how to navigate past it: I needed to learn HOW to love, not just want to love and want to be loved.

Love, as the oft mentioned quote reminds is a verb, but even if we accept this truth, we have to learn how to exercise this action, and we have to be willing to let go of so much incorrect and unhelpful advice in order to find the peace and contentment we seek.

Today's episode can help in all relationships you are engaged in. Fundamentally, the book was written in 2002 for readers trying to improve their romantic relationships, but indirectly, the skills and concepts shared will foster healthy relationships platonically from close friends and family members to acquaintances, neighbors and strangers we bump into along our travels and life journey.

Recommended by my counselor, my copy of David Richo's book is annotated in detail, and I have referred back and reread different sections since my first reading. I have chosen to work with a counselor since nearly four years ago, but it did take time to find the right one. Meeting regularly, primarily for preventative and skill strengthening purposes in areas I wish to improve, the opportunity to meet with a professional, trained in the area of expertise we do not have is helpful to make sense of what we learn not only about ourselves but how our minds and emotions work.

With all of that said, as soon as I read the book, lightbulbs went off repeatedly in my mind. Ahas occurred frequently and I found an ease I had never felt before regarding my approach to interacting with others in a variety of different relationship scenarios.

While I highly recommend you pick up your own copy and read it closely, I wanted to share with you the primary component that underlies everything about being an adult in life and love.

The world we live in would rather have us feel insecure and lacking, even though it blatantly argues the contrary (when you purchase their product, create [enter lifestyle and accoutrements] for all to see and witness, or behave in a certain way), so it is no wonder we are confused about what we should or shouldn't be doing when it comes to relationships. And even if we eventually do figure it out, trying to understand what it is that worked if we don't know ourselves leaves us struggling to explain to others why it works if they inquire, don't understand or have not been introduced to the fundamentals shared below.

The good news is, this intangible unknown need not be unknown any more. Knowledge is key, and this practice is essential to cultivate habits that will heal you and then strengthen your ability to connect as an adult with adults to build a life of social harmony and contentment.

First, we need to let go of some unhelpful and often destructive habits.

 

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast297


Sep 14, 2020
286: How to Let Go of Comparison? Heal Thyself
47:40

 

“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain

The thief of joy, if Mark Twain is right, is of our own making.

The good news in this revelation reveals each of us can take back our joy.

Comparing ourselves to others occurs consciously and unconsciously. Consciously, we may be acutely aware that we follow certain people on social media to see how we are doing in relation; unconsciously, when we choose not to speak up to set a boundary, when we set a checklist for our life delineating what should happen by what age.

Each of these three are examples of many more of unhelpful comparison, and while comparison is a primal instinct for survival, the good news evolution and civil society have provided the opportunity and arguably the necessity for each of us of to offer the world our unique talents rather than limiting ourselves to remain part of the herd or tribe.

The habit of comparison is a learned skill, and therefore, it can be unlearned; however, it must be a conscious choice to do so. Fundamentally, when we compare ourselves with others, some part of us believes we are not enough or needs to be reassured that we are enough just as we are.

Today, I will be examining five areas of our lives in which comparison can creep in and become destructive to contentment and living a fulfilling life, and then share how to let go of such comparing with the outside world.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast286


Sep 07, 2020
Season 7 Schedule Announced!
09:59

In three weeks the seventh season of The Simple Sophisticate will begin. With 285 episodes already shared, I am excited to explore new books, welcome guests that speak to what living simply luxuriously is all about and sharing motivating and inspiring ways to continue to live a life of quality over quantity.

I have shared the full calendar for Season 7 which spans the next 12 months. You will notice that 2021 has a handful fewer episodes than last season. The reason for this is to give me time to hopefully bring a second season of the cooking show during the spring season.

Keep in mind that every Monday that a new episode does not go live, a brand new Motivational Monday post will be available to read here on the blog, just as there is today.

I want to thank listeners again for sharing the show with their friends and family either by word-of-mouth or on their social media feeds, and for leaving positive reviews that share specifically what they enjoy about the show so that new potential listeners know exactly what they will discover when they tune in.

This September look for topics on building healthy relationships, listen to my conversation with a guest from the cooking world who has worked with the most well-known people in the industry, tips on how to make the most of this incredibly challenging time, and many more topics that are relevant and relatable as well as offering concrete ideas to apply to your own life journey.

Join me on Monday September 7th for a brand new episode wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe below in order to always have the latest episode ready to download and enjoy.

 


Aug 17, 2020
285: The New Parisienne author Lindsey Tramuta
01:04:11

Author and blogger and American living in Paris Lindsey Tramuta joins me on podcast today to talk about her new book The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris (purchase on Bookshop.org). Having called Paris home for nearly 15 years, Tramuta explores the true Parisienne woman, looking past the myth and confining superficial stereotype that has been perpetuated for centuries through introducing readers to 40 Parisiennes in all of their diverse life journeys and talents and passions.

Joining me from Paris, our conversation covers where the myth of the Parisienne woman began, who benefitted from it and how we can shift the narrative to reflect the truth. We also talk about her happy place in Paris, the difference between universal feminism vs. intersectional feminism and with diverse individual profiled, what they all have in common. I do hope you will tune in and have a listen.

Lindsey's first book The New Paris (2017) is another wonderful Francophile resource to keep on hand as an introduction to new people, places and ideas in the City of Light.


Download and Listen to the full episode here or listen on the following podcast platforms:

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #285

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify


~The TEDTalk mentioned during our conversation, The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Lindsey's Petit Plaisir links:

Images: (1) author pic courtesy of author, taken by Joann Pai

PREVIOUS POSTS from TSLL’s 5th Annual French Week



Aug 10, 2020
224: How to Welcome Simplicity Into Your Life: Live Differently for One Month (top episode from season 5)
43:26

Desired change in our lives can be seemingly elusive when so much of what needs to happen requires more energy, more time, more focus. With already full lives, the desired change remains just that - desired.

However, what if you set aside just one month. Why not for only one month institute the change you seek, and then should if it does not work out, you can return to your old ways? Part of this approach is a bit of a trick of the mind, but the other part is to reduce the stress on your schedule as you can shift your priorities temporarily and only permanently if you choose to at the month's end.

In today's episode, the top episode which kicked off Season #5 of the podcast, discover specific ideas for welcoming simplicity into your everyday life.

You can view the full Show Notes for episode #224 here.

 

Jul 20, 2020
142: 9 Reasons Owning Your Style Will Change Your Life
36:00

Today's episode is a top episode from Season 3 discussing how understanding what our signature style is and then owning it with confidence permeates all arenas of our lives.

Ultimately, what we wear matters. Without saying a word we communicate our values, our confidence, our expertise, where we've been, where we are and where we want to go (or stay).

I do hope you enjoy this full episode, and if you are looking for a new book to whisk you away to France, be sure to stay tuned until the end of the episode when the Petit Plaisir is shared.

View the full original Show Notes here.

View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #142

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Jul 13, 2020
15: 7 Components to Building Your Signature Style (a top episode from Season 1)
37:09

 
Building our signature style takes time. As well, it evolves. While some components - the best color tone for our skin, hair and eye color - may remain the same, the fit, the lengths, the necklines, as well as styles we discover and wish to welcome into our wardrobe will change.

Over the years, as you can see above, my dress length has gone from just above the knee to midi length being now my favorite go-to. While I do love wearing dresses, you are just as likely to see me in denim jeans and a button-up shirt, or a camisole and blazer with either heels or flats. Having options is wonderful, and cultivating our closets to offer these options takes time.

Thankfully, as we learn more about ourselves, the lifestyle we enjoy living (something that changes as well as the chapters of our lives continue to unfold) the decision-making becomes easier. All of this is to say, that while we may be shopping less often as what we have in our wardrobe is made well and lasts for many years, we also know when we come across something that will fit perfectly for our way of living and can snatch it up (if it is in our budget at the moment) without giving it much thought. The clarity of time and knowledge about ourselves is exceptionally helpful which is one component that will be discussed in today's episode.

Today's podcast episode is a top episode from Season One of The Simple Sophisticate which shares in detail the seven components to building your own signature style. My first book dives into this far more and my second book focuses with great detail on cultivating effortless style, so be sure to check those out if this topic piques your interest.

View the original Show Notes for episode 2015 here.

 

Jun 22, 2020
284: 5 Steps for Finding Financial Peace of Mind
29:10

"Being in touch with [the essence] of ourselves as we make financial decisions is as good as it gets. Money is a store of life energy, and when we can channel that life energy into an expression of what is most dear to our soul, an exciting alignment takes place between our financial and spiritual lives . . . more than just having enough, our essence is deeply loving, contented, and grateful, not from any effort but as its most natural expression . . . In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels efficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort." —Brent Kessel, author of It's Not About the Money

Money can seem to be the fix for everything or the curse, but it need not be either, and can be in our control, largely when we shift how we approach our view and role of money in our life.

Today I would like to share with you key insights I discovered after reading Brent Kessel's book It's Not About the Money in which he dives into the unconscious emotional psychological nature money plays in our lives and how and why we make the decisions we make - for better or worse.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast284

Jun 15, 2020
283: 7 Ideas for Improving Your Approach to Working and thus Your Experience and the Outcome
32:47

"To embrace leisure, we don't have to let go of progress. [Our] constant pushing is now impeding our progress. We work best when we allow for flexibility in our habits . . . [w]e can and must stop treating ourselves like machines that can be driven and pumped and amped and hacked. Instead of limiting and constraining our essential natures, we can celebrate our humanness at work and in idleness. We can better understand our own natures and abilities. We can lean in not to our work but to our inherent gifts." —Celeste Headlee Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving

For the past 10 weeks I have had the good fortune to go to work with both of my dogs. Why? Because I have been working from home.

I am able to take them for a short walk about the neighborhood before I step into my office and remote classroom, then take a break around 10:30 am as we sit on the garden porch, soaking in some sunshine and thinking about what I might want to enjoy for lunch in a few hours time. Lunch is leisurely because I can cook it, savor it, not be rushed to eat it or interrupted and our afternoon outing after about 70-90 minutes of work after lunch is to the mailbox and about the neighborhood. Returning to the office if need be to tie up loose ends, check my work email one more time (I only check my school email three times a day), when the day concludes, I am not exhausted, but I do feel productive.

Admittedly, the scenario I shared above is due to an unwanted global occurrence, and I miss my in-person connections with my students and colleagues, but what I do not miss is the excessive expectation to always be checking my email, regularly being interrupted so that I lose my focus/students' focus and requirement for a long inflexible work day (meaning not healthy breaks, a constant expectation of being "on"), and being rewarded for giving more beyond the work day even if it reduces the quality of my home life and personal relationships.

I am not complaining directly about a system that surrounds so many of us, but trying to be honest about the reality of why I was quietly thankful to have the time at home these past 10 weeks to catch my breath. I did my best to examine why, and while the emotional toll for those of us fortunate enough not to have our health and livelihoods taken away was unhealthy and exhausting, overall, I found great refuge and restoration this spring whilst staying at home, finding a schedule that worked for me as I continued to remotely teach and blog and just be home.

I also found much more time to read books that have been patiently sitting in my shopping cart, and two books furthered my exploration into how exactly improve the working environment when we begin to step back into the workplace. I have a few ideas to share in today's podcast episode.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast283

Jun 08, 2020
282: Author of Paris On Air and Podcaster, Oliver Gee
48:17

Today on the podcast, fellow podcaster Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower joins me to talk about his newly released memoir Paris On Air (shop here on Bookshop.org) as well as living in Paris during France's 59 days of confinement. I had the opportunity to speak with him the day after the lockdown regulations were loosened, and he shared what his and his wife Lina's experience had been and what the first thing they did was on May 11th.

The primary focus of our discussion is his new book. Tune in to our conversation to discover the behind-the-scenes of how his acclaimed podcast (recently recommended in The New York Times for the top 13 podcasts to listen to for traveling abroad while staying at home) came about, evolved and, in a short amount of time, became his full-time and one and only job in the City of Light. As well, if you enjoy listening to your books, Oliver explains how his book is a unique Audio Experience that welcomes the people he writes about in his book into the studio to share their voice for their part.

Follow Oliver on Instagram (@theearfultower), and visit his blog here (learn more about his virtual book tour as well).

~Order your own copy of Paris On Air here: Amazon, Bookshop.org

~Listen to my first interview with Oliver, episode #222 in August 2018.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast282

Jun 01, 2020
10 Ways to Set Your Home Like a Luxury Travel Accommodation
36:12

Today's episode is a favorite from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate.

Episode #45 was the sixth top episode of the first season and continues to be a favorite with listeners as it shares 10 Ways to Set Up Your Home Like A Luxury Travel Accommodation.

In the times we find ourselves, I thought this might be just the episode to return to as we are still spending more time at home that we had anticipated especially as summer nears. Cultivating a sanctuary that beckons us to linger and we long to return to and spend ample time in has much to do with the details. And the details, the luxurious details, need not be all that difficult to acquire and welcome into our home.

I do hope you enjoy today's episode, and look for a new episode next Monday and for the month of June.

Click here for the detailed Show Notes of the original episode and listen to the audio version above.

~The above image is Chateau de la Barre located in the Loire Valley where I had the opportunity to stay three nights in the summer of 2018. Read this postA Traveler or Tourist? The Difference —to see many more pictures of the interiors and the grounds, as well, have a look below at more images I shared on Instagram.

 

May 25, 2020
281: 18 Ways to Welcome English Country Decor Ideas into Your Home
38:07

British country homes evoke an image of comfort, cosyness and warmth. Partly, yes, because such warmth is mandatory living in a rainy environment, but also because they look and feel like such a welcome inside hug which is given immediately when the quintessential details are tended to.

Granted the above image is not an actual cottage as it was the set designed for Nancy Meyers' film The Holiday, filmed in part in Surrey. However, I chose the above image because when we design our homes to evoke the English country charm, Meyers achieved so much of it spot-on right. From the tufted ottoman, to the ottoman itself as the coffee table of choice, mixed prints, oodles of books and exposed beams, these details, as you will see in the list below resounding remind onlookers of English country style, and in this case a cottage.

In my own home I have been perusing frequently through The English Home magazines I have saved over the years, saving images that speak to me, images that offer a similar size or design of space and offer ideas for how to create an English cottage aesthetic.

I have begun to embrace wholeheartedly #1 on today's list in both my mudroom and foyer, and I look forward to welcoming even more wallpaper into my home. Hopefully if you too are wanting to welcome decor touches of the English countryside into you home, today's list will offer plenty of ideas to choose from.

~For each of the images shared below, simply click on the image to tour the entire home from which it was included.

1.Wallpaper

William Morris is the founder of the Arts & Crafts decor movement, and with his well-known wallpaper company which began in the 1860s in England, a love for nature as well as symmetry and subtly as well as vibrant natural color are an example of beloved English wallpaper designs. There are many more of course, but wallpaper creates a cosy space, a welcoming, more personalized space.

~Want to wallpaper in your home? Read this post for detailed how-tos to a successful decorating session. ~Tour the entire Oxfordshire Arts & Crafts Townhouse: A Way with Wallpaper here.~

~Tour the entire Oxfordshire Arts & Crafts Townhouse: A Way with Wallpaper here.~

2. Wood accents

As a way to welcome nature into the formal living space, wood furniture, wood legs on upholstered furniture and regal cabinetry and shelves offer the balance of hard and soft surfaces.~An Englishman's Brooklyn Townhouse, decorated by interior designer Benjamin Vandiver. View the entire home here. ~

~An Englishman's Brooklyn Townhouse, decorated by interior designer Benjamin Vandiver. View the entire home here. ~

3. A penchant for garden and animal details

While English country homes will undoubtedly have a garden outside their doors, bringing an appreciation for nature inside will be more than common as well. Whether seen in the wallpaper with floral or animal prints, vases full of blooms, potted plants inside or a demonstrated affection for dogs in figurines or any other decor detail, the love of the outdoors is certainly a common presence.

~British interior designer Imogen Taylor's Burgundy home to which she retired. Tour the entire home here.~

4. The classic pudding sofa

Soft, plush, deep-seated and begging you to sit and stay a while. While the name may or may not have been coined by British furniture designer Loaf, the concept is iconically British - cosy, cosy, cosy.

5. Pleat, folded, rolled, padded upholstered arms

As you can see above, rolled arms on either an upholstered sofa or armchair that have gradual pleats pulled neatly over the rounded design intonate British furniture. Almost as if to signify a warm hug, such furniture provides literal warmth when you snuggle in as many days of the year are damp and cold, stepping inside a home that is cosy is all the more desireable.

~Tour the entire home in Cozying into Country Durham, English Style Abounds!~

6. Fabric covered lamp shades

Again, adding fabric to any space creates warmth, and especially in intimate spaces - bedrooms, reading nooks - the subtle, yet significant detail of fabric shades is an idea worth trying. Prints or solids, especially if the fabric is of high quality, purchasing such fabric is far more affordable for a lampshade than an entire sofa or chair.

~Tour the entire home of Tightly Tailored and Filled with ANtiques in Hampshire here.

7. Seagrass floors

British designer Ben Pentreath swears by seagrass, and if you have the opportunity to tour any of his projects, you will see they look quite nice. Adding a touch of nature, high functionality and wearability, they also, as he states, offer a lovely subtle scent. Layer with a a wool rug and you have created a warm space without excessive expense.

~View the entire home shown above in Signature Statement of Varying Chairs~

8. Ottomans as coffee tables

While there are exceptions, in the country, an ottoman is more often than not likely to be at the center of a living room or sitting room rather than a wooden table. Use as a coffee table and place trays and books, as well as always have an additional extra seat if ever necessary.

~Tour an Oxfordshire Farmhouse Regally Remodeled, with Comfort Made a Priority here.~

9. Traditional period details

While the items may or may not be old, they are a decision to pay homage to a particular period in history. Vintage chandeliers, exposed beams in the ceiling, wainscoting and wood floors are savored. Traditional lamps and the welcome of candles are chosen over canned or recessed lighting.

~View a list of time periods and their designated names.

~tour the entire Cornish Country Getaway with Touches of the Sea here.~

10. An Aga stove

Used as much to heat up the home as to cook, the Aga stove is very much a luxury item now (and yes, it is available in the states), but in nearly every interview in The English Home magazine, when they share spotlight interviews, the one detail each guests shares a English Home mustn' be without is an Aga. Just Aga. :)

~Tour this entire home, titled Let the Lighting Do the Talking here. ~

11. A mudroom is a must

Having grown up with a mudroom as we lived out in the country, the need for such a room is a must. Whether you are gardener, have pups, ride horses or generally find yourself outside often, having a space that is designated to taking off the "gear" and not bringing the dirt into the rest of the home is a typical space found in an English country home.

~Tour TSLL's newly decorated mudroom here.

12. A cabinet or designated shelf for teapots and cups and saucers

After reading yesterday's post (18 Ways to Enjoy a Good Cuppa), this decor detail will come as no surprise.

~Tour the entire home in Country Durham here. ~

13. Color abounds (and it works)

It is indeed a skill, but with time and experience and an understanding of hues and the size of patterns, it is a skill each of us can acquire.

~Tour A Cozy, Signature Bloomsbury Flat here~

14. Mixing small and large prints in the same space

The Spruce shares, "Large prints will be paired with smaller prints, such as gingham. Using similar color palettes in the patterns keep this from becoming overwhelming. "

~tour the entire home in A Small Yet Elegant London Flat~

15. An abundance of reading material

Bibliophiles may just have a predilection for English country decor if not solely for their love, display and admiration of books. In so many of the photos of today's post/episode you will see books, and that is not by mistake or exception.

~Tour this entire Bibliophile's Dream House here.~

16. Built-in bookshelves

And since we are talking about books, the English country homes are designed with storing books in mind. Built-ins are part of the decor and not only in the library or living room. Notice in bedrooms and even in kitchens, there are spaces for books.

~tour the entire home here in Finding Balance with Colors & Natural Textures in North Kensington~

17. Rugs

For warmth, to cover old floors or stone floors, layers of rugs on seagrass, rugs are a mainstay and frequently seen in English country homes.

~Tour the entire home in A Welcoming Home in Wiltshire, England~

18. Climbing roses or vines on the exterior of the home.

While this final decor detail is outside of the home, it is still attached to the home, so I thought I would include it. Stepping into an English garden is an entire new post/episode, but yes, a vine of some sort whether it be a rambling rose or wisteria or clematis, is a must for English country homes.

Personally, I am smitten and have been smitten for some time with the English country decor approach. Creating a cosy, welcoming home for the inhabitants and any guest who is invited inside rests in paying attention to the details shared above - texture, layers, welcoming in touches of nature, not being afraid to mix up and discover what actually can match and creating spaces for everyday pastimes you love.

Enjoy the journey of adding English country touches to your own home wherever around the globe you call home.

~View all of TSLL's British-Inspired Decor posts here.

Petit Plaisir:

~The English Game, Netflix

https://youtu.be/hBOlhdSYhv8

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #281

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify


2020 TSLL British Week Posts


May 18, 2020
232: 28 Life & Style Tips from a Parisian Woman (top episode of Season 5)
36:08

Today's episode of the podcast is the top downloaded and viewed episode from Season 5 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, and it's one I think you will enjoy whether you are hearing/reading it for the first time or the second or third time.

Full of oodles of life and style tips from Parisian women inspired by a book read in 2018, it also melds my experiences and observances from my travels and conversations and engagements with women in France.

Have a look at the detailed Show Notes from the original airing of the episode in November 2018.

As shared in today's episode, TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week will begin in six short days - Sunday May 17th. I cannot wait to share with you what I have come up with for the postings (two each day) and the giveaways (four in total).

During the intro of today's episode of the podcast, I shared how the giveaways will work. Two giveaways will be open to EVERYBODY and Two giveaways will be exclusive: One to Ad-Free Subscribers and One to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter Subscribers (those who have subscribed prior to British Week commencing this year).

If you are wondering what TSLL's Annual British Week is all about, I encourage you to check out last year's inaugural event. (click on the image below, or just click here.)

~TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week: MAY 17 - 24, 2020~

SUBSCRIBE to The Simple Sophisticate podcast:

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #232

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

May 11, 2020
148: The Hygge Phenomenon & Living Simply Luxuriously (the 5th most-downloaded episode of all-time)
27:29

Today's episode is a favorite of listeners from the third season of the show. As we all spending more time inside, I thought listeners may enjoy some inspiration for making their time in our slower schedule more enjoyable and comforting.

Click here for the full transcript and detailed show notes.

SUBSCRIBE to the Podcast on your favorite podcast listening platform:

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Look for a new episode of The Simple Sophisticate to return on Monday May 18th. View the full Season 6 Schedule below.

Apr 20, 2020
4 Simple Ways to Spring Forward
34:38

Today's episode is a favorite from the archives to help you jump well into the new spring season.

Be sure to check out the original detailed Show Notes here for episode #29 from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate.

The next episode will be a new episode of the podcast, and it will air on Monday May 18th as we kick off TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week.

In the meantime, each Monday in which there is no new episode of the podcast, there will be a new Monday Motivational post. Click here to read today's new Monday Motivational Post - 20 Ideas for Making Working and Staying at Home a Pleasure

Check out the schedule for Season 6 below. The date of each new episode and when it will air is circled in red.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #29

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Apr 06, 2020
280: The Importance of Daily and Weekly Rituals & Routines You Love (12 Ideas to Incorporate Now)
34:50

"You would think weightlessness is a good thing, but it's not. Because people weren't meant to float. Without gravity, we lose blood volume, bone density, muscle. Without it, we're untethered. So when you feel yourself being pulled toward something, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It may keep you centered. It may keep you safe."Grey's Anatomy, season 16, episode #17, Shonda Rhimes

Thoughts, thoughts, all sorts of thoughts. With an abundance of time on our hands as we stay home, if we have not exercised our brains in this way, it may feel uncomfortable, and in these times we find ourselves collectively, understandably unsettling.

The above quote caught my attention this past week as it feels our attentions are being being pulled toward the necessities of life, what we sincerely need to simply live. Don't get me wrong, the past eleven years, economically, have been much needed and appreciated, and while each of our journey's is unique, perhaps we've forgotten what we truly need, what others truly need, to live well. At the moment, we are all being pulled to our homes, to our sanctuaries, to our immediate families with whom we reside with but perhaps never see often because of our busy schedules. Admittedly, some of our loved ones may be far away due to age, relationships, work, etc., but we at least have the phone, video chat and other technological ways of communicating.

Becoming grounded in what roots us, is what reminds us of what truly is a priority in our life, helps us to make better decisions to remain true to those values when the choices are vast. And sometimes when the choices are so vast and so ubiquitous for such a long time, we would only be being human to lose sight of our roots. I am not suggesting that we need to have a pandemic to root us, but that is where we find ourselves, so I am determined to see some good in this perilous situation.

There will be good that will come out of it when we come out of it on the other side, but as well, there is good we can partake in during this time of staying home.

Today, while I had originally planned a different topic for the episode to be shared, I have decided to focus on something that will hopefully be helpful to direct our attention to, to elevate the time we have indoors, wanted or unwanted. The gift and mood lifting power of daily and weekly rituals.

Under the umbrella of daily and weekly rituals lies our daily and weekly routines. Consciously creating routines in which we know boost the quality of our lives from our health, to our rest and rejuvenation to our productivity are ways to rest more easily which benefits our mind and well-being and decreases our stress. Each of these efforts strengths our immune system and ultimately strengthens our overall health, both physically and mentally.

Today I would like to share with you rituals you can incorporate into your daily and weekly routine even while you stay home.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast280

Mar 16, 2020
279: 15 Life Lessons Learned during my First Year into my 40s
40:10

 

True contentedness is unremarkable to the outside world, or passerby.

Typing away in my cozy chair in the living room in my line of sight Norman eats his breakfast and Oscar acknowledging he will not be able to sneak a bite, takes a long cool drink of water. The croissant for my Sunday morning ritual is proofing in the oven and Sunday Baroque's weekly program fills my home.

Even having lost an hour of the day, I have decided to wake up with the sunset and use the dawn-filled hour to work early before we are able to go for our morning stroll in the woods. All is well, and so much surrounds me for which to be grateful.

I began the morning reading Maria Shriver's weekly email newsletter, and in particular this morning's letter resonated with me, and most likely would you as well as a reader of TSLL.

Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day.

I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today's episode/post to reflect.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast279

Mar 09, 2020
278: 14 Ways to Create a Happy Home
43:20

At the core of a happy home is a home that works for those individuals the four walls surround and keep sheltered and safe. Once the essentials are in place - a roof over our heads, walls to keep us warm/cool, then it is the inhabitants' responsibility to cultivate a sanctuary in which each person feels they belong and loved for being their true selves or having the space to understand who they are as they grow and evolve. Whether you share your home or not, both require clarity and willingness to be honest about the needs to live your best life and if you live with others to enable them to do the same without short-changing yourself or compromising too much.

If these steps sound familiar, you are right. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs builds on top of each of the necessities shared above. First we must have our phyiological needs met, then a feeling of safety before we can find belonging and feel and recognize love. Following the third step, once we have a home to feel free to just be, our stress levels drop, our health improves and strengthens and we find we think more clearly and thus make better decisions which leads to the opportunity to strive and try new things giving a boost to our confidence along our journey which builds the fourth tier - our self-esteem opening the pathway for us to have the choice to become self-actualized, the fifth and final tier.

Interior designer and author Rebecca West's new book Happy Starts at Home, which was just released in the states last month, takes the approach to decor that it is far more than the aesthetics, but rather thoughtful decor decisions that marry function with and supporting each person reach their goals which includes feeling welcomed and at peace in the present.

"The truth is your home can directly improve your well-being and contentment. It can help decreease your stress level and increase your happiness." —Rebecca West

What I was drawn to with West's book is her underlying definition of happiness is contentment which is something we talk about often here on TSLL. Contentment is something that has the capability of being steady day-in and day-out regardless of the events of our days - good, bad or just blah. In fact, when you are content, you rarely have blah days at all and when you do have bad days, you can confidently move through them and the good days are elevated even higher. How awesome is that!

While we must build contentment within ourselves, our homes play a critical part in supporting this contented state of going about our lives. And in even better news, our home decor need not break our budget. Just as it takes time to get to know ourselves, depending upon where we are in our life journey when we begin to cultivate our sanctuary, it will take time to understand how we live well, and what is needed to enable our best life to be enjoyed everyday.

Today I'd like to share with you the takeaways from Rebecca West's book that caught my attention as I am in the middle of customizing my home and making sure it works for me.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast278

Mar 02, 2020
277: Winter in Paris — The 15 Essentials for Timeless Seasonal Style
28:05

Last fall two episodes were shared delineating ideas for a timeless capsule wardrobe for traveling about in Paris as well as in London and the English countryside. As promised, the series continues into winter, and while we are nearing the end of winter, with the Paris fall/winter collections about ready to take the runway sharing their 2020 trends and inspirations, I thought this would be the perfect time to share how Parisians dress in the chillest months of the year.

Of course the uber style stars who will share their street style at the end of February as they make their way to and from the shows, and while I highly recommend taking a look at what they are wearing as even though they may be out of reach budget-wise and offer strong signature style that is hard or less likely to be imulated and simply admired, the color combinations, layers, and fabric choices are worth noting most certainly.

Today, let's return to Paris and take a look at the necessities for a timeless winter wardrobe whether you are making a trip for business or pleasure.

First of all, what is the weather likely to be during winter in Paris? Paris Perfect explains that the average temperature during the months of December, January and February is 42 degrees Fahrenheit, so about 6 degrees Celsius. With a 50% chance of cloudy and/or rainy weather on any given day, be prepared for moisture, and likely not snow (although on occasion snow does fall, but it doesn't last for more than a day or two - typically).

Depending upon where you call home when you aren't visiting Paris, 42 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter may feel chilly, not-so-bad or perhaps even warm for winter months. Whilst keeping all of that in mind, let's take a look at the list of essentials for your capsule wardrobe.

1.Classic, well-constructed cashmere or wool sweaters

Since you are in Paris, you will likely be inside most of the time, but walking from place to place. Keeping this in mind, fine cashmere sweaters would be the best as you can layer them for more warmth, but also not become over-heated while inside at your desired destination.

2. Dark denim

Dark colors in general will never be a bad idea in Paris during the winter. From dark denim jeans to dark pants, dark shoes and dark outerwear, the benefit of knowing this and having such items on hand is that you can easily mix and match and then add the pop of color as you feel necessary.

3. Black jeans

4. Waterproof leather booties (ankle boot)

5. Leather sneakers

6. A Warm Winter Coat - Puff, Pea Coat or something similar - long preferred

The air is damp, so when the wind blows or the temperatures drop, it feels colder than it may actually be. A long coat will keep your entire body warm while you wait in line to go to a museum or venture outside to stroll from one destination to another.

~Be sure to check out Mango for beautiful coats at great price points.

7. A Wool Blazer

For days in which it is not as chilly, but still the air has a nip, wear an oversized wool blazer with a scarf.

  • Theory is a brand I highly recommend and enjoy wearing myself

8. Lovely warm, scarves

From classic oblong scarves to large stoles which can be used as a blanket on the plane while traveling, pack one or two favorite scarves that will work with what you have and provide the warmth you seek.

  • Eric Bompard (shop these boutiquest while you are in Paris!) make lovely cashmere scarves. In fact, I picked up my first one in 2013 and have been wearing it ever since each winter.

9. A Warm Wool Hat

Leave the beret at home and pack a warm wool or cashmere hat that covers your head and ears. Black, navy, ivory or anything neutral so you can wear it with anything you have packed.

10. Leather, yet cashmere lined, gloves

11. Turtleneck

Yes, an additional sweater, but turtlenecks are lovely in their retro chic silhouettes. Whether fitted or oversized, choose a luxurious fabric that feels good on your skin, a high neck that hugs your chin and a color that works well with your wardrobe, all while perhaps adding a touch of pop or a subtle unique shade of something fabulous.

12. Cardigan

Granted a cardigan is a sweater as shared in #1 being a must-have while traveling around Paris, but a cardigan is a casual choice to have for the flight, for snuggling in either in the morning or evening upon returning from being out and about, and well, just a lovely winter staple to have on hand (and a necessary one in Paris during the winter).

13. A travel umbrella

Likely, your accommodations will have an umbrella for you to use, but having a packable umbrella with you wherever in the world you might travel is never a bad idea. As shared at the top of the post/episode, the liklihood that it will rain in Paris is 50/50, so it's best to be prepared as you won't want to wear a coat with a hood unless you want to stick out as a tourist, unless the coat looks something like this.

14. Shop for what you need while in Paris - pourquoi pas?!

In January, the semi-annual French Les Soldes takes place in which every shop will be having sales on everything, not just the items they cannot sell. Take advantage of this opportunity and shop for what you need while you are there, but also what will live and be loved for many years to come wherever you call home.

15. Totes and handbags

This recommendation will be the same as it was for Autumn - a crossbody bag for going about the city and a tote for travel days. Poléne's full and mini crossbody bags are ones I recently learned about and now have and absolutely would recommend.

Whether your favorite time to visit Paris is the spring, summer or fall or winter, whenever the opportunity arises to escape to the City of Light, it will be hard to say no. Knowing you will be well-packed will ensure you feel confident and comfortable as you walk and explore and savor along with the Parisians themselves with no one being the wiser that you are a tourist unless you let it be known. Most certainly, your sartorial choices will not give you away.

Stay tuned as I will continue this series for the spring and summer months as the year unfolds and Anglophiles, rest assured, a winter shopping list will be shared soon.

View All Other Seasons & Their Timeless Wardrobe Essentials for Visiting France

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:


Traveling Alone Well, episode #220



Petit Plaisir

~My French Country Home magazine

~created and edited by Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home blog and travels

  • Subscribe now to receive the annual subscription (print or digital).
  • The March/April issue seen below will be available for single purchase order at the end of this month.

Images: Click through on each image to be taken to the direct source

Feb 17, 2020
276: The Art of Mise en Place
39:56

Mise en place in translation means is "set in place", often translated to "everything in its place".

Perhaps part of the reason cooking and baking can feel rewarding as well as relaxing is that there is a science to, and the unofficial science is something even the most novice cook in the kitchen can quickly learn - mise en place. But what exactly is it and what is the art of a truly effective mise en place? That is what today's post/episode is all about.

When I attended both Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis' cooking classes in France, mise en place was de rigeur. Each day upon arrival into their respective kitchens and to our assigned cooking stations, the food was already either prepared and arranged in the necessary bowls, or at the very least the ingredients were waiting to be prepared along with the necessary bowls. As well, the recipe was clearly typed and propped up and ready to go to ensure ease of preparation.

~fresh ingredients from the market for a Niçoise Salad made in Susan Hermann Loomis' kitchen in Louviers, Normandy~

~Patricia Wells at her stove in Provence, Vaison-la-Romaine~

~Patricia Wells' stove in Provence; notice the collection of small dishes on the shelves, along with her cookbooks~

~Patricia Wells' stove, knives and measuring spoons on the right in multiple quantities; on the lift, cooking tools to be used at the stove~

~Susan Hermann Loomis in her kitchen in Louviers preparing food for the day of cooking. Notice the recipes situated at each station, along with the necessary ingredients.~

~Susan Hermann's stovetop~

As you will see in some of the images included in today's post, I was in awe and absolutely inspired by the organization in both kitchens. From Patricia Wells having multiple ceramic canisters complete with a label for multiple spatulas, peelers, and any other tool she would need to have her students use, to Susan Hermann's knives neatly and safely stored in the middle of her custom wooden kitchen island, every kitchen tool had a home, and all of the items we would need or that were regularly used were easy to find and thoughtfully placed where they would be the most handy to grab while cooking.

While mise en place often brings our attention to the recipe or meal we are cooking at the moment and the ingredients that are needed, in a larger context, mise en place is your kitchen, how you arrange it, how you work within it well, and the tools you welcome into your artistic space - your batterie de cuisine.

I have found my kitchen, especially my kitchen in my rental in which I lived for four years, to be indeed an artist's sanctuary of sorts because you are creating, you are exploring. Part of why I loved that kitchen so much (the kitchen you see in Seasons 1 & 2 of my cooking show) is due to how I felt completely at ease moving about it in, having enough space for everything I needed and everything being easy to locate and quickly so.

I am currently in the process of curating my new kitchen into a similar space so that I feel absolutely comfortable moving from here to there and finding exactly what I need. I look forward to making progress on it this spring if all goes well, and fingers crossed, hopefully have it ready to go for Season 3. But in the meantime, I am keeping in mind how a kitchen must be organized, how it needs to function for the cook that calls it home, that is the foundation of mise en place, and now let's talk about the benefits and how to create your very own successful mise en place each time you step into your own kitchen.

Benefits

1.Ensures you are prepared for the recipe you wish to enjoy

2. Saves time

3. Saves the food

4. Deepens enjoyment of the cooking experience

~The creative stand of hooks for mixing paddles, Susan Hermann's kitchen~

How to "Mise en Place"

1.Determine what type of mise en place you need

In theory, you will eventually come to a point where you tend to mise en place each time, but each recipe or meal or dish will be approached in its unique way. If it is a dish you enjoy frequently, such as a go-to breakfast, your mise en place will be a default you don't even think about any more.

In such a case, my steel oats is in a cannister by the stove with the 1/4 cup measuring spoon that I use inside, the chia seeds are in a cannister that I simply pour out of, also by the stovetop, the salt and butter on the other side of the stove, and voila, aside from the cream, when I include it, it remains in the fridge until it is needed.

Mise en place can be as simple as having your go-to items at the ready at all times, but it can also be for the detailed recipe in which case all of the ingredients are pre-measured and placed in their own separate dishes and bowls.

2. Read the entire recipe, twice.

Not only do you want to read the ingredients list, but be sure to read the instructions as well, and why I recommend twice is often I will read too quickly the first time and accidentially skip over something.

But even if you are a close reader on the first read-through, reading twice confirms the order you will need the ingredients as well as how they should be prepared - sliced, diced, left whole, etc..

Back to the ingredients: do you have what you need? enough of what you need? Double check.

If preparing your mise en place ahead of time, either the morning of or the day or two before, begin making a list of what you need to pick up at the market (and how much).

~fresh artichokes from Louviers' market and eggs as well~

3. Find the necessary dishes, bowls, containers.

As you become fluent in your kitchen, knowing which dishes you enjoy preparing and eating and sharing, you will with time begin to have the necessary dishes, bowls and containers you need. Along the way to building your batterie de cuisine (literally: kitchen artillery; otherwise known as kitchenware), use dishes that work well for what you need. They may not all look neat and properly sized, but they will work.

~Susan Hermann's collection of copper pans~

4. Find the necessary kitchen tools you will need and have them at-the-ready

Along with having the ingredients you need, locating and having at-the-ready the necessary tools will speed up the process and increase your enjoyment of the cooking process. Beginning with a sharpened knife, and the proper knife for what you are doing, having each of these tools ready to work for you is an often unstated, but vital part of an effective mise en place.

In Patricia Wells' kitchen in Provence, each utensil is given its own cannister and labeled.

5. Prepare the food as needed

From peeling, slicing, de-veining and cleaning the seafood or meat, tend to the food, so that as the recipe calls for each ingredient, all you have to do is quickly add it to the pan or bowl or grill or, you get the idea. :)

~mise en place at Patricia Wells' cooking class~

6. Place the food/ingredients in order of use in the recipe.

Depending upon whether you are left or right-handed, place the ingredients on the preferred side and in the order they will be added to the recipe. If items will not be used for some time, you can place them further away so they won't be knocked over or accidentially added, etc. .

7. Have a large bowl for discards and items to be taken to the compost or garbage.

Rachael Ray creatively called hers the "thanks for coming" bowl, and having such an item as part of your mise en place is a simple way of keeping your kitchen clean, or at least cleaner, as you make your way through your meal preparation. A large bowl enables there to be more workable space so you can swiftly move from one task to another without having to constantly clean up along the way.

8. Refrain from multi-tasking

As tempting as it may be, doing more than the task of cooking while you are preparing a meal increases the chances of overcooking, burning and therefore ruining the ingredients you have thoughtfully welcomed into your kitchen. Speaking from experience, even when I just cook my breakfast in the morning, when I go off to my office while the steel oats are cooking, there have been time when I have become so engrossed in what I was doing for work that I lost track of time. Respect the food, and give it your full attention until the cooking is complete.

Ideas to Improve Mise en Place

  1. Keep a well-stocked épicerie at all times
    • Listen to episode #109 for a detailed list of the 34 items to have and why, or pick up my 2nd book, and read through Chapter 12.
  2. Begin to gradually pick up small bowls and dishes that catch your eye at second-hand shops, yard sales and antique boutiques, even brocantes if you have the opportunity to travel to France. Not only is it fun to treasure hunt, but they will add your signature to your kitchen.
  3. Assess what tools you need in your kitchen and invest in quality items.
  4. Equally, upon assessment, begin to edit/remove tools you do not need to provide more space for those items you do, making them easier to find.
  5. Set up your kitchen so that it works for you

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities I had in attending both of the cooking classes with Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis over the past two summers in France. I continue to welcome their ideas and incorporate them into my daily cooking practice.

The primary purpose for mise en place is to make your time in the kitchen successful. Impressively, the number of dishes and the multi-course meals each class would enjoy every single time we sat down to dine for a couple of hours at first glance would have seen impossible, but when it is broken down into clear steps, ingredients and amounts prepped and ready, it seems all but impossible.

Hopefully you too will find even more pleasure when you step into your kitchen. I certainly have an even deeper appreciation as well as fondness for the time I spend cooking and preparing and of course, enjoying the meals that are created.

Have a look at videos from both of my cooking class experiences as well as the detailed posts that accompany each one below.

~cups and saucers in Susan Hermann's kitchen found over the years throughout France at Brocantes~

~ingredients for a fresh strawberry dessert at Susan Hermann's first day of cooking~




Check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen and see Mise en Place at work in my very own kitchen!


Petit Plaisir

~Agatha Raisin, Acorn TV

https://youtu.be/tCM4vc3FbV8

~10 Ways to Enjoy Grocery Shopping

~How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Farmer's Market No Matter Where You Live

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Feb 10, 2020
275: 34 Ways to Attain Emotional Freedom and Cultivate More Joy of Living
48:12

 

"Emotional freedom is a homecoming to your own heart and fullest power. It salutes authenticity, not conforming to someone else's notion of what to feel or how to be." —Dr. Judith Orloff, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life (2009)

The middle of the night, before you can fall asleep or early morning thoughts that swirl and fuel agitation, worry and fear preventing you from falling asleep.

The feeling of being lonely and falling prey to the purport by society that the simple solution is to find someone to be romantically involved with.

Ratcheted chronic anxiety that cements you from pursuing something new or chasing your dreams or simply enjoying your everyday life.

An assumed negative default in perspective when it comes to the world, the future, especially your future and what is actually possible no matter what your age.

In sharing each of these scenarios, maybe you most strongly identified with one, or maybe none of them spoke to you, but moments of one or two rear their heads in your life when your energy is depleted or life temporarily becomes exhausting. And hopefully, maybe you recognize your former self in one or more of these and now are able to celebrate having broken free of the counterproductive emotional patterns that were learned and accepted as "how life will be".

Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of learning the skills of attaining emotional freedom, after reading/listening to today's post/episode you will have a clear path forward for identifying with the latter description in the previous paragraph.

I picked up Dr. Judith Orloff's book because I needed to read it. I knew the skills I needed to improve the quality of my emotional life were lacking, but I did not know what they were or, if I had a sense of them, how to strengthen them.

Dr. Judith Orloff defines emotional freedom as increasing your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and being able to compassionately witness and transform negative ones, whether they're yours or another's.

Choosing to become emotionally free is entirely the choice of the individual. Whether healthy emotional patterns were modeled by your parents or not, you can learn them, apply them and shift how you engage with the world, how you experience the world and thus how you move forward and elevate the quality of your life experience.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast275

Feb 03, 2020
274: Quality Friendships = Quality Life
29:00

"By comparison with relationships forged in blood and love, science has historically given friendship short shrift . . . biologists ignored friendships because unlike romantic or mating relationships they were thought not to affect reproductive success . . . most of us are as guilty as scientists of failing to take friendship as seriously as it deserves. We pay lip service to it but prioritize family and romance, ditching our friends when we fall in love, or letting time with them be the first thing to go when we get busy . . . eacg of us is contrainted by time. But we may want to rethink how we apportion the time we have . . . It turns out that friendship does have survival value in the most literal sense—more socially integrated people live longer than those who are less well connected." —Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond

Perhaps due to the media I consumed in the 80s and 90s, there was an unconscious understanding that romantic relationships were paramount to platonic. Don't misunderstand me, friendships were clearly portrayed in sitcoms such as FRIENDS, Blossom, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Will & Grace, Felicity, The Wonder Years just to name a few, but it was clear that the writers were directed to have their leads be in constant pursuit of the desired romantic relationship predominantly and perhaps more importantly.

Subsequently, not aware of the subtle influence of media, in my youth, I made the assumption that friendship was nice, but romance was best. It does appear today, and admittedly maybe due more to my own awareness, that such media portrayals are shifting and broadening to bring to the screen and the pages as well as other media mediums an array of life paths and journeys to find contentment and social connectedness.

The value of quality friendships is arguably one of the most important social components of our lives. For each of us, our quilt of friendships will be unique and include amongst it our acquaintances and community (work and personal) connections as well. It seems to me good, healthy relationships of all types - romantic or platonic - benefit when we have a healthy social well-being which fundamentally rests on our social connections. Of course, a social well-being requires first and continually that we include ourselves as part of the social circle; in other words, we need to honor and respect our true selves and not try to cultivate relationships that are contrary to our true temperament, but rather complement and strengthen.

When we remember to default to regularly checking in with ourselves, we will know when it it best to repair and invest in certain relationships and when it is best to move on. We will respect ourselves enough to know what boundaries to put in place and how to place them.

The great loves of our lives, even the moderately good and life-changing-for-a-period-before-we-both-must-go-our-separate-ways relationships that will hold a special place in our life's journey don't cross our paths frequently. We are fortunate to experience these relationships when we have the courage to step forward and say yes without knowing what the future will hold, but throughout the duration of our lives, it is the friendships, even with those we may fall in love with along the way as we come to know each other intimately, yet honestly, that offer so much more than "filler". They offer love, support, encouragement to step into our best selves and step away from limiting habits. They offer kindness and the reminder when we may doubt it that we are lovely and loved.

Author, Brooklyn-based science journalist and a writer who has contributed to Atlantic and the New York Times, Lydia Denworth has just released a book on Friendship that I was eager to receive as I find it helpful to explore the context of the research we have accepted as absolute truth and that which has thus gone on to influence how we choose to live and construct our lives. Denworth dives deep into the historical and established science and then examines what has been misunderstood or dismissed or ignored. Moving forward she explores the brain and how it learns to be social and then the majority of the book explores how friendship, the desire for it, our ability to connect or not connect plays a role in the quality of our lives and ultimately, how to live a healthy social life full of sound friendships.

Today I would like to share a taste of what I learned as I read Lydia Denworth's new book Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast274

Jan 20, 2020
273: 12 Key Factors to Life-Long Physical and Mental Good Health
38:26

"Vitality means moving through life with energy and vigor, making deliberate choices and putting to good use the time and energy that we have been granted." —Twyla Tharp, author of Keep Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life

Knowing how to care for our body which we must not forget includes the mind is a lifelong course of learning. Beginning with the basics of how food is fuel and energy expends said fuel to understanding which fuel is best and how our body repairs itself and ultimately what the body and mind truly are capable of regardless of our age, understanding and then apply this knowledge will have a powerfully positive effect on the overall longevity as well as quality of our life.

Highly decorated and revered American dance choreographer, Twyla Tharp released a new book this past fall, and as I appreciated her insights in her previously published book The Creative Habit, I was especially curious to read her new book Keep Moving as she herself is in her mid-seventies and more fit than most adults in their prime. However, what I quickly discovered is that Keep Moving is not only about the physical movement we must continue throughout the duration of our lives, but the continual movement of our thoughts, ideas and way of living and thinking about the world that is as well ever-changing and evolving. Today I'll be sharing 12 key factors for living and enjoying a physical and mental well-being for the entire length of your life.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast273

Jan 13, 2020
272: 8 Ways Tiny Habits Will Welcome the Grand Changes You Seek
39:40

The new year rolls around and there is much talk about resolutions and cultivation of a life we wish to live. It is old news to share that many resolutions are unfulfilled; however, BJ Fogg argues that perhaps we have had a faulty instruction manual to be successful in our pursue of lasting change.

Released just this past Tuesday, December 31st, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything asserts in fact that it is the small, seemingly easy changes of habit we make in our lives that will lead to grand transformation of ourselves and therefore our overall lives, even our relationships and especially our health and overall contentment.

After devouring the book in two days during my getaway to the coast, I wanted to share with you eight takeaways that will introduce you to this shift in approach. I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine and look to add a third when my teaching schedule resumes this week.

The good news, if you have already written your 2020 resolutions, is that upon reading the book, you will be able to look at them more closely and construct and approach them in such a way, according to Tiny Habits to ensure their success. And if you have not created resolutions, maybe you have decided due to previous frustration that doing so is just a waste of time, taking a look at the list of takeaways below may shed some light on why past years were less fruitful than you would like and even encourage you to try again and see better results.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast272

Jan 06, 2020
263: Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain
33:42

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” —J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #263

Style and comfort. Knowing how to achieve this combination while we travel enables each of us to relax and fully enjoy our excursions wherever our wanderlust might take us.

As would not surprise TSLL readers, many of you, including myself, love to journey to Europe, in particular France and Britain, and while I have primarily traveled to France in the summer, and London during the summer months as well, it was during the fall of 2017 that I had the good fortune to travel back to Britain. Expectedly, the suitcase's contents were far different than for the warmest months of the year.

So when a TSLL reader recently reached out and asked for style ideas for her upcoming trip to London this October, I came up with the idea to share a seasonal style episode/post for Anglophiles.

In the coming months and seasons look for the remaining three seasons for both Anglophiles and Francophiles as having a resource to help simplify the packing process so that we travelers can focus on creating an itinerary that surpasses our dreams.

Admittedly, and unsurprisingly, I enjoy selecting the perfect outfit for whatever the occasion might be, but equally as desiresome is to not have to worry about my clothes while I am traveling. Just trusting that what I have packed is exactly what I need frees my mind to absorb the many new sightss, sounds, tastes and interactions which enrich the trip all the more.

So with that introduction, I'd like to share with you Style Essentials for Traveling to Britain in Autumn, the city and the country.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast263
Jan 02, 2020
Top 10 Podcast Episodes of 2019
13:36

Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate is well underway as 2019 wraps up and we head into 2020. As I reflect back to September 2014 when the show premiered, I could not have fathomed the engagement it would inspire, the topics and books we would cover and explore nor the people who would wish to be on the show.

This year, Apple changed its categories for podcasts, and in so doing prompted me to reconsider how to label the show for new and potential listeners, which turned out to be a boon for the show and new listeners discovering it.

With the help of you, the listeners the podcast and readers of TSLL, the selections that were decided upon (#1— Education: Self-Improvement; #2 — Society & Culture; #3 — Leisure: Home & Garden) in no small part contributed to the podcast reaching #33 in the United States' ALL-Time Self-Improvement podcasts. And, as the podcast has a strong Francophile following, when episode #269 - 32 Ways to Be Parisian Chic went live earlier this month, the podcast soared to #5 for the daily Self-Improvement podcasts.

As listeners share how and when they listen to the show — while running the NYC marathon, while spring cleaning, while starting the day in Australia, while commuting via car or train or subway, while walking/running with their pups, while strolling along a river in the European countryside, while strolling through a park throughout the vast United States, while winding down at the end of the day in a cozy abode in Canada, and in so many countries around the globe as listeners go about their lives (the show ranked #16 in South Africa, #12 in Hong Kong, #23 in Romania, #6 in Oman, and #2 in Spain!) — I am humbled as well as tickled to realize how TSLL community stretches far and wide, but more so how similiar we are no matter where we call home regarding our interests to live a life of contentment, a life of deep joy and understanding of the world around us as we strive to contribute positively to its future as we savor the everyday moments.

How to rankings work? The combination of number of downloads and positive reviews and rankings drive up a show on the charts, and for both of these contributions by listeners, I want to say thank you. So many of you have left positive reviews and high rankings, and as I try to share all of the reviews, sprinkling a few in each podcast episode, thank you for your time to share specifically what draws you to the show. (you can leave a review here on Apple iTunes)

 


Dec 23, 2019
271: 12 Simple Winter Holiday Decor Ideas
32:02

When it comes to the winter holiday season, cozying in asks of us to be inside our homes far more than we would be during the warmer months which is why our homes need to become a sanctuary inside which we love spending time.

Over the years my approach to how I decorate for Christmas, the New Year and the wintery weather has evolved, and this year I am excited to share with you 12 ways I have simplify, and at the same time curated decor that surrounds me and those who spend time in my home with warmth, comfort and an abundance of joy.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast271

Dec 16, 2019
270: 9 Life Lessons to Learn (and Apply) Before It's Too Late
35:07

 

"We have the choice to change our life, to be courageous and to live true to our heart, one that will see us die and live without regret." —Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Dying, death and loss has unwantingly been on my mind this past fall. Rest assured, today's episode will uplift, inspire and remind, but the reason I share what has been occupying my mind these past few months is because I likely would not have picked up Bronnie Ware's new book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. But I am very grateful that I did.

Ware's entire book shares her experience working in the palliative care system in New South Wales, Australia, which sprung up from what was originally a blog post. Subsequently, after more than three million people viewed the post, it was thankfully turned into a book which shares detailed five lessons and those special individuals she had the opportunity to spend time with in their final days. Along the way, Ware shares her own journey of self-growth and discovery and how she has applied the lessons she has learned.

It is not lost on me that often the books we need find us, and after the loss of a special woman in my life who was very much akin to a grandmother, who having lived a wonderful life of nearly 95 years reminded me with each visit and time spent together the power of a happy heart, and after a cancer scare with one of my parents (they are in full recovery now), along with my beloved boys (my dogs) each in their double digit years, it quickly becomes apparent that life is short, precious and up to each of us to make it something we are proud to have lived, shared and experienced.

While we will all make mistakes in our lives, that is the gift of being a human :), we do not have to suffer needlessly if we are willing to open our minds to the stories and life experiernces of others. In the past ten years I have come to enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies to soak up as many life lessons as I can that I would have otherwise not known about (Julia Child is one of my favorite teachers, but so are many others). Today what I would like to share with you are nine Life Lessons that caught my attention as I was reading Bronnie Ware's book. While her book focuses on five overarching regrets, interwoven amongst each are smaller, no less important lessons, to understand and apply to our lives moving forward.

As I was reading, I began to celebrate as I discovered that much of what is shared aligns with living a simply luxurious life, and especially if you've read TSLL's 2nd book, you will know that nearly all of these topics are explored in depth. I cannot fully understand the emotional strength Bronnie exercised in each of her experiences, as well, and more importantly, the individuals who shared their stories in their final days, but I am determined to make sure their lessons are learned and applied forward as we go about our daily lives. Let's take a look at the list.

Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast270

Dec 09, 2019
269: 32 Ways to Be Parisian Chic
44:11

"Everyone knows you don't have to be born in Paris to dress like a Parisian." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide (2019) with Sophie Gachet, co-author

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

In 2011, Karl Lagerfeld's muse and the first model to sign an exclusive modeling contract with the haute couture fashion house, in this case Chanel, Ines de la Fressange published her first Style Guide. Becoming quickly a New York Times Book Review bestseller, eight years later, she has updated her much applauded Parisian Style Guide.

Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide was recently released this past November. Having written a detailed a review when her original book was first published (have a look), the updated version contains 50% new content, 300 full-color illustrations/photographs, and is completely refreshed. Now admittedly, much of the original holds true and is still a valuable resource, but if you too have the original copy, you know that the latter half of the book is a resource of addresses of boutiques, restaurants and many other Parisian locales recommended by de la Fressange. As one might imagine, these had to be updated.

Today, what I'd like to share with you are 32 Ways to Exhibit Parisian Chic style whether in your wardrobe, home or lifestyle because whether we live in Paris, wish to visit Paris or not, incorporate one or many of her style tips will help us to cultivate our own unique signature style. Let's get started.

~Be sure to tune in to the audio version as much more detail is shared on each of the items shared below.

Sartorial Style

1.Muster up courage and ignore the trends (p.13)

2. Create a vintage collection of your own (p.14)

3. Remember to let your style evolve (p.30)

4. Practice discretion when it comes to labels and accessories (p.12)

5. Take on the role of 'buyer' for your own wardrobe (p.15)

6. Hone the skill of 'mixing things up' (p.16, 26, 28, 29)

Wear a high end designer pant with a simple white shirt

7. Mix patterns and soften with white (p.21)

8. Know the universal rule of proportions when it comes to good style

  • balancing loose with close-fitting (p.26)

9. Simple is good

"Not everything you buy has to be interesting. A nice scoop neck sweater is a must. You can wear it with jeans and a long necklace —it will look elegant without being boring." (p.32)

10. Welcome men's accessories into your wardrobe - especially belts

Worn and too long for a traditional outfit, belts with such descriptors are perfect for cinching everything that needs a waist. (p. 27)

11. Avoid fashion faux pas (p. 34-37)

Such as T-shirts with supposedly funny sayings and leggings (unless you are headed to yoga class or a your daily workout is calling).

12. Style idea for a date - cropped black trousers, a man's white button-up shirt and low heeled or flat shoes, but don't forget nice lingerie (p.41)

13. Don't be afraid of sneakers (stylish and thoughtful, bien sûr) (p. 45)

  • Setting: a respite in the park for a snack or to simply catch your breath
  • Dress Code: Jeans, a sweater or sweatshirt with a dash or deluge of color and sneakers

14. When packing for a getaway, bring denim (p.48) . . .

. . . also a loose shirt, white jeans, two long-sleeved shirts, a white cotton dress (and to view the entire list visit page 48-49).

15. Buy the right leather jacket . . .

. . . which is "as close fitting as possible with high armholes and patch pockets". (p. 54)

16. Never follow diets. Rather follow Ines' golden rule:

"Pay attention when you are eating and stop when you are no longer hungry." (p. 171)

Interior Style

17. Remember the truth about dinner parties - they are coming to see you, not for a gourmet meal (p. 170)

18. Dinner party - a simple, yet delicious dinner, followed by an amusing dessert (regarding the presentation). (p. 170)

19. Stick to a central theme in your home decor

View/Listen to episode #228 - 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Decor Book

20. Make decor statements with a single piece of furniture - a chair, a settee.

Thoughtfully chosen items can stand-out against a neutral palette

21. Welcome the scented candles . . . to every room

22.Harmonize containers in the kitchen (p. 152)

23. Use vases to store kitchen utensils (p. 152)

24. Display a painting on an easel instead of the wall (p.156)

25. Collect and display a variety of ceramic items on a table - trés Parisienne (swap regularly) (p. 156)

26. Choose an inviting sofa (large, comfortable, plush is that is your liking) (p. 156)

27. Keep your eye out for a vintage stepladder to place next to a bookshelf (p. 156)

28. Unification in the closet - hangers of the same color

29. Give everything in your closet a front-row seat

So you can see what you have and wear it! (p. 162)

Final Thoughts

30. Don't worry about buying last season's trends

31. Walk or bike as much as you can instead of hopping into a car (location dependent)

32. Know what true effortless style is . . . "self-confidence and a smile" (p.26)

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:






Petit Plaisir

L'Art du Crime

https://youtu.be/rBKm49kvh_E

https://youtu.be/m-tAd33hocM

Dec 02, 2019
268: M. L. Longworth Talks Provence during the Holidays, Favorite Cookbooks and Her New Provençal Mystery
46:36

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Today's episode is my recent conversation with returning guest M.L. Longworth. Her latest mystery in her Provençal mystery series became available to readers last Tuesday, and it is the eighth in the Bonnet and Verlaque series: A Noël Killing.

Having had the opportunity to read and having thoroughly enjoy the book earlier this fall, I invited her on the show again to talk about the book and so much more. After all, France, and specially Provence, is a place TSLL readers are quite fond of along with myself, and why not learn more about this special place on the map from someone who has called it home for more than 22 years!

For the first time, the plot is set during the winter holidays in Aix-en-Provence, which prompted me to ask a handful of questions about Provence during this festive time of year.

Of course, food was the topic of a more than a few questions, and Mary Lou generously shares her go-to Provençal cookbooks as well as recipes she enjoys making for her family and friends and items she looks forward to purchasing from the artisanal shops during the winter season.

A Noël Killing is a true delight of a Provençal mystery that is cozy in all the right ways, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering who will turn out to be the culprit behind the unexpected murder. Be sure to tune into our conversation, and do not forget to discover her Petit Plaisir which is shared at the end of the episode: It is simple and lovely, as well as an inexpensive daily routine that will take the definition of simple luxury to the next level during this special time of year, put perhaps year-round too.

Links mentioned during the show:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B3uPlLyA2OG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

~Listen to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.

Nov 18, 2019
266: 10 Activities to Savor Pre-Holidays in November
36:46

Here in the states, we may officially wait for the holiday energy to be set free, but by the time November arrives, it can easily begin to feel as though the holidays have begun. Whether that is due in part to marketers and shops shifting from Halloween on October 31st to red and green everything on November 1st, or an earnest desire for the holidays to begin by the public, I cannot quite be sure, but what I do know is that I love the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving of which I am calling the "pre-holiday" season.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but during the first third of November (Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November which this year is quite late in the month), I just linger with absolute contentment.

Today I would like to share with you 10 activities or ideas for savoring the pre-season period as the year that is begins to wind down to celebration and festive gathering.

1.Set the mood in your home without pulling out the decorations

From placing simmering spices on the stovetop to fill the house with luscious, warm and citrus as well as spice-filled flavors (check out my simple recipe here) or simply switching the wreath on the front door to an autumn theme (if you have not done so already), protect, yet acknowledge this time of year that is truly meant to be savored after a summer and early fall of harvest as we gear up for the bustle of the holiday season.

2. Put the yard and exterior of the home to bed for the winter

Depending upon where you live and when the temperatures begin to drop, take this time to be outside and winterize the home, tend to the plants that need to be mulched and trim the perennials, as well as plant the new bulbs that will emerge in the spring. Tending to the exterior of your home will enable you to sleep soundly at night during the snowstorms and frigid temperatures knowing all is taken care of so that you can simply enjoy the winter wonderland that appears out the front door.

~Trusted British gardener Monty Don shares a worth-keeping monthly list of what to tend to in the garden during the month of November.

3. Assess your fitness routine and improve now to feel your best during the holidays

When we are conscious of the benefit of a good and regular fitness routine as well as a well-balanced eating regimen, we are more likely to do well during the holidays. Establish or cement what is working well and plan now to figure out how you will maintain your ability to stay active and eat well even if you are traveling or removed from your regular environment.

4. Make a favorite fall dessert or main dish for you and the household just because it's fall.

From Apple Tart Tatin (check out my recipe and video tutorial below) to butternut squash and apples roasted to perfection for a lovely side dish with pork chops. (The image at the top of the post is a favorite fall dessert inspired by Julia Child - look for my adaptation to be shared in season 3 of the cooking show!)

~Quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and apples: Combine cubes of butternut squash and apples on a parchment lined sheet pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the squash and apples with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy!

5. Make sure you have something to look forward to just after the holidays wrap up - something simple, low-key and maybe just for yourself.

6. Have fun with fall foliage - arrangements, playing in the leaves, taking photos of unique compositions that catch your eye

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4qMNBZgx64/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

7. Take advantage of weekend sales as businesses clear out inventory for the holiday season.

Currently many business are having sales during our long weekend here in the states, but that is just a start to what is to come. Whether you are beginning to shop for gifts for the holidays or have a list of items you love but are waiting for a sale, be sure to take advantage if the price is right and the item is exactly what you want. As I shared yesterday, I am looking for a fresh holiday wreath for my front door, and was pleased with Williams-Sonoma' 20% off sale.

As well, examine your fall, winter and holiday wardrobe: Do you have what you need? Are there any gaps? The fall collections are about to go on drastic reduction and scooping up your preferred and needed items at great prices will make you and your budget quite happy, not to mention ensure you look your best and feel comfortable going about your day.

8. Forage for the arts and literature and culture you love

On Wednesday of this week I shared a list of books, podcasts, and television shows to enjoy during the winter season, but what I love most about these three weeks leading up to the holidays is that I cozy inside my house far more than I would during warmer weather and pull out a book (or two, or three) and let the time pass by. The same happens when I discover a great show or when I toodling about the house or walking the boys while listening to a podcast in which I learn something but lifts my spirits or ensures my day will be better after listening to it by either teaching me something or deepending my understanding on something that matters.

Perhaps why I enjoyed my visit to Portland last weekend so much and stopping (and lingering) at Powell's Independent Book Store was because books and late fall and winter, along with the shorter days means more time to get lost in a book. Of course reading is savoring year-round, but there is all the more reason to further our knowledge and let ideas percolate giving them time to germinate so that they can bloom fully when spring arrives and summer follows.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4ZHszngxkf/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

9. Get cosy often and lose track of time

At the foundation of these three weeks is time without apology for self-care. Self-care needs to happen year-round and on a regular basis most certainly, but since we know what awaits in the near future, no matter how much we greatly look forward to it, we can enjoy it all the more with a fully rested self.

As 2019 began, the first Petit Plaisir of the year was the book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir. Released in early November 2018, her timing was not on accident. The cosy/cozy season truly feels as though it begins with November's arrival.

"Cosiness, for me, is radio 4, slow-cooking, everyday Sunday supplement, long breakfasts, long movies, long phone calls, big jumpers, tangled limbs in a bed or sofa. I enjoy those things even more now that I know indulging them doesn't mean I'm missing out on the big party of life happening somewhere outside and that life can be just as wild and precious in the quiet as it is in the noise."

—Laura Weir from her book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort

10. Find time to be with yourself, not just introverts researchs finds

In a recent New York Times article, research was shared that "valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it". Why?

With the new and different, wanted and unwanted people you will see and spend time with during the holiday season, there will undoubtedly be swells of emotion, good and perhaps not so good. Knowing how to regulate our emotions will help us navigate what has the potential to be a truly joyous time of year well and most beneficially not only for our own mental health but those around us. And it is with giving ourselves time to be alone that we learn to regulate our emotions.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we have talked about often here on the blog, podcast and in TSLL's 2nd book, and continued research finds that mastering this skill has life enhancing qualities. By giving ourselves time to learn how to monitor our emotions which when we are alone with ourselves and our thoughts expectedly will provide plenty of practice until we learn how to calm the tide and just be present, we give ourselves an awesome gift. Perhaps the best give to give during the holiday season, non? ;)

So cosy up in your favorite spot, turn on a lovely playlist that will wash over you and just do something that you love. At this very moment I am snuggled up with Oscar by my side in my oversized, very well-used chaise armchair, the jazz fills the house and I am watching the many birds dance around the birdfeeder determining who will have the opportunity to snack for a moment. The emotions are certainly swimming about, especially after the week my family has had with the loss of someone truly special to all of us, but because of much practice spending time with myself, I savor such moments and am thankful to have them.

May these three weeks, this "pre-holiday" season prior to the holiday festivities be joy-filled and provide many moments of contentment.

SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:




Petit Plaisir

~The Morning Show

~based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV

~Habitually Chic's post: Outfits Inspired by Jennifer Aniston's Wardrobe on The Morning Show

https://youtu.be/eA7D4_qU9jo


~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #266

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

~Listen and download the episode here.

~For TSLL reader information:  Some of the links shared on the blog are affiliate links, earning TSLL a small commission at no cost to you. Please know, I recommend only products I genuinely like. Thank you so much.




Nov 11, 2019
267: Autumn in Paris - What to Wear for Timeless Seasonal Style
27:05

A stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg or one of the many other jardins located about Paris as the many carefully groomed leafy trees turn orange, red and brilliant gold is a memory to savor for travelers who come from far and wide to visit the City of Light during the autumn season. Granted, most travelers wish to visit for many other reasons as well, but being dressed well for the season ensures the visit will be comfortable and help one to fit in well so as to best experience the city as it goes about its everyday business and routines.

Last month I shared Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain — with the promise to share each season a capsule wardrobe to pack for both Britain and France. Today, specifically Paris is our focus.

To visit during autumn is for a select lucky few, and while I have only traveled abroad during this time of year once due to work restraints, I look forward in the future to more visits during this somewhat "off season". After all, from rain, to chilly temperatures, to stunning fall days complete with cobbled streets sprinkled with leaves, autumn in Paris encourages all the more slipping into cafes, museums, bistros and just soaking up Paris and Parisian life.

Let's take a look at what to pack for a comfortable visit for day and evening in Paris.

1.Sweaters

Paris can be quite cold when the right combination of dropping temperatures and whistling wind sweeps through, so having warmth, yet stylish warmth is a good idea. Depending upon how long you are visiting, pack one or two sweaters, at least one being oversized for wearing over slim jeans or trousers.

  • Eric Bompard cashmere sweaters are a classic brand offering a wide opti