The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

By Shannon Ables

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.


Category: Self-Help

Open in iTunes


Open RSS feed


Open Website


Rate for this podcast

Subscribers: 109
Reviews: 0

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. From achieving your goals, preparing a memorable meal, creating a capsule wardrobe, traveling the world (Francophiles tune in as Paris is a favorite destination), and living life to the fullest without breaking the bank, living well is really quite simple.

Episode Date
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

~Listening Note: Each of the items shared below are discussed in more detail in the audio version of the episode.

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

1. Our overall health reveals the quality of relationships we have in our lives

"As we age, the effects of the life we have lived—including our relationships—inevitably show up in the body. Some are cumulative, some are short term."

"The strength of your friendships at 50 predicts your health at 80."

2. More education and income leads to having more friends

"Education, physical health, years living in the same place, and the number of daily contacts with friends all predicted friendship style. More education, for example, often leads to better social skills, and higher education makes it easier to socialize more widely (at restaurants and concerts, say)."

3. Friendships help buffer life stress

"After puberty, parents no longer buffer stress for children; friends can take their place."

4. A good friendship can be a template for all other relationships

"At its simplest, as in animals, friendship is positive, long-lasting, and reciprocal. Bonds with these traits have the strongest effect on our health and longevity."

5. Welcome a diversity of types of friendships

"There are three main styles of friendship: discerning, independent, and acquisitive."

6. Friendship circles will evolve, grow, change — and that's okay.

7. Social media isn't as bad for relationships as people believe; in fact it's a net positive

8. Ambivalent relationships ("frenemies") are bad for our health

9. It takes about 50 hours of togetherness to make a friend, 200 to make a best friend.

10. Retirement is something to be savored when we invest in friendships

In a study shared in Robert Waldinger's TEDx Talk about friendship and good relationship that has since garned nearly 30 million views he shared "the people who were happiest in retirement had worked at it. They valued and tended to their relationships. They activiely worked to replace coworkers with new playmates. They put in the time."

Similar to so much of our lives that enrich the quality, it is the conscious choices we make that make a difference in our overall contentment and joy as we go about our everyday lives. Friendship is an undercurrent that when tended to can elevate and bring tranquility or cause unsteadiness and make for a rough journey when neglected or ill-tended.

Knowing more, understanding how, is one of the first components to a strong cultivation of what we wish to grow. Certainly, it is not the only step or the final step, but it is important, and then we must be patient with ourselves and those we are building relationships with. In time, good things and a good life will grow.

"Social bonds have the power to shape the trajectories of our lives. And that means friendship is not a choice or a luxury; it's a necessity that is critical to our ability to succeed and thrive. It can even be a model against which other relationships should be measured."

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:


Petit Plaisir:

~Lentil and Kielbasa Salad, adapted from Barefoot Contessa's recipe


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

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. Below are 12 key factors for living and enjoying a physical and mental well-being for the entire length of your life.

1.Practice Growth

"Age is not the enemy. Stagnation is the enemy."

Both physically and mentally, choose to perpetually be a dynamic individual. Instead of becoming complacent or resigned that certain capabilities are no longer possible once we hit a certain age, vow to always keep your body moving, as well, and perhaps most importantly, your mind. Rather than reminiscing about the past, make sure it is celebrated and/or learned from and then put your focus on moving forward well, learning something new in your next venture into something that provokes your curiosity. Let go of past hurts and anger that may be lingering to liberate yourself to create a better present and then a greater future will unfold. Assess your daily routines: Are they working for you? If not, whip them into shape (listen to episode #272 for help on how to accomplish this change).

"Attempting to maintain the status quo, smoothing our skin, and keeping our tummies trim become distractions that obscure a larger truth. Attempting to freeze your life in time at any point is totally destructive to the prospect of a life lived well and fully. All animate creatures are destroyed when frozen . . . This is not a worthy goal."

2. Choose and then Cultivate the Life You Want to Live

"I chose my life, it did not choose me."

Inevitably, life will throw onto your journey's path trauma, loss and pain, but how you choose to work with these life events will determine the overall quality of your life. You can choose to wallow and seek out sympathizers that allow you to remain in your pain or frustration or anger, or you can acknowledge the pain, let yourself work through it in a healthy manner and continue to strive forward.

"The life we choose pays dividends. The life that we let choose us will bankrupt us."

Contrarily, you will need to find the courage within yourself to choose to step away from the group when it feels limiting or confining or not aligned with the life you wish to live or dare to create. Nothing need happen that is negative, just a instinctive feeling that something does not work for you. Heed your instincts, explore them gradually, and when you have some footing (it need not be a perfect stance), step away from the group. I am confident you will be grateful you did, more and more so with each passing day.

You may be wondering, how does #2 correlate with our physical health? Any time we choose a life that we want to live, we energize ourselves; oppositionally, when we follow, when we go along to appease or to not create conflict, our energy lessens, so much so that we find it hard to motivate ourselves to care for our overall health. It may not occur, and most likely will not occur initially as we follow, but with time, our excitement about living life is dulled, and when we no longer see the joy in living life (because we haven't chosen this life, it has chosen us and we feel 'stuck' within it) we do not, consciously or unconsciously, invest in it. And tending to our health is a fundamental investment.

3. See Your Body's Good Health as a Full-Time Job for a Lifetime

Much of society may appear to be modeling that as we age, we become less physical, but the reality and what needs to be realized, Tharp argues, is that "the older we get, the more we should commit to physical activity". Ironically, we could have moved less in our youth as our body was helping us out far more naturally than it is able to do on its own as we age. But the benefit of being an active child and young adult is that we can take these good habits and let them be the foundation of our physical activity throughout our lifetime.

The benefits of physical activity have been researched and proven time and time again, from sharpening our mind to "expanding our social, emotional and intellectual well-being". A shift in how we view physical activity can help tremendously to finding infinite wells of motivation to move our bodies on a regular basis. First, make it enjoyable. Find something you love doing. I used to be one of those gym rats who would visit my neighborhood gym (at this point in my life I was in NW Portland) nearly every day, hop on the treadmill and walk or run for 20-30 minutes. Granted, any physical activity is absolutely applaudable, but I will admit, I felt as though I was in a cage. My lifestyle has certainly changed over the past 14 years as my physical exercise is outdoors nearly every time, and the only indoor physical practice I do, and thoroughly enjoy, is the weekly yoga class I attend. Most importantly, I have found a way of staying physical that I enjoy. Find what works for you and how you can incorporate your physical and natural environment into your playground. And then just do that, play!

Tharp reminds readers of the importance of why we choose to exercise, "Let's not burn calories. Let's use our calories . . . You're burning calories to acquire skills". When we make this shift of why we are exercising, the motivation is more likely to remain and become habituated.

"Here's what I know: a life that gives the body its due is a happy life."

4. Pull up the Anchor of the Past and Sail

"Unless we embrace the condition of change, the past will act as an anchor, preventing growth. I've always been an advocate of habit—but with time, unchecked or unnoticed habits will hold you back."

Life has many chapters, and not one will be exactly like another. Living consciously gives us the daily practice of assessing what is working and what is not. As Tharp suggest above, habits are helpful . . . when they are helpful to living the life we wish to live. However, habits that go unassessed are the anchors we need to pull up so that we can sail toward and eventually fulfill our true potential.

There are many examples in our lives in which a habit worked exceptionally well for a period, but too continue would harm our progress and need to grow. If you are a parent whose children have left the nest, there will be new habits to add and other established habits that will need to be "pulled up". If you are an individual who needed to work with great dedication to complete a degree or complete a project or establish themselves in their career requiring long hours as there were deadlines to meet, etc., the habits that enabled you to be focused and strong in dedication will need to be relaxed so that you can find the balance to enjoy the life you have worked hard to secure.

5. Choose Optimism

Tharp acknowledges that "aging can promote a condition identified by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania as learned helplesslness . . . believing we cannot change our outcome leads to lethargy. Negativity and stagnation go hand in hand". The remedy is actually quite simple, but it does require us to become clear about the life we wish to live, to do the homework of living, living well and being conscious of our instrinstic motivators as well as the external motivators and determining which truly align with our most sincere self.

Tharp suggests, and I concur, what we need to do is align our actions with our values. Often we say we wish to live one way, but our actions speak differently. Sometimes it will take grand courage as we will have to speak up to those in our lives who will be affected if we change our routine, our way of engaging, etc., but often it is how we speak to ourselves, how we allocate our time and where we spend our money. When you begin to see how to better align your actions with your values, it becomes easier to be optimistic because you are now fully supporting the life you wish to live and not unconsciously fighting against it. Momentum happens more freely without resistance.

The primary point is we have more control over the quality of our lives. We are not helpless. And we need not accept that things cannot be different. They can be, and will be when you choose to shift how you live your daily life. A simple way to begin being more optimistic is to see the simple beauty and awesomeness in the everyday. When you focus on the good, on the positive, on the beauty, you begin to see more of it, inspire those around you to see more of it and ultimately begin to create more of what you wish to see than what you do not. Check out my IG account and the hashtag #tsllelevatetheeveryday for simple visual reminders of everyday beauty.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1olOMGg3m5/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

6. Plan - Put Your Hopes into Action

Currently, I find myself moving into the planning part of customizing my home, but admittedly, it is easier to dream and hope that it will all come together. But hoping and dreaming won't bring it to fruition. While certainly, the first part of the journey may be a hope or a dream, it cannot be where we remain.

Referring back to the premise of Tharp's book and #1 on this list, growth needs to be perpetually occurring in our lives, and so, we must step forward and put our hopes into action. How? By planning, and tending to each step listed in the plan. Sometimes it is hard to actually make the step toward our desired goal, but the momentum provided with each step, makes the next step easier. Seeing your money being spent on whatever detail, item or necessary piece of the journey needs to be spent can be initially hard to do, but if your plan is clear and your goal is in alignment with your values, you will reflect upon the money spent as an investment and be thankful for your courage to step forward and put your hopes into action.

7. Strengthen and Maintain Your Stamina

"While many of our physical tools diminish noticeable as we age—speed, flexibility, and power—we don't have to lose stamina."

Moving your body, keeping your muscles strong, on a regular basis will fundamentally keep your stamina strong. And what helps build and strengthen and maintain your muscles? Repetitions done regularly. It may not be fun initially, but in reference to #3, find an approach that engages you, and cultivate it into a habit that is part of your daily/weekly routine. Tharp has a handful of suggestions on pages 96-7. Eventually, the stamina turns into endurance which is "a combination of willpower, focus, intention and grit—essentially a matter of character and mental toughness".

"The wonderful thing about stamina: it doesn't deplete through a long period of grinding work; with sustained commitment, it builds and builds, up to the moment when you need it most".

8. Small changes can make a big difference

"When I can't build a cathedral, I build a bridge to get there."

Whether you are trying to welcome new habits into your life as the new year begins, trying to build a dream that will take time to materialize, the small steps, the small actions and small everyday dedicated efforts will eventually lead to the grand change and actualization you seek.

9. Build a foundation for your future

Compound interest plays a role in our physical and future physical lives as well as in our financial lives. When we "work hard now to reap greater rewards in the future instead of finding [ourselves] in a panic at your dwindling account", we are building a future of a wealthy good healthy life well into our later years. The working hard is doing what you can now as early as you can in your life physically to maintain the three pillars of a healthy body: strength, flexibility, aerobic (view more Health & Fitness posts in TSLL's Archives). Start where you are, but push through the necessary discomfort, aka as challenging pain (but be aware of the difference between that and warning or chronic pain).

Each time I have taken a week off from yoga or the first time I hop on my skis in the new winter season, 48 hours later my muscles are talking to me. It is not a bad pain, in fact, I applaud myself for pushing myself further, but I also am reminded to get back on the regular schedule so that I do not have to feel it everytime for the same reasons.

10. Dekludge

Tharp introduced the term 'kludge' to me in Keep Moving which is any short-term inelegant solution. In other words, it is using a convenient 'fix' for a hiccup or problem, but not the best fix.

To dekludge is to check our ego at the door, and this is not easy for most of us, and especially hard for some of us. As the pages of our book are turned and new chapters arise, "you have to be willing to find other ways of being in the world beyond those that have served you well throughout your life". In other words, we have to self-assess (which is a good skill to hone no matter where we are in life's journey and to practice it regularly). We have to become aware and then challenge unproductive behaviors in order to live our most fulfilling and best life.

Tharp suggests our kludges are "all trade-offs and allowances [we] make to deal with deflating circumstances—by ignorning, tolerating, or avoiding the situation. Sometimes we're aware that we're settling for less than optimal. Sometimes we believe we don't have any other choice. We treat them as systematic, the way things are. These kludges shackle and slow us down." Any time you adhere to "the way you've always done it" as your sole reason for doing something, most likely, you've found a kludge that needs to be let go.

The good news is that with maturity, dekludging has the ability to be far easier.

"[With maturity], we've learned that no one else is responsible for our success or survival. It's up to us to erect a stable scaffolding that's not stressed by temporary fixes and what is left can be pretty amazing."

11. Adjust to Improve Your Life

"All master adjusters learn to push their strengths and drop everything else—resentment, insecurity, doubt, physical handicaps."

With life, we have the opportunity to gain experience, and with that experience we can handle new life experiences far better than without the earned experience. And perhaps life's difficulties never become easier, only different, but because we have the past experiences, we are able to better and more easily navigate through them without working ourselves up into a frenzy or racheting up our stress-levels unnecessarily. In other words, we become better able to soar through life and not be knocked down by the gulls and gusts that will inevitably happen because we know how to foresee their coming further from a distance and either avoid them altogether or when caught by surprise, dance with them rather than fight them so as to preserve our energy to better enjoy the many good moments that await on the other side of the storm.

12. Become Keepers of the Quotidian

"Finding absolute beauty in the humble, the everyday, the living, the growing, the becoming is a skill that can be practiced with more than just the eye."

Using all of our senses as we go about our day is a skill to master for living well. Sometimes being so acutely aware can be heartbreaking which means we need to live consciously and choose how we engage with the world and who we engage with. However, once we are aware of the power of engaging all of our senses, our everyday (quotidian) lives magically appear to be in brilliant Monet-esque color. From the scent of the rain that falls on the dry ground, to the feel of the fresh, seasonal produce picked up at the market to the sound of chirping birds enjoying their morning meal in your yard's bird feeder, when we pay attention to these details with our whole being, our appreciation and love of life rises.

Good health asks of us to invest each day, but the investments need not be expensive or back-breakingly painful. How wonderful to understand that simply by instituting enjoying daily habits we can improve our overall well-being to further ease our mind that not only is our present more enjoyable to experience but so too will be our future.

I highly recommend Twyla Tharp's new book, Keep Moving. I whizzed through it during my two week holiday this past month as she offers her own experience as a renowned dancer and choreographer who is now in her 70s as evidence of what indeed does work, as well as introduces readers to many others who have inspired her journey of good health and wellness of mind and body.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:




Petit Plaisir:

—Simple Bouquets combining two different textured, but similar hued floral varietals - one more formal, one more whimsical. Not only will this save money, but it will add a depth of intrigue and beauty beyond a single varietal bouquet.

~See a couple of examples below from my own home.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5xdmv8gpnL/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4-g-QNgWia/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5QiT9vAtoS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

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.

1.All behaviors happen due to the occurrence of a prompt

"The Fogg Maxim #1: Help yourself do what you already want to do by designing a good prompt"

Fogg shares many different examples of how prompts permeate all areas of our lives. The example that resonated with me was his example regarding taking a shower, "After a shower, I always dry off. After I dry off, I always walk into the bedroom", etc. etc. etc. There are three different types of prompts that we can choose from and that we are guided by in our behaviorial routines: person, action and context prompts. Action prompts, such as the one shared above are the most useful because they serve as an anchor. Attach the behavior you want to happen to a behavior/action that is already happening and will happen habitually. One I have incorporated over the years and have continued to do without fail (which surprised me at first how quickly it took hold) whether I am in my house or traveling is upon going to bed (which will happen every evening), I take a glass full of water with me and place it by my bed. Upon waking in the morning, the only way it is returned to the kitchen is if it is empty. A hydration habit that encourages me to drink more water.

Fogg also discusses what he titles "Pearl Habits" which are habits that are prompted by an irritant outside of our control. As I shared in the first post of the year, we can only create the change we seek when it involves ourselves and internal responses or behaviors; in other words, to set a goal that involves the behavior of someone else is a futile goal as we have no control over the other person without manipulation. When it comes to Pearl Habits, use the irritant as a prompt to do something that is positive or helpful for your everyday life. The example shared in the book is an ex-wife who coparents with a husband who is quite negative and her response each time his unwanted behavior or comments arise is a prompt to her to practice a mini moment of self-care in her daily routine. Each of our irritants and habits will be unique to our situations and lives, but even the unwanted events beyond our control can be helpful in pursuit of the change we seek in the new year.

2. Remove unwanted prompts

"You can disrupt a behavior you don't want by removing the prompt."

From removing unhealthy food and drink from your cupboards or refrigerator to moving the television into another room to inspire more conversation and gathering in the main living area, removing the prompt that tempts us to return to behaviors and habits that are not helpful is one of the simplest solutions to instituting the permanent change we seek.

3. Understand this truth: You change best by feeling good — not by feeling bad

"What happens in your brain when you experience positive reinforcement isn't magic —it's neuro-chemical."

Fogg refers to Instagram in his example of how positive emotions help to quickly create a habit. We snap a photo, we easily filter the image, we share. The feeling of sharing a "unique artistic creation" bolsters your sense of capability and thus inspires you to continue to use the app. Not only was the Ability part taken care of as it was very simple to do, it was also positively rewarding - the must-have ingredient of emotion. "Emotions create habits. Not repetition. Not frequency. Not fairy dust. Emotions."

4. Celebrate to permanently integrate the habits you want into your life

"Celebration is the best way to create a positive feeling that wires in your new habits . . . in addition, celebration teaches us how to be nice to ourselves — a skill that pays out the biggest dividends of all."

In episode #163, the show shared how improving happiness in your life is a rewiring of the brain, a creating of new neurological tracks. We truly can change how we see the world and go about our days and thus experience more happiness and contentment if we consciously choose to do so. This is where celebrating comes in, and I LOVE this component. :)

Quickly, celebrating is not equivalent to rewards (Fogg explains this in detail), but after reading his explanation: celebration need not be a giving of something to yourself (that is a reward), but celebration must come immediately after you have completed the new behavior you wish to become a habit - that is when the rewiring in your brain begins to take place. It is possible for a reward to simultaneously be a celebration, but not easy to do as it must come immediately afterward. The good news about this distinction is that it will cost you nothing. Celebration is just as it sounds - a burst of exultation, a happy dance, a humming of a happy tune that just makes you happy each time you sing it, a jump into the air with a grand grin on your face.

It may sound silly at first, but think about instances with young children who are learning any skill, even when I think about my pups and training them, when we give immediate praise to those who are under our care, we demonstrate what is wanted and thus makes them feel good due to the praise. This is nurture at its most basic, and we've been nurtured by others our entire lives whether we knew it or not - applauded for certain choices and behaviors, etc. Once we realize we can do this for ourselves to incorporate positive habits into our daily lives, we can be the cheerleader for ourselves, and we need to be. The simple act of celebration begins to gradually and then significantly rewire our brains to seek out the space for the behavior to happen as it actually will prompt the release of dopamine, the feel good hormone.

5. Improve relationships by understanding Fogg's Behavior Model

What is Fogg's Behavior Model (the book provides many helpful visuals), simply it follows this equation: Behavior = Motivation & Ability & Prompt. When these three components converge at the same time, the habit takes root, and Fogg disputes the claims that have been made endlessly, (even here on TSLL, so I am correcting myself now) that there need to be a particular amount of repetitions of a new habit for it to become habituated. Not so, he states because if it feels good to engage in the new behavior (#3), the habit will form very quickly (he brings the readers attention to a teenager receiving a new smart phone and their habit of checking it incessantly if given the freedom to do so without practice).

When we understand the model, and how it works in our lives, we can better observe and therefore, understand the behavior in others. We may not be able to change the behavior as other people need to make their own choices, but if we are providing the prompt, or if we are making the ability easier or if we are providing the motivation, that is what is in our control, and we can change each of these if we do not like the behavior that is the result. Similarly, as a parent or a partner or a loved one, we can have conversations that are based on logic and reasoning allowing the emotion that may have caused electricity in prior conversations (and not the good kind of electricity) for potentially a more productive dialogue.

6. Cultivate an environment that prompts the change you seek

"The skill of redesigning your environment makes your habits easier to do."

Earlier I shared how removing the negative prompts is helpful, but so to is cultivating an environment that encourages the change you seek. If you are working on improving your eating habits, create as Fogg and his partner have done - a SuperFridge - glass containers filled with food ready to eat - food that is healthy, delicious and beckons them to enjoy it. Not only is the food supportive of the healthy habits they seek, but it is also aesthetically pleasing to look at, inviting to the eye. The Motivation component of Fogg's Behavior Model is tended to which then adds to the Ability component and the Prompt is as simple as being hungry and opening the door of the fridge. Boom! A new positive behavior begins.

7. Master your mind, and step into the identity you wish to embody

"When you can let go of old identities and embrace new ones, you will soar in your ability to go from tiny to transformative."

Fogg explains how psychologically "all humans have a strongly rooted drive to act in a way that is consistent with their identity . . . there is a good evolutionary reason for this —when food, shelter, and other resources depend on group unity and collaboration, it is critical to reliably predict what a person is going to do." Simply by understanding why our current identity is something that may be hard to step away from, but also knowing that when we "successfully embrace an identity shift in one area [we] often prompt change in other areas", we increase the skill of mastering our mind.

Fogg suggests going to events or learning the language or spending time or reading books by experts in what you are trying to learn, understand or improve. Simply by shifting your environment, you begin to shift your identity. For example, if you are want to improve your skills in a particular sport or physical activity, attend events or read books or attend lectures by experts in the field. If you wish to improve your ability to cook with ease in the kitchen without recipes, seek out those chefs or cookbooks or even watch Chopped which shares people doing exactly what you hope to do so that you can with ease step into your kitchen each day and cook a delicious, yet far-less-time-consuming meal.

8. Tiny successes, when cultivated consistently, will lead to transformative change

"Start where you want to on your path to change. Allow yourself to feel successful. Then trust the process."

Chapter 6 focuses on the transformative change that can take place when you grow your habits through the Tiny Habits process (a confluence of Motivation+Ability+Prompt). But more importantly, we must begin with a clear idea of the change we wish to make. Fogg uses the analogy of designing a garden we wish to grow into a beautiful and abundant space of Mother Earth in our own backyard. Once we know what want to grow, we can then begin cultivating the behaviors that will enable what we plant to successfully reach their fullest potential. Where to begin? Start small (refer back to the quote above). Start so small, it is almost too easy to think, you are creating new habits. Fogg began his flossing habit, but simply flossing one tooth at a time. Yep, one tooth. This allowed him to feel successful from the first attempt. And as he reminds, "Success leads to success". The reason for the first attempt to be successful is that you want to create momentum, so remove the "demotivators. This allows the natural motivator (often it's hope) to blossom, which in turn can sustain the new behavior over time". Once your motivation begins to rise, you begin to see your confidence in your own ability to make the necessary change rise, and you begin to understand you can do harder behaviors as well.

The more I read Fogg's book and came to better understand his Behavior Model, the more I realized what he claimed to be true in the introduction: Many of us have had the wrong instruction manual all along, and while some of us may have been successful in spite of the misdirection, none of us should blame ourselves for not being successful in our pursuit to welcome positive change into our lives. I am of the understanding that as Marie Forleo shared and titled her new book Everything is Figureoutable, and as Tiny Habits reveals, we just need to understand more fully how the mind works when it comes to habit creation. Thankfully, it truly can be more simple than we may have thought. We can feel good throughout the process of improving our health, relationships, daily routines, etc. We do not have to punish ourselves and we do not have to have an expensive reward to motivate us to try to do something that seems difficult. We need only to increase the motivation, remove the unhelpful prompts, chose an easier task so we believe we can do it from the beginning and then celebrate immediately when we complete the new behavior each time.

I am confident we can each apply this method.

I shared at the top of the post that I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine after reading the book, so I wanted to share:

  • Removing all tech from my bedroom (I had removed my phone a handful of years ago, but my iPad snuck into my sleeping space as it provides an alarm and my music in the morning, and then, you guessed it, scrolling in the morning as well). How? I am removing the prompt - the iPad will be placed outside of my bedroom, but still be able to be heard and then be placed on a sleep timer at night (I enjoy listening to music to fall asleep).
  • Incorporating more ab strength exercises into my routine. My busy schedule has found me being inconsistent in my strength routine, so I am scaling back, but doing only one rep each work day morning upon getting out of bed. The motivation is that it seems easy and insignificant (but it's not!) and the prompt will be stepping out of bed each morning to let the boys outside (while they are outside, I will quickly tend to one rep of strength).
  • And then the celebrating takes place immediately after each successful behavior. :)

If you are determined, as I am to institute changes into your life that will fundamentally support the quality life you wish to live, I highly recommend BJ Fogg's new book Tiny Habits. Hopefully today's episode gave you insight into what the book entails. I appreciated his detailed explanations and visuals, and his ability to share a multitude of examples helped tremendously.

~Learn more about the book: —BJ Fogg, PhD., author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything (Dec. 31, 2019)

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Learn How to Truly Savor Everyday Moments & Watch It Elevate Your Life, episode #163

~The Road to Success is Paved with Happiness, episode #194

~Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year, episode #241

~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93

~3 Crucial Components to Acquiring New Habits


Petit Plaisir:

~Little Women, the film, Greta Gerwig's adaptation

95% - Rotten Tomatoes; Roger & Ebert 4/4 stars

~Listen to Audible's new version of Little Women, read by Lauren Dern (I highly recommend after listening during a 7 hour car ride over the holidays - multiple character voices and sound effects). Remember to go to audible.com/simplesophisticate to earn a 30-free trial AND one free audio book.

Opening weekend and Christmas Day release earnings: $16.5-million weekend and a five-day total of $29 million since its Christmas opening, a major performance for a smaller-audience film with a budget dwarfed by the top two films. —U.S. News, source

https://youtu.be/9kQuf-dRBGw

https://youtu.be/AST2-4db4ic

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

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

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.

City

GOAL: Layers of style that provide warmth when necessary from the rain and chill, but walkability as you make your way about the city on foot, the tube, bus or taxi.

1.Ankle boots (flat or with a slight heel) to wear with jeans or pants (my Eileen Fisher suede pair seen on the chevron floors of Burberry - here is a similar pair)

2. A short trench, works well with jeans (more casual outfits) and over midi dresses if the quality is top-notch (use promo code RLFAMILY to save 30% site-wide through October 15, 2019). For a full trench, or how to find the perfect trench for you, read my post after visiting the Burberry flagship store in London - The Perfect Trench is Personal.

3. Light-weight high-quality sweater (for layering)

4. Button-up collar shirt

5. Scarves - light-weight, yet autumnal hues (these scarves offer many color options and are well-priced)

6. Pants or dark denim jeans

7. Midi dress, wear with #8

~The Royal Albert Hall~

8. Knee-high boots with a slight heel (pack your toiletries and beauty styling utensils inside your boots to save space in your suitcase)

9. A sturdy pocket umbrella (James Smith & Sons are one of the longest running British umbrella businesses and used by the Royal household). You can order online (5-6 color options), or visit their shop in London for even more colors and patterns.

10. Short or long sleeve blouses (silk or light-weight material for layering)

11. Worn in, yet stylish walking shoes for those days when you will be visiting many places and be on your feet most of the day.

~the Dale Chihuly scultipure see in the entrance in the Victoria and Albert Museum~

Country

GOAL: Layers for warmth when the rain fall in misty waves never-ending and days and evening strolling about the many towns and shops you come across as well as hikes about the hills and along the coastline.

~the rolling hills in Northern Devon~

1.Wellies, choose a size and shaft height you feel most comfortable wearing

2. A light-to-medium weight coat that is rain-resistant. I brought my Patagonia coat, and it was perfect.

3. A stocking cap. Primarily it misted often, but when it rained heavily, I stayed inside. If you will be outside when it rains heavily, bring a raincoat with a hood, such as these from Columbia available in many different colors and figure flattering.

~a quiet country road in northern Devon~

4. Jeans, comfortable for walking, but also capable of transitioning for a nice, casual outing. These J Brand jeans are a classic style - straight-leg - in a timeless color (darker blue is available).

5. Button-up collar shirts, I gravitate toward Shirtini's for their variety and classic cuts and colors

6. Gloves, water repellant, yet warm also

7. Flat or low-heel ankle boots

8. Light-weight sweater or long-sleeve tee

The lists shared above were based on my own travel experiences in the city and the countryside during my trip in November 2017. If you will be traveling in early autumn, bring a few lighter and shorter layers (sleeves, even shorts perhaps), but no matter when you travel during this season, if you pack items that layer well, you should be prepared for any occasion.

Of course, your go-to handbag for day and one for evening is a good idea to pack as well, and I have even purchased a blow-dryer, rather than worry about adapters as blow-dryers often have more wattage than my adapter can handle. This was a choice I made, and it just made it simpler as the blow-dryer was not all that expensive and I just stow it away in my closet for my next trip to Britain.

May you have the opportunity to visit Britain soon, and when you do, feel free to stop back by and share what worked for you!

~Click here for the SHOPTAGR App and to be entered automatically for a giveaway to win $250.


SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~10 News Items & Inspirational Ideas for Anglophiles (September 2019)

~episode #185, Give Yourself Permission to be Awkward

~TSLL's Latest British Week Round-Up of Posts (May 2019)

~You Might Be An Anglophile If . . . (30 signs)

~My Devon Vacation Cottage

~London Perfect: A Traveler's Sanctuary

~My Discoveries in the Devon Countryside


Petit Plaisir:

~Floret's Flowers, purchasing bulbs in the fall for spring!

~Starting today (and they go fast, so shop soon), Floret's Flowers is selling their bulbs (daffodils, tulips, ranunculus and more) until they are sold out. Last year I purchased two packages of daffodils (40 total) that I fell in love with this past spring and have since brought with me to my new home. I am looking to pick up some tulips this time, and cannot recommend the quality of her bulbs more highly. Unfortunately, she does not ship internationally, but wherever you purchase bulbs, the fall season is the time to plant them so that in the spring you will be greeted from the long winter with their beautiful fresh colors.



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)

Now to the top 10 episodes of 2019 based on the number of downloads.

10.

34 Inspiring Daily Rituals to Ignite Your Creativity, episode #255


9.

Celebrating the JOMO and Enjoying Your Unique Chosen Life Journey, episode #251


8.

How to Create a Beckoning Sanctuary That Reflects Your Life Journey, episode #250


7.

A Lesson, for Women Especially, to Learn Sooner, episode #249


6.

22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment in either time or money, episode #258


5.

Why Not . . . Tailor Your Life to Fit You? , episode #246

A well-designed life is a life that makes sense . . . a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions." Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans


4.

31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care and Exponentially Improve the Quality of Your Life, episode #242

Mary Beth Janssen describes in her 2017 The Book of Self-Care, "No amount of massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, healthy food or exercise will sustain us over the span of our lives if not experienced from the layer of our being that is pure consciousness." In other words, there is deeper work that needs to be done, but we can still incorporate these surface, pleasure-finding practices into our self-care regimen.


3.

36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life, episode #253

"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living


2.

12 Ways to Make Your Mornings Magical, episode #243

"When you take control of your mornings, you take control of your days. You get to engage with the world under your terms. You can act, instead of react." —Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning Millionaires


1.

Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year, episode #241

“In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process.” —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.


The next new episode will go live wherever you listen to podcasts on Monday January 6, 2020. I'll "see" you in the new year!

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

TOP PODCAST EPISODES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS:




Top 10 Episodes of 2015 & Fall/Winter 2014 (the show's premiere!)


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.

1.Save money and help the forest and go hunting for your holiday tree in the National or State Forest lands (check your permit for rules regarding where and what type of tree you can cut down).

Here in the Pacific Northwest, keeping the forest healthy can be a community effort, and cutting your tree during the holiday season (for only $5/permit) is a simple way to do so. Learn more here.

~Check out my trip to the woods near Mt. Bachelor to find my holiday tree this year.

~Norman exploring in the woods after fresh snow had fallen while I hunt for a tree.~

2. Elevate the tree

As someone who loves a tree all alight to illuminate the home during the short days of December, I also realize how many decorations are needed to decorate a large tree. And admittedly, getting down on my hands and knees to water the tree has never been easy as you try not disturb the decorations or pour water on the tree skirt.

Having the opportunity with my house having vaulted ceilings, I opted for a 5 1/2 foot tree and placed it on my pub table. All of my reasons listed above were resolved and I still had a tree that was quite grand as well as far easier to cut and bring back to the car.

~On top of my pub table, while not straight yet, I am loving how much easier it is to decorate and water.~

You may remember I have explored with a variety of sizes for trees over the years (2018, 2016 (a very short and small tree), 2015, 2014, 2013, ), but this height seems to just be perfect - for the amount of ornaments and lights I have as well as my

3. Make natural ornaments

Simple is best when it looks as though it belongs, naturally so, when it comes to tree decorating. Adding hand-crafted decor items such as a string of popcorn, dried oranges or pinecones topped with a simple ribbon and jute string, the pinecones picked up on your own property (such as the case for me with a sole tree in my yard), or during a walk out in the woods, adds depth and dimensions without excess.

Last weekend, inspired by the many different ideas my mother as donned on her own tree, I gathered up a basket of pinecones, set them by the fire for a morning to dry and then using a hot glue gun, attached jute string to the top of the cone, let it dry and then made a bow out of ribbon and hot glued the bow to the top of the pinecone. In fewer than 30 minutes I had a new set of decorations.

4. Hang decorations which hold memories of love, celebration and your journey

As you may have noticed from my previous trees over the years, I primarily hung glittery ribbon and shiny stars and delicate balls; however, each year I had personalized ornaments from my childhood and handmade ornaments from my maternal grandmother. Sometimes it takes us time to understand or know how to decorate in such a way that truly fits with who we are. I don't begrudge how I decorate during those year. I had fun exploring and trying new ideas that caught my eye, and perhaps in the future my preferences will change again. However, this year and for the foreseeable future, I want my tree to feel good (priority #1) and then look good (priority #2).

So this year I have hung the handmade pinecone ornaments that symbolize the home I have the opportunity to call my own, ornaments that were handmade by my grandmother, ornaments from my childhood given to me each year by my parents and given to me by my grandparents, as well as now one new ornament from the life journey given to myself each year. This year, it is the copper teapot (brought to my attention by TSLL reader Molly, thank you so very much!). A tree that is certainly signature and makes me smile each time I see it throughout the day.

~One of the handmade pinecones alongside one of my first ornaments given to be by my grandmother.~

~2019's new addition! The Copper Teapot!~

5. Selectively or elect to not have a tree topper

Similar to my journey in decorating shared above, often my tree topper would be a generic star that I picked up at the local craft store to match the other generic details that adorned the tree. However, after much thought, this year I elected to not have a tree topper, donate my old ones and instead, on the highest branch place a papillon ornament which speaks to the name I have given my home symbolizing something meaningful to me and the journey I am on.

Again, your choice to top or not top, and if so, with what, will be unique to you, so that each time you look up, you too smile and are either inspired, comforted about the life you have lived, have the opportunity to live and hope to live moving forward.

~Yep, here is the tree (more pics will be shared on Wednesday), perfectly imperfect and if you look closely at the top, you will see the butterfly (papillon)~

6. Utilize small copper or metal baking dishes as candle holders.

I recently was inspired by a fellow recipient of Sharon Santoni's My Stylish French Box when I saw she used her canelé molds (received in the first Dans Ma Cuisine themed box - the next one will be her next box! Reserve yours now before they sell out - if it is anything like the previous one, you will not be disappointed). As I do not make canelés very often (okay, I have yet to make them for myself - but it's on my list to try!), I wanted to use the molds somehow as they are simply beautiful.

~the cookies were the forefront of this picture as I was taking pics for the recipe, but you can see the canelé molds in the background.~

However, admittedly, copper canelé molds are not cheap, so another alternative is to use brioche molds. Often silver in color, they are unique in their tulip edge design and provide lovely light reflection.

Then simply stock up on tea lights (purchase 50 for $7), buying in bulk and purchasing candles in tin rounds so the wax doesn't melt into the molds.

Brioche molds (four different sizes)


7. Use the trimmed boughs from the tree as decor placed about the home

8. Choose green, your preferred shade of green, as your accent color instead of red.

Granted, each of us will have a preferred color we want to adorn our homes with to signify and celebrate the winter holiday season, and the choice of green, a soft sage green is mine. However, it did not used to be, which demonstrates that our tastes certainly do change.

Part of the reason I prefer, and have unconsciously preferred sage or the under-side-of-an-olive-leaf green (as Patricia Wells described) is because it spans beyond Christmas and into the new year, and as I grow older I especially enjoy the final two weeks of the year and the first week of the new year, and I want my home decor to look fresh rather than bright. Now if red had been my year-round decor color, perhaps it would be too much for my aesthetic taste, but I typically use muted neutral hues, so the red is a bit intense for me, and so the green was chosen for my ornaments' ribbon and other ribbons used with decor about the home. Choosing green or one primarily color does not mean we cannot welcome others into our plan, but it certainly helps with coordinating and unifying the decor ideas (as well as shopping each year should we wish to add or replace anything).

9. Make your own unique garland

Mix faux and fresh, twist multiple garlands into one large garland, add small white garland lights and replace the fresh boughs when they have dried with new ones. As well, add dried herbs you have kept from your garden to add delicious scent and John's Wort or Eucalyptus to add a unique and different texture.

10. Hygge it up

Candles, candles and more candles. A home illuminated with candles, and not because of a power outage, is a beautiful, welcoming and calming place to be. Don't be afraid to keep one or two electric table lamps on as well if all candles may be too overwhelming, but having enjoyed an evening over the weekend in which the afternoon began to drift into evening and daylight disappeared, the tea candles were lit as well as the tree, and the house just felt as though it was one big hug (oh, and Charlie Brown's Christmas soundtrack was also playing, which made it all the more lovely :)).

~An Episode to Listen To: Hygge Phenomenon and Living Simply Luxuriously, episode #148

11. Save money and use the same white outdoor bulb lights used during the summer season while dining al fresco in the late evenings.

12. Reduce, reorganize and donate holiday decor for simpler decorating next year

I shared in the most recent TSLL Weekly Newsletter, letter from the editor, that last weekend I took the time to go through all of my winter holiday decor. The result was one fewer boxes of stuff, donating perfectly fine decor that I no longer used or wanted to the local donation center and freeing up storage space, as well as clearly labeling what I have so I know where to find it next year. What a liberating feeling, especially since I became more clear about how I wanted to decorate my home and what no longer was part of my decor aesthetic.

Decorating simply will differ depending upon how you have decorated in previous years and what brings you comfort, as well as joy. As we become ever more thoughtful about how and why we decorate the way we do, the winter holiday season will become infused even more deeply with appreciation and deep, true contentment as we celebrate and gather with those we love. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for the upcoming new year tout le monde.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:





Petit Plaisir

~Quadruple Chocolate Cookies with All the Chips

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.

~Reader/Listener Note: Each point shared below is discussed in more detail in the audio version.

1.Extend Kindness and Forgiveness to Yourself as well as Others

"The bravery needed to change your life is easier to find when you are kind to yourself. Good things take time, so patience is also required."

2. Appreciate the Daily Journey - Find Joy in the Everyday

"Things fall into place when happiness is already found."

3. Let Go of the Need for Validation and Share Yourself with the World

"Taking risks requires courage, but we cannot control everything . . . learning and daring to think without limitations, and not trying to control how things will flow to us."

The most common regret: "wishing they had been true to themselves".

~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself? (3 part series)

~Explore TSLL's 1st book in which a detailed conversation is shared about how to tap into your true self.

4. Simplify to "Untrap" Yourself

"The things we often think we need are sometimes the things that keep us trapped in an unfulfilled life. Simplicity is the key to changing this. Letting go of the need for validation through ownership or the expectations of others also brings freedom."

5. Make the Scary Changes

"Just as [trappings] were created over time . . . they can be undone over time. It is a delicate process of determination, bravery and, at times, letting go. It is having the courage to stop unhealthy relationships in their tracks and say 'Enough'. It is treating yourself with respect and kindness, both of which we deserve."

~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Your Fear is Speaking

6. Overcome and Become the Master of Your Mind

"It is the heart that guides us to joy, not the mind. Overcoming the mind and letting go of others' opinions allows us to hear our own heart. Having the courage to then follow it is where true happiness lies. In the meantime, keep cultivating the heart while mastering the mind. As the heart grows, life brings more joy and peace. A happy life want us , as much as we want it."

~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: How to be the Master of Your Mind, episode #20

7. Be honest with yourself, and get out of your own way

"My lessons had been in how to allow [fulfillment and pleasure], which was through faith and self-love. I just had to get out of my own way first. That was where the real work lay — learning to own my own thoughts, by clearing away the debris that stopped me [from] letting it all flow."

8. Smile at your humanness, let go of perfectionism

"If occasional blockages now surface, I am patient and loving with myself while working through them. Self-discovery is more joyful. I can smile at my humanness."

~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Stop Getting in Your Own Way?

9. Understand Being Yourself Will Require Great Courage

"It takes enormous courage sometimes. But being who we are, whoever that is, sometimes cannot even be articulated at first even to ourself. All we know is there is a yearning within that is not being fulfilled by the life we are currently living."

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

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:


Petit Plaisir

~Maison Balzac mini candles

~Personalized/Customized Holiday Cards from Papier

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5yb5OUAmEI/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

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 will share a list of books, podcasts, television shows and art exhibits 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

~image via The New York Times~

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.

2. Scarves

Just about every person you will see in Paris, men and women will be donning a scarf that is functional and subtly (or sometimes not so subtle) chic and perfectly paired with their outfit. Pack a wool or cashmere scarf for layering with your coat as well as silk large square scarves for wearing with your outfit after the coat has been removed.

3. Opaque tights

Whether you prefer classic opaque black tights or what the French call collants fantaisie hosierie, tights with details in them, having a pair to keep your legs warm when you still want to wear a skirt or dress is a simple, yet necessary detail to have packed in your suitcase.

4. Ankle boots

Worn with pants, jeans or skirts and dresses, ankle boots are a go-to must-have for the fall season.

5. A Leather or Faux Leather jacket

Layering is the approach to ensure you have what you need to stay warm, but also look pulled together. A leather jacket is a versatile item pairing well for casual occasions as well as evening outings. Choose a color that works well with your wardrobe and skin tone, and don't feel you have purchase a black jacket. Shades of brown or grey are a wonderful neutral choice depending upon what you will be pairing with it.

6. Knee-high or Over-the-Knee boots

Depending upon your style, choose a boot shaft that is tall, but slender. Over-the-knee boots are quite en vogue at the moment and actually have been worn by style icons for years, those that had the aplomb to wear them. And wear them well they most certainly did. With more and more price points available, if you have a nice slim skinny jean or a skirt that is knee or just above the knee length, consider having some fun with this style. However, knee-high boots will always be in style and work well with all ages and wardrobes. If you are comfortable with a little bit of a heel, knowing you will be walking about in them a bit more than usual, go for a heel, but if not, keep them low or flat.

7. Skirts — day skirts that can transition

Knee length or just below the knee skirts are frequently seen on the streets of Paris. Depending upon your body's shape, choose a cut that flatters your figure, but is also versatile to pair with a sweater, your leather jacket as well as a nice blouse.

8. Jeans and/or pants

Whatever you feel most comfortable in and can dress up or down easily, pack two or three - jeans, pants or a mixture. Dark denim if you choose jeans and a color of pant that can be worn with at least two different tops you have brought with you.

9. A Trench coat and/or a Wool coat

Depending upon what time of the fall season you will be visiting, one or both of these coats is a good idea. Wool coats will be ubiquitous in the winter season, but there will still be warm and temperate days in early fall in which a trench would be perfect.

10. Loafers or sneakers

Sneakers are not a no-no anymore so long as they are not trainers. With a vast array of wardrobe sneakers to choose from at varying price points, find a color (white is popular, but it need not be the only neutral choice) that works best with the other items you have brought with you.

Loafers on the other hand can be quite comfortable as well and are perfect on those mild fall days in which letting your ankles meet the fresh air won't chill you at all.

11. A crossbody bag

As you will be walking quite a bit, even if it is simply to hop on the metro or hail a cab, having a handbag that is secure, yet a decent size without being overwhelming is a good idea. While pickpocketers are certainly something to be aware of, and a crossbody bag will help you keep your purse secure, choosing a bag that is just large enough for what you need is perfect for walking about as well as traveling to and from Paris. And since you are in France, why not choose a Polène Numero Un or Numero Un mini?

TSLL's 1st book dedicates an entire chapter to international travel, and specifically traveling to and about Paris. Here is an excerpt from the book on How to Master the Metro

12. A long-sleeve blouse

Choosing a blouse in a print (is always a simple way to make a statement with the other neutral items in your wardrobe) or a solid that pairs with at least two bottoms in your suitcase is a way to offer versatility for both day and evening.

13. One or two dresses

While your wardrobe will be dependent upon your itinerary and what you will be visiting and how you best prefer to enjoy the city, pack one or two dresses. Midi-length is quite popular right now and flattering to many different figures and ages. Depending upon how you most feel comfortable dressing up, make sure you have at least one nice evening outfit. If that is a dress, pack the dress that raises your confidence meter at least two notches. For day, choose a dress that allows you to move, sit, stand and still look wonderful.

Wearing what makes you feel your best, so much so that you can forget about your clothes and just enjoy being in Paris is possible when the wardrobe is thoughtfully compiled. These items should keep you warm, but also trés effortlessly chic. Finish with a scarf, and a curious heart and mind, and you will look absolutely stunning.

~Click here for the SHOPTAGR App and to be entered automatically for a giveaway to win $500.


SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain, episode #263

~22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment, episode #258

~Top 10 Style & Beauty Lessons Learned from the French, episode #196

~View all TSLL's Archived French-Inspired posts and podcast episodes


Petit Plaisir:

~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow

~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow

Nov 05, 2019
265: Let's Talk Relationships (with Ourselves & Others): Before & During, Embracing Chance and Choice
28:12

"A true love story isn't a fairy tale. It takes vulnerability and effort."

Contentment versus misery. Peace versus malcontentment. Joy versus heartache.

What separates a life of the former from the life of the latter in each of these side-by-sides is knowing when to leave life up to chance and when to choose to invest purposely, intentionally and regularly.

To successfully reach the result we desire, as with any process, there is a particular order in which certain ingredients must be welcomed into the recipe. Just as with making an awakening cup of espresso, not only do the beans need to be of high quality, but the proper tools must be at-hand and the knowledge of how to use them properly understood. Equally important, the water used that filters through the ground beans must be of high quality, and then, after the necessary process has been tended to, then, the results we wished to see and experience with our own eyes and tastebuds will materialize and savored.

Understanding relationships, from the one we will have our entire lives - the one with ourselves, to the relationships we have with others, either platonic or romantic, and how healthy relationships work, and what they require of each of us is life-changing knowledge to possess.

The "Before"

"There are no directions. There are no checklists. There’s no “to do” when it comes to love, there’s only “to feel” and feeling cannot be predetermined, it cannot be forced. It arises when we move from our heads into our hearts, stay present, and let go; when we drop our typical millennial, achievement-driven style and instead, remember, the only thing truly in our control is our ability to surrender."Dr. Jordana Jacobs, in a recent article for We Are Doré

I recently received a question from a TSLL reader in her mid-to-late twenties, and I appreciated her candid and sincere question about relationships in which she inquired about how to not be envious of those already in relationships when she is not in one and would like to be. The question inquired about my approach most specifically as she had previously shared she appreciated the celebration and contentment I express of being single (for readers who may not know, I am 40) and enjoying my life. I have shared my response below.

"Great question. I honestly, after thoughtful observation of what I needed in my own life to flourish, have not been envious [of close friends who "get into" wonderful relationships]. But I do think my temperament is suited to my lifestyle. I think, especially if you wish to be in a relationship, that if you remain open, but do not focus on finding one, it will happen when you are living a life you love no matter what that involves. The universe can surprise you in the most amazing ways."

I want to thank the TSLL reader who reached out with her question (I will keep her name private as this was a DM conversation) because I know she is not alone in her quandary. As good timing would have it, after reading this article regarding how currently the culture is approaching dating incorrectly, I found myself nodding in agreement profusely.

What I have realized upon reflection as to part of the reason my twenties were unnecessarily exhausting was the energy expended on doing what I thought I "had to do". In this case, the idea that I was supposed to be dating or seeing or getting close to finding my life partner. My experience was less about being inspired by other couples and more a response of not wanting to feel like an outsider. However, it was in my thirties that I finally, as I shared in my books, fully invested my time (outside of my daily teaching job) into getting to know myself and invest in opportunities that my curiosities led me toward. More contentment had and has never been before experienced, and in my case, it all happened without a partner and solely due to my investment in the relationshp I have with myself.

Our life's journey, as much as we would like them to be made clear, especially regarding our relationships with others, but vitally as important as the relationship we have with ourselves and where this knowledge will lead, cannot be made known before the opportunities cross our path.

When said opportunities cross our path, whether they hint where our passion could lead us or a person who we could not have described until we met them and spent time with them, if we are in tune with themselves, so thereby grounded, but also open to the unknown, that is when our lives begin to blossom.

~Related Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy:


The "During"

"Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts. A lifetime of love is created every single day you are together." —Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, co-authors of Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

As much as our lives depends upon chance when it comes to relationships (with ourselves or with others), once chance has introduced us to the career that speaks our language in a way to offer the vehicle to express our talents and passions with the world or to the person who we mesh with more than we ever thought would be humanly possible, this is where chance steps aside (after all, it has put forth an immense amount of effort) and choice steps forward.

Even though the adage "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life" has been stated as fact quite frequently, the fact of the matter is, the idea of "work" must be put into context. If "work" is seen as a having a negative connotation, then perhaps the quote is true as you are doing something you love doing, but if we look at "work" through its benign, literal definition, it involves effort, dedication, diligence and regular maintenance to ensure the career we so love having the opportunity to be a part of our lives keeps humming forward successfully.

When it comes to the latter interpretation of work, the same must be said, according to the co-authors, husband and wife, Dr. John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman, of the new book Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love , for loving, healthy romantic relationships as well.

Too often, when a couple or a desired career path fails beyond the initial success or wedding day, it is because the choice and chance were flipped. In other words, the idea that technology and endless "dating" as a "to do" item in our planners would suggest we cannot leave our love lives to chance. But as scary as it might sound, if we wish to find a partner that sees us for who we are, respects us for what we do and desires to get to know us because of this truth, we must strengthen our relationshp with ourselves first and thus fall in love with our lives with or without a partner. In doing so, we are leaving our "finding" of a partner largely up to chance. It doesn't mean we don't put ourselves out there, but it does mean putting our phones and all of the seemingly amazingly helpful apps down.

Further, once chance has led us, no matter how long it has taken, to what we patiently hoped we would one day discover, we must then regularly make the choice to continue to invest. Both with our emotional vulnerability and our time. If we want our relationship to grow, deepen, strengthen and endure whether it be our relationship with ourselves or with another, we must choose to put the energy forward of our time, our priority and our courage of belief in what seemingly magically introduced itself into our lives and we bravely recognized it to be something that aligned with ourselves.

~Related Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy:


At this moment, each of us are at a different point along our journeys whether in our career, or I would argue calling or the pursuit of our calling as well along the journey regarding relationships. Once we recognize where we are, we can discover the clarity of understanding how to proceed. With the right balance of being open to chance and embracing the responsiblity of choosing to invest, the discovery of unexpectedly awesome abundance and contentment will dance into and throughout our everyday lives.


Petit Plaisir:

~Trader Joe's Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar and Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

~A big thank you to TSLL reader Sarah for finding a recipe to make your own: click here.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B30O3MhABGA/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link


~Sponsor of Today's Episode:

~via affiliate links, some commissions are earned by TSLL. View Full Disclosures at the bottom of this page.

Oct 21, 2019
264: How to Cultivate an Elegant Home in the 21st Century
31:51

"Elegance is not something that adds stress or difficulty to our lives — quite the contrary. True elegance . . . means confidence in who you are and what you love, grace in how you handle yourself, and openness to the best in others." —interior designer Timothy Corrigan in his new book The New Elegance: Stylish, Comfortable Rooms for Today

In many ways, Timothy Corrigan's defition of elegance is a cousin to simply luxurious living.

An understanding of what speaks to you, what you need to live your best life and how to dance with the world in which you are a citizen, partner, friend and community member, is a skill and a gift that we can all welcome into our lives. And when it comes to our decor, Corrigan describes in his new book succinctly and vividly how to welcome your own unique elegance into your sanctuary.

Today I would like to share with you Corrigan's insights into cultivating an elegant home accompanied by a handful of decor images found in his new book. Having had the opportunity to peruse and read his new book which along with home tours also includes his expertise delineated clearly and specifically for Scale & Proportion, Symmetry, Architectural Details, Impactful Surfaces, The Layered Look, Art & Mirrors, The Power of Color, Mixing Elements and more tips and ideas for becoming your own interior designer, I hope you find a guiding compass of confidence to step into your own home and make the changes or updates that would align with your unique exemplification of elegance.

~Note: Upon reading Corrigan's latest decor book, it was brought to my attention that his previous book was An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Lucé: Decorating a Great French Country House (2013), and I must say, as a Francophile who loves French country homes, I quickly put it on my wish list. That one looks to be a lovely read full of inspirational decor ideas as well.

Why Add Elegance to Your Home?

"Elegance adds immense pleasure to life. To seek elegance — in your behavior, in what you wear and surround yourself with —is a treat you give to yourself and, almost inadvertently, share with those around you."

Depending upon how you most enjoy spending time in your home, you will invest in different ways. If you are someone who enjoys cooking and sharing your meals with others as a way to bring them together, then investing in a kitchen that is best suited to how you cook enabling you to do so effectively will not only bring pleasure to your life, but provide the opportunity to share with those you invite into your home.

In this way, elegance is a reflection of your true self to the world that you invite to cross the threshold of your home. It is not about one-upping or showing off, but rather cultivating a space that dances with you and the life you love living, a home that supports you through your journey and also enables you to soar. In other words, you are not burdened by your home when you choose to cultivate elegance, but rather nurtured.

Can Comfort and Elegance Exist Together?

"Comfort is not antithetical to elegance, but rather its support and backbone. No one can feel truly elegant (at least not for long) if he or she doesn't feel at ease."

When we talk about comfort, there is an underlying presence of security, thus enabling the inhabitants to fully relax and breathe deeply in their own space. Corrigan speaks to this need for security being at the underlying roots of all of his designs, "The notion of feeling cocooned, protected and pampered . . . is the one effect I consistently try to accomplish . . . an innate feeling of safety."

Each one of us will define a sense of security slightly or significantly different depending upon how we most enjoy living our lives, but either way, knowing what that definition is for ourselves is a crucial key to decorating a home that is our place of refuge.

If books nurture you, then make sure you welcome them into your home in a way that pays them reverence. In other words, let them be seen, let them be scattered if that works best for you so that you have a book wherever you may sit down to relax, let them be orderly if simply seeing them brings you a deep sigh of relief, but either way, welcome books into your home. The same can be said for any pasttime, lifeline or hobby that brings you joy and comfort - musical instruments, photos from your travels, flowers from the garden, I think you get the idea. Go forth and bring your world into your home, and then the elegance begins to flourish.

How to Live with Beautiful Items in an Elegant Home

"The secret to avoiding polishing silver is not to put it away, but to use it everyday — then you won't have to polish it . . . " [in other words] "use what you have. Use it all. Use it now. Few things are sadder than piles of exquisite porcelain and china hidden away in a cupboard, or a large house in which many of the rooms go unused."

From the porcelain teacups picked up along our travels to the china set handed down from your parents from your grandparents, use these beautiful, story-telling items regularly and often.

I will ease your mind right now and say, yes, you will break one at some time and be heartbroken, but it was being used and loved and appreciated and that how memories remain with us - the repetition of their story dancing about in our minds. And each time we use the item, the memory becomes more vivid and less likely to be forgotten if we wish it to be remembered. We cannot strengthen such a memory if we do not use the items.

Case in point, I purchased a teacup and saucer on my trip to Devon two years ago. I only have one, and if I break it, well, it's gone. There is nothing that will replace it, but because I have used it so much (see it here), not only do I have pictures of it in use, but I have used it so frequently, I can describe in detail that mug and all of those wonderful memories come rushing back.

How to Use Each Room in an Elegant Home

"Each room has a specific purpose, guaranteeing it will be used. And if something you own doesn't work for you, give it away. If a room doesn't function for the way you live, change it to make it work for you."

Similar to letting go of limiting beliefs and ways of life, so too can assuming a room must be the room the architect or previous owners planned it be and used it for.

Case in point, when I when through my-now-home the first time with my real estate agent, he noted that the small room close the rear entrance would make a great office, as it was wired to be so (internet cables, etc.). Immediately, in my mind, I said, nope. This will be a mudroom. Well, and here again, I would make it a mudroom that would serve my lifestyle and be in many ways, a rear foyer to the home as I will enter it each and everyday from the garage.

"Too often, we succumb to visions of how we want to live —in a sleek, white space, a country cottage, or a grand manse — then we feel bad when we can't live to those fantasies . . . Never buy into a trend."

As we go through our lives and if we are paying attention to when we are soaring and what helps it to feel this way, we come to realize what we need in our life's routine to feel not only grounded and secure, but comforted and strengthened. Such knowledge guides us through the decorating and appointing of each room's purpose as well.

Budget and Elegance

"Great design is not about the size of your space or the budget you spend. It is a reflection of knowing who you are and what makes you comfortable, and living confidently and happily with the objects you choose to assemble."

My apologies for using my own journey for my examples, but quickly, many readers may remember that my previously own home was 2600 sq feet. Since then I moved into a rental four years ago that was under 1500 sq feet, and it was through living in nearly half of the space that I realized what fit me and my life the best. Now, I will also share that during my first year of teaching, I rented a cottage that was 500 sq feet in Minden, Nevada. That, while thoughtfully designed to make for a cozy and safe home, was too small for my life. But again, we learn as we go.

My new home is just under 1600 square feet, perfectly tailored to my life and the life my boys need with a small, but not large yard. There will be times in our lives when we have a choice and other times when we do not, just as we may be making less money than we would like to live the life that would be more comfortable. However, along the way, we can live with elegance.

I have found that my time living in rentals — NW Portland, Nevada, NW Bend and even in college — has given me time to experiment, but also explore new ideas (remember that red wall I talked about in my first book? yep, that was a rental, and while I loved it for one year, one year was long enough). Each time, wherever I call home, I have been determined and in a variety of expected and many unexpected ways successful in creating a sanctuary that let me relax and unwind no matter no how much or how little money I earned each month.

~POST TO READ: 7 Simple Ways to Create a Sanctuary

Invest in Quality for a Home of Elegance, But Mix and Match Price Points as Well

"You should always buy the best-quality items you can afford, but not everything in a room needs to be expensive. A mix of items of different prices, different eras, and differing qualities is far more appealing."

From mixing antiques with yard sale finds, custom furniture with shabby chic family hand-me-downs that you will never want to let go, knowing how to marry these two ideas is a skill that becomes easier with time.

Much like wearing a quality pair of shoes with a simple pair of jeans and a tee, finished with a tailored blazer, the balance needs to be struck to work well and exude the elegance you seek. Not everything needs to be new or antique, but it needs to speak to the function you require in your life as well as be perceived by you, the inhabitant of the home, as beautiful. Maybe it tells a story that you never want to forget - a framed photo for example or playbill from a play you saw with your grandmother when you were young - or maybe it was an item you saved up for over months, even years, and serves as a reminder of your journey. Whatever you choose to welcome into your space, never forget that quality will last and memories can provide a comfort of confidence when you look about your home.

The Gift of Cultivating a Home of True Elegance

"I can assure you that spending each day in beautiful rooms, rooms full of personal items and objects you love, will bring meaning and solace to your life, satisfaction, and even joy."

Wanting to spend time in your home is the goal. Weekends need not be for escape from our home and everyday life when we create a space that we love spending time in whether we are with others or alone.

The decoration of our homes will take time, but with a map of what to look for, a reason for why you want to bring items into your sanctuary and what you want (and need) your sanctuary to do each time you return home, will make the puzzle you are working on bringing together much easier to complete.

~Learn more about Timothy Corrigan's book The New Elegance: Stylish, Comfortable Rooms for Today


~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Ups Living Space

~Why Not . . . Shop Consignment Decor?

~episode #260, 10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home, Part Une


Petit Plaisir

~Derry Girls, Season 1 & Season 2, on Netflix

https://youtu.be/UFmFuXH0IRY

Oct 14, 2019
262: 9 Ways to Let Go of the Myth of a Perfect Life
32:52

"When we learn how to spot the narratives that get in the way of our happiness, we improve our chances of taking control of the stories that have for so long controlled us." —Paul Dolan, author of Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life

"There are countless stories about how we ought to live our lives . . . as such, many of these stories end up creating a kind of social dissonance whereby, perversely, they cause more harm than good. They become . . . narrative traps, which together form the myth of the perfect life."

NOTE: Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as a detailed introduction and other conversation is shared.

1. Understand the difference between having wealth and being rich.

Wealth is defined as accumulated assets in the form of savings, investment and property and is more difficult to measure. Rich is often understood to be a numerical amount of cash earned in income. Looking at one's wealth is a better reflection of a person's purchasing power. In other words, simply because someone "looks rich", does not mean they are rich.

"Getting richer does not necessarily bring more happiness, partly becasue we upwardly adjust the people we compare ourselves to."

2. A happy life doesn't require you to have children

"Happy and fulfilled lives are often supported by, but certainly do not require children. There are good reasons not to have children, both at the micro and macro level. It is not helpful, therefore, to push the 'have your own kids' narrative on everyone. Finding a way to celebrate rather than undermine people's decisions to remain childfree by loosening our hold on the social narrative can have a positive societal impact."

3. Stop comparing yourself to others and putting yourself in a position to be tempted to compare.

Dolan suggests, if you are going to make comparisons, to make a comparison to any one of the other 7 billion people on our planet. Most likely you are doing very well financially. Not only will this provide perspective but also humility.

4. Let go of the pursuit for more money

Once you have a enough money to live a life in which you are not struggling for the basic necessities, Dolan suggests taking the path to "just enough". Why? When we become aware of what we truly need, we are demonstrating we are cognizant of the social comparisons and status markers that may have pushed us to pursue more in the past. Understanding why we are pursuing what we are pursuing, to truly get to the core of the urge, is to make sure we are indeed thinking for ourselevs and not being unconsciously led around by the nose due to the narrative traps we are unaware surround us constantly.

Once you stop pursuing more money, "you can stop constantly worrying". And what a gift to give yourself as your everydays will elevate immediately.

5. Reexamine what your success looks like, and let go of the pursuit for status

Conscious living is at the heart of what we're talking about today, and becoming clear about what we are pursuiting and what is pushing us to achieve it is crucial to live a more contented life.

If at the core of why you are pursuing a particular career is because of the status it will bring, applause you imagine will happen, then you are being led around by a narrative trap; however, if you are instead pursuing a field of study that ignites you, allows you to come to life and aligns with talents that naturally are easy to share, then you are on the right path for the success that will be unique to you.

6. Pursue a career in which many skills are utilized and your contributions are valued

Dolan found that those individuals who work on a job that uses a variety of skills are happier. As well, if your work is valued, that too cultivates a work environment of enjoyment. Not only is a job that asks our minds and sometimes bodies to work different skill sets and tasks healthy regular exercise for our brains and beings, but it leads to a feeling of productivity at the end of the day which is very satisfying. Add the knowledge that what we are doing is contributing something of value that we are proud of that the pair is the perfect natural medicine for a sound and peaceful night of rest.

7. Women and girls and education

Dolan found that receiving a basic education for girls had a significant effect on the overall happiness of their lives. In other words, making sure all people, but especially girls enables them to have agency over their own lives. Largely because the world is dominated by patriarchies, educating women to understand the world they live in and how to advocate for their own rights as well as navigate in the world that may not, depending upon where they live, want them to think for themselves, is crucial for the individual's happiness.

8. Understand the difference between passionate and companionate love

"Given the way that love is portrayed in literature, film and the media, the prevailing narrative clearly places a high premium on its passionate aspect, most often in manipulatively uplifing ways."

As shared previously on TSLL, being married is not the causation of happiness, but rather, if the happiness lasts beyond the short-term (as it does bring a feeling of euphoria to have met society's standard or expectation), it is due to two happy people finding each other. In other words, they knew how to be happy on their own and the happiness together, being happy in their choice to come together, likely increased their feelings of contentment. Dolan points these findings out as well.

When it comes to falling for the trap of passionate love and trying to mold it into happily ever after, I have fallen into that narrative trap as well. The narrative of intense chemistry swirls around us constantly in the media, and it is up to us to be aware of what it is and what would be best for a long-lasting, healthy, loving relationship.

9. Be married, be single, it does not matter when it comes to happiness

More and more studies are revealing that those who are married and happy are no more happy than any other group - single, widowed, divorced.

The social narrative of promoting marriage as the goal is prevalent in our society and has been for decades in our modern lives (in previous centuries, due to lack of equality laws, it was often a necessity). When we can recognize the narrative trap, and be clear about what is speaking to us for how we wish to live our lives, we set ourselves free to live our best lives - whether that is with or without someone.

Dolan books continues on to explore many other topics such as health, volition, monogamy and altruism. I encourage you to read it as it provides an exercise for the brain regarding the narrative traps we may have stepped into and did not realize it.

To make a blanket statement and say that all social narratives are bad is not wise, but all should be explored, and likely, at least for me, you may find that most should be challenged. That is the difficult part as you are going against the grain of what society expects. Dolan reminds that any narrative that is predominant "always serves the interests of those in power, the groups they serve best will depend on the context". What he is suggesting we keep in mind whenever we talk about or consider and examine any narrative is to closely look at the narrative to understand all of the nuances and not make sweeping assumptions or statements.

Fundamentally, when we let go of what no longer serves us, we set ourselves free, and much like fall and the as the quote below reminds, it is a lovely revealing of what we have the opportunity to experience as we go about living a life that will bring us far more contentment than we ever thought possible.

"Trees are about ready to show us how lovely it is to let things go." —Emily Ley, A Simplified Life


SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir:

~Play with the pumpkins

~Downton Abbey, the film

https://youtu.be/tu3mP0c51hE

~Sponsors of today’s episode:

  • Candid Co – candidco.com/simple
    • Save $75 off your order with the following promo code – SIMPLE

Sep 23, 2019
261: 5 Ideas for Welcoming the Seasons into Your Home
26:32

"A home should reveal the personalities of its inhabitants. At its best it should be a portrait of who you are . . . Look at your house as an artist would and have fun creating vignettes as a painter would a still life." —Kristin Perers, author of A Home for All Seasons

Fall will arrive next week on the 23rd and spring for the southern hemispheren on the same date. The changing of the seasons, as I recently shared in an interview on the Synced Life podcast, is a consistent and dependable way to be present in our everyday lives.

By choosing to be present during each season we are acknowledging that its presence in our lives is evanescent, fleeting and in three months' time will transition into something different. Waiting nine more months is necessary to experience the gifts of each season. Simply knowing the reality, we have all the more motivation to revel in the gifts of each season.

Last month TSLL reader Tracy emailed me and introduced me to Kristin Perers' book, A Home for All Seasons which was released quite a few years ago. But as one might imagine, since we have the same seasons each year, it is a classic of a book to refer to every three months - if nothing else, to serve a reminder for ample inspiration.

Perers suggests that when we decorate with the seasons, revolving with them, we make our home feel much more alive and dynamic, but at the same time, reflective of the home's inhabitants. And in so doing, we improve the quality of our days as our moods due to our emotions are elevated with each day we spend in our sanctuary.

Below are a handful of ways to decorate and adorn seasonally as inspired by Perers' book.

1.Let the seasonal blooms make their statement

Whether you pick up your blooms at the farmers' market or from your yard and garden, appreciating the daffodils in early spring, the peonies in late spring, mums in fall and dahlias in late summer, remind us to savor until the blooms are no more.

2. Textiles - slipcovers, curtains, table linens, bed linens, pillows

Depending upon what you have in your home that is upholstered, if you have slipcovers, changing the type of fabric if not the color as well is a way to eagerly begin a new season as well as care properly for the linens you have.

3. Determine the focal points of each community room (living room, dining, kitchen, etc.), and change or decorate it differently for the seasons.

For example, if your fireplace is the focal point, adorn the mantle with seasonal details. If your dining table is the focal point, either with table linens or blooms, choose what you place on top of it to align with the seasons.

4. Create space to contemplate the beauty of nature

I love this suggestion that Perers makes, and while she suggestions physically bringing things in from outside and placing them about the home to prompt us to ponder nature's beauty, I think as well it would be delightful to create somewhere in the home where you can look outside and be cognizant of what season it is. For example, my parents have a sun room in their country home, and with each season my mom will rearrange the furniture: spring - space is made for young seedlings in preparation for planting in the coming months; in summer, ample seating is the preference as it serves as a wonderful place to soak up the sun when stepping outside due to work projects inside is not possible; autumn and the arrangements and bouquets change; and in the winter, the holiday tree is adorned for the festive, wintery season. All the while, we can see outside to observe and celebrate the beauty of the outdoors.

5. Give the bedroom special attention

While making sure to attend to all four of the previous items above for our bedrooms — different blankets, duvet covers and pillow covers for the bed; seasonal blooms for the side table, etc. — always keep in mind the power of a space we inhabit, especially in such an intimate fashion as our bedrooms. Here are a few ways to welcome the changing of the seasons in our most intimate room of our sanctuary:

  • Different candle scents for each season
  • Intentional framed photos or artwork to inspire your most current dream.
  • Linen curtains in the summer, and while selecting the same hue, choose a heavier fabric for late fall and winter to add warmth.
  • Different robes and sleepwear for each season.

~Discover and learn more about Kristin Perers' book A Home for All Seasons


SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:

~Why Not . . . Prep for a Great Fall?

~10 Ways to Welcome Spring: An Opportunity to Start Fresh

~Why Not . . . Savor the Reason for the Seasons?

Petit Plaisir:

~Papier hardback customized notebooks (UK site; French site; Australian site; German site)

~TSLL post: Why Not . . . Make Lists? 20 Lists to Keep in Your Everyday Life?


~Check out the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, the cooking show!

~

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #261

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sep 16, 2019
260: 10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home, Part Une
31:21

Over the next couple of months I look forward to sharing many different decor ideas. I have titled today's episode/post as part une because there will be more to come. I am not sure how many at this point, but with many wonderful decor books being released this fall, I am enjoying perusing through them all, and want to share what I have discovered.

The first book that inspired today's episode is Cathy Kincaid's The Well Adorned Home. There may be a second post/episode inspired by her book as she shares an abundance of inspiration, but these are the first ten takeaways that captured my attention.

Advice from Cathy Kincaid:

  • "Everyone wants to have nice things, but houses are meant to be lived in and I'm insistent they feel cozy and appropriate for clients and their lifestyle."
  • Buy the best you can afford - furniture, design elements or accessories - not for investment or resale projections, but rather for quality and timelessness.
  • Lighting sets the tone and determines if there will be a cultivated inviting ambiance - mirrors and chandliers are included in lighting as they cast their own light in their unique way.
  • Edit, edit, edit
  • "Take time, relax and enjoy the work"
  • Create some tension with color and discover how to match colors imperfectly, creating some tension.

Let's take a look at 10 decor ideas discovered in Cathy Kincaid's new book. I have included a handful of images from the pages, and I have a feeling there will be another episode including even more of her expertise.

Be sure to tune into the podcast episode for more conversation on each of the following ten ideas for simple, yet significant decor ideas to add luxurious touches to the home.

1.Add classic moldings to the room to raise the ceiling (so to speak) and incorporate a regal touch

2.Expand a small space by using one pattern throughout

"Most people think that pattern will overwhelm a room. That can happen if a pattern is used piecemeal, but the opposite is true when there's continuity." — Cathy Kincaid

3. The Power of pairs

Especially in small spaces, to avoid the cluttered look that can happen with too much eclectic charm, include pairs of chairs, nightstands, etc.

4. Balance pattern and solids

If the walls have a statement patterned wallpaper, choose solid upholstered furniture and visa versa.

5. Choose comfortable dining room chairs (i.e. upholstered ;)) to encourage your dinner party guests to linger.

6. Select bespoke lampshades to add a signature touch.

7. Include a luggage rack in your guest room

Often our guests room is smaller than other rooms, or the closet is already being utilized. Adding a standing, foldable luggage rack conveys a warm welcome in a functional way.

8. Include some open shelves in the kitchen to provide ease of access for frequently used dishes, oils and spices.

9. Convert a beloved table into a kitchen island or work space by adding either a cutting board top or marble top to the surface.

10. Layer rugs on top of one another to make the room feel larger

Place a neutral rug on the bottom, which will be the largest, and then a print or pattern that is smaller on top.

As I go about examining and considering how to add my own signature to my new home, as well as follow Cathy Kincaid's advice to make sure it creates a cozy home that fits with my lifestyle, I look forward to sharing what I discover. Look for part deux to be shared in the coming weeks as I have many books I am going through at the moment.


~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:




Petit Plaisir:

~The Great British Baking Show, Season 10 (Netflix!)

https://youtu.be/E3nYjJ_aa2o

Sep 09, 2019
259: Talking Fall Trends to Invest In & Shopping NYC with Style by Tiffani
32:54

In today's premiere of Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, personal stylist Tiffani from Shop NYC joins me to talk about the fall season fashions worth investing in, her work with clients, bridal trends, her new and updated Shop NYC digital guide and three books she highly recommends reading.

Links to designers, brands and books discussed during the episode:

  • The RealReal — online designer clothing at consignment prices
  • Books Tiffani recommends:
    • City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

https://www.instagram.com/p/BwbuNBCn1Gs/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Learn more about Tiffani and her stylist and concierge services as well as purchase her SHOP NYC guide 2019/2020 on her website: shopnycinfo.co 

Social media:

~SHOP TSLL's Fall 2019 Shopping Guide (released yesterday!)

Sep 02, 2019
Season 6 Schedule of the Podcast
06:37

Season 5 of the podcast has wrapped up, and I cannot quite believe The Simple Sophisticate has been producing episodes for five years (debuting in September 2014). But it indeed has, and I am very grateful for listeners and their continued interest, positive reviews and sharing what you love with friends and family.

Today, the full schedule of Season 6 is available (see above). As you can see, it is very similar to Season five's schedule with at least three new episodes for every month through March. While there may be a few more new episodes shared than scheduled, what you see above are the dates on which new episodes are guaranteed to be shared.

If you are new to the podcast, let me explain why I am taking the weeks off in the particular months you see above:

  • April was taken off entirely last year, and it worked out very well for my teaching schedule. As an AP teacher, this is the month we call crunch time as the exam is just a few weeks away.
  • In May, there is only one new episode, but it will be during the second annual British Week which is held during the third full week of May.
  • July was also taken off this fifth season to make time for the production and taping of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast. Thank you for all listeners for being understanding of this needed month off from the podcast as it was put to good use. I cannot wait for Season 2 to premiere on Saturday September 7th. With that said, next year, I will be including this time to focus on the cooking show again.
  • August: The only new episode in August will be shared during the annual French Week, but as I hope was listeners experience this year, I promise I will make it a knock out episode. :)

Looking forward to the Season 6 kicking off with a new episode on Monday September 2nd! Thank you for tuning in and have a wonderful week.

~View all episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.

Aug 19, 2019
258: 22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment in either time or money
48:51

"Parisian women . . . want above all to become the best possible version of themselves, outside and in, at any age."

—Anne Berest, Audry Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are

Each time I have finished reading a beauty book that offers advice I welcome into my regular routine, I think there will be no need to read another book. But the truth is, as we know, as we grow older, so too does are skin; consequently, our need to understand how to best take care of the skin at the age we are become necessary.

Since the publication of Ageless Beauty: The French Way by Clémence von Mueffling, TSLL readers continued to recommend it, and it wasn't until this summer that I purchased it and read it in one afternoon and evening. I highly recommend it if you are looking for specific beauty product recommendations for your skin at every stage of aging - jeunesse (20-35) to maturité (55-older).

Sharing not only specific beauty routine ideas but also offering detailed explanations so that readers can understand why they are doing what they are doing to justify the investment, the book will be a resource I return to in the future as well when I begin to step from plénitude, as she describes 35-55.

But beauty when it comes to products for skincare and makeup are not all that is covered. She writes about food, exercise and carriage, as well as hair and perfume.

Today, what I'd like to share with you are 22 beauty secrets that caught my attention and that I either have found to be high advantageous or are new ideas I am now incorporating into my routine. Let's get started.

~Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as much more detail is shared than what is shared below.

1.Regularly and properly hydrate your skin

A skin's quality determines the aesthetic beauty of one's exterior appearance. "Well-hydrated skin that is dewy and glowing optimally reflects light in a flattering way that makes it look almost like silk."

2. Attention to one's skin must be a regular routine to see the difference you are seeking

"One of the most important components of any French woman's beauty routine is just that — it's routine."

—Clémence von Mueffling

3. Attend to proper posture

4. Adopt a cleansing routine that properly cleans and cares for your skin

Mueffling advocates for washing your face twice (the first time to rid your face of impurities, pollution and makeup - preferrably with a creamy product; the second, to clean the topmost layer which "optimizes the skin's natural protection and regeneration which primarily takes place while you're sleeping"). And while I have only been washing my face once each time I wash my face - in the morning and evening, I have now begun to wash my face twice in the evening as she has suggested.

However, as she reminds, the goal is not squeaky, clean skin as that would be counter to what the desired goal is. Rather, it is about cleansing and caring for our skin so that the serums, oils and moisturizes we then apply will be able to properly penetrate enabling the investment we have made in these products to work as they are intended.

Depending upon your skin type, she delineates the different types of cleansers to consider in chapter 2: milk cleanser, foaming cleanser, cleansing gel, cleansing oil, micellar water and toner.

~NOTE 8/16/2019: In the audio version, I incorrectly pronounced "micellar". The "c" should be pronounced softly, like an "s" in "cell", not a hard c as in "crunch". Thank you for the gentle constructive feedback from listeners.

~read about micellar water and why I added this beauty essential to my cleansing routine a couple of years ago and continue to love it.

5. Apply a toner after cleansing with a cotton ball.

What is the purpose of a toner? As she shares, toners have received a bad rap for being "unnecessarily or overly harsh". Case in point, for the past 10 years, I haven't used one, but did during my 20s. She explains that toners when made properly as the more modern, natural toners are that are available, "use plant essences to deliver targeted ingredients deep into the skin". The reason for using a toner after cleansing and before you apply your serums and moisturizers is to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively.

~I recently began using Clarins Camomile toner per her recommendation and find it be soothing, as well as affordable.

6. Make sure your skin is pat dry after cleansing and toning and before applying any serums or moisturizers

7. Start early and be consistent

"French women know that the earlier you start a comprehensive skincare regimen, the more youthful your skin will remain."

8. Find a quality hydrating moisturizer as it is essential to your skincare routine

I finally found a moisturizer that works well, especially in the arid climate that I live in - La Mer. However, she recommends many moisturizers at varying price points, some below and some above what La Mer is priced.

9. Apply any oils or serums on BEFORE applying your moisturizers

I have read conflicting commentary on which should come first, but I am trusting Clémence on this one. Whether you apply a serum or an oil after your toner, apply it after your toner and before your moisturizers (face and eyes). Why? For the same reason the toner and the second cleansing is used to ensure that the moisturizers can properly penetrate and do their intended job.

10. Consider welcoming a humidifier into your home

Living in an arid climate, for some reason it took me four years to follow this sage recommendation. However, if you live in a tropical or humid climate, there is no need as the moisture that the humidifier provides is already done naturally in the environment in which you live.

Why a humidifier? Remember, the goal is to regularly and adequately hydrate your skin, and especially during your sleep, by keeping your skin hydrated you enable the products to not have to be asked to do more than they are capable of, but your body retains more moisture offering that healthy glow you are looking for.

~1st recommendation (what I use in my home) Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier

~2nd recommendation Pure Enrichment Mistair humidifier

11. Apply a spritz of thermal spring water

After finishing your evening beauty cleansing and moisturizing routine, spritz a bit of thermal spring water on your face. As well, after cleansing in the morning, apply for a a bit more hydrating and extra dewy glow. Blot off gently after letting it sit on your skin for about one minute.

~I am not using after her recommendation Avène's Thermal Spring Water, and based on the size of the bottle, I will have it for some time.

12. Find and use a hydrating and healing lip balm

It has taken me a long time to find a lip balm that does just these two things, and it was found after reading this book. Bioderma's lip balm stick will cost you $4.90 at the most and is soothing and exactly what I was looking for. Apply throughout the day and especially just before going to bed.

13. High SPFs are a good idea, let me explain AND consider reducing your time in the sun even when you are wearing sunscreen

Perhaps you have heard it as well when you share with others that you are wearing SPF 50 or higher, "beyond [insert number], the SPF doesn't matter". First all, that is incorrect, and second of all, it's absolutely incorrect! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest. Mueffling explains that SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin and can be used to approximately how many minutes you can remain in the sun without burning. So yes, wearing SPF 60 as I do, especially on your face, it will save you money and time.

But let's back-up what is the difference between UVA (which sunscreens do not protect against) and UVB (which sunscreens do protect against). Understanding the difference has motivated me to stay out of the sun as much as possible during the highest and most direct sun exposure times of the day. UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) are the most harmful because they can cause "the most injury to our cells' they are able to reach inside cells and damage the genetic code, impacting the cells' ability to produce good-quality collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the other proteins needed for proper functioning". UVB rays (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation and the superficial damage that occurs immediately after sun exposure) can be protected against with sunscreen (when applied regularly).

So, consider limiting your sun exposure and consider increasing the SPF.

14. Help your skin out while you are traveling, especially on the plane, and refrain from drinking alcohol while in flight

15. Avoid spritzing your face while traveling (plane) as it actually will dry your skin out even more

16. Moisturize your hands regularly

Hand creams to try:

17. Add a facial massage to your weekly beauty routine

Something that you can do at home, she provides three basic techniques for massaging your face with a moisturizer you already use. As our facial muscles need to not be contracted all of the time, so when we give them a massage we are asking them to relax. A facial massage will help your facial muscles retain elasticity and remain firm.

18. Visit a facialist regularly

Depending upon your age, von Mueffling recommends jeunesse receive a professional facial every season (every three months), plénitude every two months and maturité every month.

By visiting a reputable esthetician you can keep your skin in its best shape, combat problems that may arise quickly and accurately without doing more damage and improve the quality of your everyday skincare routine.

19. Eat skin-friendly foods

Sharing a long list of best foods to eat, at the core of such a food regimen is eating food that is sufficient in healthy fats, low in caffeine and very spicy foods, regularly include citrus and offering diversity and brilliant colors.

~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

20. Your Décolleté Needs Extra Care and Attention

From cleansing to moisturizing, remember to not only tend to your face and neck but the area between and just above your breasts.

21. Exercise Regularly and Well

~Why Not . . . Get and Stay in Shape?

22. Prioritize Quality Sleep

~Why Not . . . Get A Good Night's Sleep?

~Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from three generations of French beauty editors by Clémence von Mueffling


~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:


Petit Plaisir:

~Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019)

https://youtu.be/kbyBzbTYw5s


TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .

SUNDAY August 11th

MONDAY August 12th

TUESDAY August 13th

WEDNESDAY August 14th

Aug 15, 2019
257: An American Being Everyday French - My Interview with author John von Sothen
01:29:57

If you take an American man and place him in Paris, asking him to fit in, it will take a good sense of humor and a sincere love of France, but this man will be calling Paris his home, his sincere home, in due time.

Such a man, or should we say, monsieur, is author and writer John von Sothen.

I had the opportunity to meet up with John in the arrondisement he has called home for nearly 20 years - the 10th - and join him for what I like to describe as a "walk and talk". For more than two hours (which felt like minutes as I had the good fortune of being on a one-on-one guided tour of a city I too love, but have so much to learn), he showed me his everyday life from the fish monger where he picks up his poisson, the boulangerie where he walks down to pick up his faily's baquette (or two) in the morning and the restaurant where the neighborhood parents meet up after dropping their children off at school in the morning.

His new book, released this past May - Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French - shares the reality of being an expat from America living in Paris all the while being newly married, newly a parent and new to everyday living in France. Needless to say, with a dose of humor, an insatiable curiosity and deep affection for France, and being raised to "contribute" as his mother would also encourage him to do at dinner parties his parents would host in Georgetown in his youth, he has found France to be his home in more ways than he ever intended, but sincerely appreciates.

In today's episode, I have divided it into three parts (all included in this one episode). As our conversation begins, we are seated outdoors on a terrasse in the 18th arrondisements bordering the 10th.

I hope that you will appreciate the real-time acoustics of the city of Paris' background music as you will hear it all - French conversation, the traffic, and a city that is alive. With my trusty, but small hand-held recorded we chatted about everything, much of what I learned by reading his book and much more.

There are a few instances in which the wind is heard, and while I have edited out most parts of our conversation in which the wind was present and obstructive, the instances in which I have not is intentional as what we are talking about is worth hearing, and I did not have the heart to cut it out. Thank you for your patience in these rare moments because the rest is a dance of insights about Parisian and French living from the inside that we don't often learn or hear about.

From talking about the famed French vacances that foreign onlookers love to dream about, what being an aristocrat really means in France (psst - his wife is an aristocrat and from an aristocratic family, so he has the inside scoop), the truth about raising children in the city of Paris, how his mother influenced his love and interest in France, why he was raised unintentionally to be someone who could step into a new culture and not be intimidated, what escaping to the country in France is like for someone who loves the city life, the film Amelie, American politics as perceived by the Parisians, and his now quickly-becoming-famous rescue pup made it into a French film.

~John von Sothen's family dog Bogart at home when I met in him July in Paris (left); the French film Yves in which Bogart stars. The film premiered on July 26th of this year.~

Now, a quick note about that last point. Of course, I was drawn to our entire conversation and intrigued about the realities, but when we started talking about his family's dog Bogart, I couldn't help but be intrigued. And perhaps John noticed this because he gave me the opportunity to meet his dog, and so, below I captured a picture of him after I had the chance to say hello. He is the sweetest pup, truly a kind soul and no wonder he is a star on screen because he is a star period. (view the trailer for the film - Yves - here - Bogart appears in the first seen sleeping on the sofa)

I do hope you enjoy our conversation. John von Sothen's book is available now, and you can find him writing for Esquire, French Vanity Fair, GQ, and AirMail, as well as other French and American publications (and even sometimes on French television as his book describes in hilarious detail).

~Learn more about John von Sothen and read more of his writing at johnvonsothen.com

~Purchase a copy of Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French (May 2019)

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

~John entertained graciously my attempts at a photo together, but I wanted to included especially the photo on the lower right as in the background is a piece of art created by his mother of which wsa talked about at the beginning of today's episode.~

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

~Find more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast.

~Find all of the French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1EFxuqg-Zt/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .

SUNDAY August 11th

~Sponsors of today's episode:

  • Candid Co - candidco.com/simple
    • Save $75 off your order with the following promo code - SIMPLE

Aug 12, 2019
159: 18 Ways to Define Your Classic Style in Life and Within Your Closet (top episode from Season 4)
39:54

Cultivating our signature style takes time because it involves understanding ourselves and bringing our truest selves forth. In other words, our signature style is more than what we see on the surface.

When we discover what our signature style is, it will become a classic for us uniquely because it is a timeless revelation that will not subside with time. It may ebb and flow to adjust with the offerings of sartorial collections of the zeitgeist, but at the core, who you are, remains the same. What you value - characteristics of importance - i.e. integrity and warmth; what brings forth your most beautiful and best self - a particular silhouette and a particular fit so you feel most comfortable as well as stunning; each of these and more are small, but significant parts of your classic, and thus signature style.

In today's episode of the podcast, a readers' favorite from last season, discover 18 ways to define your very own classic style. With each point, there will be great discussion and examples, so be sure to tune in to the audio version.

~View the show notes for episode #159 here

~Images 2 & 3 - previous posts shared on IG of Shannon's style over the years

Aug 05, 2019
93: 15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment (top episode from Season 2)
46:14

While it may appear that everyone outside of ourselves is living lives full of amazing, surreal moments from distant lands or dining out at amazing restaurants, even wearing the perfect item of clothing or experiencing bucket list events with every scroll on our social media apps, the reality is that we too are living an amazing life each and everyday even if it doesn't make our social media page to share with the world.

Whether looking about as we take our morning walk with our pups as I did yesterday morning (shared in the image above), waking up in a home that provides the feeling of safety and warmth, conversing with loved ones as we share how our days have unfolded or any number of seemingly quotidian details, all of them are something to celebrate and savor.

In today's episode of the podcast, one of the top five episodes of season two in early 2016, you will hear shared and discussed 15 ways to elevate the everyday. In spring 2016 I had been living in Bend for about nine months, and I hadn't left the area since arriving in July 2015. The everyday of my life in Bend to me was electric. I can vividly remember pinching myself nearly every week at the reality I had the opportunity to experience, and while in between now and then, I finally did venture outside of Deschutes County to see my family, travel abroad as well as experience a few moments of frustration, I do my best on a regular basis to remember how fortunate I am, and get excited about the everyday things that make life truly extraordinary.

Speaking of those hot air balloons, today's Monday's Motivational post was inspired by them. Have a look at the post here - A Life Lesson from a Hot Air Balloon.

I hope you enjoy this episode, and thank you for stopping by.

~View the full show notes of the original episode and post here

 

 

 

 

Images: captured by TSLL in Bend, Oregon, and shared on IG. If you look closely between the cattails you can see two hot air balloons.

Jul 29, 2019
28: The Modern Woman's Lifestyle Grocery List (top episode from season 1)
47:26

I find that the summer months are a wonderful time for assessment and reassessing what works well in my daily routines and why.

Similar to the French's La Rentrée which occurs in September after residents have returned from their holidays and school and life and everyday routines return to their regular pace, so too do many of us find ourselves determined to make everything we do run a bit more smoothly. So I will admit, I wasn't surprised when this episode, which was shared in the first season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, was a listeners' favorite.

With some aspects of our daily routines, there are supplies we need to always have on hand to make our everydays run seamlessly, and that is primarily what a Modern Woman's Lifestyle Grocery List is all about. And if you're like me, I take a look at this list every year and update it for my life as it may have changed or improved and different details of each or some of the items may need to be updated, substituted or replaced. I do hope you enjoy and thank you for stopping by and tuning in.

~View the original show notes for episode #28 here.

 

Jul 22, 2019
8: Love Food, Love Your Body: 10 Simple Tips (Top Episode from Season 1)
40:47

Summer season offers a wonderful opportunity reboot our eating habits, remind us of the ease and deliciousness when we eat in season and highlight how eating can be pleasure-filled minus the any guilt.

In today's episode of the podcast, this archived episode was in the top five episodes of the first season. Originally airing in the fall of 2014, I hope you enjoy discover the 10 Simple Ways to enjoy food and enjoy the body that takes you through each and every day.

Visit the detailed, original show notes of episode #8

 

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~10 Ways to Enjoy Grocery Shopping 

~A Capsule Menu: What It Is and How to Create Your Own

~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

 

~Images via TSLL's Instagram from a recent trip to Bend's Farmer's Market - image 1 and image 3

Jul 15, 2019
155: 6 Life Lessons for Living Well from Julia Child (a top episode from season 3)
32:47

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun." - from Julia Child's memoir My Life in France

During the month of July, The Simple Sophisticate podcast will be airing top episodes from the archives. Why, you might be wondering, as this is the first summer I've taken July off? Don't worry, I am hard at work in the kitchen, exploring new ideas for recipes and producing the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Premiering on Saturday September 7th, be sure to tune in the cooking show when it returns this fall.

In the meantime, today's listeners' favorite episode from the archives shared six life lessons from Julia Child. The original episode aired in 2017, and as I have just returned from France, I thought paying homage yet again to the woman who continues to inspire me and so many listeners and readers would be a good idea.

To view the original and updated Show Notes for the episode, click here.

Thank you for tuning in, and be sure to stop by the blog each Monday when there is not a new episode of the podcast as there will always be a new Monday Motivational post to kick off the work week.

~MORE Julia Child Posts/Episodes YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Lunch with Julia Child at La Couronne

~Decor Inspiration: Julia Child's Provençal Home

~Celebrating Julia Child on Her Birthday: And the Many Books New & Loved

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

~TSLL's image captured during time spent in Rouen, France, at La Couronne, the restaurant that she credits for beginning her love for French food. View the entire post on my experience here.  

Jul 08, 2019
256: 72 Hours in San Francisco - Where to Eat, Sleep, and How Get About
53:53

"San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world — one of the really urbane communities in the United States — one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world."—Duke Ellington

In 2002 I began my career in teaching - my first job was teaching 9th grade English in a small town at the bottom of South Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. And on occasion, maybe two or three, I believe it was two, times I made the four hour drive to San Francisco for long weekends. I found a small boutique hotel near Union Square, walked and drove the hills (becoming more proficient with a clutch than ever before) giving my calves an exquisite workout, enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Empress Hotel with my mentor who showed a bit more of the city to me on a long holiday weekend, as well as drinks at the Top of the Mark, but each of my visits was well before Google Maps and the entire tech sector engulfed Silicon Valley and the city by the Bay, so I wasn't sure really where to go and just visited as far as my feet and my comfort would take me.

Fast forward sixteen years, and I finally had the opportunity to return to San Francisco.

Since before moving to Bend, it has been on my list of places to visit. After all, it is in many ways the West Coast's New York City. Understandably, each city is uniquely its own, but having visited Los Angeles, Seattle and many times Portland, Oregon, San Francisco isn't quite like any other west coast urban destination. In fact, I have to agree with Cecil Beaton,"San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities". Now, New Orleans certainly is a destination unique infused with French and Spanish cuisine and history, but San Francisco involves more ease and community than any other major urban city I have visited, sports the most delectable food options, offers transportation that is varied and easier than any other American city I have traveled, as well as a temperate climate that is never too extreme in any season. Again this is my opinion, but perhaps Twiggy is right, "I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other".

But I am getting ahead of myself gushing about San Francisco. I'd like to share with you all that we experienced in a mere 72 hours this past week, offer up some recommendations, and perhaps encourage you to either visit or return to the Paris of the West (an old term used primarily in the late nineteenth early 20th century largely because of the three waves of French immigrants arriving in San Francisco beginning in 1849 with the Gold Rush, in 1852-53 when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III offering a national lottery of trips to California to rid the country of his intellectual opponents, and a third wave of many women and children as in San Francisco's early days, the city was comprised of 90% men. In short order, in 1852, six thousand of the city's 36,000 residents were French).  No wonder I love this city so much. :)

I've organized today's episode/post into the three fundamental parts for any trip to any country/city to be most successful. Thinking of it as the tripod foundation of traveling with ease: knowing how to get around to wherever you want to go (transportation), knowing you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep at night, and knowing you will be fed to satisfy your appetite. Where to eat, sleep and get about.

Once these three decisions are made, reserved and settled, I am able to loosen up on the itinerary and also relax and look forward to my trip.

Let's begin the 72-hour visit to San Francisco. The good news is you don't have to make your plans too far in advance to still have a wonderful experience. Case in point, for our trip last week, the trip was decided upon in April. Plane tickets and hotel arrangements were made, and then one month prior to the trip, dinner reservations were made as well. The only piece of the three part puzzle was to tend to the on-the-ground transportation, which I had researched, and will talk about more below.

~Fisherman's Wharf - classic fishermen’s boats docked in the bay.~

When to visit:

"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
—Mark Twain

Depending upon the weather you hope to experience, as one of our Uber drivers who has lived in the city for decades shared with us, don't come in June, July and August and expect traditional summer temperatures. Nope. While there is the rare extremely warm day as there was a couple of weeks ago, the average high in the summer is low 70s - expect the fog to roll in and out throughout the day and if you're by the bay, the wind will rip through in the afternoon.

If you are looking for the idyllic weather, our driver, after sharing Twain's quote above, suggested coming in September and October. I quickly took note. The rain will abate in April and not truly return until November. Again, taking the advice of the driver, so readers who live in the Bay Area or who have lived in the area, please do confirm or correct.

Also, we traveled during the work week. The opportunity to arrive on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday was perfect for the pace of everyday life. Nothing was too extremely tourist-laden (there was still an abundance), the evenings were very quiet on the street as we had a street-side window, and traffic at the airport and getting about was as would be expected in any work day scenario - rush-hour, etc.

Whenever you visit, bring layers. One day we both were kissed by the sunshine more than we expected, but in the evening we needed a jacket. My mother packed her light-weight cashmere scarf, which was perfect. I saw many people with scarves. What did I forget, of all things? A scarf. I won't forget again. It is a city in which to wear a scarf.

How to Get Around Once You Arrive

  • BART - from the SFO airport, the Bay Area Rapid Transit is a very affordable and dependable way to reach the city. We took BART into the city with our luggage with great ease. It was helpful that the line basically begins at the airport, so you have a pick of where to sit and can get situated with your luggage before you get into the heart of the city at which time the train became very full (morning rush hour). The cost was $2.50/person versus a $45+ cab or Uber fare.

~waiting for the airport shuttle to take us to the BART airport stop~
  • Trolley/Cable Car - $2.75/adult; $1.35/senior - There are only three lines that the Trolley/Cable Cars travel, but they are easy to find on a transportation map. We relied primarily on the trolley throughout our trip. You pay in cash or can purchase a pass online. The fare is good for two hours if you buy a single pass. Each of the many cars we rode on were exceptionally clean, and the drivers very helpful.

  • Bus — We happened to ride a bus one evening as it was serving the same line as the trolley car we had arrived on. The transportation map makes it easy to see where to get on and where they stop, and the pass you use for the trolley/cable cars works the same way.
  • Uber/Lyft versus Taxis - We chose to use Ubers the entire time we were in the city when a trolley wouldn't get us where we needed to go and it was too far to walk, but we also wanted to make to our destination quickly (across the Bay Bridge, to the Golden Gate Bridge and to the Richmond neighborhood). I prefer to take Uber/Lyft because I know what my fare will be upfront. Taking six Uber rides during our trip, we were in a car in fewer than 10 minutes, the cars were clean, the drivers friendly if we chose to talk with them, and we arrived swiftly at our destination).

Where to Stay

While my list won't be long in this section, what I can share with you is where we did stay during our trip and why I highly recommend it. I know it will not fit everyone's budget nor be what everyone would prefer, but if you are looking for the following, you will be very happy with The Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf:

  • Located in North Beach along the Fisherman's Wharf - ideally located for easy access to common sites: Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, a primary Trolley Line that will take you throughout the city, Ferry Building (via Trolley ride), Lombard street, and Little Italy.
  • Comfort - the beds are plush, the rooms are large, and you can reserve a room that will look out onto Fisherman's Wharf
  • Located in a historic building
  • The only hotel on Fisherman's Wharf
  • Quiet - granted, we stayed during a weeknight, but I could not tell we were staying in a city. No tall buildings surrounded us, we woke up to seagulls and even seals saying hello along the bay, and the street doesn't have many cars use it as it isn't a through street to anything of importance to locals or even tourists as the parking lots are set off the shore.
  • Impeccable service - we arrived early - 8:30 am, and while we didn't expect our room to be ready, they found one that was, even gave us a free upgrade and situated us before we went out exploring. If the room hadn't been ready, they would have stored our luggage.

~Fisherman's Wharf seen directly out our hotel room window.~

~wallpaper in the bathroom~

 

Where to Eat

As one Uber driver who has lived in the city for 22 years told us, San Francisco has always had a strong food culture. Boasting 5000 restaurants, whatever type of cuisine you prefer, you will be able to find it. While he couldn't guarantee it would be delicious fare at every destination, he did note that you can find many wonderful places throughout the city and Bay Area. So let me share with you four places I HIGHLY recommend.

  • Tartine - If you are looking for French bakery buttery goodness, visit Tartine Bakery (the original bakery that opened about 15 years ago) and/or Tartine Manufactory (sit down for breakfast and lunch). The two locations are about 10 short blocks away from each other.

         

  • Pearl 6101 Restaurant - Having been opened for about a year, this Richmond neighborhood located restaurant opens at 8 am for breakfast and lunch (closing 1t 2pm), and opens for dinner at 5pm, running until 10 pm. They have brunch on Sundays.

~the scrambled egg plate and avocado toast~

  • Boulettes Larder + Bouli Bar - Located in the Ferry Building on the far right corner next to Sur la Table, this two-part restaurant offers scrumptious seasonal and locally sourced meals. Boulettes Larder is the light and bright restaurant space that is open for lunch and breakfast (dinners are only reserved for special group occasions, as I learned later).  BouliBar (where we dined) is where they serve lunch and dinner, and the pizza as well as other items on the menu will please your palette immensely. My slow baked King Salmon set atop a bed of millet and vegetables dressed in sparkling vinaigrette was mouth-watering delicious. Paired with a glass of rosé - yum.

~the dining room for Boullettes Larder (open to the public for breakfast and lunch; private group dinners in the evening)~

~Bouli Bar (open for lunch and dinners for the public)~

~Pistachio Cake with strawberry ice cream~

  • Chez Panisse - Yep, Alice Waters' famed restaurant in Berkley. A dream of a experience, of which I will share in detail on Wednesday of this week, so do stop by. Reservations are taken only one month in advance on the day you wish you dine, but one month prior. Call on that day, when hours of operation begin. Every night a different menu. Every menu is seasonal and sourced locally. You can keep your menu. I had mine signed by the waiter. That is how awesome and, perhaps in admiration I am, of this restaurant. It exceeded my expectations. Stop by Wednesday to find out exactly why.

~the entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley~

~the menus - guests can keep them~

~dessert: Savarin cake with fresh summer berries and candied pistachios~

Now it's time to tailor it what you love

Each one of us who visits San Francisco will come to the city for different and special reason. As I shared in last Friday's weekly newsletter with subscribers, my visit was all about the food in preparation for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen's upcoming second season. And the city did not disappoint. However, there were a few other places we took the time to see and experience, and I'd like to share them below in case you too might be curious to check them out.

  • Beautiful views of The Golden Gate Bridge - visit Baker's Beach

  • Consignment Clothing, designer options galore at reasonable prices - Goodbyes (two shops) on Sacramento.

  • The Ferry Building - farmers market Tuesday and Thursday beginning at 10 am (small); Saturday at 10 am (large)
    • All of the shops inside the building are opened each day (this is also where Bouletttes Larder + BouliBar is located
    • Frog's Hollow Bakery is scrumptious as well and located next to Boulettes Larder
    • So many delicious food-inspired businesses inside.

  • Ghirardelli's Square — Of course, you will find the Ghirardelli's Chocolate shops inside this square, but there are also many other shops, boutiques and restaurants. The view of the bay is lovely, and the park in front, as it is situated next to The Argonaut, was some place I enjoyed just sitting and relaxing after a long day of exploring.

~Ghirardelli's Square in the background, park in the foreground~

With the 72 hour trip nearing an end, we decided to hop in an Uber to take us to the airport as we didn't want to lug our luggage onto BART amongst the crowds, although, it wouldn't have been impossible to do, we were just tired. In a swift 30 minute time period, leaving from our hotel, we were at the airport ready to return to Bend.

While I knew we had soaked up every minute of our trip seeing and exploring and eating, we also were able to take a nap each day which for me was absolutely necessary. But even with the naps, I slept deeply and quite more at length this past weekend than I have in awhile. What a pleasure this trip was, and I am thankful it is only a 90 minute flight away. Needless to say, with even more recommendations from readers, and places I look forward to visiting again, I look forward to returning.

"Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart.  You want to linger as long as possible." —Walter Kronkite

Be sure to stop by the blog later in the week for a detailed post on Chez Panisse.

 

~None of this trip was sponsored and all was entirely planned according to my own curiosities and predilections. However, there are some affiliate links. 

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Traveling Alone Well, episode #220

~A Traveler or a Tourist? The Difference

~French Trip Travel Musings (Why Not . . . Make the Effort?), Part Une, episode #215

~French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux, episode #216

~Where to Stay in France While Traveling: A Variety of Luxurious Options

Petit Plaisir:

~Late Night

~Written and Co-Produced by Mindy Kaling, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Reid Scott (VEEP)

~Support women in Hollywood to promote multi-dimensional, diversity in age, ethnicity, life-experience and the varied representation of women that inspires women and young girls to be the hero of their own lives and others, not the playmate in someone else's story. Learn more about the statistics of women in Hollywood. While the numbers are gradually improving, they is progress to be made, and when we go see films that support what we truly applaud and wish to see more of, producers and film executives follow where the money is.

 

https://youtu.be/XE7OVnets4g

 

~All images via TSLL, any image with Shannon in them were taken by my mother (thank you Mom!)

Jun 24, 2019
255: 34 Inspiring Daily Rituals to Ignite Your Creativity
44:07

We talk quite often about the importance of routine, and how by having a routine, we actually set ourselves free, especially our minds. And it is in that vein that Mason Curry shares his two books Daily Rituals. His second is focused entirely on Women at Work, sharing the routines and preferences of creative women who lived and created over the past four centuries.

I thoroughly enjoyed his second book, even more than the first which I also found great inspiration. It was refreshing to see so many women living their lives in a variety of different ways, but all in which they discovered worked well for them and the craft they most loved.

Not all of the ideas resonated with me, but it was wonderful to get into the minds for a moment of these women and how they approached their days. I highlighted vigorously from beginning to end, and would like to share 34 daily routines to consider to enable your creative ideas to flow freely and without withdrawal.

Some will speak to you, some will not, but each one is inspired by a woman's routine which is shared in the book: Daily Rituals: Woman at Work - 143 artists on how they paint, write, perform, direct, choreograph, design, sclpt, compose, dance, etc.

~Be sure to tune into the audio version of the podcast where much more discussion takes place on each point. 

1.Begin with a hot glass of lemon water

Designer Elsa Schiaparelli woke up at 8 am, sipped lemon-juice-and-water and a cup of tea for breakfast as she read the papers, handled private correspondence, made telephone calls and gave the menus of the day to the cook.

2. Wake up early if that is when your creativity is most fruitful

—Lillian Hellman would wake up at 6am.

—Marie Bashkirtseff would wake up at 6am

—Maggie Hambling wakes up at 5am each morning

"I get up between three or four o'clock in the morning, because that's my best writing time." —Octavia Butler

3. If spending less time with people fuels your creativity, embrace it fully

"I enjoy people best if I can be alone much of the time. I used to worry about it because my family worried about it. And I finally realized: This is the way I am. That's that." —Octavia Butler in 1998

4. If traditional "holidays" don't work for you, create your own, or dive into what you love.

Coco Chanel worked six days a week, and dreaded Sundays and holidays. As she told one confidant, "That word, 'vacation,' makes me sweat."

5. Greet the day in a habitual way that sets the tone for a great day

6. Live your ideas, don't talk about them

"People would sit around and talk about things constantly. I never really went in for that. If you talk something out, you will never do it. You can spend every evening talking with your friends and colleagues about your dreams, but they will remain just that —dreams." —choreographer Martha Graham

7. Keep a small journal next to your bed to capture ideas

"I always have notebook and pencil on the table at my bedside. I may wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to put down." —American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay

8. If you work at home, carve out a part of the day to get out of the house and just absorb inspiration or let go of the day completely 

"In the nocturnal evening, I get the hell out to some movie or damn play and I come back and sleep like a rock." —Frida Kahlo

9. Figure out the ingredients that are needed to let the ideas find you

To develop a new work of choreography, Agnes de Mille needed 'a pot of tea, walking space, privacy and an idea'.

10. Don't feel obligated to keep the same schedule when you are in the middle of creating your art or craft

Margaret Bourke-White required long periods of solitude to write, with as few interruptions as possible." In an interview with a Life photographer Nina Leen, Leen remembers after asking her if she would have lunch with her, "She told me she was writing a book and there was no hope of a lunch for several years.

11. Don't feel bad for loving your work and working on what you love beyond the traditional work hours.

"Everything seems petty and uninteresting, everything except my work . . . ". Russian-born painter and sculptor Marie Bashkirtseff

12. Do something during the day that is relaxing and keeps you present

'I relax before lunch by arranging flowers . . . When these are all beautifully arranged in bowls and vases, it's usually lunch time." —English actress Gertrude Lawrence

13. Have a studio or space of your own to create

"The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere." —Agnes Martin

14. If you love solitude, embrace it 

"But it is, as Yeats said, a 'solitary sedentary trade.' And I did a lot of gardening and cooked my own food, and listened to music, and of course I would read. I was really very happy. I can live a solitary life for month at a time, and it does me good." —poet Katherine Anne Porter

15. Trust your intuition as to what works best for you

"It's not right if it doesn't feel right." —English painter Bridget Riley

16. Find regular time to just read what you love

Rachel Whiteread [English sculptor] would "at some point stop for lunch, and she'd often spend an hour of the day reading sitting in a comfortable chair away from her desk.

17. Establish a flexible routine to work with what you need

Morning routine: "Zittel feeds her chickens, waters plants, and performs other outdoor chores before meditating, taking a shower, making breakfast and getting dressed. In the winter, Zittel's morning schedule reverses: She meditates, showers and eats breakfast first; then, once the sun has raised the outdoor temperature, she heads out on her hike and does chores. 'It's really all about establishing a flexible routine."Andrea Zittel, an American artist, in 2017

18. Don't quit trying to live the life you wish to live

"It never occurred to me that I couldn't live the life I wanted to lead. It never occurred to me that I could be stopped . . . I had this very simple view: that the reason people who start out with ideals or aspirations don't do what they dream of doing when they're young is because they quit. I thought, well, I won't quit." —Susan Sontag

19. Try a crossword puzzle like Joan Mitchell

20. Determine what view in your studio/sanctuary/work space is most productive for inspiration

"Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue." —Kate Chopin, American writer

21. End the day with a signal to your mind to relax

"During the performance I drink water with breadcrumbs, which is most refeshing. After the ballet I have a bath as soon as possible. Then I go out to dinner, as by that time I have an unmerciful hunger. When I get home I drink tea." —Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova

22. Let baths be your creative muse

"Baths also played a part in her creative process - a post-breakfast bath enjoyed regularly by Virginia Woolf.

23. Let lunch be a true mid-day break

At 1:00 p.m., Hambling has lunch, takes her Tibetan terrier, Lux, for a walk, and switches on the television to satisfy her tennis addiction.

24. Write when inspiration hits - even if it is in bed in the morning so as not lose the ideas. 

25. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air

"Fresh air and cold water are my stimulants." —Harriet Martineau - the first female sociologist

26. Enjoy someone's company for tea, lunch or a walk regularly 

Emily Post would regularly welcome a guest or two for tea in the afternoon.

27. It's okay for your personal time to be less than what others feel is acceptable 

"It seems to me you have to have your personal life organized so that it takes as little of your time as possible. Otherwise you can't make your art." –Eleanor Antin

28. Don't expect the routine to come naturally, create one and stick with it as it enables you to flourish

29. Cook and walk

"The only other essential component of her day is a twice-daily walk with her dog, during which she avoids thinking about her writing project. In the evening, she makes herself a simple dinner and goes to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.." —Isabel Allende

30. Create space for your ideas to be seen 

"Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient." — Hilary Mantel

"I think the way to become inspired is to empty your mind and let things come into your mind."  —Joan Jonas

31. Do you and don't apologize

"I live here as in Paris. I rise every day at 5 o'clock; I drink my two large glasses of hot water; I take my coffee; I write when I am alone, which is rare; I do my hair in company; I dine every day with the king, chez lui, or with him and les seigneurs. I make calls after dinner; I go to the theater; I return to my place at ten o'clock; I drink my hot water , and I go to bed." —Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, a major salonniéres of the French Englightenment

32. Turn on music paired with your favorite drink to start the day

"I wake about nine, turn on the symphony and have juice, fruit and a pot of black coffee . . . " —Grace Hartigan, American painter

33. Leave evenings open for your social engagements

"In the evening, she would see a friend for dinner or attend another social engagement. But the real key to this perfect writing day, she said, was to know that the following day would be exactly the same." —Eudora Welty

34. Be patient until you find what works, then cherish it

"Trial and error, and then when you've found your needs, what feeds you, what is your instinctive rhythm and routine, then cherish it." —novelist Doris Lessing

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Be Creative?

~The Benefit of Daily Rituals

~The Importance of a Daily Routine & How to Create One You Love, episode #164

Petit Plaisir:

~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, a Patricia Wells recipe, click here for the recipe

~Why Not . . . Grow a(n) Herb Garden?

~Check out TSLL's IG account, see the Highlights and Part 3 of my FR Trip '18 - mid-roll to see the presentation of the dish in Provence.

~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, enjoyed in Provence with Patricia Wells and the other cooking class students during the summer of 2018~

~the same dish served this past weekend as the second course during a dinner party at my home. Cool and crisp cucumber and yogurt soup.~
Jun 17, 2019
254: 26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom at Any Stage of Our Life's Journey
43:59

"Across the world, despite all prejudices and beliefs against it, singlehood is the growing trend." —Elyakim Kislev , author of Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living

It is highly beneficial to understand the construction of our beliefs regarding singledom, so that after discarding the myths and acknowledging the realities, we can "freely choose whatever lifestyle fits [us] best".

With the life expectancy in most developed countries rising to just under 80 years, it is a statistical probability that all of us will be living single or solo at some point in our lives whether by choice or circumstances, and consequently, knowing how to enjoy being single is a skill that would be most beneficial to acquire.

Depending upon our innate temperaments, which is different than our personalities, each of us is more predisposed to be comfortable or prefer more or less social engagement. And depending upon what we most enjoy doing in our careers and in our free time, we will be more or less inclined to seek out companionship for long or short durations.

Elyakim Kislev's new book, which was released in February, includes extensive research and an abundance of studies that demonstrate the reality of our modern world that no matter what you prefer, will enable each of us to live more consciously and thus more fully, as well as support others in our lives who choose to live in a manner we may not prefer or choose.

The first powerful finding that spoke to me was the acknowledgement of an unspoken truth regarding marriage (these studies involves a large majority of the industrialized world, not just the United States) - why do people step more easily into marriage even with modernizations of the world we live in today.

Studies have actually proven that the 51% of individuals entering into marriage acknowledge that it is "a fear of aging alone or dying without anyone at our bedside that drives us into marriage".

"Marriage may not be such a good way to escape loneliness in old age. Not only do married people feel lonely in surprisingly high numbers, but also long-term singles are often better equipped to deal with loneliness later in life".

Yes, that does then mean 49% of people did not report this as a reason, but that alone should give us pause, especially when we know that the divorce rate is nearly as proportionate and the percentage of a second divorce is higher still. While each couple's situation is uniquely alone, to not address this fear is to place an undeserved burden on individual we are marrying. In fact, studies have proven, when we do address this fear, as those who have never married do, earlier in our lives, the individual is more likely to make the best decision for themselves and thus improve their overall happiness no matter what the decision may be.

Many TSLL readers/listeners know I am single and have been for the majority of my life. Don't worry, this is not a post/episode advocating for being single if you are either already in a happy marriage, happy relationship or wish to be coupled. Rather today's posting will hopefully broaden our understanding of the realities of societal norms, motivations, pressures, expectations, unconscious biases and realities so that whatever your life's journey is and will be, it is one made with a clear mind that has discarded the myths and is then able to make the best decisions for you and the life you wish to lead. True contentment, in other words, is the goal of today's posting.

26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom

~Each of these points are discussed in detail in the audio version of this podcast episode. I encourage you to tune in for further clarification of each point or pick up the book Happy Singlehood from which each of these points were inspired.

1.Assess honestly your self-perception of how you define loneliness and where that definition was constucted.

2. Build and continually nurture a strong social well-being

Having a strong social well-being helps eradicate or reduce social loneliness and emotional loneliness as you will have people in your life in which you feel close to and may turn to (emotional), as well as have both intimate and peripheral acquaintances that give you a sense of belonging (social).

~Listen to Episode #92 - Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being - for further discussion on the construction.

3. Conduct a life review: Self-reflect and find peace with your journey thus far

"Happy older singles [have] the ability to look back and gain control over the circumstances that led to being single".

4. Celebrate and exercise the ability to make your own decisions

5. Revel in your solitude - produce your own "show" so to speak

6. Take responsibility for your own contentment

~View a long list of archived posts and episodes on cultivating true contentment or pick up my 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life

7. Distinguish between the myths regarding marriage and singlehood and reality

Myth versus reality:

"Young people fear being physically vulnerable in old age more than elders [actually] do".

"Fifty-seven percent of the eighteen-to-sixty-four-year old population anticipate memory loss in old age, while only 25 percent of those aged sixty-five and above actually experience it. Furthermore, while 42 percent expect serious illness in old age, only 21 percent of those aged sixty-five and above experience the same."

"While an expectation of loneliness arises among 29 percent of young people, only 17 percent experience loneliness in old age."

8. Foresee and prepare for potential emergencies

In other words, financial planning - engage with it early, often and regularly, craft a living will, construct your own "family" - .

9. Engage with your community for resources, connection and engagement

10. Learn how to socially engage as a singleton in a manner that makes you feel safe and fulfilled

11. Refrain from seeing marriage as a form of "self-validation".

In other words, seek validation from within, as society's values are limiting, dynamic and generalized.

~A post you might enjoy on this topic: First, Seek Self-Approval

12. Use your time being single as a time for self-growth and development - find the road to your truest self

~A post you might enjoy on this topic: Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?

13. Maintain and strengthen your overall health - physical and mental

~An episode you might enjoy on this topic: The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212

14. If you are a pet person, welcome a pet into your life.

15. Confront the fears that are causing you to assume marriage is the answer to assuage them before you get married for the wrong reasons.

16. Simply be aware of the social stigmas, discrimination and pressures placed on singles.

Doing so will enable you to confront and effectively deal with situations when they arise in a productive way to potentially bring more awareness to the realities and discrimination that exists.

17. Have a positive self-image and self-perception of your life as someone who is single

Present yourself to the world, whether at work or in your personal life as the confident and happy person that you are - some who happens to be single - knowing that is not all that defines you. Gradually, images change when we put a face to the reality.

18. Build your self-confidence

Find work and hobbies in which you feel valued and accomplished - this could be in your career, in your hobbies or in your social network. Be willing to try new things, and as you see that you can learn, change, improve and grow, you begin to realize you hold more power to cultivate the life you love than you may have realized - thus your confidence grows.

~An episode you might enjoy on the topic: Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5

19. Consciously avoid the social pressure and discrimination

In other words, your attention gives validation. And if you choose not speak up, what is said or done is deemed as acceptable. Whether it is the conversations you listen to or engage in, the people you spend time with, the films you pay to see, the music you listen to, etc., your time, money and attention are powerful - give it consciously.

20. Speak up and confront discrimination when it occurs

Often people aren't even aware of their bias regarding marriage being the "best" option. Construct a parallel question to those who ask "Why are you still single?" or "I'm still keeping an eye out for you." There are some great ones in the book. Make sure to keep the comment or question equal to what was received so that the speaker can see the error of their words and assumptions.

21. Seek a career or a calling that gives you purpose, in which you feel you are contributing something of value to the world.

22. Find a balance with work and leisure

23. Let your curiosities guide you to seek out educational opportunities for growth

24. Strengthen your three pillars of good health - physical, mental and financial

25. Acknowledge and cultivate manageable household responsibilites

26. Recognize that choosing and embracing being single is not out of weakness or selfishness, but of strength and awareness to connect often more consciously.

"As singles, we know more than anybody else that true independence is actually interdependence."

We liberate ourselves when we recognize there are many different ways to live well in our modern world. And even for those who do not fully or will never accept that there is more than one traditional way to live contentedly and contribute to society positively, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to be self-actualized, when we model the reality rather than the myth, we encourage others to explore and reach their full potential as well. A more content world is a peaceful world.

If anyone is so fortunate to find a partner to enjoy life with should they wish to and be able to reach their fullest potential without feeling they are limited, confined or lonely in something they "should" be doing, what a magnificent awesome union. Losing such a person, no matter what our age would be heartbreaking, but we can only control and strengthen ourselves, and when we strengthen the muscle of self-reflection, acknowlegement of fears rather than a suppression, we set ourselves free to live well throughout the entirity of our life's journey.

The responsibility each of us has is to not place upon someone else's shoulders that which we are capable of doing ourselves. When we take on this responsibility of cultivating our own happiness and contentment, we will see more clearly what path we truly wish to travel, we will strengthen all of our relationships as we recognize we are interconnected in large and small ways, and we will give ourselves a deep breath of relief and excitement for the next step in our journey forward.


~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Be A Confident Single Woman?

~Single or Married: 20 Things To Do

~The Truths & Myths of the Independent, Single Woman, episode #94


Petit Plaisir:

~Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry

Jun 10, 2019
253: 36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life
57:18

"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living

Sixteen years French chef Robert Arbor released a book that offers a personal glimpse into his everyday routines which adhere to the French's simple approach to living well. With time split between living in Connecticutt and living in a country home in Flaujac-Poujol, France, with his wife and two sons, he shares how the secrets of the French are really quite simple when it comes to elevating the everyday.

Yes, it took me far too long to pick up this book, but as soon as I did, his words were music to my ears as he too celebrates and revels in the everyday routines, cultivate seemingly simple rituals that are savored and deeply appreciated. A way of life that is inspired by his own upbringing in Fontainebleau, France, just outside of Paris.

Many readers recommended Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and many readers have shared they return to read this book often to reminders of how to slow down and savor the lives they have worked so hard to have the opportunity to live. Joie de Vivre is a gem of a resource for reminding ourselves of the beauty of life - understanding that our lives are made up everydays is all we need to do to recognize and embrace a truly contented life.

While I will certainly be picking up the book many times more in the future, having highlighted and annotated heavily throughout, I wanted to share 36 ideas Arbor shares in the book as an introduction to how grand the everyday can be, and how it truly is quite simple.

~Be sure to tune in and listen to the podcast episode and more discussion on each point is shared.

1.Breakfast - enjoy alone and make it nice or with a very close friend, someone you like - make it your personal time of the day.

2. Savor the buttery goodness of a croissant on weekend or for special occasions

~TSLL's homemade croissant recipe~

3. Cloth napkins for everyday dining

4. Cultivate a routine you enjoy around your breakfast and morning "to give a quick thought to each day's potential".

5. Cultivate your own potager (vegetable garden) to "grow a few things to eat fresh". And only grow what you love to eat and share.

6. Disperse flowers throughout your potager, let go of perfection and separation.

7. Place your fresh, delicate vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, courgettes, most fruit) in a compote on the kitchen counter to be reminded to use them immediately (or very soon).

"A big part of comprehending joie de vivre is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations. Joyful anticipation of life's everyday events is part of bringing joie de vivre into your home in a lasting way."

8. Grow your own garden of herbs

9. Make food shopping enjoyable - visit a special shop, a farm stand or make it a social engagement.

10. Enjoy good, seasonal food and revel in it.

11. Welcome cheese into your eating regimen

12. Regularly frequent le marché in your area when available

"Great food and ingredients can be found anywhere. One just has to make more of an effort and decide on a lifestyle choice about the quality of the food."

~All You Need to Know About the Markets in Provence

13. Make the kitchen the center of the house, but it need not be state-of-the-art.

14. No need to spend a lot of money to have a pleasant workable kitchen - regular height chairs, let go of the high stools, so you can relax and enjoy conversation - sitting back, etc. Only purchase the equipment you will actually use and buy quality items that will last. Here are a few ideas: 3-4 pots with lids, a cast iron skillet (keep it seasoned), a teakettle on the stove for boiling water, a Dutch oven or cocotte, but again, only tools you will need for the food you and your household enjoy eating.

~Why Not . . . Use Simple Changes to Transform Your Kitchen?

15. Have the basic cooking utensils stocked in your kitchen so no matter what the season, you can make what you enjoy: 3 sharpened knives (paring, chef's and serrated), 2 cutting boards, earthenware jugs full of different wooden spoons and spatulas, a stainless-steel spoon and 8-oz ladle, perforated stainless steel spoon, tongs, a whisk, 3 graduated mixing bowls, a fine mesh strainer, hot mitts, a hand-cranked can opener, cork screw, cotton kitchen towels, and a scale, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin if you are a baker.

~A Cook's Kitchen (necessary utensils)

~A Baker's Kitchen (necessary utensils)

16. A well stocked épicerie (pantry) with top-grade items (In TSLL's 2nd book, an entire chapter breaks down how to step into your kitchen and enjoy the everyday meals)

17. Tidy your kitchen as you go to make the space a place you enjoy stepping into each time.

18. Lengthen and deepen (full and satiating) your midday meal as much as possible.

"This is a time for stepping away from your work — even if you are eating with your coworkers—and talking and thinking about something else . . . Whatever the company, the conversation is always pleasant and positive. And that, naturally, adds to the pleasure and anticipation of lunch. It is a real break from the rest of the day. Le déjeuner is not about using time, it is about taking time."

19. Enjoy a picnic and make it comfortable

"I do love a picnic in the French style, which, of course, means comfort, comfort and more comfort. First of all, a French person is simply not going to eat on the ground. Although we might lounge around on a blanket later, it is much butter to eat sitting up."

20. Reserve Sunday to enjoy a big Sunday lunch, focusing on pleasure rather than obligation.

21. And grab that nap after the lengthy lunch to add regular moments of rejuventation .

"Remind yourself that sometimes the best ideas and solutions rise to the surface when you're not thinking so hard."

22. Grab an afternoon break regularly with la pause gourmande to give yourself a treat - "a treat with a purpose" and offer the perfect solution to the "afternoon blahs".

23. Enjoy dinner in the dining room regularly and offer the opportunity for everyone to contribute (whether by setting the table, etc.) somehow.

24. Unwind after dinner with a little dessert treat (nothing too grand), and partaking in something you enjoy on your own or with others so that you can go to bed happy and content.

25. Share dinner with friends with a casual dinner party - only invite people you truly like and don't "overstretch yourself".

~10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from My last Dinner Party, episode #235

26. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, which means you need to be able to be relaxed and enjoy the evening as well. The goal: good food, good conversation and good fun.

27. Begin with apéritifs - small nibbles and drinks.

28. Have very small groups of flowers on the table to create a welcome, but not cumbersome table to sit around and enjoy the meal.

29. Add candles to the dinner table either in glass hurricanes, or small tea lights spread around the tabletop.

30. Add a low volume lyric-less music to the background, as the conversation amongst friends is the best music.

31. Enjoy cheese and a vinaigrette dressed salad course after the main course prior to dessert.

32. Add water to the meal to be enjoyed while enjoying glasses of wine with each course.

33. Dessert need not be homemade when you have a favorite local patisserie.

34. Savor the winding down at the end of the day and do not skip this important part of each day. Cultivate a pleasant ritual, perhaps a different one for each season.

35. Make lavender-scented linen water to add an inviting scent to your bed linens.

36. Enjoy a good night's sleep

"Americans are fascinated with how the French manage to live so well, and so contentedly, in their ordinary, day-to-day life. It's not just about cooking, decorating, or entertaining — it's about enjoying all the small details of domestic life." —Robert Arbor

May your everydays be full of simple pleasures and moments of joy as well as you remember how extraordinary your life already is at this very moment.

~Order Robert Arbor's book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living


~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS from THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~14 Ways to Eat Like the French —Savor Good Food, Don't Fear It, episode #175

~20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everydays, episode #144

~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life, episode #23

~View all French-Inspired podcast episodes here


Petit Plaisir

~Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent)

https://youtu.be/RvM0ZrxBwFU

~Images: TSLL Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife)

Jun 03, 2019
6: Authenticity: The Courage to Be Yourself, Top Post from the Archives
31:47

Today's episode is a top post from season one. And as it addresses the topic of authenticity, it pairs rather well with today's new Monday Motivational post - A Simple Way to Find Lasting Respect & Inner Peace.

To view the full show notes of episode #6 from 2014, click here.

Also mentioned at the beginning of today's episode:

~Visit all of The Simple Sophisticate podcast episodes here.

~View the entire schedule for Season 5 of the podcast (also, see below).

May 27, 2019
252: The Characteristics of Being a Late Bloomer, and How Embracing This Gift Could Change the World for Everyone
39:32

"By necessity, we late bloomers are on a different, more challenging trajectory. As we travel through life, we encounter obstacles like the push for conformity, the oppression of groupthink, and the pains of self-doubt. But . . . in all these challenges, we find our hidden treasure. We unearth our individuality. We see that a path to excellence, to reaching our true potential, is available to all of us. Within these challenges lies our true power, our covert talents and secret advantages as late bloomers." —Rich Karlgaard, author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsesses with Early Achievement.

Unsurprisingly, the new book by Rich Karlgaard spoke to me and offered an abundance of reassurance and exhilaration. If the comments on IG a few weeks ago when I posted an excerpt from the book are any indication, you are or will be as well.

Especially as Americans we greatly celebrate, strive for, and thus put pressure upon ourselves, and either unconsciously or consciously, to figure out our path early, to achieve success quickly and when we don't we make faulty assumptions about what we can contribute which can erode our self-confidence and potentially prevent the gem that resides within us all to be discovered and then shared with the world enabling us to find deep, lasting inner contentment.

Karlgaard's new book is worth reading in-depth, from cover to cover as he delineates the obstacles that our culture currently needs to address with historical details, new studies, multiple anecdotal examples of how indeed the "late bloomer" simply needs time, patience and awareness to blossom at their own time, as well as the most difficult support to refute findings - neurology.

So while I will encourage you to read the entire book, in today's episode/post, I wanted to share with you the characteristics that you might find yourself identifying with when it comes to being a Late Bloomer and not realizing the gift of opportunity you have given yourself to enjoy the rest of your life.

15 Characteristics of a Late Bloomer

1.Curiosity is the late bloomer's fuel

"By its very nature, curiosity demonstrates an independence of mind."

To keep on blooming throughout the entirity of our lives, forever remain curious.

2. We are predisposed to be compassionate

"In facing the ups and downs of life, many late bloomers gain a greater sense of compassion. They show greater reflective thinking, diminished ego-centeredness, and a deeper appreciation of others' challenges."

Because late bloomers have faced struggles along the way, have refrained from conforming at the expense of our social connections and acceptance into "the group", we can more easily put ourselves into the shoes of others, we are more empathetic.

3.Better leadership skills are developed

Due to elevated compassion, workers view leaders more favorably, and combined with "authenticity and integrity", this trifecta of skills "improves retention and employee performance".

4. Resilience is developed and strengthened

"When it comes to developing resilience, the regulation of emotions gives mature people an advantange over the young: 'There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience. Those are the behaviors that we gravitate to more and more as we age'."

5. Emotion regulation is easier which cultivates a calmer demeanor which leads to more effectiveness and better relationships

"Our brains are driven to seek calmness as we age. Columnbia University social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson claims that calmness is central to happiness . . . research has long established that calm leaders are more effective".

Late bloomers naturally develop the skills necessary to find calmness if we choose to keep exploring, learning, listening and observing what works and what does not. This is where our curiosity helps tremendously leading us to the blooming stage of our lives that is authentic and unique to each of us.

6. Extensive insight

"Our insights are the result of us drawing on our full mental library of experience, patterns, and context, yielding an idea of extraordinary value."

Karlgaard explains that "the right hemisphere [of the brain] matures in childhood; the development of the left is consistent with the development of the prefrontal cortex, which is not fully mature until the mid-twenties". Due to the left-side's difference in development compared to the right, it takes time for us to see the connection of the awesome or unique events, sights and experiences of our lives and make sense of how we can utilize them in our unique way.

7. Navigation of life's ambiguity becomes easier

"Perhaps this is the perfection defintion of wisdom: reasoning and cognition based on knowledge and experience".

In other words, we are not born wise, but so long as we choose to be curious, continue to be life-long learners, we begin to build it. "Wisdom is the ability to see the layers of light that were harder to see when one was younger". And consequently, we have the opportunity to hone our intuition as to how to best navigate our journey even with the unknowns that are presented.

8. More easily determine what's important versus what's trivial

To piggy-back onto #7, because we have acquired knowledge about the world over time and have made the conscious choice to continue to learn, we are then better at discern patterns faster and jump to logical solutions more quickly.

9. A desire to cut the apron strings with your parents

"To fully bloom, we must declare our independence from our family. That doesn't mean we must reject their love . . . it means only that we must reach our own conclusions about what does and doesn't support our blooming."

Creating a healthy culture in which to bloom is analogous to the proper soil and conditions for a plant to flourish. Each plant will need different types of soil, different amounts of sunshine and shade, varying temperatures - some extreme, some moderate, and it all depends on the plant. Unlike the saying, "bloom where you are planted", we should instead get out of the soil we have been planted in and explore to discover where we truly thrive.

10. Adult peer pressure is real, and if you've felt it and tried successfully or not to not succumb, you may be a late bloomer

"Some of this [peer group] influence can be healthy and positive, as when we join a hiking club or sign up for a program to quit smoking. But not every peer push leads us to a better version of ourselves; not all communities support growth and positive change."

To break free from our peer group, even when we don't know why it feels uncomfortable or wrong (but we know it does), is not easy and it takes great inner strength to do so. However, it does become easier because we eventually begin to feel more in tune with our true selves, we feel a burden lift, we feel our energy surge because we are no longer trying to be or do something that isn't truly in line with what we can offer the world.

11. Societal pressure to conform is limiting to our true potential

"[Today's media] also promote cultural, racial or gender biases, either through stereotyping roles and behaviors, or under- or overrepresentation of minorities. And repeated exposure to media content can lead viewers to begin to accept media portrayals as representations of reality."

From the media's portrayal of how to socially engage, what dating should look like, what children should be doing at certain ages based on their gender, the values are repeatedly shared and included in endless amounts of media such as video games, movies, television, newspapers, magazines, books and radio, and since it is a passive medium, unless we are critical thinkers questioning everything we receive, it is easy to accept what is applauded as normal and what we should adhere to regarding our life's journey.

12. Letting go of comparisons

"Mass media ask us to compare our body shape, sex life, marriage, house, car, family and community to unattainable television versions of perfection. Social media ask us to compare our own commonplace or even boring reality against the curated accounts of how absoutely wonderful someone else's life is — people we know!"

When we stop comparing and start celebrating, we liberate ourselves and enable the opportunity to observe our own awesomeness without the outside world's close-minded criticism or limited acceptance.

The author shared something that I think is worth sharing here as a reminder that there are many paths to success, to reaching a goal, to attaining contentment. He writes, "There are always many ways to achieve a goal, gain expertise, or find success. In sports or music, they are easy to see . . . But it's not as easy to see multiple paths for success in most endeavors . . . [which leads to confusion. As a result,] we default to following norms and take the road everyone else is taking". And these paths to success have as much to do with professional "success" as well as personal "success". Your definition of a life of contentment, as I have said many times before on the blog and in my books, will most likely be very different than mine, but that doesn't mean we both cannot feel the contentment that is spoken about and written about that provides deep satisfaction and peace.

It is important that we all recognize that each of us will bloom at a different time.

"Each of us deserves the opportunity to bloom in our own way."

When we do this there are many invaluable benefits:

1.We protect ourselves, and others we encourage to bloom, in our own time from the consequences of disappoitnment or failure. (this doesn't mean there won't be bumps along the way, but it reminds us that it takes time to understand where we are headed and why)

2.We learn how to work with self-doubt and let it be our superpower.

"To bloom, we all must learn not to fear self-doubt but to embrace it as a normally occurring opportunity for growth and improved performance . . . The key to harnessesing self-doubt starts at the very core of our individual beliefs about ourselves . . . self-efficacy".

3. We strengthen our self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is an individual's confidence in their ability to accomplish what they set out to do.

4. Obstacles begin to be seen as opportunities to grow rather than road-blocks

"While you may feel a general sense of self-doubt . . . [you] proceed anyway".

5. Improved positive self-talk

"Positive self-talk can improve our performance by helping us regulate our emotions, thoughts and energy".

When we begin to see skill-sets that render positive results, we are more likely to invest in them. For example, positive self talk leads to more confidence, a strengthening our self-efficacy and thus improved performance with whatever task is in front of us. And so we continue to practice positive self-talk and it becomes stronger with this skill rendering more positive outcomes.

6. Stronger, healthier relationships

When you bloom, gravitate toward those who celebrate your blooming, and for those who initially are not, give them a moment to understand why your blooming makes them uncomfortable. Depending upon the person, they may not realize that their discomfort with your growth is a reflection of their disappointment in what they feel they could have achieved but didn't. This is all about them. Some will grow from this and remain in your life, others will not, and you will need to move on. But all of the skills you have acquired and applied will help lead you toward building not only healthier relationships with others, but a healthier, less critical relationship with yourself.

7. Excellence will arrive when you let your curiosity take over

"When [curiosity takes over], a sense of exploration also takes over. I get in the zone, and I go for it. I feel pulled, not pushed — pulled by a beautiful power I cannot explain."

8. The courage to repot when necessary

"When it comes to repotting, late bloomers have a distinct advatnage over early bloomers. We're naturally curious and resilient. We're not afraid to follow a different path or break free of convention. We genuinely want to see what's around the corner or over the hill. These late bloomer strengths enable —even propel— the change we need to find the right people and the right place to help us thrive."

Once you have a clearer understanding of who you are and what cultures and communities are best suited for you to bloom, you will have strengthened, as was mentioned above in the first list, an awesome skill set. This skill set will be your bedrock for being able to repot when and if it is necessary.

"We need to give ourselves a break. We need to recognize and celebrate the fact that we're all different, with different skill sets, developmental profiles and backgrounds and that each of us will forge a different path toward blooming."

Being a late bloomer is most certainly something to celebrate, and when we "change our story, we can change our behavior and even our life".

Let me leave you with this lasting thought from the book that resonately powerfully with me:

"If we're not forced to conform to standard timetables for success, we can —and will—bloom on our own schedules. And we can do it with a deeper sense of mission and a greater feeling of contentment. What we accomplish in the marathon of life depends on our persistence, our patience, and an ability to see ourselves as we really are. Our cultural obsession with youthful talent, with early achievement, distracts us from this simple truth. . . . our late bloomer power is different. It is the power to renounce what's supposed to happen in life and intead embrace what actually happens in life, with its ups and downs, twists and turns. It's the power to explore and experience, to be an individual. It's the power that comes with knowing and valuing ourselves."

Petit Plaisir

~The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson

~read my review and reason for recommendation here.

TSLL BRITISH WEEK 2019 Posts:

Sunday May 19th

~Do you enjoy reading TSLL blog and visit regularly, but would prefer to read the blog without ads? I have some good news for you. For a limited time, during British Week, the price for a monthly or yearly ad-free subscription has been reduced. Simply use the following promo codes below when you subscribe (or learn how to subscribe) here. The discount runs through Sunday May 26, 2019.

  •  Yearly $69.99 – Now $60/year – use promo code YEAR60Ad
  • Monthly $6.99 – Now $5/month – use promo code BRITWK5Ad
  • Learn more and subscribe here.

May 20, 2019
97: Small & Simple = A Grand & Full Life - Top Post from 2016
45:39

Today's post and episode is the penultimate episode/post before a new episode returns next Monday.

I want to thank you as readers and listeners for your patience as I had scheduled to take the entire month of April off in order to for the intense time of the school year that is the final weeks prior to AP testing for my juniors. I have never taken so much time off, and while it was scheduled (have a look at season 5's schedule here), it was new.

I certainly found myself coming up with a long list of ideas for upcoming podcast episodes, reading more than a handful of books and discovering Petit Plaisir I cannot wait to share, but it was odd being away from the microphone.

Thank you for understanding, and I cannot wait to share a new episode next Monday as TSLL's first annual British Week begins.

With that said, I wanted to share a listeners' top episode from the second season of the podcast as it speaks to something I am thoroughly immersing myself in, and have been since this last summer. Case in point, the image above. My home is becoming just that, more and more of a home, and a large part of the reason I love it so much is that is it smaller and thoughtfully tailored to the inhabitants (myself and my dogs and occasional guests) that spend time there.

This particular episode, episode #97, shares 11 ways to live small and simply, curating a signature sanctuary that we thoroughly enjoy returning to each and every night and waking up in every morning.

~Read the full show notes of Episode #97 here

I do hope you enjoy.

May 13, 2019
32: The French Capsule Wardrobe: the 14 essentials
36:07

Let's escape to France for a moment, at least for the duration of today's episode. :)

Today's episode is a re-airing of one of, if not the top downloaded, read and listened to episodes if including YouTube and Pinterest. More new readers learn of TSLL blog and the podcast through this episode than any other source. And since the next new episode of The Simple Sophisticate is scheduled to air on Monday May 20th, I wanted to bring it to readers and listeners attention.

Originally airing during the first season (currently we are in season 5), epissode #32 - The French Capsule Wardrobe: the 14 Essentials, has a plethora of images paired with each essential to offer sartorial inspiration.

So without further ado, click here to read the full show notes of episode #32.

~Love TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes? Check out the currently 34 French-Inspired episodes in one spot.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #32 (top archived episode), replayed. The original episode aired on April 6, 2015 - view the detailed show notes of this episode here

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

~TSLL's first annual British Week is coming! Mark your calendars for an entire week of posts, episodes and giveaways all inspired by the great country of Britain: Sunday May 19th through Sunday May 26th.

A New Blog Post! Motivational Mondays (any Monday when there is not a new episode of the podcast, there will always be a new blog post to kick off your week). Today's post: The Power of the Little Details in Our Lives

Mar 25, 2019
251: Celebrating the JOMO and Enjoying Your Unique Chosen Journey of Life
37:11

"Most people are in a constant state of falling for whatever the most interesting thing is. Falling for whatever the most popular person is doing . . . This introduces the endless cycle of constantly ‘shopping’ for experiences. An endless search for novelty, hedonism, and just a dash of escapism. Because they do not conduct the orchestra of their own lives, they search out the best possible maestro to do it for them." —Eric Brown, High Existence blog, article "Conquer FOMO Forever: Embracing the Joy of Missing Out"

The simple creation of an acronym such as FOMO (the fear of missing out) creates exclusivity. Consequently, creating yet another acronym to combat it is hypocritical as it too requires one to know the meaning without being told, but it was the apprecation for pushback on the former social media acronym that I applauded as while it may have been designed to speak about the current moment one is posting about, it is a celebration of living one's life with courage, thoughtfulness and clarity.

The quote above speaks to social influence of a mass population: If we don't know what to do, at least we know if we follow along, we will not be left out or behind. As I mentioned in the introduction of my first book, the only maestro that will create a fulfilling life for each of us is the one we see in the mirror.

But taking on the job of being the maestro is frightening, intimidating and brimming with uncertainty if our journey doesn't emulate the crowd's.

But it also opens the only door that will lead to joy and thus true contentment.

When we make decisions from a place of fear, we are not in the driver's seat. And in order to remain in the car, so to speak, we don't have our hands on the wheel and must go along with with the journey someone else is navigating. We don't have the opportunity to respond to our curiosities, something we see out the window that grabs our attention unexpectedly or even stop at the rest stop when our body needs a break.

When we give fear the driver's seat, we may live, but we have given up the opportunity to live well. Because only we know what is inside of us, consciously or unconsciously, that wishes to be realized and shared with the world. And if the form that it takes is at odds with society's "approval", then there will be great pressure to conform. But by living a life ascribing to FOMO dictates, we lose the opportunity to experience true joy.

The Benefits of Choosing JOMO (the joy of missing out)

When we understand how to cultivate joy in our lives, we come to realize as Eckhart Tolle teaches, that joy is found within us, whereas, pleasure is found outside of ourselves. Therefore, when we choose to live a life of joy, we can experience said emotion which is equivalent to contentment, every single day whether we are doing what the masses are doing or not.

~Read a detailed post on The Difference between Pleasure and Joy

We can be happy for others when they do what they enjoy doing and all the while not feel envy or jealousy as we have discovered how to cultivate our own joy in our lives.

The key, as with everything when it comes to living a fulfiling life, is to begin with getting to know yourself (discover how in TSLL's 1st book and captialize on what you learn with tools shared in TSLL's 2nd book). Such knowledge remedies what the quote above shares in the reason so many people gravitate and fall into following due to the FOMO: We don't exactly know what to do, so we do what others are doing.

So much of historical trends, societal expectations and norms are fertilized with the constant sprinkling of FOMO. However, if you choose to live a life inspired by the JOMO, your journey will be like no one else's even if it has similarities at times to others living now or in the past.

Reading a recent post of Garance Doré's (which has since been removed, as to why, I am not sure) , in which she speaks about the limiting clichés that American society attempts to place on women, and men as well, based on their age, relationship status or whether or not she or he is a parent, she offered inspiration for celebrating as demonstrated by where she finds herself along her journey - being single, something she has stated is the first time since she was 13, and being child-free at 43, - advocating for society to embrace the variety of ways women and men can live, and live well, while being themselves sincerely, relinquishing the games, the disingenuousness and instead, liberate ourselves.

When we let go of the societal clichés and refuse to let the culture berate us emotionally for not cowering and acquiescing, we cast off the doubt society would have us put on ourselves and the life journey we have discovered to be aligned with our unique strengths and cultivated skills.

Such assumed clichés of desperation if one hasn't chosen to be married or is no longer married at a certain age or has chosen to live child-free or is without children at a certain age, is the tool society attempts to use to limit people, confine them and attempt to guilt them into being what it wants and supposedly understands. In other words, it wants you to be less if for some reason you have elected not to follow what society applauds collectively.

Modern men as well as modern women perhaps are going through a struggle of consciously letting go of society restraints, and upon doing so, are setting themselves free to be who they fully are and can be, thus strengthening society as a whole if all people recognize the vise grip that unconsciously wanted them to stay within the confines of societal expectation.

It appears to me that a movement is strengthening as more modern women and men are exemplifying lives of being content within themselves and bringing calm and acceptance to those around them without tossing aside their boundaries when society pushes back.

When we refuse to follow because it doesn't align with our sense of well-being, we begin to lead ourselves along a more authentic path that aligns instead with the person we enjoy being and we begin to build a life we are enthusiastic about living each day. And it is in such a moment that we reach the state of JOMO.

Funny enough, it is by sort of an accident, that we do lead, but it is not a leadership by force, but instead with organic inspiration.

The world will always change, evolve and continue to try to suggest what is better or preferred or "right", but it is with an open mind and curious attitude dedicated to continuing to learn that we can recognize what is an aha moment and what is a "thanks, but not for me" idea.

When we understand ourselves, but also how the world moves, gets along, and how it has done so in the past, including the knowledge of social, psychological and economical motivators, we can observe, contemplate and feel confident in how we will move with or speak out (either with our actions or our voice) against or suggest or model a new or adjusted ideas that has not yet been introduced. Such is the case with JOMO. A simple concept, but a 180-degree shift in perspective of what had been put forth as the motivation for leading one's life.

Specific examples of living a life inspired by the JOMO:

A modern woman or man embracing JOMO understands . . .

. . . there will be pressure from society to conform, but when we recognize it for what it is — ignornace, fear of the unknown, a want of power or control over another — we can say no confidently, liberating ourselves and others.

. . . romantic love is not the only rich, nurturing, kind, respectful, enriching love that is available to welcome into our daily lives.

. . . respecting others, no matter how little or significantly they play a role in our lives, is an exercise in respecting ourselves as well. This understanding requires us to communicate clearly and without falsehood or insincerity. And it also recognizes we may have to correct ourselves as bad habits and defaults take time to change, especially if society has rewarded us for behaving disrespectfully (either in subtle or not so subtle ways).

. . . loaded language is a common way for societies to nudge (or guilt) individuals into ascribing to a particular way of living (i.e. "childless", "unmarried" - both include a negative connotation in either the suffix or prefix to suggest something is lacking). It is when we live more consciously, welcome more knowledge into our lives about the constructs of society, why they were put into place, we can recognize the defaults others may fall into unknowingly when they use such diction in conversation.

. . . meeting, engaging and conversing with people - men or women - during our everyday lives can be a bright moment. Simply being friendly and sincerely engaged in the exchange is a reflection of who we are as a person and not of a wanting something more than the current moment which offers friendly human connection and kindness.

. . . the potential the future holds upon recognizing and refusing to be limited by the confines of societal expectations and savors the present moment in which they find themselves as they, by simply living a life of joy, can model and inspire others to feel comfortable to do the same.

Enjoying the journey moving forward

A modern woman need not be defined by their romantic relationship status or parental status (neither should a modern man, but fewer stigmas are attached to men as opposed to women in our current culture). Welcoming love into our lives, good, real love, is available in so many forms and for each of us will follow its own timeline. It begins with a love for the life we find ourselves in at this very moment — not wishing for something more or fearing we are missing out if certain events or outside opportunities don't present themselves "on time".

Love, and thus a discovery of joy, is available via a multitude of avenues and communities. Explore, embrace and nurture where the love is in the journey you are on at this moment because it is uniquely yours and most certainly worth celebrating.

Petit Plaisir

Queer Eye, Season 3 premiere, Netflix

https://youtu.be/8SZbVV6eVFk

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #251

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

Mar 18, 2019
250: How to Create a Beckoning Sanctuary That Reflects Your Journey
36:24

"Never decorate all at once. 'When you do it all at once, you make mistakes,' explains Fredéric Amico. Take your time trying out different pieces, and never settle." —Architectural Digest's Clever (new online destination for decor ideas, quoting French actor and artist Fredéric Amico (view his Paris loft here)

Our wardrobe, our mind, our relationships all ebb and flow, grow, migrate, wander and progress as much as we choose to let them, and our sancturaries need not be any different.

Reflect upon your childhood bedroom and the first time your parents gave you permission to decorate it as you pleased - paint color, linens and all (or maybe you took the initiative all on your own). Then graduate to your first home away from home - perhaps your dorm, perhaps an apartment. Then remember the next home and the next as your life began to unfold.

I can remember vividly during my junior year in high school wielding a paintbrush, ushering in a double bed, selecting the wallpaper for the accent wall and reveling in my very own "grown-up" sanctuary. Then college arrived, and it was with my first apartment sophomore year that furniture was needed, and much was cheap and yard sale must-have finds, but there were treasures that I brought with me from my childhood home - that black rod-iron bed, dishware found at an unexpected estate sale, pictures that held dear meaning. And then the first "adult" apartment during graduate school, living on my own - daring to paint an entire wall red and framing everything in gold. It reflected my choice at the time, and having a choice and a home that was all my own, felt liberating. Never before have I painted a wall red - it took three, at least, coats to make it as I had hoped. But I don't regret it for a moment.

Since then, the homes I have rented or owned have been unique unto themselves, but one detail always remains constant, the woman living within the four walls - me.

Even so, each home of which my paycheck has paid the monthly mortgage or rent, has gradually evolved to reflect more of what has shaped me and influenced me and inspired me to become the person I am today. And as much as we, okay, maybe this was just me, moreso especially in my earlier years of homeownership, may want our homes to come together immediately to reflect the aesthetic we desire and see in our mind's eye, our most authentic sanctuary will be a reflection of patience, of thoughtfulness and of careful selection.

Not all of us have the luxury of being able to live in a home we love for decades, and others might state that it is a luxury to be able to move frequently based on curiosity and opportunities, but either way, we can take what means the most with us to our next home. So that no matter where we go, our journey can be reflected within the four walls of our sanctuary.

Today I'd like to share with you ways that you can begin to decorate your sanctuary to not only reflect your journey which will offer comfort and confidence each time you cross the threshold, but also be welcoming to most importantly the inhabitants, but guests who are invited to visit as well.

In last Wednesday's post, I shared eight small, but unique ways to add your signature to your sanctuary, many of which, as you will discover, reflect my journey thus far over the past 40 years. And today I'd like to share less of the specific things to include and more the concepts to consider when deciding what should hang on your walls, fill your rooms and welcome you home.

1.Does it warm your heart and lift your spirits?

Ask yourself this question when deciding what pictures, paintings, souvenirs, etc. any item that doesn't perform a function, but rather only adorns a wall, tabletop or shelf, to display.

Being reminded of what you are capable of, being reminded of the love that was felt and expressed, being reminded of a dream that came true, all of these reminders are helpful and healthy to have in your home especially on those days and during those moments we need comfort and confidence.

2. What function does it provide?

Being clear about the function that an item provides - literally or figuratively (i.e. a candleholder, a vase, a settee, a bench (literal); painting, particular coffee table books, throw pillows (figurative) — clarifies in your mind why you are considering it for your home. If the reason is because it is the color of the year, or my favorite influencer has one, unless your signature for decor is trendy, perhaps find a deeper purpose for welcoming it into your home. But if instead, the reason is to provide warmth, to lift my spirits, to hold my favorite bunch of flowers and fit perfectly on that particular tabletop, then by all means, welcome it into your home.

"Have nothing in your home that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."—William Morris

With points #1 & #2, it may appear that I am simply further describing what William Morris has taught decorators for years, and if your interpretation of the quote is similar to mine, then you are in good company, but for me, it goes deeper. What does beautiful mean?

Beautiful must go deeper, beauty can only be present if it fits the two criteria above in a more visceral part of our well-being. There are many items that are beautiful - from traditional to modern designs, art that speaks volumes from contemporary to acclaimed icons, but if it doesn't mean something to you, if it doesn't have a story as to why it spoke to you, then let someone else welcome it into their home.

I am continually editing my home, just as I am my closet, and with more evaluation, comes more removal of items that were bought at the spur of the moment, out of preceived need. Gradually, those items, if they don't possess both of the criteria above, are replaced by items that do, and the home's decor begins to feel more symphonic.

Speaking of symphonies, there is more criteria to consider when bringing it all together in your home.

3. Cost per true value

Similar to cost per wear, but slightly different, cost per true value is how much it costs to acquire the item while taking into account the value it will add to the overall quality of life over the amount of years you expect to own the item.

In other words, the antique dining table that costs $1000 and would fit perfectly in your dining room. No more need for separate tables, more dinner parties, more opportunity to share your passion for cooking and your partner's passion for convivial conversation about the guests' favorite topics. Many would way this is priceless and others would say you can do the same thing around two nondescript tables pulled together, but this is where the decision will be different for each person: What do you want to invest in? What is it that brings you and those you love great enjoyment and peace of mind?

Some of the items we bring into our homes will be treasure finds for pennies of what they are actually worth, or maybe not worth anything at all to anyone else, but priceless in our eyes. Whatever you choose to invest in monetarily, simply remember to ask the "cost per true value" question and answer it for yourself. No one else's opinion (unless they are paying for it or a partner in the household) should matter.

4. Consider the decor that spoke to you on your travels

So many of TSLL readers/listeners of the podcast are travelers to all sorts of amazing places, large and small, far and near on the globe. Often it isn't until we see, and then sometimes live with temporarily through staying in vacation rentals, a particular decor idea that we realize how excellent of an idea it is or how much it makes us feel at home even when we are far way.

As I shared in my post last Wednesday, one decor idea I would have never known about or considered was to use linen tablecloths as curtains. Perfect! And with my love of linen as it reminds me of France and my travels to the south and north of the country, the curtains I now have in my home not only serve a much needed function, but they also bring back fond memories.

5. Does it tell a story that you want to welcome into your home?

I have an antique English draw-leaf table that was the first dining room table I ever owned (you can see a bit of it in the above image on the far right). I purchased it in college after saving up $400 for it and have had it with me ever since (here is a similar one from One King's Lane). No matter what size my home, I have always made a spot for it. Currently, it holds my record player which suits it perfectly as it brings the music and the news into my home.

As well, a chair from an individual who you knew or have known and simply remembering who they are makes you smile when you look at the piece furniture even if there are a few tears in the upholstery is a keeper.

Not everything in our homes will have long stories that will make your heart smile, but gradually, once we have what we need to live sufficiently, we can be thoughtful and careful about what we wish to bring into our sanctuaries. Often it actually becomes easier because we know precisely what is not only needed but also what would be cherished.

6. Include custom art or upholstered items with beloved fabrics from your travels or the past

Whether you are a painter or someone has painted or illustrated something for you, framing it gives you an original piece of art. Playful or serious, seasoned artists or first-timers, the art we display can share a glimpse of your story to those you invite into your home as well as remind you of what you care most about.

As well, choosing to upholster old furniture, or cover pillow or make blankets with fabrics found like traveling or found like going through your family's attic are unique and signature ways of adding a decor idea that can't be purchased in a retail store.

Transforming a house or an apartment into a home is a creative journey and revelation of our truest selves in many ways if we want it to be. Recognizing the power of communication and comfort and confidence that can transpire simply with the decor choices we make is a tool we can put in our toolbox to improve the quality of our lives. It is a process that requires patience, but one day when you least expect it or aren't looking for it or trying to achieve it, you will find yourself sitting in that one particular spot in your home, passing the time doing something you love either on your own or with someone you love and you will feel the most at home you have ever felt. Such a feeling is not because your home is complete (it never will be), it is because you have curated a space that enables you to relax, recharge, share yourself without saying too much or saying just the right amount in each room of the home and knowing you did what you could with what you had.

It is my hope that you experience such moments often no matter where you are along your journey. Because, if my experience has taught me anything in each of the homes I have inhabited, it is possible and it only gets better with each step forward along the journey.

~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Decor Book, episode #228

~22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up's Living Space

~How to Create Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219

Petit Plaisir:

~Mary Berry's Country House Secrets, four episodes on BritBox

~learn about each episode here

https://youtu.be/Zvgvxal-udg

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #250

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

~Image: an everyday moment captured in my living room, complete with a dog toy left on the floor - learn more about the photo in this post.

Mar 11, 2019
249: A Lesson, for Women Especially, to Learn Sooner
30:34

Oprah: What is a lesson that took you the longest to learn that you kept repeating and it kept showing up wearing a different something, but was the same lesson?

Julia Roberts: I think we as people, or as women, or me just myself who I am in this world that I make myself less for someone else to feel more of whatever that "thing" was.


When I heard Julia Roberts share with Oprah on her podcast Super Soul Conversations this past October the lesson that took her the longest to learn, it struck a chord. Actually, having seen the above Instagram post on Oprah's feed prior to the interview which prompted me to download the episode (airing on October 23 & 24 - it's a two-part conversation), I finally felt I had found a word for what I had been doing for quite some time in my life but couldn't understand what it was and why it was causing me so much frustration.

Shrinking, unconsciously becoming less of who we are so that others feel more comfortable, either to avoid confrontation that is unwarranted, but still we choose to prevent it from occurring by not being our full and awesome selves, or by not partaking in a life path because we don't want to upset others or deal with the push back, can become a habit and mistakenly become accepted as who we actually are.

The habit of shrinking is something I became accustomed to for a long time - with my family, with my friends, in relationships - but thankfully, I find myself in the past 5-8 years refusing to do so, and the blessings of this conscious choice have been beautiful - primarily, a sense of peace and tranquility within myself which is especially felt when I am in own and only company. And more importantly, I have begun to find people who accept me for who I truly am, and have been more keen to gravitate to others who as well are being themselves and do not ask or expect or want me to shrink.

A common reaction to onlookers or individuals who have interacted with those of us who have become conditioned to self-select to become less is that we are 'too much of ourselves'. In other words, arrogant. They skip over the observation of one simply being confident and jump to, she/he is too confident. Too full of themselves. But what they are really communicating is "I am not comfortable with you not being who I want you to be or what I am used to you being". And often, it is women who when they choose to let go of being less, receive the comment from others of being 'too confident'. I rarely hear this about men who are confident, and even those men who are well into the arrogant tier of confidence. Nope, primarily women. And this is what is known as social conditioning.

Even more unfortunate, it is often women, but men too, if they haven't been conditioned or around women or any individual who is not adhering to what they believe to be 'their societal role' , they will push back. The irony is, if they are women pushing back against women, they are pushing themselves down as well.

What does 'refusing to make yourself less' look like? Certainly, women can step into the realm of arrogance and go beyond simply being confident just as men can, but too often we fear this misstep and thus never even dabble or try to exude our confidence of being exactly who we are. And being exactly who we are is what the world needs.

How to Be Your Full Self, Not Less, Not More

1.Understand what true self-confidence is

To possess and exude confidence is to establish a "firm trust" with someone else as defined in the dictionary. In episode 5 of the podcast, we detail how to gain confidence and why it is invaluable, an episode inspired by the book The Confidence Code .

And it is imperative, that in order to not convey arrogance, but rather confidence, you refuse to fake it. In other words, let go of the life advice maxim that seems to be quite ubiquitous - "fake it until you make it". If you fake it, you overstep, you don't have the credibility and people will not trust you. The goal is to gain authentically other people's trust, which means, you need to be you and do what you love and what comes naturally, where you find your flow and where you acknowledge others' strengths and successes, where you recognize new ideas and thus adjust your ideas. Being adamant is not being confident, especially so, if your stance on any issue needs to be adjusted as new knowledge is put forth.

In other words, excluding true confidence comes from showing, not telling. Simply put, our actions, how we carry ourselves, how we handle difficult situations, how we prepare for our projects/conferences/speeches/etc., how we respond to questions when asked, when we engage in conversations - what it is that we share and how we speak - our tone, listening skills, responses, etc., how we go about our lives when nobody is necessarily watching, etc.

Confidence is gained from continual growth, a bit of vulnerability to put yourself out there and show your strengths, but also a recognition that it is in your actions,, that build upon themselves to build trust with others and to demonstrate to yourself that yes, what you have to offer is valuable, but first you must acknowledge this truth to yourself.

2. Let go of the need of wanting everyone to like or approve of what you do/say

Become more comfortable walking away and not taking it personally when someone doesn't "approve" of your behavior, ideas, lifestyle, etc. First, this is where having confidence will help strengthen your resolve to not be so shaken when someone speaks ill of you or your work. Second, this doesn't mean constructive feedback shouldn't be considered. After all, in order to grow, so long as the source who is relaying the feedback is trusted, credible and wishes only to help, not tear down what you have put out into the world, consider their feedback.

On the other hand, whether it is with relationships, career pursuits, lifestyle choices, or political ideologies, while we may intrinsically want others to like us, agree with us, go along with our ideas, accept us, date us, marry us, hire us, vote for us, etc., we want them to like our full self, not a version of what we think they would accept. Because in time, we will no longer be able to stay confined inside the box we have initially put ourselves in and the other has accepted that we stay. Our breaking out will come in all different forms - getting angry, ending a relationship, etc. - but rest assured, it will come eventually.

3. Find the courage to be vulnerable

The most frightening part of being our fullest selves is knowing that there is a possibility we will be dismissed, rejected, ignored, laughed at, simply not accepted for who we are. But the comfort, the safety net so to speak, is the self-confidence we have built up and take with us everywhere we go.

If you understand your self-worth, which has been with you since the day you were born and will be with you your entire life, you know that you have immense value that the world is fortunate to have. In 2011, I wrote a post sharing 10 Ways to Strengthen Self-Worth and one vital point shared was that "we all have self-worth; it’s a matter of finding it within ourselves.  Once we accept and acknowledge, and know, that we are worthy, the amazing journey of finding our purpose, of discovering our passions and living our most fulfilling life can really begin."

Once you acknowledge how awesome you are all on your own, those rejections, those negative responses that none of us are seeking, will more easily become a part of the past and roll off your back. But first you must establish your self-confidence.

"It’s no surprise that confidence is the foundation that makes it okay to be vulnerable. It’s the layer of self-trust that allows you to take a few bricks out of that wall and know you’ll be okay, to really show up and to show others who you are. Real, natural confidence is trust rather than second-guessing. It’s congruity rather than compartmentalization. It’s ease rather than resistance." —Steve Errey, a confidence coach

If you are someone as well who has felt they have had to shrink themselves in order to live life, then you know how uncomfortable and confining it can be to live such a life. Such experience is not wasted because now that we know how to become our full selves we can make sure we don't expect others to shrink or become less around us. With empathy we can make sure this harm to others doesn't continue - to women or men. But we must stand strong in our full selves and become comfortable with walking way, communicatively clearly, but with clarity and calm certainty and recognizing that these are both skills - the shrinking to be less and the expanding to be our full selves - and so while it took time to learn how to shrink, it will take time to learn how to be fully who we truly are out in the world.

For me, there are three aspects that are the most difficult part of being fully who I am: not holding on to the past of how I have been treated by the same people I am trying to be fully myself with and bringing unhelpful rash and reactionary emotions with me (while I have walked away from those I could, sometimes we don't have a choice as we either work for or with them or are related to them and see them at holiday occasions whether by our own invitation or not); letting go of the guilt that had been instilled by society for being stronger than it wanted me to be - whether that guilt was exhibited by having a voice, an idea or letting someone go; and lastly, believing in what I wanted to bring to the world more and considering the certain critics that will inevitably arise less.

As you can see, it takes time, and awareness of what is most difficult for each of us, but we each can attain the place of being fully who we are each day and moment of our lives no matter who we are with. And in knowing this, we can support and nurture others who are daring to take this brave step to be themselves and encourage them, not laugh or limit or dismiss, so that we all rise to our best selves. However, it starts with supporting yourself and giving yourself permission to be exactly who you are. Just be you. And in your being, you will dazzle, amaze and find the people who delight in exactly who you are. Trust your journey.

Petit Plaisir

—Agatha and the Truth of Murder, on Netflix

starring Irish actress Ruth Bradley as Agatha Christie at the age of 36 as her marriage to Archibald Christie was coming to an end.

Set in December 1926, during the 11 day period in which the novelist went missing. The movie is a fictionalized version of what might have happened.

https://youtu.be/2apnlrZmv28

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #249

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

Mar 04, 2019
248: 12 French or (Set in France) Feel-Good Films I Love (having premiered in the past 10 years)
01:01:53

Over the years I have recommended, reviewed and shared a long list of French films or films set in France either as Petit Plaisirs in previous podcast episodes, in the weekly This & That under the Francophile Finds category or during the annual TSLL French Week the past three years in August.

And as someone who appreciates simplicity and organization, I realized I didn't have one destination where readers/listeners could find my favorites. So today, that is exactly what I have done.

Understandably, there is a multitude of French films from decades passed that many people would place on their top list, but I wanted to share films I have loved that premiered in the past ten years.

As you will see, most are French films with English subtitles, but there are a few that are American films set in France, and one, I couldn't not help myself, that isn't French at all. It is Italian, but I learned about it while watching a French film in New York City's must-visit-foreign-films movie theater The Paris Theater (which is located adjacent to Bergdorf Goodman on the south end of Central Park). All of them are thoughtful, some more comical than others, but each will leave you in a contented mood having finished the film (and some will leave you with a voracious appetite - most for food, some for wine and others for . . . well . . . let's get to my list of the 12 French films I love).

1. Un Peu Beaucoup Aveuglement (Blind Date)

Released in France in 2015, this romantic comedy juxtaposes two tenants who need starkly different things in their lives in order to achieve the goals they have set. With merely a wall that separates them, the battle ensues and the humor begins.

First shared in episode #130's Petit Plaisir, you can listen to my full review there, and here is the trailer.

https://youtu.be/6F2gaqo3QS4

2. Barbecue

In 2015 I was looking for a light-hearted film, yet something to catch my eye’s attention as well as pique my curiosity. Released in 2014, Barbecue is a French film situated the majority of the time in the countryside of south France, but also in the city of Lyon. Amongst a group of long-time friends, one suffers a heart attack only to have it prompt him to question his entire life’s approach to living well. Enjoy the laughter, the camaraderie, the tears, the frustration and the ultimate happy ending. Available on Netflix, be sure to put it on your watch list.

https://youtu.be/6R4ekgJdj28

3. I Am Not An Easy Man

Last year I had the opportunity to watch a new film which debuted on Netflix a few weeks ago, I Am Not An Easy Man. Not only will Francophiles appreciate this modern film as it is set in Paris and is written in French, but with the recent swelling of awareness surrounding the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp, the lead role stars a male chauvinist’s whose life is flipped upside down when after a concussion he wakes up in a matriarchal world in which men are inferior to women.

The satirical plot will perhaps have you laughing at times until you take a moment, pause, and then recognize how conditioned society has become to accept certain behaviors, roles and expectations of each gender. Watch it, absorb the message and then live more consciously. I know I was taking serious note of the message. The last scene alone was all too real of a wake-up call of where society is and the progress that still needs to be made. 

https://youtu.be/2bFHdkzqSZA

4. Last Love

In 2013, Mr. Morgan's Last Love, aka Last Love, starring Michael Caine as a bereaved widower living in Paris, debuted. Co-starring alongside French actress Clemence Poesy, a jovial dance instructor, this film was a Petit Plaisir in episode #60's. While critics did not like the film, I found it unexpectedly lovely. The friendship between the two, the unexpected introduction to people Clemence's character may not have met, there is great love shared throughout the film from the love the retired professor shared with his wife, to the current relationships being built to the future love Poesy's character will embark upon.

The film is based on Françoise Dorner's French novel La Douceur Assassine, and while the main character in the novel is French, the screenplay was written with Caine in mind for the part. The title reflects the widower's contemplation with ending his life, and it is the young dance instructor that he meets that begins to change his mind.

https://youtu.be/rShhldUL-ow

5. Sex, Love & Therapy (2014) aka Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas (Do You Want It Or Not?)

Let's lighten it up a bit, and Sex, Love & Therapy are certain to do just that. Sophie Marceau and Patric Bruel star in this French romantic comedy about a marriage counselor (Bruel) who is trying to get over his love for sex, but his new assistant (Marceau) is not making it easy.

https://youtu.be/yvAuX01_Fyk

6. Back to Burgundy

When I read the review of director Cédric Klapisch’s new French film in The Wall Street Journal, I immediately put it on my watch list, and since then I have had the opportunity to view the film and enjoyed it immensely.

Centered around a family vineyard and the dilemma of what to do when the patriarch passes, the three children come together, squabble, remember and then decide on the best path. The cinematography will transport you to the rolling hills of Burgundy and you will be spoiled with footage watching each season in the vineyard. It is a pure treat and a wonderful examination of siblings who dearly love each other, but are faced with a tough dilemma. Don't worry, the ending, I have a feeling will satisfy.

https://youtu.be/v2hcDb7gJ4I

7. Paris Can Wait

An American film, starring Diane Lane, Paris Can Wait was released in 2017 and was the Petit Plaisir episode #160. Written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola. Yes, that Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather series, The Outsiders, etc.) for 54 years. Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival, Paris Can Wait is Eleanor’s first narrative feature film, but you wouldn’t have known. Now, not all the critics are loving it: The Boston Globe felt it was strained and relied too heavily on clichés, even those who thought they would love it came away unsure due to the ambiguous ending, but it is precisely the different approach to making the film that makes it lovely.

Coppola has shared that the film’s plot was inspired by her own life (be sure to read the San Francisco Chronicle‘s interview with her here), but not every piece and parcel of the story (there was no male companion). Along with the struggle Diane Lane’s character (Anne) wrestles with is what Coppola herself did as well, the “‘inner conflict, the push and pull’ she’s felt her whole adult life about pursuing her own creative ambitions while raising three children and supporting her husband’s career”.  As well, both women (the character and Coppola) have suffered the loss of a child which is briefly, but touchingly included in the film.

Some readers have shared with me, they didn’t enjoy the insinuation of infidelity, but I think that may be taking it further than Coppola intended as nothing occurred, merely adoration and a woman (Anne) who was keenly aware and  steadfast. What Anne’s journey does do for her is awaken her to her strengths, to her passions, to the realization yes of her imperfect, but still very adoring husband. And by not giving viewers the concrete ending, leaving us wondering, Coppola does something I must applaud her for: She doesn’t tell us how to think.

As someone who has been immersed in Hollywood due to her husband, then daughter and son’s successful involvement with silver screen productions, she doesn’t fall prey to the formula. Maybe she does have a sequel in mind, but I hope not only because this film, as she has stated, took six years to raise funds as it wasn’t full of “aliens, nobody dies, there are no guns and no car crashes. There was nothing that an investor wants to invest in. No sex, no violence”.  Rather it was a piece of her life she wanted to share and explore, and in so doing, she allows the viewers to ponder what we don’t often see in movies: a leading female role who is complete all by herself so long as she embraces her passions, lets herself feel what she feels, appreciates her allure which may be initially noticed due to her beauty but is profoundly powerful and substantive due to her intellect and character.

And whether or not she remains with her husband (who isn’t perfect) or explores her attraction to Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard (who also isn’t perfect or ideal either) shouldn’t be needed for a happy ending. What the happy ending is is liberation for Anne who hears the reminder from Jacques to share her talents with her husband (and perhaps the world if she so chooses), and to savor the pleasures of everyday moments and food without rushing to Paris.

~Diane Lane's Wardrobe (and Camera!) in Paris Can Wait

~Escape to France: TSLL's New French-Inspired Playlist

https://youtu.be/yXYuIzC7qcg

8. My Old Lady

The third and last American film, based in Paris, My Old Lady is film involving love, unexpected treasures and a renewal of life. Kevin Kline stars in the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz. Upon arriving from New York, Kline’s character is set to liquidate his estranged father’s Parisian property, but discovers a refined old lady as the tenant. While waiting to determine how he can acquire his asset, he comes to learn that the old lady (played by Maggie Smith), was his father’s lover for 50 years, as well as meeting and becoming smitten with the old lady’s daughter played by Kristin Scott Thomas.

https://youtu.be/DrLB9IfN_lc

9. Queen to Play

Queen to Play is the most recent French film to be shared as a Petit Plaisir, and you may remember it was reviewed in episode #242. Kevin Kline also stars in this film, and while a much smaller role, it is his first role in a French film. Released in 2011, Sandrine Bonnaire stars as Héléne, a wife and mother who is a housemaid not only at a luxury hotel in Corsica, but also for Kevin Kline's character's home in the country.

Héléne becomes curious about the game of chess after watching a couple flirtatiously play a game in the hotel where she works. In hopes of bringing sparks to her own marriage, she discovers she has quite the talent for the game with the help of Kline giving her practice sessions.

https://youtu.be/4RcBGcMJY7Y

10.A Five Star Life

“Did it meet your expectations even if you have felt at times uncomfortable or lonely? You’re still in time to choose, in the future, a more comfortable and protected solution – maybe more suitable to the needs of a family. It is well, to keep in mind, however, the happiness and well-being and strictly personal concepts. For some people, the sense of freedom and adventure is an essential part of the experience. Trust your instinct. This is your journey. The route to take is up to you. Have a safe journey.” –A Five Star Life

Upon watching the foreign film A Five Star Life, the ending will be an untraditional jolt to an American audience as it will deign to allow the heroine to journey into the credits in absolute contentment with her own company. The quote above is stated by Irene just as this last scene unfolds, and as I was collecting all of my sources for today’s post, I couldn’t help but realize with certainty that Irene is indeed the epitomization of self-actualization.

Why? You may ask. Does one have to journey through life alone in order to be self-actualized? Absolutely not. But what Irene exhibits is the knowledge of herself and the world around her. She is not limited by what society purports to define as a “happy life”, but rather investigates and discovers what happiness is indeed for her while accepting that others may, and many do, have a different definition.

While the language is Italian (with English subtitles), based on the trailer and the story line, and the premise that “real luxury is the pleasure of real life. Lived to the fullest, full of imperfections”. It aligns quite nicely with living simply luxuriously, non?

https://youtu.be/7Pd_3FeLjsk

11. Le Chef

Now I am going to make your mouth water and your appetite perk up with the last two films of recommendation.

Haute-cuisine and France, a beautiful pairing indeed, come together for a light-hearted comedy starring Jean Reno and Michaël Youn in Le Chef. Written and directed by Daniel Cohen, a young self-taught chef played by Youn is far from lucky in his pursuit of professional success and happens on a star chef (Reno) who is in danger of losing his reputation and his restaurant. The two come together to help themselves, but end up helping each other along the way. 

https://youtu.be/cf2Nk3Ld8Og

12. Les Saveurs du Palais

The story is based on the real-life case of Danièle Delpeuch, a lesser-known provincial chef and restaurant-owner who in the late 1980s was summoned by President François Mitterrand to be his personal cook at his official residence, the Elysée Palace. Catherine Frot stars as Hortense, the chef chosen by the French president and  Jean d'Ormesson plays Mitterrand. An interesting point to share is that Jean d'Ormesson, not an actor, will be instantly recognized by French audiences as he was a writer and journalist and during Mitterrand's career, was one of his toughest adversaries.

Back to the film, based on Mitterrand's choice for his chef - The President prefers the traditional cuisine from his childhood and finds Hortense to be the chef he is looking for to the chagrin of the rest of the cooking staff.

Come with a full stomach otherwise your tastebuds will be tempted throughout. Or perhaps come with an appetite and make sure you have reservations at a delectable French restaurant afterwards.

https://youtu.be/YB1slI4fOUc

Oh, my. I do hope you have discovered a film that tickles your curiosity, or perhaps one that you would like to watch again.

There is something about watching a film that enables you to slip away virtually to another part of the world that truly offers a respite from whatever is going on in your life. And then when we add the necessary requisite of paying attention to the subtitles, our full attention is captured.

Before long, if you are like me, you will begin to hear the language more than you knew you could and not look at the subtitles as often.

Wishing you happy viewing and bonne journée!

~Listen to all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes

~The Simple Sophisticate will return with a new episode on Monday March 4th. You can view the entire 5th season schedule below. In the meantime, next Monday, stop by for an Inspiration/Motivation post to kick off the week.




~CORRECTION: In the taped podcast, I errantly stated The Paris Theater in NYC was adjacent to Saks. It is actually adjacent to Bergdorf Goodman. (Evidentially, it has been too long since I have visited the Big Apple, and I need to return sooner rather than later. ?

~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~TSLL's French Cafe Jazz Playlist

~Top 10 French-Inspired Posts in 2018

~All You Need to Know About the Markets in Provence

~Round-Up of TSLL's 2018 French Week

Petit Plaisir

WP + Standard

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #248

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

Feb 18, 2019
247: My Interview with Stylist Scarlet Chamberlin
52:52

In today's episode I had the opportunity to chat with Portland, Oregon, based stylist Scarlet Chamberlin who has styled women and men as their lives begin to evolve along their journeys.

Having styled clients for the red carpet - the Academy Awards and Golden Globes - she works with everyday individuals seeking a style that aligns with where they are and where they want to go in their lives.

In today's episode we talk about how her career began in styling (she began in 2010), what services she offers to clients (see the list below), how Scarlet will help unearth your precise style, as well as insights about the styling process and how it plays a far more profound role in our lives.

Scarlet's passion will be made evident when you tune in, and as many readers and listeners have reached out to me in search of a stylist, whether in person or online, the good news is she does both, and I could not recommend her more highly. You will be in very good hands. Have a look below at more links and information shared during our conversation and be sure to view Scarlet's website for more detailed information.

~Below: Have a look at the video discussed during the episode of style Scarlet captured during her travels in Paris this past summer. Just listening to the music will make you want to hop on a plane to the City of Light and don your stylish best wares.

https://youtu.be/nS3hs3vXymM

~stylist Scarlet Chamberlin~

~Scarlet Chamberlin Styling Co., Studio in Portland, Oregon~

~Scarlet with Gunnar (golden doodle) and her husband~

~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate

Feb 11, 2019
246: Why Not . . . Tailor Your Life to Fit You?
33:03

"A well-designed life is a life that makes sense . . . a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions." Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

At the heart of choosing and the actively living a simply luxurious life, is to live a life tailored to each of us. It will be unique, it will be thoughtfully constructed and a dynamic being, as our lives continually grow, evolve and expand due to our curious natures.

As I share in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Selves, I have been tailoring my life unconsciously since I was a young girl, and now consciously as an adult for the past two decades. Tailoring takes energy, intention and a desire to understand and then the courage to apply what we learn to our lives. It can be difficult at times, but ultimately, it is greatly rewarding as we are living in accordance to our true nature and discovering all the potential we have within us.

Editing our lives - removing what does not align with our priorities and dreams, and making room for what enlivens us and brings us joy is a highly beneficial process.

Imagine that dress that looks exquisite on the model or the hanger, and you know the color is precisely what will make your skin and smile glow if only you could shorten (or lengthen as it usually is in my case) the hem, taper the waist, but broaden the width of the shoulders and make the neckline fit just so.

The dress in this instance is your life - you love living life, you are consciously aware of how awesome it is and the opportunities that could potentially come forth if only you had the time and energy to see them and then capitalize upon them.

The tailor that will make the necessary changes to make the dress fit perfectly for you uniquely is you (with the help of experts in their field - i.e. books, writers, etc.). And yes, the tailoring will take time, but with careful awareness, the little changes begin to make a significant positive difference in how your daily and overall life begin to feel as you live the changes you have made.

This is to tailor your life to fit you. And it is absolutely worth the time it will take. In fact, I have a feeling if you are a reader/listener of this blog/podcast, you had already been a tailor of your life for some time. But as the quote below reminds, a well-designed life isn't something you tend to once and complete. Nope. Much like our favorite dress, we may need to adjust it over the years in all sorts of ways, but the dress (i.e. our life) is capable of adapting if we have made good decisions along the way.

After all, our skin tone, eye color, hair color (okay, this can change if we want it too), height, shoe size and temperament do not change. We simply become better at understanding how to complement and enhance and thus, bring forth to the world who we truly are. And that is why we need to be a tailor of our lives, which is an ongoing job.

"A well-designed life isn't a noun — it's a verb . . . your life is not a thing, it's an experience; the fun comes from designing and enjoying the experience."

1. Follow What Brings You Joy

"Follow the joy; follow what engages and excites you, what brings you life."

2. Create an Activity Log for 2-4 months

Log your energy and engagement levels for each activity, noting the specifics of said activity, the environment you find yourself (physical, emotional, social, etc.), what type of interactions you have with other people, other things - machines, etc., what objects were part of the experience - technology, analog, sporting equipment, instruments, etc. and who else was with you as you engaged in the activity?

3. Plan small rewards after completing "energy-negative" tasks

4. Let go of Agonizing over what the "best choice" is

"You can't make 'the best choice' because you can't know what the best choice was until all the consequences have played out. You can work on making the best choice you can, given what's knowable at the moment."

When I read this part of the book, I acknowledged that I can agonize from time to time, especially when it involves decisions of great risk or great change, but when I read the quote above, I was put at ease. When we replay over and over again in our minds the "what if's", we are agonizing and thus expending energy that would be better placed moving forward and letting go. Moving forward and letting go, trusting that we made the best choice with the information we had at the time will enable more 'best choices' to be made in the future.

5. Practice self-discipline

The art of letting go of agonizing and being able to move on takes self-discipline as it will be a habit you will have to break if you have been a seasoned 'agonizer'. However, eventually the skill of letting go once the decision has been made and moving forward takes place will become habit as well. To frame it different, choose happiness. Better still, choose contentment. If agonizing does not bring you either of these feelings, then let it go.

"Happiness is letting go of what you don't need."

Now that you know in what ways your life would be best tailored to you, below are a few concrete areas to consider so that your everyday life - the want-tos AND the have-tos - can work best for the life you want to live.

1.Automate what you can

Last year, I shared 12 ways to automate your life. Be sure to check out the post to discover specifics everyday or routine tasks that can be tended to once and not repeatedly. Some of the ideas include finances, savings, bill paying, regular beauty items, etc.

2. House cleaning

Whether you have the luxury of hiring someone to do the deep cleaning regularly or you are the cleaner of the house, find a system that is efficient both in energy and time. I have done both, and currently, feel fortunate to be able to have someone clean my house once a month while I maintain it with weekly pick-up cleaning sessions in between. However, this hasn't always been an option, so I have followed a weekly and then seasonal cleaning schedule that enabled me to not have too large of tasks if I had put them off, but also make sure the big items (windows, refrigerator) were cleaned on a regular basis.

~Here is a detailed post (you can also find an expanded version in my 1st book) of cleaning tasks to organize and ideas for simplifying - Cleaning Your Sanctuary — Tackle and Simplify

3. Reading material

Thoughtfully edit out and welcome what you enjoy, what keeps you informed, but without the excess. I recently discovered that simply by asking for a particular partial delivery (weekends only), which was more to my reading schedule and interest, I could not only save money, but reduce the amount of newspapers I was having to recycle.

Currently, I have reduced the number of magazines I subscribe to (here is a list of all of the magazines I have subscribed to at one time or another, but I do not subscribe to all of these now), and I also subscribe to three newspapers: The New York Times (Sundays), The Wall Street Journal (weekend) and The Washington Post (digital).

4. The Market Shopping

From making sure your canvas totes are already at the ready, as well as cotton mesh bags for produce so that no more plastic needs to come home with you, creating a place for these items will reduce extra bags that you will need to recycle and help the planet as well which will make you feel good for doing a small part to help.

~9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health and Help Out the Planet

5. Bring in the Small Luxuries

What brings you joy? What delights you during your day in your home or in your daily life at work or going about your regular business? We have spoken abundantly about small luxuries on the blog/podcast, so this idea will come as no surprise, but this is where you tailor the small luxuries that will elevate your everyday - whether it is always having fresh flowers in the house, to having beautiful French candles to help you wind down at the end of each day, welcome small luxuries into your life. Discover 27 ideas for bringing simple luxuries into your life in this 2013 post.

~Why Not . . . Indulge in Simple Luxuries?

6. How to Best Stay Informed without Becoming Overwhelmed and Anxiety-Ridden

In 2017, episode #187, I shared a list of 9 ways to Create a Healthy Approach to Staying Abreast of the News, and ever the advocate for staying informed, I also have experienced first-hand that there is also a breaking point for all of us when it negatively effects our lives. This is where tailoring is crucial for our mental and emotional health, which does contribute to our physical and then overall health.

One significant change I have made over the past year is HOW I receive the news. Instead of watching it (the only news programming I view is NBR - Nightly Business Report - which focuses on solely economic news), I read or listen to the news. By doing this I am choosing when I listen, and or read, and I read my daily news brief each morning, sometimes a few articles that interest me and then save my Sunday reading for reading the entire papers (the sections that most interest me). This has helped me make the shift to be less reactive and more responsive thoughtfully and when I see necessary.

~episode #145, Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference

7. The environments in which you live and work

Whether it is our home where we have much more control to design our environments or our workplaces, where we may not have as much, but we can still pay attention to what we do, doing so for each is one of the most significant tailoring jobs we can take on to improve the quality of our lives.

~Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary? 7 Ways to Get Started

~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #108

~For Introverts in the Workplace: 8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, #6 speaks to cultivating a sanctuary at work

~The Importance of Cultivating a Sanctuary, episode #46

8. Your Signature Style

Style, whether it is our clothing, our homes, how we speak or how we go about living our lives, is a form of communicating with the world our life experience, our values and our dreams. To not at least be aware of this power, is to ignore a powerful way we can engage with our lives more fully and elevate them with our choices when they align with our true selves.

I have an entire Archived Section of posts dedicated to finding your signature style, but this episode/post will help you get started , episode #15.-

9. How we eat

Do you make food a source of pleasure as well as nourishment? Do you celebrate with food small and large moments of your life with those you love?

Food and how we approach engaging with food, how we speak about food, is an everyday part of our lives. If we curse food, that is negative energy we are bringing into our lives. If we berate ourselves for eating certain foods, that is a choice we are making before and after that negatively affects our lives, but we can tailor this part of our lives as well.

As we become knowledgeable about food, recognizing that we do not need to deprive ourselves, the food we eat, how we prepare it and how we approach creating the meals we enjoy with ourselves and others, can become a wonderful source of joy. Check out TSLL's archives on Health which is all about Elevating the Everyday Meal with Seasonal Fare (and also check out TSLL's new venture into the cooking show genre with The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - 8 episodes are now available).

10. The Big Life Decisions

In 2014 and again in more detail in my new book (2nd book), I share the "how" of Tailored Simplicity: How to design a life that is in alignment with your priorities, values, passions and talents.

So much of what is shared on TSLL is about designing your best life and tailoring to the unique person you are. Hopefully the above list will jumpstart you in the direction of paying attention to the little details that when tended to thoughtfully will make an impressive positive difference.

Most importantly, our lives our ours to curate. Often, we don't realize how powerful changes in our default thinking, in our default way of living can change the quality of our lives. The key is to live consciously, make the best decision we can at the moment and continue to enjoy the living part, which is the only part that truly matters. Even with the have-tos that will bring us to the destination we seek, there is goodness to be savored, appreciated and enjoyed. Living thoughtfully, letting go of what is done and making the most of what is and potentially can be has the power to make your life an awesome experience each and every day.

~TSLL's 2nd book is specially written to help readers tailor their lives to their most authentic selves. Discover how to cultivate and strengthen the many tools that will elevate success in your everyday life, career, relationships and much more.

~Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self (2018)

Petit Plaisir:

~Monty Don's French and Italian Gardens, Netflix

~French Gardens (3 part series), 2013

~Italian Gardens (4 part series), 2011

~Discover Monty Don's gardening books here

~Visit Monty Don's website for he posts monthly tips for gardening.

~Follow Monty Don (and his golden retrievers) on Instagram

Monty Don's Italian Gardens trailer

https://youtu.be/EfrijhsuuR0

Monty Don's French Gardens, clip

https://vimeo.com/117668673

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #246

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

Feb 04, 2019
245: 10 Ways Resilence During Good Times Can Elevate Your Everydays
33:30

"Resilence is more than bouncing back from adversity. People who are resilient keep pursuing their goals in the face of challenges. Consequently, learning how to regulate your brain's motivational machinery is a key aspect of resilence." —Rick Hanson, Ph. D, author of Resilient: How to Grown an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness

Living well and successfully reaching our fullest potential in part resides in understanding what is and is not in our control. Once we understand what we have control over, for example, and for today's post/episode's purposes, the mind, then we need to be willing to take the time to learn how it functions and how we can use its talents to enhance the overall quality of our lives.

Dr. Rick Hanson shares in the introduction of his book Resilience that "the brain is continually remodeling itself as you learn from your experiences. When you repeatedly stimulate a 'circuit' in your brain, you strengthen it." After reading his book, which is organized by the needs we have as human beings - safety, satisfaction and connection - readers discover the skills, and then the tools to build those skills to build our resilience. "True resilience fosters well-being, an underlying sense of happiness, love and peace."

And in order to foster the sense of each of them and hardwire them into our being, we need to experience them, seek them out and consciously savor them so as to remember how to live each day consciously as we build a life we love living each day.

Hanson asserts and I have to certainly agree, when we practice and improve our resilience in good times or seemingly benign moments in our everyday lives, we "will feel less anxiety and irritation, less disappointment and frustration and less loneliness, hurt and resentment. And when the waves of life come at you, you'll meet them with more peace, contentment and love in the core of your being."

So let's start by looking at our everyday lives and discovering how we can strengthen the muscle, the skill, that is resilience.

1.Take care of your own well-being first

"Being good to yourself is good for others. When people increase their own well-being, they usually become more patient, cooperative, and caring in their relationships."

We can only give our best selves when we care for ourselves well. When our needs are met, we can help others who are in need of generosity, understanding and patience. Read/Listen to episode #242 for 31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care.

2. Notice and savor enjoyable moments

Creating the habit of being self-compassionate is a learned skill. And with any skill, it takes conscious effort and repetition to habituate the skill into our default systems. Hanson advises, "Once you're having [an enjoyable] experience, feel it as fully as possible and take a little time —a breath or two or ten — to stay with it. The more often you do this, the more you will tend to hardwire psychological resources for yourself." Once you have strengthened this skill, you will be better able to utilize it during difficult as well as joyous times.

~Learn more about self-compassion and how to cultivate it in episode #122

3. Welcome Enjoyable Moments into Each Day

Conscious living is thoughtful living to pay close attention to how our days are constructed. Now this doesn't mean we have to plan every minute of the day and it doesn't mean everything must be nose-to-the-grindstone work or striving for nothing but perfection. What Hanson encourages is to understand and find what is enjoyable about the tasks you both want to do and have to do.

Completing a project at work for example, while the entire task may not be enjoyable, ask yourself, what is and focus on that. In so doing, you are more engaged, more attentive and more likely to give your best and have a more positive outcome.

On the flipside, for those activities you enjoy, make sure you partake in them regularly and savor the enjoyment you derive from doing so. Each time you focus on the reward, the enjoyable part, the brain releases dopamine, norepinephrine and natural opioids which then prioritizes in your mind what actions it wants to continue to pursue unconsciously. So essentially, you are beginning to hardwire your brain for wanting to do things that you consciously know will add quality to your life whether the enjoyment comes from have-to tasks or want-to tasks.

4. Repeat the superpowers you want to be part of your brain's hardwiring

"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."

Hanson shares that our character strengths, mood, skillful ways, outlook, good habits, etc. are predominantly learned as only one-third are innate in our DNA. The remaining two-thirds are acquired through learning.

This is good news, but it also means we have a massive responsibility in recognizing that we are who we either consciously or unconsciously choose to become. As Hanson coins, "who we learn to be".

5. Encourage Beneficial Experiences

"See the jewels around you."

The brain's negativity bias is programmed to protect us, and so it will bring to the forefront, if we aren't the master of our mind, all the negative in our days. However, when we understand why the brain is doing this, we can counteract it by seeking out, observing, savoring and incorporate more positive little moments into our day.

From savoring your breakfast or that cold glass of water, observing the beauty of the day, or the happy step of your pup as you head out for your walk, when we pay attention to the good experiences, we are nurturing our well-being. Why? Because if we are regularly letting the negative take the stage of our attention, there is "wear and tear on your body and mind".

6. Understand the essence of learning

What we learn, we become, and since two-thirds of who we become is learned, knowing how to learn is essential, so we can do it well and learn what will improve the quality of our everyday and overall lives. Hanson's acrynom for learning is HEAL (H - Have a beneficial experience; E - Enrich it, A - Absorb it; and finally, L — Link it to replace or soothe painful material). The first three steps are the essence of learning.

With that said, we need to live consciously. We need to choose experiences that are beneficial or have the potential to be beneficial. To enrich each of these beneficial experiences, we need to be fully present, taking everything in, slowing down, looking for something we had not seen if we are experiencing something beyond the first time, and then become clear as to why the experience is valuable to you. (a more detailed list regarding how to enrich experiences is hared on page 58 of Hanson's book).

Once we have enriched it, we need to savor the experience, or absorb it. To be clear, and Hanson points this out and I think this is vitally important to not misunderstand: Absorbing doesn't mean hanging on, clinging and not letting go. In fact, you are letting it go because you were never holding on to it, just noticing it, being present with the experience and appreciating it. Absorbing has to do with letting yourself feel good, letting yourself bask in the warmth of what has been part of your experience and in your own way, letting it become a part of you. Experiences can stay with us forever. Make sure the experiences that stick are wants that truly jewels.

7. "Let the Flowers Pull the Weeds"

I love this analogy, and the neurology behind the concept demonstrates how we can rewire our mind to reframe or eliminate negative thoughts and unhelpful attitudes about life and replace them with beneficial ones. Hanson points out that practicing mindfulness will be a helpful tool to be able to grow flowers whilst bringing as well to your attention the weed you want to replace. Because when you are able to hold two thoughts simultaneously, it is then that the good can begin to replace the negative, as you are able to recognize that good that is true and begin to chip away at was no longer serving you.

8. Be Mindful of The Self-Critic and Strengthen the Inner Nurturer

"There are two different attitudes or 'voices' inside us all, one that is nurturing and another that is critical, one that lifts up and one that weighs down. This is perfectly normal. The inner nurturer brings self-compassion and encouragement. The inner critic helps you recognize where you've gone wrong and what you need to do to set things right . . . for most people, the inner critic goes way overboard . . . it's big and powerful, while the inner nurturer is small and ineffective, which wears down mood, self-worth and resilience."

The inner critic needs to be kept in check, and this can be hard to do when moments in life, people in our lives become frustrating or hard to work with. We can be excessively harsh on ourselves which is why in such moments, we especially need to have a strong inner nurturer. A simple truth to keep in mind is that overtime those of us who allow our inner critic to run rampant are actually less productive in what we are critical about, and ultimately, that bleeds into our overall quality of life the elevation of living well we are able to reach.

9. Practice "liking" more and "wanting" less

"The root of [wanting] means 'lack'. It's natural to like things that are pleasurable, such as a sweet dessert with friends. But issues arise as we move from liking to wanting, from enjoying a meal together to insisting on the last piece of pie."

When we let our "auto-wanting" take control, we are pulled from the present, we are infusing our minds with the belief that we are not enough or what we already have is not enough. This is draining physically and potentially financially. Instead, practice appreciating - window shopping, so to speak. Whenever you feel "any sense of pressure, compulsion or 'must-ness'", take a breath, recenter yourself and remind yourself that the advertisers are doing their job, but you can still appreciate the beauty, goodness, awesomeness, etc. without funding their cause.

This is where the skill of being content will help tremendously. As was shared last week, in episode #244, contentment can be felt everyday, all day, as contentment is not dependent upon external sources. And when we are able to be content, it becomes easier to 'like' versus 'want'.

10. Healthy Intimacy Begins with Healthy Personal Autonomy

"Paradoxically, in order to get the most out of 'we', you need to stay centered in 'me'."

Intimacy as it appears in our lives can be cultivated with mere acquaintences as well as a romantic partner of 50 years. As defined in the book, intimacy is "to make familiar or known". And the knowledge of self and security within oneself is the foundation. Because when you are confident that you are able to take care of yourself, you can step forward to be engaged with others, knowing your limits, knowing your boundaries. And if necessary, knowing that if the limits or boundaries are not respected, you can step back and take care of yourself well.

With the relationshps you begin to build or relationships you are currently in, assess if you are able to do the following things:

  • fully express your thoughts and feelings
  • ask for what you want
  • trust your judgment if others disagree with you
  • stand up to others

If you are unable or were unable in past relationships that no longer are a part of your life, you may recognize you do not have full personal autonomy in that particular relationship. These may be relationships you either now recognize need to be stepped away from as you now can pinpoint why they don't feel right, or, if it is only one of the items on the list, you have a specific focus you can bring up to try to improve the relationship.

"Much as autonomy enables intimacy, intimacy supports autonomy. Close and nurturing relationships help a person feel safe and worthy as an individual, which promotes a confident independent. In a positive cycle, autonomy and intimacy feed each other. Together, they make you more resilient."

Moving forward, keep these abilities in mind as you should be able to exercise all four in a healthy relationship as too should the other person with you in the relationship, thus embodying the paradox shared in the above quote.

We often hear the word "resilence" uttered during times of strife or hardship, but the truth is, as Dr. Rick Hanson points out, strengthening the tool or skill of resilience can elevate the quality of our everyday lives in all of the good moments that we have as well.

As is often discussed here on TSLL and on the podcast, our mind is an amazing mechanism, and to understand how it works, have patience with the rewiring process if we are choosing to do so, can yield awesome outcomes for our life, enriching the journey and lead us where we truly want to go.

Petit Plaisir

On the Basis of Sex

~Felicity Jones stars as Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Armie Hammer stars as her husband Marty Ginsburg

  • screenwriter Daniel Stiepleman is Ginsburg's nephew wrote the script which was then approved by Ginsburg's daughter, Jane, a prominent figure in the legal world and in the film as well - she is currently a professor of law at Columbia University
  • Ginsburg was one of just nine women in the Class of 1956
  • The question posed to the 9 women at their welcome dinner by the dean, played by Sam Waterston was verbatim what was said.
  • When Marty was diagnosised with testicular cancer during his third year of law school, Ruth did collect notes from his friends and typed up his essays as he dictated them—a process that often began near midnight. When he finished around 2 a.m., she would turn to her own coursework.
  • Regarding the case - Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue - While the legal side of Moritz’s case is accurate, Ruth didn’t fly to Denver to meet with him. It was Marty who made first contact, and he didn’t do so face to face. According to Ginsburg herself, “We met Charles E. Moritz for the first time in the fall of 1971, the night before the argument. He took us to dinner in Denver. He had to hire a babysitter for his mother.”
  • Source for more details regarding the film and history from Slate.com

https://youtu.be/28dHbIR_NB4

https://youtu.be/tYH9KJ_T6XM

Jan 28, 2019
244: Give Yourself the Gift of Contentment Everyday, All Day
26:13

"Finding an ease with what you are thinking, feeling, the world as it is, not necessarily accepting it, but not resisting it. This is contentment." —Andy Puddicombe

The truth about contentment is that it is different than being happy. We cannot know what it feels like to be happy if we have not been sad, so therefore we cannot feel both simultaneously. The argument may be made that, feeling sad and happy at the same time is possible; that is the definition of a moment being bittersweet. But if you examine such an argument closely, that is why we give it another name - bittersweet - rather than happy or sad.

Contentment resides within each of us. It is not something that comes to us from an external source - someone loving us, success in our hobbies or careers, celebrating an awesome moment in the world around us. Sadness arrives conversely, when we have to say goodbye to someone who has brought much happiness into our lives, when we stumble or hit a road block in our careers or something tragic happens in the world.

But through each of these instances both happiness and sadness, we can be content. Indeed, it is true. We can be content during happy times (which may seem easy to do) and during sad times (which may seem impossible and contrary), but it is true in both instances to be content.

How?

Contentment is a state of understanding yourself. It is an awareness of your strengths, your capabilities, your understanding of how to navigate well in the world no matter what the circumstances. In other words, contentment is a skill that can be strengthened because you hold the keys, the muscles, to either strengthen or let atrophy.

At this point, you may be asking, how do I cultivate and build the strength of contentment. The good news is, it is has been a central topic of TSLL for years, and in fact is thoroughly examined in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self. In the meantime, you can read and listen to posts and episodes from the archives that go into great detail about how contentment can be attained.

Most wonderfully, when contentment is achieved, our happy moments become grander and our sad moments more bearable. As well, upon understanding and welcoming true contentment into our lives we let go of false means of contentment that are really energy or resource zappers and teasers such as the desire for more and the feeling of lack (which is disquised as "want").

True contentment finds us in the now, not gazing at the future.

True contentment is a state of mindfulness. Meditation can play a helpful role in training the muscle that is our mind to be present, to not be overrun by our thoughts, and help us to engage fully in the moment without asking for more and simply savoring the now.

Truthfully, contentment is possible wherever and with whomever we are with, but initially it is not easy to build in particular moments until we grasp its gifts. Below are two instances when reaching a state of contentment can be difficult initially:

  • When we are by ourselves if we have never truly done so, and have depended upon others to create the excitement and pleasure of life.
  • When we are with others who are always looking for more or not appreciative of simply the moment, unable to see whatever goodness is available. (And there is always something good in every moment. Simply being alive to maneuver through a bad moment to the other side is something to celebrate.)

Contentment begins the moment we wake up, when we realize the little beautiful gifts around us - whether it is the peace and quiet of a safe home, the loved ones sleeping calmly or having our home to ourselves, seeing the soft snow fall to the ground, blanketing the yard and neighbood with a paintbrush of beauty, seeing the first light climb above the horizon, hearing the birds begin their business of hellos. But still, the events outside of us, each of the moments listed above, are not what bring you contentment.

What brings us contentment is being able to find, recognize and appreciate them. Because in that same moment, we can easily be noticing that we have woke up too early and wish desperately we could fall back asleep, observe the house that we wish we had cleaned up a bit more, bemoan the fact that our home is full and there is too much to do for others and not enough time to do for ourselves or bemoan the fact that we are waking up alone, or remembering that it is a day of the week that is full of tasks we are not thrilled to tend to, or wishing it wasn't snowing because we will have to drive in it, or lamenting that the sun up because we want a bit more sleep.

You see, it is all about our engagement with the world. Contentment comes from our choice of choosing to recognize the power we have each day to engage in such a way that will open the doors of opportunity to a positive energy.

Contentment doesn't guarantee seemingly much, but upon closer examination, it guarantees a much more fulfilling life that can be savored every single day of our lives. It makes sure that so long as we are in the situation, we will find the goodness, we will find the opportunity, we will make the day better simply by the attitude we bring to it. That energy has a direct effect on our overall well being, and if we are sharing the moment with others, it will have a positive effect on them as well whether they understand it initially or not.

Now, let's go back to those two above mentioned moments that initially are difficult in which to find contement: being by ourselves and being with others who haven't yet welcomed contentment into their lives.

Once you know who you are, you begin to savor days and moments to yourself because being alone doesn't mean you fear what you will find in your own company. In fact, you revel in it.

Spending time with people becomes a joy because you begin to realize the power of the type of people you surround yourself with. You are thoughtful about who you spend your time with, communicate clear boundaries and when you do not have a choice over who you spend your time with you steady yourself to limit the interactions. Listen to episode #92 in which I share The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being and how to do each of these things when it comes to spending time with others.

The gift of contentment is priceless and it is also free. You don't have to buy one more thing (in fact, you may want to let go of some things), you simply need to understand how to focus on understanding how to cultivate contentment and let go of the pursuit of happiness.

Petit Plaisir

~Poketo

~Concept and Project Planners (many more colors), they sell the signature paperclips as well.

Jan 21, 2019
243: 12 Ways to Make Mornings Magical, Mindful and the Foundation of a Great Day and Great Success
34:51

"When you take control of your mornings, you take control of your days. You get to engage with the world under your terms. You can act, instead of react." —Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning Millionaires

Reflect on those mornings in which you eagerly step out of bed regardless of the early hour. What was to happen in that day? Most likely, it was something you were excited to enjoy or partake in. Most likely it was something you loved doing or felt fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of.

However, what if I told you that having such a day actually begins with cultivating mornings, mornings that will heighten the overall quality of your life because a good morning is where you invest, a good morning is where you captures your ideas that are bouncing about asking to be caught, a good morning is where your good mood begins and what you carry with you throughout the day?

1.Invest in yourself

Hal Elrod, author of Miracle Morning Millionaires reminds that the most popular personal financial advice is to 'pay ourselves first'. Referencing compound interest, this premise correlates to tapping into our true potential and bringing it forth. He states, "Time is similar. Developing yourself is the most powerful tool in the world." Making the argument that our mornings, each day are a boon of abundance of opportunity to leverage wisdom, productivity and clarity in order to invest in ourselves. And based on my own experience and after reading his book, I would wholeheartedly agree. Let's break down how the morning can indeed be a magical time of day to make the entire day awesome as well as contribute to the success we seek.

2. Give yourself time to ease into the morning

" . . . Wake up slowly. Make awakening a delightful ritual." — Mary Beth Janssen

Elrod shares in his book an acronym for specifically how to structure your mornings - S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing). While he breaks down each in great detail, after reading the book, as each of us will do should we read it, I began to intrepret it for myself - examine what I am curently doing that works and how it may fall into this structure, what I am doing differently and what I am not doing and ask myself why not and do I want to consider tweaking my routine.

One detail that I feel is quite powerful to begin the day well is to ease into the day. For some, that may be silence (prayer, meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, etc.), for others it may be talking or snuggling with your partner (or pets). For me, easing into the morning is turning on my morning classical music station as a Breakfast with Bach is always being played at 5:05 for about 10-20 minutes (8:05 Philadelphia time as it is WRTI.org).

Over the past year, I have found this practice to be gentle and not jarring, but something to ensure my mind begins dancing in the right direction to start the day well.

For each of us, our "delightful ritual" as Mary Beth Janssen suggests, will be unique, but I encourage you to find a gentle way to wake up in the morning during those first few minutes before you set the intention for your day.

3. Drink 2 cups of water upon waking up

Before you go to bed each night, have a pitcher or carafe of water (similar to the one shared on last week's This & That) next to your bed. While drinking water before bed is a good ideas as well, you will want to drink two cups of water upon waking up. Not only will this begin the process of cleansing your body of the toxins it has worked to rid from your system while you slept, but it will hydrate you and ultimately, help wake you up.

4. Shift your mindset about mornings

"People do transform their lives, every day . . . The key, it turns out, is to simply start behaving like the person you want to become." —Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger

It may seem overly simplified to state, "be the change you seek", but studies have proven this guidance to be true. In an article written for Psychology Today by the author above Jeff Wise, he writes, "Act out the change you want, and day by day, the weight of evidence will become undeniable. Before long, the person you pretend to be becomes the person that you are."

And while we should not take on too much change all at once. In fact, sound advice is to take one one thing at a time, but if the change you are seeking is to be able to wake up in the morning well and rested, be proactive and start going to be earlier, start understanding how the mind works regarding neural patterns and put helpful "bumpers" in place to make it easier to be successful at being the morning person you want to become.

Your mindset when it shifts to seeing the potential and magic that, when done well, of morning routines will enliven your eagerness to wake up because this is the part of the day that you have the most control over and, as well, have the most potential to improve your entire day.

5. Write down your thoughts

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic:

"When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention . . . The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realises that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else."

Beside my bed is a notepad, and each morning, as I am lying in bed listening to my classical music or simply in silence, when ideas pop up that I do not want to forget (because I have in the past, so I know I will even if I swear I won't), I write them down. It is not a journal entry, it is not long, it is just the idea.

When I read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic a few years ago (listen to my podcast episode #70 inspired by my reading and listening to her speak at a local book reading), it resonated with me for a variety of reasons, but one was that we have within us so many treasures waiting to be discovered if only we would pay attention. And it is when we are quiet, the day is quiet, the world is quiet that we can best hear ideas that may not make sense fully to us now, but it is important that we capture them.

"Creativity arises from silence and stillness." —Andy Puddicombe

6. Become clear in your mind about your journey and desired destination

In other words, practice visualization.

"Many people don't feel comfortable visualizing success and are subsconsciously scared to succeed . . . consider that the greatest gift you can give to those you love — and those you lead — is to live to your full potential." —Hal Elrod

The goal is to change your subconscious. When you shift your mindset (this can be done through affirmations - spoken or written), and pair it with gaining clarity about what you are striving to create or become or do, you strengthen your motivation, overcome "self-limiting beliefs, as well as self-limiting habits such as procrastination" and make yourself available to attaining the success you seek.

7. Exercise regularly

At this point you may feel this directive has been stated ad nauseum, but when it comes to our brain health and thus are overall health and finally our quality of life, did you know that "the best preditor of brain speed is aerobic capacity"? Yep. Dr. Steven Masley, a Florida physician and nutritionalist shares, "The average person going into [a corporate wellness program] will increase brain speed by 25-30 percent".

But why is it preferable to exercise regularly in the morning? First of all, the exercise need not be extremely strenuous. it simply needs to be regular - a short 7 minute walk if that is all you have time for, but when we work out in the morning we give ourselves an energy boost that we can carry into our day.

Personally, I love working out in the morning before I sit down to work fully, but currently, my teaching schedule makes this very difficult as I like to exercise with my dogs and prefer not to walk in the dark. With that said, I walk, ski, take a yoga class or paddle board 5-7 days a week after school when school is in session, otherwise, I do work out in the morning. The key is understanding the power and necessity of exercising regularly.

8. Read, Learn, Forever be a Student

With many recommendations for how much we should read a day, the most important part is what you are reading. Read something that teaches you something, that deepens your understanding, stretches and challenges your mind and asks you to broaden your perspective, improves your communication skills which will improve your relationships.

Active reading has been proven to deepen comprehension of the content being absorbed which involves annotating as you read - underlining, circling, margin notes, summarizing in writing at the end of each chapter, etc. - and do not feel as though you have to finish each book you start or read it in order if it is a non-fiction book. Reading feeds your mind, and as you may have noticed, in many of our points discussed today, it is the mind that will lead us to success if we become its master and care for it properly.

I prefer to read newspapers, articles I have saved from the weekend deliveries, or online Life & Science articles from my newspaper subscriptions. I also read a daily briefing each morning from my national newspaper. Depending upon your schedule you might read a few pages from a book in the morning. Each of us again will be different as to what we want to read when, but I usually keep my books for lunchtime reading or evening reading unless it is a research topic I am doing for TSLL.

9. Enjoy a delicious, satiating, energy-boosting breakfast

I have shared multiple times that I enjoy nearly the same breakfast each morning (I even produced a cooking show episode around it), and at a recent book signing here in Bend I shared that I actually wake up looking forward to my morning routine, especially my breakfast.

Along with what you choose to eat to begin your nutritional day, design a morning breakfast ritual that is inviting, fun (yes, fun!) and contributes to the overall morning routine that helps you ease into your day with eagerness and clarity.

Here is a glimpse of what is part of my morning breakfast (aside from the food itself - click here to learn more and see the recipes).

  • While the steel oats are soaking for 15-20 minutes, the boys and I go for a mini walk to say hello to the neighborhood.
  • I empty the dishwasher if it needs to be tended to
  • Pack my lunch for school if during the school year
  • While enjoying my breakfast, I play the daily mini crossword from The New York Times (it's free!).
  • Read the Daily Briefing online of the news from one of my subscribed national newspapers
  • The boys look forward to a breakfast dog treat as well.
  • Classical music fills the kitchen

10. Meditate

Perhaps your moment of meditation takes place as you ease into the day, first thing in the morning. I prefer to go through most of my morning routine and following breakfast, once my mind and body are fed, sit down for morning meditation of 5-10 minutes.

The calm moments I have leading up to this moment, and then the actual moments engaged in meditation further solidify a positive tone that I wish to carry with me throughout my day.

~Discover the benefits and how to meditate here

11. Check in to make sure all is well with your business  and view the plan for the day

This will depend upon what your work is. But checking in can also include the other people in your household. This is a time to check in with each others' schedules, for example, as well as your own. For me, this is when I check my email and make sure all is going well before I return to my office (after my walk or after school) and get started with my work day. I take a look at my daily schedule, remind myself of appointments, errands, etc. that need to be completed through the day.

Another idea is to set your three goals you want to accomplish for the day. Yes, three. And put them in order of importance. In other words, at the end of the day, having completed what three tasks will make you feel productive and satisfied. If only one item is complete, make sure it is the one at the top of your list and move the two that have yet to be completed to the top of the list tomorrow.

12. Waking up early is a skill

Believe it or not, once you are an adult (adolescent brains require more sleep and actually do fall asleep later than young children and adults as their melatonin kicks in two hours later than which is what evokes one to feel sleepy), you create the habit that will make you either a morning person or not. Why? Because you will create neural patterns in your brain that make it habituated to going to sleep or waking up at certains times of day.

If you have experienced jetlag, traveled or lived in a distant land, only to return weeks, months or years later, you know that with time, you can adjust your circadian rhythms, but it does take time and conscious effort.

The magic of our mornings will likely surpass what you believe will be possible. Our mornings become the springboard, the starting off point, and the more bounce we have, the higher we are capable of soaring.

"When you wake up with excitement and create a purposeful, powerful, productive morning, you set yourself up to win the day." —Hal Elrod

When it comes to cultivating a day and thus a life you love living, if you love the way your life is at this very moment and it is working for you, then keep doing what you are doing. But if you recognize that the way the day begins can be improved, or you feel you have more to give if only you could restructure how you go about your day, or you just don't know what to do to improve the quality of your days and thus life, look no further than your mornings. It truly is that simple.

~A note to YouTube listeners, the podcast will no longer be available on YouTube beginning February 1st. You Can Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | Spotify

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Jump Start Your Day?

~How to Ensure a Bountiful Harvest (in Life), episode #177

~The Importance of a Daily Routine and How to Create One You Love, episode #164

~The Importance of Balance in Our Everyday: Yes, It Is Possible

~Why Not . . . Have an Amazing Day in the Middle of the Work Week?

~Why Not . . . Recharge the Mid-Week Slump?

~My Daily Breakfast & More Morning Meal Ideas: Steel Oats, Soft Boiled Eggs & Soldiers, episode #3 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen (cooking show)

~Listen to my conversation with Kimberly Wilson on her podcast, Tranquility du Jour, where we talk about my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life in a recent episode on her show, #438

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

Petit Plaisir:

~7 Days Out, Netflix

https://youtu.be/cTuuD-PV-yQ

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #243

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

Jan 14, 2019
242: 31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care and Exponentially Improve the Quality of Your Daily Life
50:35

If you Google "self-care", more than two billion posts, articles, books and videos pop up. For a variety of reasons, many valid, self-care is topic of discussion in the world, and the reality that stress levels in America have increased for the first time in 10 years is evidence that perhaps we all would benefit from understanding the value of proper self-care.

The topic is something that is indirectly discussed here on TSLL blog and the podcast since both were founded. But today I wanted to dig down to understand what self-care is and the benefits of incorporating it regularly into our daily lives.

The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as "to preserve or improve one’s own health", and while often self-care is explained as being free and easy, the truth is, real self-care is not initially easy if we haven't incorporated it into our lives properly. Eventually, it will become habituated, but with any new skill we are choosing to bring into our lives, there is a period of struggle, of frustration.

Mary Beth Janssen describes in her 2017 The Book of Self-Care, "No amount of massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, healthy food or exercise will sustain us over the span of our lives if not experienced from the layer of our being that is pure consciousness." In other words, there is deeper work that needs to be done, but we can still incorporate these surface, pleasure-finding practices into our self-care regimen.

True self-care enables each of us to attain optimal well-being, thus the opportunity to practice the art of living well, a fundamental component of living simply luxuriously. Again, Mary Beth Janssen:

"Self-care is the ultimate healing mechanism for wholeness in mind, body and soul . . . preventative health care at its best."

How do we pay attention and practice optimal well-being? Let's take a look.

1.Start with getting to know yourself.

~Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself?, 3-part series

2. Practice Self-Compassion

As human, Janssen reminds, "Beyond basic physiological needs, fundamental human needs are for attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance". In summation, we all need love, and that includes self-love.

~Why Not . . . Have Self-Compassion?, episode #122

3. Refrain from letting your emotions run your life

Our perceptions of the world, of those around us and of ourselves are powerful. When we change our mind, our thoughts, our understanding, we truly can change our world.

~Emotional Intelligence: A Crucial Tool for Enhanced Quality in Work and Life, episode #140

4. Choose to understand the Ego's role in your life

There are positive effects of having an Ego - "when in higher states of consciousness, [it] ensures that our basic needs are being met so that we may fulfill our life's purpose", but it can act as a result of fear. When we feel we are losing control, power or needs, but does not have approval from the external world, it can get nasty.

5.Choose to respond, rather than react to daily events that are unexpected and unwanted.

~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145

6. Practice being present each moment - improve your mindfulness

~11 Ways to Live More Mindfully

7. Cultivate daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual rituals

~The Benefit of Daily Rituals

~Living The Simply Luxuirous Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self (Nov. 2018)

8. Spend time in Nature

~Why Not . . . Spend Time in Nature?

9. Create

In the kitchen, in the studio, on the dance floor, on the computer, in your home, in the museum, you get the idea.

10. Celebrate seemingly ordinary events that truly are extraordinary upon closer inspection

The changing of the seasons, mini and major life milestones

11. Practice compassion

A study by the National Institutes of Health in 2015 revealed that "brain imaging shows how the practice of compassion stimulates the same pleasure centers associated with the desire for food, water and sex."

12. Understand the detrimental power of stress and change what creating the distress

Janssen points out that stress is "triggered by the body's instinct to defend itself - the 'fight or flight' response", but if we leave this feeling unchecked and allow it to become a regular state, distress accumulates and then a long stretching list of chronic and acute diseases can follow. Eliminating distress is in fact preventative health care. And thus, it is self-care.

Remember #5 and practice responding rather than reacting as when we react, the potential for our stress to rise increases.

~Why Not . . . Avoid Unnecessary Stress?

13. Schedule regular time to rejuvenate

14. Become a regular journal writer

~Why Not . . . Journal Regularly?

15. Practice regular meditation

As talked about before on the blog and in my recent book, mediation is a powerful skill, and often one that is misunderstood to those who have yet to understand what it truly is. First of all, I too used to be one of those who misunderstood meditation. I used to errantly believe I had to stop my thought, not think at all. This is absolutely incorrect. Meditation, is the ability to "observe our thoughts, breathing with them, allowing them to happen without judging, believing, arguing or interacting with them." And with regular practice, Janssen states, "you learn to interrupt conditioned behavior —the habitual reactivity to our thoughts . . . observing our thoughts allows us to interrupt this process."

16. Stay hydrated

Place a reminder on your phone four different times each day to remind yourself to drink 16 ounces of water (2 cups). If you adhere to this schedule, you will meet the recommended 64 ounces of water a day.

17. Improve time management

Instead of simply rearranging what you do, eliminate what are no longer priorities in your life.

~Time Management: 13 Habits that Make My Life Run More Productively, episode #114

18. Enjoy regular, deep nights of sleep

~Why Not . . . Get A Good Night's Sleep?

19. Cultivate an environment - home, work, personal - of support, optimism and respect

20. Enjoy eating well and with the seasons

~The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - Seasonal Meals to Elevate the Everyday

21. Let go of what you cannot control

~Let Go and Elevate Your Life

~6 Fixed Life Ideas to Let Go

~Why Not . . . Let Go? 27 Things to Bid Adieu

~Understand This Tricky Paradox of Control in Order to Improve Your Life, episode #226

22. Play a lot! In other words, exercise, but change the term you use to describe it it.

~TSLL Health Archives

23. Set healthy boundaries

Boundaries exhibit self-awareness of what you need to live well, productively and feel respected and loved. Cultivating healthy boundaries involves being able to say no without apologizing, and doing so in a non confrontational manner. Read more about how to set boundaries and why they are vital to building a life you love living and relationships that are strong, loving and full of mutual respect.

"Remember, when you claim your boundaries, you're not defining, attacking or judging someone as a person. Rather, you are defining a behavior that needs to change for you to feel comfortable. This is the boundary."

~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability, episode #126

24. "Express gratitude to those who respect your boundaries"

25. Understand what mindfulness is and practice

"Live life from [your] depths", not on the surface. In other words, don't be dependent upon outer circumstances for your happiness. In fact, that is what happiness is - "hap" is the Old Norse (medieval Norwegian language) for luck. Instead, find your calm, your contentedness, from within. I loved this quote that was shared in the book, so I want to share it with you:

"There is pleasure in being in a ship beaten about by a storm, when we are sure that it will not founder." —Pascal

26. Become "Mindfully Curious"

Another way to become more present in your everyday is to practice the term coined by Janssen, "mindful curiosity". Let your youthful, playful side come forth. Stop editing yourself and experience what is right in front of you and all around you. See the beauty, see the awesomeness and celebrate it in your own way.

~This week's Petit Plaisir exemplifies the act of being mindfully curious.

27. Slow down

~10 Life Lessons from Provence: Slow Down & Savor the Everyday

28. Discover the power of the colors that surround you and welcome more natural light into your world

29. Limit or Eliminate exposure to upsetting imagery and events and people

30. Continue to be a forever learner and become okay with not knowing

31. Heal what hurts

"If you want to change your thinking, heal your heart." Understand how to be emotional intelligent.

Self-care is mandatory, not a luxury. When we choose to regular practice self-care we are being respectful to ourselves, but also modeling to others' that they too are worthy of the same kindness. And when we practice kindness, receive kindness and understand what true kindness is, we can better extend it to others without expectation and we can recognize unkindness and walk away as a means of being respectful to ourselves.

As a new year begins, why not strengthen the foundation of what will enable you to be your best self, but enjoy your everyday all the more and thus create a life you love living and sharing with others?

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~16 Ideas for Simple Everyday Self-Care, episode #227

~The Art of Savoring: How to Invite the Skill of Savoring Into Our Lives, #213

~Learn How to Truly Savor Everyday MOments & Watch It Elevate Your Life, episode #163

Petit Plaisir:

~Queen to Play (Joueuse)

~based on Bertina Hendrich's novel The Chess Player

https://youtu.be/4RcBGcMJY7Y

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #242

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

Image: The boys and I captured on her walk in the falling snow yesterday via Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife)

Jan 07, 2019
241: Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year
21:40

"In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process." —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

The resolutions whether you have concretely written them down or potential ideas of what you wish could improve in this new year are dancing about in your mind, are being considered because you recognize growth that you'd like to see in yourself and in your way of living.

In redoing my office space this past weekend, I was reintroduced to The Art of Happiness - a book that I purchased in 1999, read with eager curiosity, and only now is able to more deeply understand what was written.

Much of what is shared reinforces what the art of living well consists of - a better understanding of one's mind, as well as one's self, giving yourself permission to delve into your emotions, becoming comfortable with letting go of attachment, and being willing to have patience, put forth great effort. Also, becoming conscious of how society and the culture each of us resides influences us and our ways of living that we may not be fully aware.

In chapter 12, the subject focuses on "Bringing About Change", and the three components of success and lasting change are determination, effort and time.

A reminder of this truth is apropos this time of year, but truthfully at any time of the year when we choose to make an improvement, and especially when we think the change is impossible or becomes too difficult.

On the subject of the change we seek being difficult to attain, the Dalai Lama was asked the following question by Dr. Howard C. Cutler,

"People often want to make positive changes in their lives, engage in healthier behaviors, and so on. But sometimes there just seems to be a sort of inertia or resistance . . . How would you explain how that occurs?"

The Dalai Lama responds, "That's quite easy . . . It's because we simply become habituated or accustomed to doing things in certain ways. And then, we become sort of spoiled, doing only the things that we like to do, that we are used to doing."

When asked how can a person overcome this, he responds, "By using habituation to our advantage. Through constant familiarity, we can definitely establish new behavior patterns . . . by making a steady effort, I think we can overcome any form of negative conditioning and make positive changes in our lives. But you still need to realize that genuine change doesn't happen overnight."

Being realistic is certainly a good idea when it comes to setting goals and making resolutions, but we also should not be afraid of making significant change even if we aren't sure how long it will take.

If new year's resolutions revolve around the theme of losing weight, refrain from the quick fixes and instead cultivate a healthy and enjoyable way of living. This includes not only diet, but exercise and a balanced daily life that does not leave you exhausted and chronically stressed. Look at the habits that are helpful and be honest about the unhelpful defaults.

If new year's resolutions have to do with completing a significant project or task, be realistic about your schedule and prioritize and perhaps eliminate other activities or responsibilities in order to give your best effort.

Today is the day when we set an intention, but the immediate next step once we have outlined the journey to arrive at our desired destination, is to put into action the activities, new habits and mindset we need to be successful. And since we're on the topic of success, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom "examined the lives of some of America's most accomplished artists, athletes and scientists. He discovered that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to the success in their respective fields."

In other words, be persistent, when it becomes difficult, read my New Year's 2018 post and recite Marie Forleo's saying, "And this is what I want". And then keep doing the daily work, consciously sticking to the habits that will eventually become part of your muscle memory, and eventually, you too will see the awesome change you seek.

The new year holds an abundance of promise. Seek out that promise because you do have what it takes to attain it. Bonne année! Happy New Year!

~SHOP TSLL BOUTIQUE and use promo code LIVESL15 through Friday January 4th to save 15% off your order of notepads, planning pages or signed copies of TSLL's two books.

~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~episode #137: Welcoming A Year of Quality, One Month at a Time

~One Resolution at a Time: A Year of Quality, My KATU Afternoon Live Conversation

~2018: Finding Courage to Make It Amazing

Petit Plaisir:

~Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir

~Shop Etsy for French Compotes and other treasure finds for the home and getting cosy.

~Follow me on Etsy and discover my favorite shops!

~SHOP A FEW FINDS FOUND BY SHANNON:

~a compote in Sharon Santoni's guest cottage full of fresh fruit upon my arrival this summer. See more here.~

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #241

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

Jan 01, 2019
240: The Importance of a Daily Routine & How to Create One You Love (top episode from season 3)
40:33
Dec 31, 2018
239: 38 Invaluable Ways to Attain Happiness (the top episode from season 2)
57:48
Dec 24, 2018
238: 20 Ways to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life - The French Way (top episode of Season 1)
47:29

Season 5 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast kicked off earlier this year in September. Just prior to beginning, I shared the schedule of the season (see below) so that listeners would know for sure which Mondays they could tune in to find new and inspiring content.

But I must admit, as today approached, it was odd not to offer listeners something to begin their week (as only two new episodes were scheduled in December), so I have decided for the remaining three Mondays of 2018, to share with you the top downloaded episodes from previous seasons.

Today, one of the top episodes from season #1 is shared - episode #23: The French Way - 20 Ways to Create a Luxurious Everyday. This particular episode was not only one of the top five episodes downloaded on iTunes during our first season, but it has since been viewed 7K+ on YouTube.

You can view the complete list and links mentioned during the episode here, and as an update to the season's schedule, I will be airing a brand new episode of the podcast on TUESDAY January 1st! After all, it is the beginning of a new year, and I couldn't wait until the 7th to kick off the new month. So that means, you will have a top episode from the archives airing on Monday December 31st and the next day, Tuesday January 1st - a brand new episode to inspire you as you step into the new year. Wishing you a wonderful penultimate week before we say adieu to 2018.

~View the SHOW NOTES of EPISODE #23 (originally posted in February 2015)

~Listen/Read the Top podcast episode of all-time here - The 8 Pillars of A Simply Luxurious Life, episode #1

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #238

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Dec 17, 2018
237: 7 Life Lessons from The Tao of Pooh
35:38

"Things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed." —Benjamin Hoff, author of The Tao of Pooh

~Below is a list of the life lessons shared on today's podcast episode. For detailed conversation about each point, be sure to listen to the audio version as Shannon elaborates on each point. 

~Correction 12/11/2018: The copyright of The Tao of Pooh is 1982. The copyright of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is 1926.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #237

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

The written character P’u (pronounced Pooh) is defined as natural, simple, plain, honest. This basic Taoist principle not only applies to things, but to people too

1.Find what you can uniquely give the world

"The Way of Self-Reliance  begins with recognizing who we are. Each of us has something special hidden inside somewhere. But until we recognize that it’s there, what can we do but splash around, treading water? The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it." P. 65

2.Life can be truly fun, no matter what your age

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you discover that simple, childlike and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Life: Life is Fun.”

Cleverness has its limitations. It’s mechanical judgments and clever remarks tend to prove inaccurate with passing time, because it doesn’t look very deeply into things to begin with. P37

3. Just be yourself, embrace your awesome

"When you know and respect your inner nature, you know where you belong."

"Cottleston Pie - a way of saying inner nature. No two people are the same either. Everything has its own inner nature. Unlike other forms of life, though, people are easily led away from what’s right for them, because people have brain and the brain can be fooled. But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much. Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others. "P. 57

4. The change you want does not exist outside of yourself

"Real progress involves growing and developing, which involves changing inside."

5. Be patient on your journey

"No matter how useful we may be, sometimes it takes us a while to recognize our own value." p. 117 

6. Being an optimist will serve you well

"The play-it-safe pessimists of the world never accomplish much of anything, because they don’t look clearly and objectively at situations, they don’t recognize or believe their own abilities, and they won’t stretch those abilities to overcome even the smallest amount of risk." P. 122

"Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they are part of a continuous cycle that begins right here . . . it's sometimes referred to as the Snowball Effect, which can remind you of the time you pushed that little ball of snow along, and it got bigger and bigger until it got so big you couldn't stop it . . . now the principle can work negatively or positively. It can promote cynicism as easily as it can encourage hope . . . the important thing is to make it work for yourself and for the benefit of others." 

7. Discover the Power and Opportunity for Rejuvenation with Time Spent with Yourself

"Music is the space between the notes - emptiness cleans out the messy mind and charges up the batteries of spiritual energies - Loneliness actually begins when all the spaces are full and the tv gets turned on to make it go away. The power of a clear mind is beyond description."

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~How to Live Alone Well, episode #33

~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93

~Authenticity: The Courage to Be Yourself, episode #6

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

The Simple Sophisticate podcast, Season 5 Schedule

  • Mondays - December 17, 24, 31 - Listen to three of the post popular/downloaded posts of Season 1 & 2
  • A brand new episode will air TUESDAY January 1st!

Petit Plaisir:

~The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 2 (especially episode 2 as it is set in Paris)

Dec 10, 2018
236: A Word to Remove from Our Vocabulary for Stronger Relationships - Should
26:56

"You should read this."

"You should do this."

"You shouldn't be wasting your time doing . . . "

Over the past couple years I have been wrestling with the uncomfortability that piques me any time a friend, family member or even complete stranger states something including the word "should" in the declaration.

And after much grappling, I discovered the root of my uneasiness each time the word would be stated/written with such ease from a speaker. Rather than motivating or inspiring one to act in a particular manner, it was dictating. 

The strength of a civilized society is how well it effectively communicates. Defined by Livestrong, effective communication is the act "of sharing information, thoughts and feelings . . . through speaking, writing or body language to require that transmitted content [be] received and understood by someone in the way it was intended".

The gift of a free society, of a democratic society, is that the people have choices of what they will or will not do. And while, arguable, yes, having what often feels like infinite choices can be numbing, inspiring us to choose either the easy route or no route at all due to paralysis, we do have a choice.

Because we have choices about who we build friendships with, who we choose to share our hearts with, and how we choose to build our lives, once we recognize that letting go and refraining from telling others how to live is a pillar for stronger, healthy relationships, we no longer are cowed into being dictated to by those who know no other way to lead or direct. 

In our modern society, when we eliminate "should" from our vocabulary, we not only strengthen our relationships, we convey respect to others and their journey as well as our own. How? Let's take a look at benefits of letting go of the word "should" from our everyday conversations with others and ourself.

When we refrain from using the word "should" (also, should not) in our vocabulary . . . 

1.We exemplify our open-mindedness

When we don't have expectations regarding how others "should" act, we communicate nonverbally, that there are many different ways for people to live. Simply because someone goes about life differently than we do, does not mean it is wrong. It is merely different. Ultimately, by not using the word "should", we open the door for further communication so that more understanding of both sides can be brought forth.

2. We communicate responsibility for our life journey

Not only is using "should" unhelpful for our relationships with others, it is also disastrous for the relationship we have with ourself. When we tell ourselves what we "should" be doing, we are implying judgment upon our actions, as if we do not have control - when we know cognizantly we absolutely, we do have control. 

A better approach to this unhelpful default of how we communicate with ourselves is, as was shared on Tiny Buddha, is to remind ourselves of the benefits of the behavior we would like to practice, but is more difficult to perform. As well, by reminding ourselves of the characteristics we wish to project to the world and the values that are important to us, it becomes easier to do what we know would be best to live the life we love living. 

3. We reduce destructive self-criticism

In episode #122 (Why Not . . . Have Self-Compassion?), I shared in detail the benefits of reducing or eliminating self-criticism in order to improve the overall quality of our lives. After all, how we treat ourselves is how we allow others to treat us, so when we show ourselves respect, we headline to the world that we know and believe ourselves to be deserving of respect. 

4. We become honest observers of our lives (emotions, actions, etc.) and navigate them healthily for positive growth

Writer Hannah Braime shared honestly that when she would feel jealous or angry, she would beat herself up verbally for feeling said feelings. In actuality, she discovered that instead of ignoring them, she needed to explore them, in order to better understand herself and how she engaged with the world around her. In so doing, we learn, we become students of life, and enable real growth to occur.

5. We celebrate the vast goodness, rather than moan when our narrow and limiting expectations were not met

As I shared in a recent KATU segment on the keys to contentment, the difference between having expectations (which includes using the word "should") and hope (keeping an open mind) is that we are better able to see all the awesomeness that surrounds us. The analogy I used was expectations is akin to viewing life through a peep hole (narrow), versus viewing life through a house that has floor to ceiling windows and walls - wide open. 

6. We shift our outlook to being positive, rather than looking for the problems, the hiccups, the one detail that just isn't right in our minds

By choosing to keep an open-mind, we see more, we come to understand there is far more goodness and awesomeness than we may have initially believed because we are not drilling down and solely focusing on that one singular behavior, outcome, etc. 

7. We and others we work with and around become more productive

Inspired workers, inspired people are more engaged, filled less with fear and thus have more energy to produce good work. Fear cultivates stress, stress expends energy, and that is energy that can be used for positive progress rather than gently walking a tightrope trying to figure out what we are supposed to do to avoid the wrath of our boss, our colleague, our partner, our friend, our parents, etc. 

8. We begin to be inspired to work and tend to tasks that are on our to-do list, rather than doing them with dread or displeasure.

Changing the way we think and speak, eliminating the "should", is a shift, and for most of us, a big shift, that will take time. But if we are only living in such a way because we think we "should", we are not living well. 

We want to live our everydays with purpose, but also contented engagement. Knowing why we are doing anything is a simple way to provide motivation rather than dread. When we have purpose for what we are doing, we can engage with an uplifting and happy disposition, rather than just trying to complete something in order to get it done.

Writer Jack Ninivaggi points out that when we look at the word "should" as it is defined, we can better understand how destructive using it in our everyday language can be: "Verb: 1. used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone's actions." Approaching a conversation that aims at seeking change is less likely to be effective when the tone is critical. As noted initially, inspiring action yields more of the results we seek more often. 

The words we use are powerful, and as has been discussed on the blog and podcast before, sometimes we get into defaults that are not positively enhancing our lives. Check your dialogue and how you speak to those you love - which includes yourself. Are you inspiring or dictating? If you are doing the latter, perhaps that is why some relationships have peetered out or are not as strong as you would like. And if you have embodied the former, keep up the practice as it is a habit that while seemingly insignificant, can truly life changing. 

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Cultivate Contentment Today?

~One Small Adjustment Away from Contentment

~Making Connections

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

Petit Plaisir:

~A Simply Luxurious Holiday Playlist

~TSLL's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

~Chocolate Almond Praline Cookies (a Petit Plaisir from #183)

Dec 03, 2018
235: 10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from my Last Dinner Party
33:11

“There is nothing that makes me happier than sitting around the dinner table and talking until the candles are burned down.”
― Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Circle of Quiet

Dinner parties. I would love to ask the question of what comes to mind when the phrase "dinner party" is expressed because depending upon so many factors - culture, familial experience, region of the country in which you live that you lived in and do now, and many more - we each have a perception of what a dinner party entails. 

Having grown up in a household in which my mother would carefully plan the day, and pleasurably set the table, all the while knowing exactly when certain dishes should be made, put in the oven, etc. I saw it as a positive experience. My dad was and still is a great host, welcoming and entertaining guests while my mom finishes getting dressed now that all of the food and settings are prepared.

Since then, I have enjoyed meals with my mentor from time to time in Eugene, Oregon, and each dinner party I attended, she served in courses - appetizer and cocktails enjoyed in the living room next to the fire, the second and main course served in the dining room, followed by the dessert, and often it would end back in the living room as we unwound with a cup of hot tea or espresso/coffee. 

My travels to France have only confirmed the joy of a dinner party that pays no mind to time, and while often the idea of courses is received as a pretentious idea, I have enjoyed it casual and higher end experiences and have found it a good idea for my waistline as I take the time to savor the food. 

Now everyone's approach to a dinner party will be different, but choosing to host a dinner party is something I have always enjoyed doing, although I haven't done as much entertaining in Bend as of late which is why I decided to host one just this past weekend before Thanksgiving with a small group of friends and colleagues. 

I let go of the need to feel as though I had everything "just right" in my home (in fact, I had to bring an extra table in as I no longer had a large dining table as I sold it before my move to Bend), and I reminded myself that the impetus to have a dinner party is to share good food with people you enjoy being with and want to either get to know further or offer a moment during our busy lives to relax and simply enjoy our time together without expectation. 

It has been my experience hosting dinner parties in the states that some people are quite happy to enjoy a meal they do not have to cook, others are curiously surprised by the multiple dishes that keep coming, but whether the food is exactly as I had hoped or not, our time yields some lovely conversation and connection that doesn't always happen in our brief interactions during our days. 

1.Begin with something bubbly upon guests' arrival

Whether you have a preference for Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Sparkling Wine or Sparkling non-alcoholic beverages, or maybe even a special bubbly cocktail, have it prepped and ready for guests as soon as you take their coats and clutches. Once they have something in their hands they will relax more quickly whether they are sipping quickly or not. The goal is to bring ease and let them know they are welcome.

2. If guests, ask what they can bring, have a simple idea that is inexpensive and helpful to you as well

While as a host/hostess, we don't expect our guests to bring anything but themselves and their witty repartee, but we are also told as guests to ask. So if a guest asks, so either have an idea of what you might want or reassure them that indeed you truly want them to come, relax and enjoy. 

3. Order a couple more wine glasses than you will have guests

If you are like me, you have broken a few wine glasses over the years while cleaning them or in the middle of dinner as dishes are being passed about. Even if you typically have small dinner parties like myself 4-6, having eight is always a good idea for that extra guest you want to invite and for that moment you realize you broke your sixth glass last time you had a dinner party.

~Wine glasses from Crate & Barrel

4. So long as you have a tablecloth . . .

It really doesn't matter what table (or tables, in my most recent case) are beneath it so long as you have a tablecloth, or cloths, that unify. Find a simple linen table cloth (H & M is selling beautiful simple white, taupe, navy and stone linen tablecloths on sale), and you are set to create a signature and inviting dining table for your guests. 

5. Buy plates in sets of 6-10 whenever and wherever you buy them

One of the many details that caught my attention while dining for lunch each day with Patricia Wells was that there was always matching plates for each course, but that didn't mean that each course's plates had to match the next. Whether you find them at second-hand shops, brocantes, on sale during the holidays at Crate & Barrel or Sur la Table, if you see a beautiful soup bowl set, scoop them up. Having enough plates for each courses makes it easier on the host, as you aren't cleaning during the meal, and a beautiful way to present your food as well. 

6. Ditto for placemats

While you may never know where or when you will find placemats that catch your eye, having them at the ready is a great idea to, again, create an inviting dining table. I found a few on Etsy you might also gravitate toward. 

 


[show_shopthepost_widget id="3364331"]

 

7. I love serving the meal in courses

As I mentioned at the top of the post, I gravitate toward serving courses when I invite guests to dinner. If its a cocktail party or a casual gathering, buffet style is a better fit, but when it is dinner, as I share in this detailed post, I do love serving courses: more time with my guests, more time to enjoy the food and more time to just savor the simple pleasures of food, conviviality and life. 

8. Make sure to have something for those who don't drink alcohol

I have made this mistake before and since I don't drink much more than water, tea or orange juice, have found myself in a pinch for those rare guests who don't drink. Whether it is a sparkling apple cider or sparkling water, have something bubbly and new for all of your guests to enjoy from the beginning of the evening to the wee hours of the night. 

9. Add a natural touch to the powder room (even if it is never used)

Just a simple bud vase with a freshly cut bloom is all that is needed, but it freshens up and brightens up the room, letting your guests know they are indeed in the correct bathroom as often, they are new to your home. Sometimes I add a candle as well. 

10. Have a supply of extra (comfortable) folding chairs when necessary

I adore my tufted linen upholstered chairs which I have had for years (many readers saw them for the first time in my previous home here), but I do only have four of them and am not in the budget space to purchase 2-4 more (perhaps someday). But in reality, all I need on an everyday basis is four, so having nice, comfortable folding chairs that can be easily stored is a good idea for those of us who live in smaller homes without the grand room for the large dining room table. My mom has been very helpful on this front, helping me find a few that integrate well with my aesthetic, are comfortable to sit in and are as well quite sturdy. Here are a few ideas for nice foldable chairs to peruse.

Choosing to have a dinner party is often something to plan ahead letting your guests know so they can make available the date, but not always. If you are ready with these simple tips shared above, you can call people around for a wonderful meal in a matter of days, as your home is ready. Simply add trusted, delicious food and the evening will be quite a treat for all (host included).

~TSLL's New Book was just released! Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self (available on Amazon, and wherever books are sold. As well, signed copies can be ordered here on the blog).

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:

~Why Not . . . Host a Dinner Party Al Fresco?

~episode #168: French Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni (2017)

~Why Not . . . Have a Dinner Party?

~Why Not . . . Host a Holiday Meal with Friends?

~Why Not . . . Eat in Courses?

~Why Not . . . Sit Down For Dinner?

Petit Plaisir

~Pine Cone Hill Cozy Fleece, Linen or Cotton Robes

~Save 25% off your purchase with promo code CYBER18 (free shipping too!)

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #235

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

Sponsors for today’s episode:

Nov 26, 2018
234: Becoming Your Best Self - Embracing the Transformation Process
30:00

"Heat is the element of transformation. It is was takes raw to cooked, flabby to firm. Pale to golden brown. " —Salt, Fat, Heat, Acid, documentary, Samin Nosrat

The topic of butterflies has been abundant here on TSLL blog - in 2011, What Butterflies Have Taught Me; in 2016 - The Butterfly Moment in Life: Don't Wait, Just Live Well, episode #160; in 2010 - With Balance and Determination - and after reading these past posts, you will quickly see my long-held fascination with this transformative insect with a large pair of brilliantly, uniquely colored wings (and Norman's too as explained in the first post listed).

Let be being this conversation by sharing an interesting note: caterpillars are associated with both butterflies and moths, and there are far more moths than butterflies (6-11% butterflies as opposed to 89-94% moths), but often the opposite is believed to be true because moths are nocturnal and butterflies fly about during the day. 

Taking a mere couple of weeks (sometimes months, a for a few butterflies, years), the process, while some may describe it as "beautiful" due to its magnificence and eventual outcome, it actually can be quite odd, not typically majestic aesthetically and perhaps to some, gross. I won't describe all that takes place (you can read about that here), but yeah, part of the process is icky (I use this elementary term only to further my next point - what Mother Nature is enabling to happen as the butterfly transforms from a caterpillar is nothing short of awesome). 

When you have the courage to step forward into transformation, to cultivate a life that welcomes contentment, to let go of what is no longer supporting the person you wish and somewhere within you unconsciously or consciously knows you can become, there will be stages that are "icky", uncomfortable, frustrating, doubt-filled and maybe even painful figuratively/emotionally speaking. But that is part of the necessary process.

Last weekend, I posted this image on Instagram (see below). For those listening, it is an image of my new maghony bed frame. Complete with a footboard and headboard, at the top of each is a carefully carved butterfly. I call it, not surprisingly, my butterfly bed. As I shared in my Instragam post, it was a find at a secondhand store for a price that was far below what it should have been marked, but this treasure had gone unnoticed for many months and the owner of the shop was eager to move it. Knowing the carpenter, artist is a more apt word, Steve Arment, who is a dear family acquaintance in Wallowa County, I knew a treasure when I found one and welcomed this piece of art into my home tout suite

Much of TSLL's new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self) is about the chosen transformation to travel your singular journey in order to attain, and live each day, your best life. A life of contentment, a life of realizing your true potential. 

And it is a book inspired by my own choosing to step into the stages of transformation. 

There are countless blog posts, and even books on the process of personal transformation, but it warrants a closer, yet concise look at the realities and the benefits of the process. 

When I heard the quote shared at the top of this post shared by the author of the wildly successful book and now docu-series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Samin Nosrat in the Heat episode, an image of a butterfly struggling to free itself from its cocoon was on the screen. I pressed pause. I rewound and listened again to what she said. I listened again and proceeded to write down the words shared today. Admittedly, she is talking immediately about food, but she could just as well be talking about any change we seek in our own lives. In order to cultivate change, we must create friction which causes heat, which mobilizes the ability for the change we seek to occur. 

1.Give yourself permission to become more

"There is power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there's grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become." —Michelle Obama, in her memoir Becoming

Whether it is society or our own limiting thoughts, obstacles of the transformation we know vaguely awaits us should we choose to step forward to change will flash before us repeatedly attempting to thwart any decision to proceed. But you must be daring. You must be brave because as former First Lady Michelle Obama shares in her new memoir and directly in this quote, when you choose to become more, you empower yourself and now have the ability to help others step into their fullest potential as well. 

2. Give yourself permission to be content. 

Sometimes, especially as women, we need to hear that our actions will help others in order to give ourselves permission to do something that will improve our lives and make us more content. But in this particular step, I want to give you permission, and thus for you to give yourself permission, to let yourself be truly content. Each of us is living different lives, each of us has different responsibilities, that is why your journey will be unique and only you will truly know what you can let go of, what you need to remain committed to and what you no longer need to be a part of, but your happiness will spilleth over if it comes from a place of authenticity of an opportunity to improve the world and its contentment. 

There will always be shamers, guilt-trippers, and fear-mongers to attempt to "put you back into your place", which is why you need to find your support system (TSLL is here for you too!), but first be your own support system and give yourself permission to be content. A better you will help cultivate a better world.

3.Remind yourself of your unique strengths and past successes

"By staying in touch with your accomplishments, you build true, authentic confidence to move on to make new things happen. Appreciating your success enables you to take responsibility for your greatness so that your life . . . [is about] finding ways to use your own gifts to make a difference." —Jinny S. Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet

When we are in the middle of transforming, doubt inevitably creeps in. We begin to wonder if we really do have something the world needs and whether our investment of time and resources will be worth it. In these moments, take time to slow down and remind yourself of both your unique strengths and your past successes - those actions and abilities that inspired you to begin the journey you are currently on. Perhaps you need to check in with that dear friend of yours that is your constant cheerleader if you cannot seem to remember your awesomeness because it is there and once you remember these truths about yourself, a deep breath will emerge, your chin will rise just enough for you to look forward so that you can keep on striving. 

4. Understand that constructing a solid foundation begins with instability

Your world will feel as though it is shaking at times, unstable, some of the previous strongholds - perhaps financially, perhaps socially, etc.. You will feel emotionally drained and tapped to find an ounce of energy to power through. You may have moments of floods of tears, anger due to disrespect or lack of understanding. Keep your composure in public, seek out those you trust for comfort and reassurance in private, take time to find balance and strength, and know these moments are part of the building a more solid foundation.

I was recently watching a segment on Oregon's Public Broadcasting which spotlighted the building of Portland's Japanese Gardens, Oregon Art Beat. And in the segment, the first natural design one sees when they enter the garden before hiking up to the full Japanese natural space are the dry stone walls. The architect explained that this architectural approach of stacking rocks without cement or binder ironically enables the wall to become stronger with each shake of the earth, each shift of the ground beneath it. Why? Because as the earth moves, the rocks begin to settle more and more firmly into their place. The key is to have chosen the pieces carefully when first designing the wall.

You are the architect of your life, and so long as you trust your journey, understand your unique gifts (something that is discussed in detail regarding how to do in chapters 8 & 9 of TSLL’s new book), with each shake that comes from society, from a critic, from individuals who challenge what you are doing, it will ultimately only strengthen your foundation, but at first, it will feel unstable as it is new. 

5. Remain open to opportunities you initially may not recognize

Opportunities often take time to materialize and thus for us to recognize as opportunities when they first dance across our paths. Because we are seeking or traveling down a path that is new to us as we have chosen the path of transformation away from our previous existence and toward a new one, opportunities will be, and initially look, different. 

Much like continuing to date the same type of person, we cannot expect to seize the same type of opportunity over and over again and expect a different result. It seems obvious, but it is hard in practice initially because we have become trained to see opportunities that we now know do not serve us for our new journey. Which is why we must remain open to opportunities that may be unrecognizable initially. How?

What I have learned is that opportunities often take time to fully take shape. In fact, we have to do the homework beforehand, take a risk often times and then be patient to see how it will all work out. The most important step is doing our homework. In other words, what investments have the best chance of helping us to attain the outcome we seek. Instead of seeking the option that will give us an outcome quickly, but not the best outcome, we need to be patient and simply let it unfold once we've put forth the effort. 

Eventually, the opportunity will become clear, but along the way, it will be foreign as we are a new student to this language.

This past summer, I spoke often about my trip to France. It was a trip, while not my first, that is most memorable for a long list of reasons. And it was on this trip that a butterfly came so close to my face on multiple occasions it felt surreal. As we sat down for lunch throughout my week at the Provence cooking school, the butterflies would dance down the center of the arced table overlooking the valley in Vaison la Romaine. I would catch the eye of fellow students immediately after it would happen and we would just smile in adoration and disbelief at what we had just seen, no words needed to be exchanged. Of course, I had my own reasons for smiling, much of what is explained here, but it was when I came across my new bed (that I was not shopping for - in fact I was shopping for a round pedestal dining room table that I continue to shop for), that I smiled again spontaneously. 

If you too are fascinated with butterflies, you will have your own reasons for smiling when you see them as we are each choosing to travel along our own transformative path, but I find my bed to be even more now a place of support and encouragement. And the transformation in my most private sanctuary a welcomed change as a new chapter of sorts begins. 

It is a curious feeling sharing a creative piece of yourself, in my case, a book which shares many different personal details, with the world. As many readers have coined, it is somewhat like a "book baby". You work on it for years, you read it and reread it and reread it multiple times, but it isn't until it is put out into the world that you feel particular feelings at their most visceral level - vulnerability, hope, relief, just to name a few. The relief is one of emotional expenditure, and perhaps the bed came at the perfect time with its comfort provided because I have slept longer and more deeply in the past two weeks than I have for some time. I am recharging.  

Heat is created when we choose to take action. The action may not be understood by everyone during the process of transformation, but when you trust your journey, when you understand yourself, when you emerge, you will be strong enough to explain, introduce and share your newly transformed, beautiful self to the world. 

~TSLL's New Book is Released! Let's Live Our Best Lives - the Official Release Day - View and Listen to interviews and learn much more about the book in this detailed post. 

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Trust the Transition: How to Step Through and Embrace the Change You Seek, episode #225

~How to Create the Change You Seek

~Why Not . . . Recognize the Stages of Making a Lifestyle Change?

Petit Plaisir:

~Parmesan Chicken and Forbidden Rice (aka Black Rice)

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #233

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sponsors for today’s episode:

Nov 19, 2018
233: Inslee Fariss, Manhattan based Artist & Illustrator (and the talented woman behind all of TSLL's artwork)
43:11

"I see inspiration everywhere - from the fashion flitting past as I am crossing 7th Avenue to the overgrown flowers exploding from the window boxes of the brownstones of the West Village to the monkeys blinking back at my son and me as we wander through the tropical zone of The Central Park Zoo. It is all waiting to be painted. I often feel giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed by all that there is to paint."Inslee Fariss

In February 2011 I first came across the watercolor fashion illustrations by Inslee. At the time, my blog was just over a year old, and I was looking for a way to put my signature on the heading. With four images including one of Sarah Jessica Parker in a favorite final scene of SATC, one of Ines de la Fressange and yet another one of Henry Bendel's illustrations of stylish women, I reached out to Inslee who was in Washington D.C. at the time. In a matter of two weeks, after a couple of emails back and forth and one phone call, the first TSLL woman was complete, and I was over the moon (see the woman below in the white dress with red clutch (center)). 

Since our first collaboration, Inslee's painting career has blossomed, and she has been living and working in New York City with a studio in the West Village. Painting for Rachel Zoe, working with Elizabeth Arden and many other well known names, she also works on private commissions, some for businesses like TSLL and many for personal stationery, imagery, etc. 

As you will hear in our conversation in today's episode of the podcast, she shares her journey to finding what working environment works best for her to create regularly, how and when she knew she had a gift, as well as how one of her figure drawings (nude silhouettes) ended up being purchased by the now Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). 

~Inslee's illustration purchased by Meghan Markle as discussed on today's episode~

Her observations about enjoying the everyday, what it feels like being a mother to her 17-month-old boy Jackson and where she finds inspiration for her annual calendar are also topics that she talks about. 

Since 2011, I feel extremely fortunate to have received 15 exclusive, commissioned illustrations for the blog (12 of which appear in TSLL's 1st book, one which was created for my teaching blog and the final two which appear on TSLL's new book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life and the blog's header). All of the illustrations are below.

As we discuss in today's episode, one of her amazing talents is to create what her customers are envisioning in their minds. She brings to the canvas her knowledge of fashion and style, the human body, as well as the observations of everyday life that we may dismiss or take for granted, but when appreciated can enliven the quotidian moments more than we might have imagined. 

Be sure to stop by Inslee's website, shop her recent launch of the 2019 desktop and wall calendars (Book Worm & Botanical) as well as her newly launched 2019 Planners complete with exclusive illustrations and beautiful leather binders from Neely & Chloe (the steel blue one has my eye, but there are more beautiful colors available). You can also shop prints of her illustrations and contact her for a commission project. 

As was mentioned in the episode, her Instagram (especially her Stories) will brighten your day. (follow @inslee). 

Lastly, I want to extend my deep appreciation to Inslee for being a guest on The Simple Sophisticate. Until our next collaboration together! 

~2019 Book Worm desk top (March)~

~2019 Wall and desktop Botanical calendar, September~

~2019 Desktop and Wall Calendars, May~

~Steel Blue Planner and binder~

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #233

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

  

~View all episodes of THE SIMPLE SOPHISTICATE

  

SIMILAR EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

  

Sponsors for today’s episode:

Nov 12, 2018
232: 28 Life & Style Tips from a Parisian Woman
32:36

"Becoming Parisian is possible, but remaining Parisian is an art." —Nathalie Peigney, author of Sophie the Parisian: Style Tips from a True Parisian Woman

To spend time in Paris is to spend time in a city with a feminine energy. Simply the proper article spoken when saying the city of Paris is la ville de Paris which is feminine.

But what exactly does that mean? And we should ask, does it mean anything at all? Perhaps it simply gives us permission to embrace and explore our emotions whatever they may be, to consciously take pleasure in the beauty that surrounds us either natural or architectural, but regardless of masculine or femininity, Paris is a city to embrace but at the same time let go of must-dos, have-tos and instead enjoy what surrounds you from the energy of the people, the energy of the history that engulfs you ever so, but consistently so ubiquitously and to savor the baguette in the morning by tearing off the end and enjoying it on the way back to your apartment, lingering for a long lunch and dawdling along the cobbled streets as you explore a new-to-you arrondissement. 

In today's episode, a new book that was recently released, Sophie the Parisian: Style Tips from a True Parisian Woman offers detailed insight into ways to infuse your own life, no matter where you may live, but especially if you visit and most definitely if you move to Paris, with daily habits and rituals that will enliven the everyday moments and bring a little Parisian charm to your way of living. 

1.Invest in your personality, knowledge and understanding of the world. True fulfillment does not reside if paying attention to and perfecting one's appearance. Rather, investing in developing our inner beauty is key. In stage of life, knowledge of the world and one self cultivates charm, intrigue and true beauty.

2. Enjoy Apero Time (Aperitif)

3. Have a love affair with a quality handbag. Be practical in your selection, but don't be afraid to invest

4. Wear a leather ballet flat

5. Choose quality essential items for your wardrobe. Have few, but purchase investments that will last. Investing does not mean you have pay full price. Set alerts for sales on the designer labels you love, shop consignment, even visit second-hand shops that sell quality, well-made items. From trenches, to ballet flats, to blazers, cashmere sweaters, and a classic marinière striped shirt. 

6. Hop on a bike.

7. Choose black. It goes with everything.

8. Then, choose navy.

9. Find a favorite cafe and frequent it regularly for an escape from the day and to watch the world pass by.

10. Remember to end your meals with cheese

11. Only artisanal made croissants s'il vous plait.

~a croissant from Foxtail Bakeshop~

12. Adhere to good health practices: Eat well, mainly colorful food, abstain from processed foods like white flour and sugar and exercise regularly.

13. Dress with simple sophistication

~Check out TSLL's Signature Style posts

14. Don't follow trends, cultivate your own style

15. Thoughtfully select flowers that you love for your home. White flowers have been shared by florists to be the top color choice in Paris.

16. Use fewer, yet better and seasonal ingredients to enable the ingredients to sing.

~Check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - Seasonal Fare to Elevate the Everyday Meal

17. Skillfully blend classic and contemporary interior design. And be sure to infuse a bit of yourself into the furniture and decor choices as well.

~episode #228, 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's new book

18. Speak your mind. Have an opinion.

19. Buy beautiful, lace lingerie for you, as well as classic lingerie.

~episode #42, Why Not . . . Create a Capsule Lingerie Wardrobe?

20. Simple make-up, but yes, make-up to enhance your natural beauty

21. Wear high quality marinière tops from Petit Bateau, Saint James, Lux Amour.

22. Visit the farmers market on the weekend (or during the week when the schedule allows), to eat well and rejuvenate your diet

~How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Farmer's Market

23. Visit the great exhibits of the moment. Become a connessoir of your city's history, art and talents.

24. Master the classic favorite moules marinières (et frites!)

25. Classic, natural, simple, manicured nails

26. Add some red to your life - a  red lip, a red blouse, a red pencil skirt, something red.

27. Make time to watch the sun set.

28. Have a simple, classic vinagriette recipe memorized

~Check out Shannon's vinagriette recipe in the first episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen

~Order TSLL's new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self

Petit Plaisir

~Nigel Slater's Orzo with Zucchini and Parmesan

Sponsors for today’s episode:

Nov 05, 2018
231: How Being Nice at Work Can Be the Road to Success & Career Achievement
37:20

"Just by being a strong and kind, ambitious and likeable, empathetic and decisive, confident and flexible woman, you can help turn around the double standards we all face and permanently change the way women at work are perceived." —Fran Hauser, author of The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate

Authenticity is crucial for success, but for some reason, those of us who embody a propensity to be nice (both women and yes, men too) have often been made to believe that nice won't help us reach the success in our careers that could be possible. Especially with the double standards often placed upon women who do dare to step out of the nice box, society would like us to think that being nice won't work, but actually, being gruff (if that is not our natural nature) won't either. 

So what is the best approach for building a career you love? Be yourself. Be that nice individual you have always been, but let go of the fickleness, let go of the passive-aggressiveness and become more confident in what you know to be true about your strengths, set clear boundaries, all the while building positive relationships with others, and remembering the research done by FastCompany in 2015, that a positive work environment leads to greater productivity, lower turnover, and even better health outcomes for workers. A win-win.

After reading Fran Hauser's new book, I wanted to share 13 takeaways that spoke to me and caught my eye due to emails and comments I have received from readers. While I have boiled them down to their nuts and bolts, if this topic is speaking to you, be sure to take at the book as she offers a multitude of specific examples from her own career and others as well as step by step, specific pointers and tips for navigating remaining nice as well as strong. 

1.Understand the difference between Nice and being a People Pleaser

"Nice is: Positive, yet honest and straightforward; People Pleaser is: Sweeping things under the rug to avoid making waves."

2. Remember to be strong as well as nice

Hauser argues that indeed we can be both, even though the myth is perpetuated that we cannot. How? Hauser suggests speak up, and be humble, be a team player, but still look out for your best interests, and accommodate, but communicate clearly and be assertive. 

3. Understand there are enough opportunities for everyone and refrain from competing with others, especially other women.

A necessary shift from generations past is moving beyond women competing with other women as though there was only one that could make it to the top. Historically, due to gender biases and stereotypes, this was sadly accepted and perpetuated, but times have and are continuing to change. Women can be collaborative, generous and in so doing, lift everyone who is contributing great work. 

When we realize opportunities are in abundance when we shift the work culture and mentality, productivity rises, as does the peace of mind in the work place. How? By having confidence that we have something of value to offer and we can benefit from the talents of others. 

4. Claim your niceness and use it intentionally

As an authentically nice person, to go against your nature will not only gradually deplete you, but it will also feel unnatural. When we choose to use our niceness intentionally, it can appear in how we build relationships with those we work with, and as a result, clients and colleagues show more loyalty as they appreciate the sincere connection and recognition of them individually. 

5. You may have to clarify that your niceness is not to misunderstood for ignornace, lack or knowledge, in other words as a weakness

Hauser shares some helpful statements to respond to those who may doubt that being nice is indeed a preferred way to work, but once you make your stance clear, you will have to explain this truth far less often. 

6. Be humble, but don't put yourself down

Returning to the topic of being nice versus being a people pleaser, when we are humble and don't take ourselves too seriously, we come across as more relatable. This doesn't mean we should diminish our successes or strengths. In other words, never talk about yourself in a way that degrades your competence or paints a negative picture. When you begin to do this, you create potential doubt in clients, colleagues and higher ups who oversee your job. 

7. Speak with confidence

Refrain from prefaces what you are about to share by casting doubt on what hasn't even been spoken. Instead choose your words carefully. Hauser gives the example of stating we need to speak declaratively rather than interrogatively. In other words, observe how you end your sentences in which you are stating a fact. Do you still end it with a questioning tone? This projects lack of confidence. Instead, state it with confidence what you have found to work, to be true or an idea you would like to share. Give credit to those who deserve it if you came to the idea with the help of others, and if necessary, state your reasons for why you feel your idea would be helpful to more than just yourself. When you frame what you say constructively, speak with confidence and refrain from prefacing with doubtful statements such as "I believe" or "I could be wrong", you are already on your way to gaining the trust from your peers and supervisors. 

8. Apply critical thinking skills to tactful disagreement

If you disagree with someone's initial statement, instead of stating this opinion forthwith, ask questions, seek outside perspectives and dive deeper into the subject at hand before jumping to conclusions. When we do all of these things, we step away from any initial emotional reaction and give ourselves time to thoughtfully respond and perhaps gain some more understanding and respect due to our process along the way. 

9. Set emotional boundaries to weed out the bullies and build stronger relationships

"Often, we 'nice girls' carry around a tiny seed of doubt that a conflict is somehow our fault. When a bully spots that doubt, he or she will be very likely to prey on it."

When I read this section of the book, I took a big sigh. For some reason, even after many years as an adult, and even in my youth, this was a tremendous aha for me. 

This particular section is helpful for navigating situations in which a colleague bullies intentionally or unintentionally, but isn't clear about the boundaries, and how to effectively deal with either situation. From the get-go it begins with setting clear emotional boundaries. Begin by seeking out allies you trust, then remember to not be sucked into the drama created by the bully. As well, confront the behavior head on after you have taken a deep breath, but don't wait too long. Sometimes this is an opportunity to strengthen a relationship based on a misunderstanding, and in other scenarios, it clearly states to the bully, you may be nice, but you are not weak and will not tolerate such behavior. Lastly, document the facts of each incident should you need to talk to a supervisor. 

10. Negotiate Effectively, by Playing to Your Strengths

When you marry reason and emotion, studies have shown that you are more likely to be successful, as a woman, receiving the wage, the contract, the [fill in the blank item you are seeking]. 

When it comes to reason, understand your value. In other words, what skills, expertise, etc. do you bring to the table, and how valuable is your time. Also, do your homework, and have the data ready to demonstrate what you want those you are speaking to to recognize. As well understand all of the options for improving your success (not only salary, but stock options, bonuses, schedule, vacation time, other bonuses such as memberships to gyms, etc. and maybe even four day weeks during the slow time of the year). 

On the emotional side, being nice has its benefits, and this is one. Most likely you are observant of others and what makes them happy, what makes them upset, the best times during the day to talk to them, etc. I can remember a principal I used to work for, and early on in my career, the vice principal always advised to speak with him in the afternoon as he was not a morning person. This was helpful and it made me realize, that we are all human, and if we want the best outcome, it would be best to talk with the individual or individuals at the time of day they are more inclined to be awake and open-minded. 

At the core is to have confidence in ourselves, to know we are worthy of asking for fair and equal pay, and to not feel bad for asking for what we know we are worth.

11. Create filters at work

Protect your time. Once you know what your priorities are at work, where you are most needed and valued, and where you can contribute the most, delegate the rest or filter it out completely. 

12. Devise a schedule that elevates your productivity

Part of being both nice and productive is setting clear boundaries around when you will do certain tasks and communicating this effectively to others. Perhaps it is when you will check your email during the day (this is you communicating to yourself as much as it is others), or maybe it is when you will be scheduling meetings and for how long. Be clear about what is necessary to be productive and then communicate your availablity.

13. Become comfortable with saying no to respect your productivity and schedule

Hauser calls it the skill of the "kind No". And again, this is playing to the strengths of someone who is nice, but it is also exhibiting the strength that is necessary to be clear about what you can and cannot do. People will inevitably ask, and that is okay. But what needs to become okay with you is saying no. So long as you do so thoughtfully, and honestly (this doesn't mean you have to share in detail why you cannot say yes), you have been respectful and they can now seek out someone else to help them. 

Petit Plaisir

~Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat - Netflix

~Cook and food writer, Samin Nosrat (check out her website)

~Inspired by her book of the same name Salt Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (2017)

https://youtu.be/2oKbs4jAf7M

Sponsors for today’s episode:

Oct 29, 2018
230: More Depth, Less Drama
31:59

Faith Salie's recent commentary on Breaking News and its meandering into becoming of lesser and lesser importance for the viewers to be interrupted sparked my attention when Salie offered a simple suggestion: more depth, less drama. 

As soon as she said it, my ears and mind perked up. 

What a simple approach to living well. An approach to welcome more substance, less stress, more enjoyment, less unnecessary conflict and more tranquility and less anxiety.

Could it really be that simple? 

Let's start with the drama we unnecessarily welcome into our lives and what we might potential replace it with to improve the quality of our everydays:

1. Viewing Entertainment

Less . . . 

  • drama on the television shows, reality programming or films that further perpetuate stereotypes, harm, violence or simplification and/or misguided problem resolution.

More . . . 

  • depth offered in exploratory programming, documentaries, well-written, thought-provoking plots that include well-developed characters and unique storylines. Reality programming that exhibits teachable skills and positive relationship styles.

~This & That: October 19, 2018 - Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

2. Conversations

Less . . . 

  • dramatic conversations such as superficial, assumptive and unfounded chitchat such as gossip, judging, and labeling simply for the sake of having any conversation. 

More . . . 

  • depth of thought that elevates the conversation, observes possibilities and suggests solutions to frustrations. 

3. Daily Routine

Less . . . 

  • drama provoked by stretching ourselves too thin when it comes to our schedule, our budget, our emotional well-being.

More . . . 

  • depth of reasoning behind the decisions we make that become the framework of our lives - our routines, our relationships, our monetary expenses and investments. 

~18 Ways to Simplify Daily & Weekly Routines

~Archived TSLL posts on Relationships

~Archived TSLL posts on Money

~Today's image is a glimpse of one of my favorite weekly routines as shared on Instagram - Sunday morning

4. Self-Awareness

Less . . . 

  • drama caused by poor engagement with others and letting our worries spill into other areas of our lives. 

More . . . 

  • depth of awareness to recognize when we need a "timeout" to recharge, rest, recalibrate and decide how we will positively address any situations in our lives that are causing us stress so that it doesn't bleed into other areas of our life unconsciously. (check out episode #227 for ideas on Self-Care)

5. Understanding Priorities

Less . . . 

  • drama provoked by unsolicited responses and commentary on every little event that occurs at work or in your life.

More . . . 

  • depth of recognition when it comes to your priorities as you identify which events/conversations requires your engagement and your finite energy. Contribute to conversations that are of importance and you feel you have something unique and positive to offer, otherwise let those who do feel invested in the conversation work through the matter at hand without you. 

~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145

6. Friendships & Relationships

Less . . . 

  • dramatic friends or individuals in your life that thrive off of stress, exhaustion, games or manipulation.

More . . . 

  • depth of character and integrity in the individuals you choose to spend time with. Sincerity, a healthy sense of self and kind offering of one's time and energy.

7. Mastering of One's Mind

Less . . . 

  • drama stirred up in your own mind needlessly due to the inability to master your thoughts, note them and move forward without being hampered by their attempt at distraction or self-doubt.

More . . . 

8. Boundaries

Less . . . 

More . . . 

  • depth of clarity by clearly communicating your boundaries through words and actions. We end up teaching others how we expect to be treated, what we will tolerate and what will never be acceptable not with our words alone, but also how we allow others to speak and treat us. The gift we give ourselves by being aware of how boundaries can be conveyed is that often we avoid drama all together by exemplifing ourselves as a person of self-respect. 

~A Powerful Couple: Vulnerability & Boundaries, episode #126

The beauty in choosing a life of depth over drama is that we won't even fully be aware of the drama we have avoided by living a life of depth because we no longer entertain it as an option. And that is what gives us more energy, more time and more space to spend our lives doing what we love, investing in what we care about and building relationships that we want to welcome and strengthen in our lives. 

Petit Plaisir

~Destination Wedding

~read the interview with the writer and director Victor Levin (writer for Mad About You, 5 to 7) which appeared in The Washington Post

https://youtu.be/TjXQzRWmb_I

Sponsors for today's episode:

https://youtu.be/L04WUfRlANo
 
~Image: One of my favorite weekly routines is captured - Sunday morning breakfast and reading material (via IG)

Oct 22, 2018
229: How to Let Your Truth Emerge
27:11

Autumn brings many revelations and rewards. From the harvest of bountiful fruits and vegetables that have been waiting for months to reach their peak of flavor to the brilliant turning of colors seen in the leaves and needles from deciduous and the rare deciduous conifer trees (American Larch or Tamarack). 

Autumn also reveals how well taken care of, how attentive we have been, to said crops and woods to enable them to reach this seasonal stage of harvest naturally and offer their full expression.

As it pertains to each of us, we too are on a journey of self-discovery if we choose to be. I was recently listening to Ina Garten in a conversation she had with Katie Couric about her career with food, and at one point, she offers the advice of looking to our youth, perhaps as young as our early childhood to be reminded of what fascinated us. For her, it was cooking and baking, something she enjoyed as a young child, but not something encouraged in her family.  This something for Ina wasn't heeded until she was 30, at which point she opened her speciality grocery Barefoot Contessa, and then at thet age of 50 wrote her first cookbook. 

As I have shared in the past, timing plays a role in our lives, and so too does the tenacity to remain curious about discovering our deepest and most sincere truths.

Truths such as why you enjoy the company you enjoy versus the company that never quite leaves you inspired or perhaps worse. Truths such as what sparks your laughter, deepens your joy and elevates your motivation to try something new. 

The editor of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalistic endeavor that broke the Watergate investigation in 1973, Ben Bradlee is well known for a simple phrase, "The truth emerges". And while yes, he is speaking more specifically about investigative reporting, I have experienced it to be true in the journey of life as well.

If we examine the significant decisions that have led us to where we are today, at the time, we may not have known with deep, insightful clarity why we were drawn to a particular college, a particular person, a certain hobby or destination on the globe, but if we take the time to thoughtfully examine in hindsight, the powerful ahas as to why may become more crystalized. 

I began to do this for myself regarding why I prefer to live on my own, and have my entire adult-life after undergrad. It has taken me nearly 20 years to understand this truth for myself. 

That's the key - for ourselves. We cannot take someone else's truth and apply it to our lives. In a way that is plagiarizing, and no one can ever truly be appreciative of a life that is not sincerely constructed. Yes, we can absolutely gain inspiration from others' lives, but then we must apply that inspiration to the individual that we are.

The truth I came to see with unwavering clarity was that as a young girl, being busy was valued, and being still not so much. Only with a few select people was enjoying my own company allowed (being able to be silent while together with another is truly one of the most comforting aspects of a partnership or friendship for me). And even fewer still accepted not only my being with my own company, but truly being who I am. Which is why I have curated a life where I can be exactly who I am when I am at home and let my creativity dance as it wishes. The truth, in this lesson, truly has been liberating. 

So how can each of us encourage the truth to come forth? Live consciously. 

Living consciously doesn't mean you have to examine every little detail of your life to death, but it does ask of you one of the fundamental premises of living simply luxuriously - make sure you aren't being led around by the nose. What draws you to the decisions you are making? Is it you intrinsically, or is it external influence? Ask yourself, what brings you peace? What brings you joy? As well, what brings you pleasure? 

There are many factors in life that we can neither control or influence, but we can learn to recognize more confidently opportunity and information that will help us live our lives more authentically. But we can only do this if we are paying attention, listening and letting go of expectations. 

The truth of who we are and who we will become is forever emerging as we are dynamic individuals full of more potential than our limited perspectives can imagine at this moment. But so long as we are striving forward, so long as we remain curious, new aha moments will cross our paths as more truth is given. So why not keep exploring, keep applying what you learn and with each piece of information you gather, your world becomes more enriching, more enjoyable and more inspired as others observe you growing and thus blossoming. 

SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Be Exactly Who You Are?

~The "How" of Tailored Simplicity

~3 Simple Steps to Designing Your Best Life

Petit Plaisir

~In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the CIty of Light by Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide

~similar books - How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are (the podcast episode inspired by the book - 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile, episode #4

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #229
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Podbean

Sponsors of the episode:

Oct 15, 2018
228: 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Book
41:46

Home sweet Parisian home, whether you live in Paris or not. 

Ines de la Fressange is stepping into the sanctuary with her new book Maison: Parisian Chic at Home (see my profile posts of her previous style books here, here and here), and along with her co-author Marin Montagut, they are both taking readers inside their own homes in Paris as well as inside 13 other Parisian apartments (the founder of Sézane, the duo behind the French decor and candle company Astier de Villatte, just to name a few).

With the opportunity to review a copy prior to its release just this past Tuesday, my decor curiosities are deeply inspired as while there are many reoccurring themes that must be Parisian go-to decor ideas, there was much reaffirming of the ideas I saw this past summer both in Paris, but also throughout the countryside. Many of which are simple and inexpensive ways to add your signature style to your sanctuary whether you rent or own. 

I have created a list of 21 decor ideas found throughout the book, and if more than just a couple of these ideas speak to you, I highly recommend picking it up as the photography by Claire Cocano is intimate and brilliant, and the insights from the homes' inhabitants are insightful and offer even more creative ideas. 

Most importantly, and this was something I spoke with a handful of people while I was in France, the goal with Parisian and even French decor, is not about achieving perfection. Rather it is about creating a sense of bienevue (welcome) to whomever enters, a sense of ease and the ability to live and live well amongst the four walls (and perhaps a terrasse). From the details of essentials in the kitchen, to the touch of the outdoors with ubiquitous bud vases, simple, thoughtful decor takes time and is unique to each individual who lives in a space. 

1.Welcome a variety of textiles

Velvet, linen, hemp, damask silks are recommended by Ines de la Fressange for use on cushions, mattress toppers and other details about the home. 

2. Add the light of candles

Recently a reader asked about my favorite candles, and I am happy to share. I couldn't agree more with this decor suggestion as while having flattering and welcoming light from lamps is a wonderful idea, the natural movement of a flame is a lovely complement. Below is a list of my favorite candles:

3. Use your "Sunday-best" tableware every day of the week

Whether the handmade ceramics you love or the treasures you found at a brocante while traveling or a secondhand shop by perusing, use them and enjoy how the presentation when you sit down to dine elevates the flavor (it really can!).

4. Collect old, slender glass bottles for single cut flowers

I am gradually adding to my collection and loving what I am finding. And even better, it saves money as you don't have to buy a full bouquet.

5. Use straw or raffia baskets (French market totes) in various sizes for storage

In the book, you'll see a picture of Ines' home closet in which she has multiple baskets storing socks (large), make-up and accessories (small).

6. Collect tools of your creative craft

Painter and co-author of Maison: Parisian Chic at Home, Montagut, collects painter palettes and arranges them into a collection or scene in his living space. Often found at garage sales for pennies, they would certainly provide much conversation and color in a home. 

7. Keep your eyes open for details to add to your home

Perhaps it is an old farm door to add to your kitchen épicerie or tiles for a backdrop, you never know when a unique and signature find will be discovered. 

8. Create a backdrop for everyday life

As shared about Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte's apartment - their decor approach, is to welcome antiques (they need not always be expensive, perhaps more readily found in Europe, but such can be the case here in the states - secondhand shops often have many gems) and create a reading nook, a welcoming kitchenette, use beautiful ceramic dishes for everyday uses such as displaying fresh fruit, etc. to elevate the everyday experience.

9. Choose vintage lighting fixtures

I tend to always look up and around when I enter a space and upon seeing signature lighting fixtures cannot help but smile. It is the attention to such details that reveals something lovely about the inhabitant that tended to the decor. 

10. Collect and pair or group demijohns

I saw many demijohns during my trip this past summer, and three of them were beautiful arranged in Sharon Santoni's cottage in which I stayed. Often they are sold with their wicker cover, but after removing the wicker, the green brilliance (there are many sizes and clear glass as well) adds a touch of life and elegance, as well as simplicity to a room.

11. Welcome handmade or handcrafted items into your home, especially your kitchen

While functional, these items are often quite beautiful and can be easily displayed for eyecatching decor. 

12. A wall with many mirrors for multiple perspectives

Multiple homes featured in the book had a wall or a portion of a wall full of many different sizes of mirrors - one in a bathroom and the other in a living room. 

13. Glazed terra-cotta jugs and carafes

Multiple purposes can be found in Provençal finds such as glazed terra-cotta jugs and carafes for wine, water and olive oil as they make a lovely presentation on the table as well. 

~Olive & Branch Profile post

14. White walls, colorful decor

Morgane Sézalory, the founder of Sézane (France's leading online clothing company - see my most recent post on their fall collection) swears by a white palette (walls, ceiling, etc.) and lets the rest of her decor be thoughtfully colorful. 

15. Collect vintage tableware and display it, don't hide it.

If you have plates, a tea/coffee set or anything made of ceramic or porcelain that you love, why not put it on display? Use it, of course as well, but when not in use, allow it serve as your decor as well.

16. Old wooden cutting boards are both functional and beautiful to display in groupings

Wooden cutting boards seem to be just about everywhere online - Food52, Esty, etc., and if you are looking for trays or additional surfaces to cut upon as well as serve food, this idea is a wonderful way to create a decorative touch as well as function on-demand.

17. Paint doors or window frames black and juxtaposed with green foliage

Depending upon the exterior or interior wall color, one apartment featured in the book had a beautiful black door with brilliant green wisteria draped about it during the summer months. The contrast was impressive. 

18. Multiple bud vases filled with seasonal foliage or blooms

Sharon Santoni demonstrated this idea beautifully in her guest cottage this summer, and it immediately captured my attention. I love the uniformity of having the same varietal, but each having their own vase.

19. One long, open shelf in the kitchen for everyday essentials

Depending upon the layout of your kitchen, and if you do not have cupboard space, adding a single, long, shelf above your cooking space with beautiful brackets to hold it place is a simple way to add decor and function. 

20. Select beautiful, simple glass storage containers for your food, and don't hesitate to use them as decor. 

As I shared this past January, German Weck glass jars in oodles of sizes and shapes were my winter investment as I organized my kitchen cupboards; however, any glass container with a lid can enable you to store beautiful your food. Keep your eyes open and mix and match.

21. Add a globe

According to the book, globes are making a comeback in the world of decor - small or large, with ornate stands or simple, artistic bases, if the addition of a globe speaks to you, now is definitely the time to start hunting for one.

Whether you are a Francophile or a lover of signature style in your home, as you can see, it is the individual's tastes that will make the home beautiful. Having grown up with a mother who would take me to garage sales, and on other treasure hunts for the home, I thoroughly enjoy the details that I have welcomed into my sanctuaries over the years. Along with travel, when we have patience with the process and refrain from buying the same thing everyone else is buying from a big brand store, we share a piece of ourselves with not only our guests who cross the threshold into our homes, but we remind ourselves on a daily basis what inspires us and thus keep our creative side perpetually piqued and comforted as well.

To pick up your own copy of Ines de la Fressange's new book, Maison: Parisian Chic at Home, click here

~View all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes here

~Tune in to TSLL's new vodcast - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter 

Petit Plaisir

~TSLL's French Cafe Jazz Playlist (no lyrics)

~The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 1 (Season 2 is coming soon!)

Trailer of Season 1

https://youtu.be/fOmwkTrW4OQ

Trailer of Season 2

https://youtu.be/483SfI1rpJ8

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #228
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sponsor of Today’s Episode

  • Le Mystere
    • the first 50 Simple Sophisticate listeners will receive a free Le Mystere makeup bag-
    • use promo code SIMPLE

Oct 08, 2018
227: 16 Ideas for Simple Everyday Self-Care
35:39

"Cozy living is about creating an atmosphere of warmth, contentment, and pleasure within your home and in your life. It is increasing your awareness of and focusing on embracing the simple, everyday moments to rise above problems, release stress, enjoy friends and family, and to appreciate all you experience." —Melissa Alvarez, author of The Simplicity of Cozy: Hygge, Lagom & the Energy of Everyday Pleasures

Over the weekend, I took a day to spend time doing simple activities I don't always have time to immerse myself in as the school year is in full swing. I took a day to exercise the important habit of being present, taking in the beauty of what was surrounding me and let myself feel what I felt.

For many people, the past week was a week of external events affecting our emotions in ways we may not have expected and thus were not prepared for. Add on top of that a busy week of regular to-dos, meetings, responsibilities, etc., and it may have become overwhelming.

During such weeks whenever they arise, but also when weeks are going well, tending to our self-care is essential. A few years ago on the podcast (episode #122) self-compassion was discussed as well as the seven benefits of choosing not to be our harshest critic, but rather being more gentle with ourselves as we do our best each day, which can be different depending upon the day. 

Part of having self-compassion is taking good care of ourselves, being aware of our emotional tendencies, being tough and persevering when necessary, but also respecting that with more self-care, the persevering becomes easier. In other words, simply pushing through without the self-care makes it all the more difficult and the quality of what we produce is often severely diminished. 

While I referenced this week as an example for making the effort to practice self-care, the practice itself is most effective when used preventively. In other words, by instituing regularly routines, rituals and choices into our everyday lives that elevate the quality, we are practicing self-care and thus elevating what we can endure and how well we work through any day that comes our way. 

Today I'd like to share with you 16 ways to welcome self-care into your everyday way of living. Some are as simple as what types of ingredients you use in your kitchen to cook your meals, while others pertain to your relationships, and even others your sanctuary and daily routine. Let's get started!

1.Buy Quality Butter - look for a high butter-fat count. Often these brands will be from Europe - Plugra, Kerrygold and many French butters. Spend a little more and improve the simple experience with everything you enjoy butter.

2. Make a delicious fall dessert (see today's Petit Plaisir for an idea that will melt in your mouth and is simple as apple pie.)

3. Let yourself wake up without an alarm clock.

4. Take a hot shower and just let the hot water run down your body - stand still, close your eyes and enjoy. 

5. Spend time in a bookstore or library.

6. Visit a winery or go wine tasting and enjoy sipping while gazing out upon the fall foliage.

7. Hire someone to clean your house, even if just once is all you can afford. Relish walking through the door and seeing an immaculately clean house asking nothing of you but to sit, relax and enjoy your space.

8. Purchase a luxurious candle, pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers, choose a movie you are curious to watch, either pick up your favorite take out or cook a wonderful comfort meal, and enjoy a truly luxurious solitary evening.

9. Sit outside at dawn or dusk or the middle of the day and just listen and watch the world, Mother Nature, the moment.

10. Cuddle with someone you love. 

11. Bring a small bud or bouquet of flowers into your bedroom.

12. Slip into linen sheets spritz with lavender linen spray and dive into a delicious book. 

13. Pick up a book that celebrates the seasons. I highly recommend Sharon Santoni's My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons

14. Plan a weekend away, even if just a town away where you can spoil yourself with mini adventures and dining adventures you have been eager to try. 

15. Eat a chocolate truffle at the end of the day and sip a lovely cup of tea. 

16. Soak in a hot bubble bath with your favorite tunes, candles lit and finish a good book. (I recently did exactly this and finished a delightful book on living in Paris.)

The gift of self-care is not only what it brings to us and enriches in our daily experience, but how it improves our daily interactions and relationships with others. We begin to become more aware of our own feelings and needs as we listen more closely, and as it is a muscle, we can be better to observe when others are in need of a breather, a rest or a boost as well.

When we invest in ourselves before the attention is needed, we avoid scenarios and situations we do not want to go through without realizing they may have occurred had we not been dutifully tending to ourselves on a regular basis.

Today examine when and what you'd like to do to welcome a few self-care practices into your daily and weekly routine. Enjoy planning and looking forward and when in the moment of these self-care practices, simply savor and soak in the needed nourishment. 

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Revel in Simple Pleasures? (two part series)

~The Hygge Phenomenon and Living Simply Luxuriously, episode #148

~What Does a Simply Luxurious Life Look and Feel Like?

~What are people saying about TSLL's new venture into vodcasting? The Simply Luxurious Kitchen is an 8 episode video series where readers/listeners can now view Shannon cooking in her own kitchen sharing simple tips and ideas to elevate the everyday meal. Be sure to check out the most recent episode (episode #4) and enjoy the remaining 4 episodes each Saturday here on the blog until the end of October. 

Petit Plaisir:

~Apple Tarte Tatin

~View the detailed recipe here

~listen to my interview with Sharon Santoni as she talks about her latest book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons from which this recipe was inspired. 

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #227
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sponsors of Today's Episode

  • Follain
    • try their Clean Essentials Kit for only $22 (50% off the retail price)
    • use promo code SIMPLE for free shipping
  • Le Mystere
    • the first 50 Simple Sophisticate listeners will receive a free Le Mystere makeup bag
    • use promo code SIMPLE
  • Blinkist
  • RX Bar
    • Enjoy 25% off your first order with promo code SOPHISTICATE

Oct 01, 2018
226: Understand This Tricky Paradox of Control In Order to Improve Your Life
32:08
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #226
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Imagine you are walking upon a balance beam in a gymnastics center. Imagine your core is tight, your shoulders are back, your chin is parallel with the beam and your legs are engaged. And your eyes are focused not down, but at your desired destination - the end of the beam. 

In this moment, you are engaging your full body and mind. You are breathing deeply and steadily. You are keeping your heartbeat calm and external noise and distraction is being ignored. With each step, it is thoughtful, it is with intention and your posture reveals confidence, yet ease. 

In good time, you reach the end of the beam without any significant wobbling.

I share this image with you because the key to control is to let go of trying to control it all. More precisely, the key to control is to recognize the only detail you can control is yourself, and everything outside of your being needs to be relinquished. The weather, the words and behavior of others, the outcome of a vote, whether someone - a boss, a potential friend, a date - will choose to return our call or offer us a job - is beyond your control.

So often we expend an enormous amount of time, worry and energy on trying to control others and outside circumstances that we no longer have energy to tend to what would make the most significiant difference - our emotional being, our mental muscles, etc. 

One of the few sports that is purely within the hands of the athlete as even the weather is not a factor is gymnastics. There are others such as swimming and figure skating, but today I'd like to use gymnastics because we're talking about balance without any accoutrements. It is purely the body and the mind working together.

Knowing what is in our control is important to navigating daily events that we cannot predict. 

  • How much you express appreciation verses complaining and worrying
  • Knowing your emotions and why you feel them - check out Dr. Gloria Wilcox's Feelings Wheel to narrow in on the specific emotion. (I talk more about how to use this wheel in the audio version of this episode).
  • Come to be aware of what triggers positive and negative responses. (Again, use the Feelings Wheel to understand why.)
  • Recognizing when you want to react and knowing when it would be best to instead not respond when requires of you to take some distance, collect your thoughts and then engage if it is necessary.
  • Understand what drains you
  • Understand what refuels you
  • How you manage your time
  • How you take care of your health - food, exercise, and mind
  • What you choose to learn and seek out per your curiosity
  • Decide to show up in a way that you feel proud of
  • Invest time into developing skills that will improve the quality of your life you wish to strength - relationships, communication, a technical skill, a social skill, a new craft that engages your interest
  • Solidify a way to move healthily through tense moments - do you forgive or do you harbor anger, do you move forward or do you remain in the past and stew?

When we understand that we cannot hold on tightly, but instead need to exude clearly our boundaries, but also the peace we have with ourselves, we free ourselves from worrying about being hurt by a partner, mistreated by a boss, or ignored by a child. 

There is no guarantee that we won't be hurt, that people won't disappoint us, but what it does do is put the ownness on each of us to front-load. What I mean by front-loading is we need to step into any relationship, situation, community, etc. without assumption of how others will behave. Instead we need to step forward with a clear understanding of how we will handle ourselves, how we will invest in building relationships, how we will invest in strengthening our mind so that when our thoughts are swirling, we can recognize this and understand we were triggered and now is not the time to speak, or conversely, I am prepared, I am calm and I am ready to speak with clarity and confidence knowing that not everyone will agree, but I shared what you feel needed to be known (just as an example).

Losing our balance will occur even to those of us who invest in controlling what we can and letting go of what we cannot. In those moments, we need to not blame the circumstances so much as our ability to be ready to handle it. For example, if we have said "yes" to too many events this week, and the seventh of seven outings during the week finds us short-tempered, exhausted and/or hyper-critical of others, if we are in tune with our emotions, if we know the difference between being well-cared for (self-care), we need not blame anyone outside of ourselves. This is just life's way of reminding us that we need to be conscious of our needs, understand the importance of saying no out of not only self-preservation, but self-care so that when we are involved, we can do so well and add a positive contribution. And when we model this, we help those that look to us care for what they have control over as well and not project their frustrations and exhaustion onto others. 

When we burden others with the responsibilty of making us happy, we are being unfair to them. But on the flip-side when we take responsibilty for developing the skills we can finesse so that we can enjoy our days and thus our lives no matter what is going on around us, we strength and put at ease those in our lives and model how to weather difficult patches as well as savor the goodness that life wants to share with us each and every day.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Learn more about TSLL's weekly newsletter here

~Tune in and view TSLL's new venture into vodcasting!!! The first two episodes of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen are available for viewing. Have a look here

Petit Plaisir:

~My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander

SPONSORS OF TODAY'S EPISODE:

  • RX Bar
    • Enjoy 25% off your first order with promo code SOPHISTICATE

Download the Episode

Sep 17, 2018
225: Trust the Transition: How to Step Through and Embrace the Change You Seek
29:29

 

“Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” —Kristin Armstrong, three-time Olympic gold medalist - road cycling

 

As September arrives I find myself torn between the schedule I love during the summer months and the rigorous schedule I know that awaits me with school's commencement. 

 

It doesn't mean I don't enjoy what the new school year brings - new students, new connections, an energy of excitement and curiosity that is a large part of why I love teaching, but when any transition knocks on our door, if we are happy with where we are, it is hard to welcome it in. No matter what amazing opportunities it may be bringing as a hostess gift. 

 

In such a scenario where there is the gift of what we have loved and the potential for something awesome to be revealed as we go through the transition that is letting us know, that just the way it is, if we shift our perspective to one of gratitude, the moving through and forward becomes easier. 

 

How fortunate are any one of us to not remain stagnant? Think for a moment about a stagnant individual. They may feel safe, they may feel certain, but such certainty is false. After all, as children the reason it is imperative that we learn how to communicate, how to care for our bodies and feed our minds is to initially survive, but then to thrive and enrich our lives. This momentum, this way of life is a good way to live our entire lives. Why? Because the world never stops shifting, progressing and offering opportunities to improve. Never.

 

It can be tempting as adults when we think we have figured it all out to slow down, and even stop and just be. This is not to say we shouldn't relax from time to time, find a healthier balance, etc., but so long as a new generation is graduating, growing up and trying to find their place in the world, there will always be new ideas, and often, so long as we remain nimble, we can benefit from them as well, and even partake in the sharing of knowledge.

 

Part of a civilized society is knowing how to move and work together with a diverse breadth of people, and along the way enabling all to find their way without taking away the basic rights of any human being who is living consciously and respectfully of others. 

 

With all of this said, transitions can be scary or exciting, exhilarating and even full of learning opportunities. It is simply a manner of how we view them. Today I'd like to share with you eight ways to step into and through any transition that you may be confronted with at the moment, and even go so far as to embrace it. 

 

Grasp the reason for the difficulty

 

Psychologist Shannon Kolakowaki points out that a significant reason for the difficulty of any transition in which are lives are changing as we once knew them is because our identity, how we may have defined ourselves or were seen by others, is changing.

 

Recognize the power you are giving the transition to affect your emotions

 

Psychology Today reminds that there isn't a predefined type of transition that is harder than another. We give a transition the power of either being difficult or easy to maneuver through. In other words, our minds play a crucial role in how we approach the changes we are going through. 

 

If we choose to see the transition as an opportunity or a goal we have worked long and hard for, such change would be reason to become excited; however, if it is a change that is thrust upon us, we can drag our feet and make it even more difficult by fighting what is inevitable. 

 

Honor the transition

 

Any life transition, whether it is relocating to a new city, moving through a divorce or going through menopause benefits being recognized for playing a role in our life journey. As Sonia Choquette shared in our conversation about her own divorce after more than 20 years, she wasn't angry at her ex, but rather appreciative for the love and time that was shared, but also observant that it was time to move forward. 

 

One of the hardest transitions in nearly everyone's life has been found to be the relocation from a home we have felt safe in or found great peace. During such times of transition, pay homage in your own unique way in order to provide closure, but also to celebrate the time you spent and the memories that will forever be with you. 

 

Become a great student of the transition that awaits

 

When you know a transition is in your future, perhaps transitioning from college to a career or from a career to retirement, become a student of the transition you will inevitably go through. By learning all that you can, you maximize the experience, enabling it be as positive as possible.

 

Reflect and remind

 

Everyone goes through some type of transition throughout their lives, and often many. If we take a moment, we probably have moved through some transitions quite effortlessly because we didn't think twice or try to fight it. But on the flip-side, there were inevitably transitions we can remember vividly - during adolescence, making career changes, making relationship changes, making lifestyle changes.

 

As you go through the transition you are in at the moment or will be in due time, reflect on those transitions that went well for you. And even regarding those that were hard, assess why they were hard and how you can change what was in your control to improve the next transition in your life.

 

Celebrate the opportunity for a rebirth of sorts

 

Whether the transition is something you want or something you'd prefer not to have to go through, shift your perspective. Something as common as getting older, shift how you perceive "getting older". As we are seeing today, those in their fifties and sixties are far from what I recall of generations past in the same decade. With more knowledge, comes better ways of living and improving the quality of one's experience. In such an instance, celebrate all the experience and knowledge you have acquired and keep using those tools to learn more, explore more and enrich your life even more as well. 

 

Surround yourself with positive energy

 

Maybe you have children who are leaving home for college which opens up your schedule, maybe you are moving into a different line of work - taking on more responsibility, maybe you are returning from a life-changing experience and want to transition into a new way of living. Whatever your transition is, step fully into it and spend time with those who will support you along your new path.

 

As there will be times of excitement where new adventures and experiences have your full attention, there will also be times when you question what you have chosen to do (or if not chosen, question if you can be as happy as you once were). In these moments, having people that will be understanding of your journey, but not wallow and wax nostalgic about the past, wishing in some small way, that the way it was would return, is imperative to navigating successfully through these hiccups that are inevitable. 

 

The good news is that they will subside, but perhaps never entirely disappear. After all, that is a good thing, in my opinion, as it means your journey has been rich, memorable and deeply and intensely lived fully. 

 

Trust that what is not being revealed is worth seeing and experiencing

 

Even when we do step eagerly toward a new way of living, we can begin to doubt that we made the right decision. When in fact, what you are feeling is probably fear rather than doubt (read this post - The Difference Between Being Scared and Having Doubts). And if you are feeling fear, it is actually good sign as it an indication that you are indeed living a life that is true to your most authentic self. Why? Because what you are feeling in that moment is a deep ache for what you wish you attain, or a way of living you wish to make your own. If you didn't want it, if you didn't believe in it, you wouldn't be fearful that it wouldn't happen. 

 

The universe will not tell us how it will all work out. Nope, that is where faith in yourself, trust in your instincts about what is best for you and what you are willing to work for comes into play. 

 

Transitions are opportunities. If we shift our perspective to accept this, the journey through them becomes far easier to navigate and even at times quite pleasurable to enjoy. 

 

 

 

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

 

 

~The Simply Luxurious Kitchen has begun its first season! View the first episode here and tune in each Saturday morning during September and October for a new episode.

 

~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

 

Petit Plaisir:

 

~Visit your favorite local bakery to pick up a fresh loaf of bread for the week. 

 

Whether you enjoy toast in the morning (such as avocado toast), bread for sandwiches for lunch or bread with dinner, knowing it is homemade and a varietal you love welcomes a simple extra flavor to your week.

 

-my weekly fresh bread pick-up at a favorite local bakery in Bend (I often pick up my loaf bi-weekly as I freeze half of the loaf)~

 

~my favorite loaf from the bakery - Black Butte Porter - in use with my breakfast avocado toast (recipe here)-

 

Sponsor for Today's Episode:

 

 

 

 

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #225
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sep 10, 2018
224: How to Welcome Simplicity Into Your Life: Live Differently for One Month
42:11

"One of the greatest challenges we all face is to find a happy balance between the opportunities that are available to us, the media-implanted urge to have them all, and our own desire to keep focused on the things that really matter." —Elaine St. James in Living The Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More

Momentum is a powerful source of energy, and even though I am far from being a physicist, I understand the basic concept that since all objects have mass, and if an object is moving, it will have momentum, thus power/energy.  We are objects of energy when we keep our schedules and lives running. 

Whatever pace you are moving at currently, if it is a pace you have become accustomed to for some time, it is easier to keep moving along at this pace than it is to slow down, even to speed up. 

As we begin Season 5 of the The Simple Sophisticate podcast today (check out the full schedule of episodes here), many of us are stepping back into a full schedule, or at least one slightly different from the previous season. Whether it is simply a busier schedule due to clients and staff returning from their holidays, or perhaps you as well, the pace tends to pick up, and if we aren't careful or conscious, we can move along with this energy without realizing that it may not work well for the balance we know is best. 

Now, granted, the pace you are stepping back into may be something you relish and works well; in this case, savor it, but simply be conscious of the energy that rolls forward and is easy to become swept up in without our being aware. 

If, however, the pace that fall (or the new season) brings is something you wish to shift, to improve, I have some ideas about how to instill a new pace of momentum that works best for your life. 

For the third time I read Elaine St. James' Living the Simple Life (1996), and it was upon reading it this summer that a few ideas she shared jumped out at me that had not previously. Most predominantly, taking a full month to live your life differently as a way to assess what you really need and determine what is helpful and what is actually hindering the quality of your life. 

As I read this, I recognized my own experience having had the opportunity to travel in France for an entire month this summer. During this time, as I shared in a couple of blog posts (Doubt the Default: How My Trip to France Woke Me Up, episode #218 and Why Not . . . Let Your Brain Calm Down?), the clarity I gained about what was helping and was was obstructing the quality of my life was illuminated. But upon reflection, it was the duration of the trip that enabled this to be more readily recognizable. 

Partly, this was because after spending four weeks in another culture, you are more acclimated than you realize, and so upon returning, there is an element of shock to your system (at least there was for me due to my fondness for the French culture). However, I am confident that we do not need to 'get away' to another country to have the same experience. 

As a teacher, each summer I feel I am given this opportunity to reassess what is working and what isn't, but it is my choice to reflect and then put into place the changes I realize would be beneficial. So here's the challenge and the opportunity - for one entire month, make one, some or all of the following changes to your lifestyle as inspired by Elaine St. James and my own experience and observations to free up more time in your life to do what you love or do nothing at all, simple to relax, sleep more, dream more, savor time with loved ones more, simply live as you please. With the month's conclusion, take an hour or a morning or an afternoon and reassess to see what differences (positive or negative) you experienced. 

  • Arrive at work either earlier or later than you do now, and then either stay earlier or later than you do now. In other words, shift when you are at work to try to find more productive hours, but do not stay longer than you currently do in total. 
  • Get up an hour earlier. While this may require of you to go to bed earlier, observe how the day begins when you give yourself breathing room to savor having more control in how you set the tone for the day. Remember it's just for one month.
  • Stop watching the news. While this doesn't mean you don't have to stay informed as you can read or listen to the news, observe how no longer being the passenger when it comes to news viewing affects your attitude, assumptions and stress levels. But you may want to take it step further and . . . 
  • Stop reading or listening to the news (just for one month!) to see what differences may arise due to the absence of perpetual information.
  • Change your exercise regimen. If you work out regularly in the afternoon, try working out in the mornings and observe how you go about your day and what it feels like to have the evenings free. If you attend classes in the morning, try taking them in the evening instead. 
  • Turn off the television. (posts to read - Why Not . . . Watch Less Television? and Why Not . . . Master the Television?)
  • Take a couple of personal or sick days.
  • Talk to your boss to restructure your work days (just for one month) to four 10 hour work days instead of five 8 hour work days if this is an option. 
  • Spend an entire weekend without making/attending any social or family commitments and give yourself permission to just do what speaks to you. If you can do this for more than one weekend during this month of assessment, you might begin to see helpful trends of what refuels and replenishes you. 
  • Eliminate all shopping except necessities such as groceries and vital personal items. 
  • Don't feel obligated to clean each week. Instead pick up each day as you go and clean every other week. Observe at the end of the month if this is possible. 
  • Take a bath when the mood strikes - morning, middle of the day, etc.
  • If possible, give yourself a long window of no appointments right after lunch as your energy begins to recharge from the fuel of food and the midday break. (This book, which was a Petit Plaisir in episode #194, explains the timing of our days and when we are most productive.)
  • Simplify meals - use the capsule menu approach. Make sure your épicerie is stocked and challenge yourself to shop and cook seasonally.
  • Stop using social media on designated days (the weekend) or every evening after [select a time]. Be stricter than you might think you will do after the month; by doing so, you will be able to see if you actually notice a positive difference in your mood, time saved, etc.
  • Stay off the phone (texting or talking) except for emergencies for the entire month for making plans to meet in person. Sounds extreme, but often we welcome more internal stress with the conversations we have that are not face to face. Yes, a work-around is to use social media, but if this at all sounds tempting (to go text and talk-free), take the challenge and observe any differences in your stress levels. Potentially the quality of conversations may improve as you spend more time face-to-face.  
  • Spend a weekend or a day (or even just an afternoon) somewhere that will feel like an escape from the old habits that you are trying to tweak. Upon traveling to this destination, turn the phone off and be fully present, engage, revel and celebrate. Observe what feels good about where you are and the pace of the day(s). 

Initially this list may seem impossible, but remember, it is only for one month, AND choose what piques your interest. Again, remind yourself as you begin the month with anything that may be difficult, It is only for one month. 

For one month I didn't watch the news, and by doing this, it made it far simpler to return to the states and not turn it on at home. As I mentioned last week, how I have adjusted is to watch the NBR (Nightly Business Report) and read a daily brief each morning. Anything else is quite jarring to me, far more than I recognized prior to my trip. The key for the changes you seek to become more comfortable is to give yourself this one month of practice or living or doing without. This is where momentum comes into play. It is very hard to shift gears as behaviors become habituated, even behaviors that are not helpful. And so when we initially begin to change the habit or behavior, we think the difficulty is due to it not being what is best. However, in truth, it is simple science - anything new, any shift of energy is slow and awkward until it gets going at a good and steady pace. Give yourself the full month to make the shift and redirect your momentum.

When we discover that the blue sky was deeply blue today, far more than it was last week, we realize the pace we had been living previously was not allowing us the ability to be present, to observe and to appreciate. Such appreciation is part of improving the quality of our lives. And when we return after the month we challenged ourselves to above and begin to watch some television for example, we do so more discerningly, more thoughtfully, as we now recognize that indeed what we watch indirectly affects our emotions. 

May in one month's time, you have more free time and therefore a life of increased quality. 

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Learn more and sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

~TSLL Fall Shopping Guide 2018 was just released this past weekend. 

~Saturday September 8th - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast debuts its first season!

Petit Plaisir:

~The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film on Netflix

  • Based on the international bestselling novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and completed by her niece Annie Barrows when Mary Ann passed away in 2008. (2009)
  • Click here to learn more about Mary Ann Shaffer's inspiration for the novel. 
  • Lily James from Downton Abbey (Lady Rose Aldridge) stars as the protagonist, writer Juliet Ashton

https://youtu.be/vP9eDmX0ow0

Sponsors of Today's Episode:

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #224
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Podbean
Sep 03, 2018
Season 5 Schedule of The Simple Sophisticate podcast
08:12

 

Next Monday, on September 3rd, the fifth season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast will begin.

 

The first four seasons have covered topics on living your best life, whether that was about self-care, lifestyle, health, decor, travel, relationships, or anything that involves living the simply luxurious life, bien sûr! With now 223 episodes complete, of which there were 22 interviews with guests from the around the United States and France. And of course, each episode concluded with a Petit Plaisir - anything that is a simple pleasure to satiate your sophisticated taste. I look forward to continuing into the fifth season with the same approach - more inspiration for cultivating true contentment, more ideas for building the skills that will enable you to be your best self and reach your fullest potential, all the while sharing insights into discovering how to elevate the everyday each day. As well, more guests, and at the end of each episode -  a Petit Plaisir!

 

Regarding potential guests in the fifth season, if there is an author, a musician, an artist, an entrepreneur or simply an inspiring person you feel The Simple Sophisticate should be introduced to or you want to hear on the podcast, email me and I will do all that I can to invite them onto the show. 

 

And now to Season 5! 

 

As I mentioned in episode #221 and #222, the new season will offer 30 episodes (in previous seasons, 52 episodes were aired).  The reason for the shift in amount of episodes . . .

 

  • I want to ensure I continue to bring you a quality episode each time I press record.
  • In May and August, multiple episodes will potentially air during the annual British and French Weeks that will occur each year. Check out the recent French Week round-up of posts and podcast episodes here
  • As you will see below, two months - April and July - will not air new episodes. The reason for this is in April, due to my teaching of AP courses - this is crunch time and I need to give more time to grading and ensuring my students are prepared for the exam in May. In July, the reason for the podcast holiday is I will be producing the new season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast which will premiere each season in September (and hopefully traveling to capture some footage for the videos). 
  • Each Monday, as listeners and readers have become accustomed, there will ALWAYS be a post to offer inspiration to kick off the new week. So even if a new episode doesn't air on that particular Monday, there will ALWAYS be a new post, so be sure to stop by the blog (just as there is today - be sure to stop by the blog for a new post). 

 

Season 5 Schedule

 

Below you will find the week-by-week schedule of when new episodes will air. You will see podcast Mondays are circled in blue. You can print this schedule out by clicking here or by clicking on the image below.

 

Print save the pdf of the 2018/19 schedule

 

The TOP 10 Episodes from Season 4 based on # of downloads:

 

  1. #196 - Top 10 Style & Beauty Tips Learned from the French
  2. #188 - 18 Secrets & Lessons from the French Culture to Begin 2018
  3. #189 - Jamie Cat Callan's Parisian Charm School: Love, Life & Savoring It All
  4. #193 - 7 Ways to Become Who You Were Truly Meant to Be
  5. #190 - To Get & Stay Fit: Keep It Simple
  6. #191 - Ask Shannon: Paris Travel Attire, Savvy Investment Shopping, Simple Weekday Dinner Ideas & Totes
  7. #186 - How to Let Go of Self-Imposed Limitations
  8. #184 - 16 Ways to Simplify and Make the Holiday Season Pleasurable
  9. #208 - How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life
  10. #182 - David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home

 

~Find all of the podcast episodes here (on the blog), iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Podbean or Youtube. And if you enjoy tuning in and listening to The Simple Sophisticate, I would appreciate your time to share a review on whichever platform you listen. By sharing what you specifically enjoy about the podcast, new and potential listeners will discover exactly what they will find when they tune in. For everyone who has already shared, I want to thank you, as well, as I try to regularly share one review each week upon receiving them as a small way of expressing my appreciation. 

 

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit today's Monday Motivational post (as promised, even though there isn't a new episode of the podcast, there is a new post to help start the week well!). Until then, I'll see you in Season 5!

Download the Episode

Aug 27, 2018
223: 23 Ways to Have a Great Start This Fall
35:43

 

“The French have a special word for it, La Rentrée; in English it is simply referred to as ‘Back to school’. However we choose to call the September post-vacation return, and no matter how far our schooldays are behind us, few would deny that this really is the moment in the year that shouts ‘new beginnings’, ushering in a renewed sense of resolve and purpose that has far more potency than any January resolution. As grown-ups, the brand new pencil case and shiny new pair of school shoes that signal a fresh start are replaced by the new-season updates that we hope will deliver so much more than just the latest look: the confidence-boosting coat, that uplifting new shade of lipstick . . . But it really is the change of attitude that matters most, the yearning to be smarter, more balanced – in short, the eternal quest to finally get life ‘right’.” – Lucy Yeomans, editor-in-chief Porter magazine

 

The attitude we approach anything with undeniably plays a role in how successful the endeavor we are embarking on will play out, and while here in the states businesses don’t shut down entirely for the month of August or July as well sometimes as they do in France, when Labor Day travel winds down, there is a shift in everyday routines, expectations at work and at school, and a mental shift is expected to occur.

 

The French expression “À la rentrée” is loosely translated to “See you in the fall!” (literally translated to “at the return”), but it is understood September is the date at which all will return – from their extended vacations, from their respite from school, from everyday expectations and regular activity that occurs the other 10 or 11 months out of the year. 

 

Studies have shown, repeatedly that taking the time to literally get away from work, putting down the technology and truly being on vacation can have highly beneficial effects on the brain. When we allow our brains to rest and think freely – problems magically seem to have solutions, creative ideas spring up like daffodils in early spring and we are renewed and reenergized.

 

So no wonder the French celebrate the return from their vacations. September and thereafter offers an opportunity to put our best self forward, to, as the quote above states, ‘finally get it right’. And while nothing will ever be perfect, improving and fine-tuning will always continue to bring different results than if we did the same thing over and over again.

 

Over the past handful of years, I have written posts to help ensure a strong fall. With one short list here, and another short list there, some of them shared a few similarities, while also offering new ideas. However, none of them have been a podcast episode, and now I have a few more items I would like to add. So today, I’ve made a list of 23 ways we can all welcome the beginning of fall (or spring for my southern hemisphere readers!) with optimism, hope and the best possible path too living a more balanced and enjoyable everyday life. This is the actual list I look at each year (and as I mentioned, it is tweaked and improved each year as my life evolves), and I have organized into arenas of our lives: health, wardrobe, beauty, organization, sanctuary, and regular balance/tranquility. In some arenas, things may be moving along quite well, but perhaps in others we know we could improve. Home in on where areas you want to improve, and take a day, or a few hours in a quiet, relaxing setting to curate a life that excites you to wake up to each day. 

 

Overall Health (physical & mental - peace of mind included)

 

1. Ask yourself this question, “What has made my life more enjoyable these past 2-3 months?” or “What routines/habits have made my life easier, healthier and brought more contentment these past 2-3 months?”

 

Often when our schedule changes with the summer months, we unconsciously change our ways of living, ways that we love (or not so much as it will depend upon the individual). However, I have a feeling, you have a few habits that you will miss when the fall season begins. Ask yourself, and be honest, is there any way you can bring them into your year-round routine? Can or should you shift your priorities if it indeed is bringing so much joy and satisfaction into your life?  Remember, simply because we used to do something one way or do something at all, doesn’t mean we cannot stop and incorporate something more fulfilling. In fact, we should.

 

 

 

2. Create a default capsule weekly menu & establish a food shopping plan.

~Learn more about TSLL's seasonal capsule menus here (summer will be posted this Wednesday - August 22).

 

3. Stock your Épicerie

 

As I was taking my lunch break today, I was reminded that I needed to restock my favorite balsamic vinegar which reminded me that having our épicerie stocked and ready for whatever meal we’d prefer to cook is a simple thing to do now to enhance the seamless flow of a day that has little time to wiggle. Here is a post to remind you of the necessities to have on hand.

 

4. Plan a regular fitness routine that works with your daily work/school demands. Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. You don’t want to burn out and quit altogether. Remember it is consistency that will make the difference. So choose activities that blend enjoyment with challenge.

 

5. Balance your budget and know where you stand financially. Due to your schedule potentially changing, financial expectations may change as well, so know exactly where you are and how much you can spend.

6. Make appointments now

Just as our schedules change, so do the schedules of our doctors, dentists, aestheticians and other professionals we wish to make appointments with. While their schedules may have been more limited, but as well, with more availability during the summer months, often that changes in the fall. So why not be proactive, and design your schedule with what works best for you by making those appointments early?

 

Optimal Organization

 

7. Clean your home/office/bedroom/car thoroughly. It will simply make you feel better when you enter each and every time.

 

8. Purchase any necessary supplies for your office, desk and planner

 

9. Spruce up and stock up your handbag

 

Whether you have found your favorite go-to day handbag, take a few minutes, to clean out, and then restock for the new season. Chapstick, Tide-to-Go, hand lotion, breath mints, a favorite pen, anything to get you through your day – stock it up, and then toss the rest so that it is neat and tidy.

 

Wardrobe

 

10. Assess your wardrobe

 

On Saturday September 1st TSLL Fall Seasonal Shopping Guide will be posted here on the blog (no longer do you need to subscribe to receive it!). Full of splurge and save items when it comes to the new trends as well as many items I have hand-picked for your fall capsule wardrobe, knowing exactly what you need makes the shopping easier and brings fewer regrets. (Have a look at the 2018 Spring Shopping Guide here.)

 

~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe Boutique here to view the essentials for each season.

 

11. Take anything to the dry-cleaners that you’ll be wearing for fall (coats, tops, dresses, skirts, sweaters, etc)

 

Beauty

 

12. Stock up make-up supplies that are running low. Visit your make-up counter for make-up to try out the new fall products.

~Why Not . . . Automate It? 12 Ways to Improve the Everyday

 

13. Confirm and/or schedule your regular hair appointment

 

14. Plan/Schedule Beauty Routines and/or appointments. From the beauty routines you can do at home - pedicures and manicures, to the seasonal facials at your local spa to not only give yourself a luxurious hour or so to relax, but also help your skin, tend to these appointments is a way to feel and look your best, but also find a balance in your everyday routine.

 

Creating Regular Balance & Tranquility

 

15. Stock up or put together a home pampering kit (bubble bath, truffles, wine, candles, music, etc). There will be days when your heels are ready to be taken off, your mind is a jumble and emotional stamina has been exhausted. Be prepared in advance and have what you need to relax stocked and ready to go.

 

16. Do you have a travel coffee mug or water bottle that works? For only $15 make sure you have a reliable mug that you can take with you to meetings, lectures, on the commute to help you get your day started off right.

 

17. Create a morning routine to look forward to and set the right tone for the entire day.

~11 Ways to Start the Day 'Smart'

 

18. Create a bedtime ritual

 

The amount of sleep we receive each night is a strong determiner in the day we will have, so be cognizant to the small details that you have control over. You might be surprised of the significant benefits you will reap each evening when you turn in. A few things to try: remove the television and all technology (especially your phone), light a soothing scented candle (lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, or sandalwood) – this is my favorite as it has a fantastic scent and lasts for 60 hours, write in a gratitude journal to end your day on a positive note, meditate (find out how & why here), or read a book.

 

19. Order or Check-Out/Put on Hold Reading Material to Enjoy

 

I can’t wait for the time to snuggle in when it’s raining out or I’ve wrapped up my to-do list, and dive in. A true simple luxury. And since now I have the time to peruse and put them on my wish list, I can rest-assured I will always have reading material to enjoy.

 

20. Pick up a journal

 

As I mentioned above, the daily ritual of writing in a gratitude journal is a simple idea to end the day on a positive note. And even if you’ve had one of those days, there really are things to be grateful for – check this list if you find yourself at a loss for what to write down. Simply taking note of positive events (or non-events – the car didn’t break down!), can be a wonderful reminder that things are going better than we might have first thought.

 

Create a welcoming sanctuary

 

21. Visit your local nursery

Fall plants will begin appearing at nurseries to finish the blooming season – check out mums, daisies and sunflowers. Add a few to your porch or vases throughout the house.

 

22. Look closely at your home's decor

Perhaps you traveled this summer, or maybe you attended a course in which you saw personal growth and a shift in what you value and/or love. Welcome in who you now, let go of what no longer inspires you, and create a space that best reflects you and welcomes you home as well as you guests. 

 

 

 

Putting It All Together

 

23. Set your intention

 

Often when a yoga class begins, one of the reminders at the beginning of our session is to set our intention – what do we wish to receive or achieve by attending class – do we want to push ourselves further, do we simply just want to make it through class, do we want to be more aware of staying focused and letting go of outside thoughts – whatever our intention is, it is ours. So what will your intention be for the fall season and beyond?

 

Choose one, write it down and reflect upon it from time to time. Create daily rituals and habits that help this intention become your reality. I think you will be surprised that what you focus on, you are more likely to create – much like the attitude we bring to any new venture or beginning. If we’re excited, that excitement spreads and invigorates, but if we’re leery or cynical, moments of wonder are less likely to be enjoyed and discovered.

 

Wishing you a lovely start to a beautiful new season, and thank you for stopping by.

 

~PODCAST NEWS: Season 5 will begin on Monday September 3rd, and the new schedule for Season 5 will be shared right here on the blog on Monday August 27th in lieu of a podcast episode. Don't worry, there will always be a motivating post to kick off your work week - right here on TSLL blog. I will explain the entire schedule (there will be 30 new episodes in the coming 12 months) and share specific dates when episodes will air. Looking forward to another season and so tickled we have had such an amazing four years!

 

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

 

~11 Ways to Start Your Day "Smart"

 

~Why Not . . . Gradually Prep for La Rentrée?

 

 

~11 Steps to a Fresh Start

~The Importance of a Daily Routine & How to Create One You Love, episode #164

 

Petit Plaisir:

 

Mini Portable Chargers

 

 

 

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #223
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Aug 20, 2018
222: Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower Podcast
32:54
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #222
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

 

 

The Earful Tower podcast is hosted by Australian journalist Oliver Gee. Kicking off in early 2017, The Earful Tower is a weekly, seasonal show primarily based in Paris documenting Oliver as he learns about all things French. 

 

Currently kicking off his fourth season, he and his bride Lena will be venturing outside of Paris on their honeymoon for at least six weeks, and in fact, their Tour de France (aka Le Tour de Amour) will follow the route that may curiously take the shape of a heart. And yes, they are aware of this fun fact. :) 

 

 

Oliver and his wife Lena on their wedding day earlier this month.

 

Have a listen to our conversation, get to know Oliver, find out where and how that now quite famous red scooter of his came to be a part of his life, and if he had a motto what it would be. 

 

There's that red scooter! 

 

Check out The Earful Tower podcast:

 

 

The Earful Tower's Guide to Paris

 

French Week 2018 – Posts So Far . . .

 

 

Guests Who Stopped By for a Conversation:

 

 

Traveling to France

 

 

Shopping French Products

 

 

Extra French Posts

 

 

Giveaways (enter by August 18)

 

 

TSLL’s 3rd Annual French Week continues through August 19th with at least two posts per day. À bientôt!

 

~Catch up on all of TSLL’s French-Inspired posts here and French-inspired podcast episodes here.

Aug 18, 2018
221: Waking Up in Paris Author Sonia Choquette - A Conversation on Reinvention
39:52

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #221
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

 

"The endless challenge no matter where any of us lives is to choose what we take from all that our surroundings have to offer and put it together in a way that creates our own happiness. I am so glad I was willing to take it on. A person doesn't have to move to Paris to live an authentic life, and may not have to move at all. But we each do have to let go of what isn't working for us; face our deepest fears; ask for help; and be messy, vulnerable and willing to give up being in control." —Sonia Choquette, author of Waking Up In Paris

On today's podcast, author and spiritual teacher of more than 30 years Sonia Choquette joins me to talk about her new memoir Waking Up in Paris:  Overcoming Darkness in the City of Light from her home for more than three years, Paris. 

Diving into what prompted her to move from Chicago to Paris in early 2015, as well as settling into a new community, let alone a new country, Sonia talks honestly about being patient, enjoying her own company, slowing down and the process of reinvention and transformation. 

Discover more about Sonia on her website and social media locales:

~Update: Episode #222 will air this Saturday with a guest from Paris joining us. Be sure to tune in!

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter Subscription here

French Week 2018 – Posts So Far . . .

TSLL’s 3rd Annual French Week continues through August 19th with at least two posts per day. À bientôt!

~Catch up on all of TSLL’s French-Inspired posts here and French-inspired podcast episodes here

~SPONSOR of Today’s Episode:

Download the Episode

Image: TSLL Instagram

Aug 13, 2018
220: Traveling Alone Well
27:15
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #220
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.” ― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

What if I lose my keys to my rental/car/etc. while I am traveling? No one knows me where I am. I am the only source of income - what if my wallet gets stolen? My passport? As a woman, is it really smart to travel alone? But I will be by myself - won't I become lonely? I don't want to eat alone the entire time - and I love to eat! Above are just a few of the fears I have heard from those contemplating or dismissing solo travel, and at times, some of those fears have danced in my own mind when jetlag was severe and my mind was not being mastered well. And while these are all natural fears to utter if you have never traveled alone, each can be assuaged and should be, after proper preparation, dismissed and not to be worried about. I have written extensively on this topic (see all of the posts at the bottom of this post), so I won't go in detail which has already been shared, but rather share a few thoughts on the wonderful opportunity and insights traveling alone provides the traveler. As I type, I have just returned from a month-long excursion throughout France, as many of you already know. But I am writing that as a reminder.  I would advise travelers who may have shaky nerves prior to traveling alone, even myself, to read this post before stepping on a plane for any future trips on our own. Why? Because even I, prior to traveling, especially if my schedule has been busy and harried leading up to the trip, will consider the worst-case scenarios. And every time I return from the trip, I recognize that doing so was energy wasted. All of my energy should be split between preparation and excited anticipation. After all, part of the gift of travel is the time leading up to the trip as studies have shown that it as well can increase our overall happiness. Traveling alone in many ways is a misnomer, as we are never completely alone if we consider our fellow travelers we find along the journey, Mother Nature, and conversations we have with loved ones when we check in from time to time if we choose to do so. The difference is we are never with the same person or persons the entire time which can not only provide variety, but as Alain de Botton shares above, free us from conforming in ways we often do unconsciously. Ironically, when I travel, my barriers tend to come down moreso than when I am at home in ways that allow me to relax and be more fully present. Now that doesn't mean I do not take precautions to protect myself for security purposes, but those are habit at this point when I travel as I have traveled alone for more than a decade and doing so is merely functional as opposed to the emotional barriers that tend to become activated when I am going about my everyday life. The truth is, it was travel that revealed to me this dichotomy of instinctual behavior based on geographical location which caused me to dive deeper into what made me keep my barriers up so adamantly. This examination led me to shift a few things in my everyday life - move away from some friendships, step more intimately into others, etc., and yet this is another example of how travel can improve our lives.

~My luggage for the return flight (one more bag was gained!)~

If we consider the headaches that we worry might happen by choosing to travel alone, most, if not all, could just as easily happen when we are traveling with someone or multiple someones. While yes, you will have at least two heads to solve the fiasco, you will also have two heads to step into a fiasco that could cause the headache in the first place. I guess what I am trying to say is that neither is better; they are just different. The common gift of traveling alone that is universally shared is that your confidence increases as you recognize you can do things you perhaps dismissed were possible previously. And this is true. As well, traveling alone, especially if I have not done so in a few years time, reminds me that I need to trust myself. Traveling alone clears away the cobwebs from my intuition, if I have not trusted it as much as I should have, and shows me that I need to stop doubting so often and instead calmly keep listening to its direction and striving forward. And most importantly, traveling alone brings me back to myself, centers me and shakes me awake if that is necessary.

~Looking up in Paris in late June: I find that when I travel on my own, my feet follow my eyes. Whatever catches my attention is where I often go, and I don't worry about leaving someone behind.~

Speaking of the shaken awake part. It has happened in the past that I was shaken, but not to a clear state of what to do upon returning; however, it was a start, and I chose to see it through, continued to shake upon returning until the cobwebs and learned behaviors that were not aligned with my authentic self finally fell away. Such a shedding doesn't always happen quickly, sometimes it has taken years, but if we keep 'shaking' so-to-speak, our truth emerges, and it is then that we look back at our travels with even more gratitude. And gratitude for having traveled alone. There are truths that I have only been able to experience because I was traveling alone. Partly because at different times in my life, I didn't have the confidence or support to speak up enough to those I was traveling with and say clearly what I would prefer to do or at least in a way that yielding an enjoyable experience. And sometimes I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I just followed what the alpha person suggested. But if I had been by myself on those journeys, I would have just followed my curiosities without worrying about what anyone else thought, when I was supposed to return, etc., which is exactly what I do now.

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

For me, traveling has led me to the life I want to live. Without travel, I would not be and be doing what I am, today. As Anna Quindlen's quote shares, the life I was leading when the trip began, especially the first trip I made to France (which was by myself), is not the life I live now or will be living in the future.

~A journal for your travels is a wonderful way to upon returning, reflect on the person you were when you traveled - where did your mind go, what curiosities caught your eye, how did you feel, why did you feel that way?~

Traveling alone will show you quite quickly where your weaknesses are that can be strengthened. For example, if you immediately are not comfortable in your own company, that is something you can strengthen, and for your best self, you should. As well, if you do not know how to communicate well or engagingly, even if you do not speak the language, perhaps that is a hint that your awareness of the power of clear and effective communication needs to be tended to (which includes body language). One of the lessons I learned on my first trip to France which was in 2000 was to relax, let go of the worry and frazzle that perhaps we have learned when things are not going perfectly, and look around. Ask for help, take a deep breath and know that there will be another train if you miss the one you were scheduled to be riding. More importantly, since you are traveling by yourself, you learn to step outside of yourself.  And while yes, you are taking care of yourself, you begin to see that when we only focus on ourselves, our inner world, our potential is limited. When we instead choose to examine "how can I contribute?", "how can I improve so that I can be effective not only for myself but the community I am currently in?", we begin to get out of our own heads and become more present. And when we become more present, the experiences of travel become far more rich and memorable.

~With moments to engage and moments to observe and moments to reflect~

If you are considering traveling alone for the first time, be sure to read the below posts that have been previously written. They will help you prepare specifically and clearly for a successful trip. And if you have traveled alone, but haven't done so in a long time. Or you find yourself settled and perhaps desiring a boost - consider traveling alone. Not only will it boost your confidence if you need it, but it will remind you how amazing the life you life already is or perhaps share with you how to make tweaks and changes that you couldn't see had you stayed in one place.

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~International Travel Prep List, episode #183

~Why Not . . . Travel Alone? two-part series (part deux here)

~Traveling with Oneself

~Why Not . . . Travel Well?

~Why Not . . . Travel Luxuriously?

~Travel's Most Wonderful Gift

~Order TSLL's 1st Book in audio format from Audible here ~Sign up for the weekly newsletter

Petit Plaisir:

~Chicken Marsala - view the recipe here

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • HelloFresh – www. hellofresh.com/sophisticate30
    • promo code: sophisticate30 to save $30 off your first week

Images: (1) Gordes, France; (2) Charles de Gaulle airport; (3) Paris - right bank; (4) & (5) Loire Valley

Download the Episode
Aug 06, 2018
219: How to Cultivate Surroundings for Everyday Contentment
33:34
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #219
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

"Your environment, where you live and how you shape your surroundings, is the biggest, most important and most impactful thing you can do to favor your own happiness." —Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones of Happiness

Have you ever said to yourself - if only I lived [insert your dream destination], I would be happier? First of all, that is perfectly human, and partially correct. Author and researcher Dan Buettner shares in his books and website Blue Zones, which dial into the blue zones of happiness, that while indeed where we live does make a difference to our levels of happiness as we adapt or become conditioned to the habits and way of life around us, so too do the following (as shared on his website - read more here):

  1. Trust. Can I trust my neighbor?
  2. Tolerance. Can I live out my values?
  3. Community. Do I have strong social connections?
  4. Healthy life expectancy. 
  5. GDP. Money does matter…up to a certain point.
  6. Freedom. Do I have the freedom to do the work that is right for me?

As I look around my surroundings in Bend, I am examining, asking and then answering these questions for myself. As well, I am doing the same thing with the English countryside and French countryside as both excursions to these countries saw my happiness pique for a variety of reasons, some that were similar and some that were not. But we cannot always pack up and move simply because we aren't feeling as content or as happy as we want. Making such a decision isn't something done lightly or swiftly for most people, but what we can do no matter where we live is tend to what surrounds us right now. Keeping in mind the list above, I'd like to break those down in more detail, paying special attention to specific areas in our lives that we can look at more closely and discover that indeed we can make some improvements to elevate the overall quality of our everyday lives no matter where we call home.

1. Understand how to cultivate healthy relationships

The only person we have control over is ourselves. But it is imperative that we find a community in which we are accepted and supported as we are able to be ourselves. Within this community that you cultivate, honor this ability for others as well. I have written a detailed post sharing seven ways to build healthy relationship here.

2. Invest in your social well-being

3. Keep tribalism to a minimum

Looking at point #2 above, if we only spend time, live, and congregate with people who think just like us, look just like us and do not engage in healthy disagreements, we are not practicing tolerance of other ideas, cultures and people that live differently than we do. While there is a limit to what each of us can tolerate, understand what is most important as we get to know others outside of our tribe - kindness, respect of others rights and boundaries, and the abillity for individuals to become self-actualized to name a few that come to my mind. If we catch ourselves being judgmental, controlling and stereotyping someone based on something they have no control over, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem of a healthy society.

4. Examine your health and finesse your diet and fitness routines

~The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212 ~Design an At-Home Strength Training Program That Works, episode #201 ~Why Not . . . Take a Walk? Part Deux ~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

5. Build and then strengthen your income and financial future

~Why Not . . . Build a Strong Financial Foundations? 7 Tips to Try Now

6. Cultivate a sanctuary that feels like home

One of the aspects of my recent trip to France was that I chose rentals that would enable me to feel as at home as possible since I was so far away from my own home and would be for some time. Details matter, less but better matters, and choosing details and furniture that enable us to live the life within our homes that is not only functional but comfortable when we do what we love. Some takeaways for me that I will be looking to add to my current living space:

  • adding more framed photographs from my travels, with my dogs, etc.
  • adding more warmth to my rental with linen curtains that I can take with me to my next home that will be purchased as the size is not pre-determined.
  • making sure my kitchen is stocked with the utensils I need to cook the meals I love.
  • furnishing my deck with comfortable furniture for quiet pursuits (reading) and summer dinners with friends and family.

Below is a list of other detailed posts to offer more ideas and inspiration for making your home a sanctuary. As well, be sure to check out my first book Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide as an entire chapter is dedicated to cultivating a sanctuary. 22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up's Living Space Why Not . . . Make Simple Home Touch-Ups? ~many more archived Decor posts here

7. Spend time regularly enjoying hobbies that enable you to be fully present

When we engage in hobbies that allow separation from our work world, even our social world as much as we personally need, we actually are giving our mind and being a rest. And when we let our minds rest, we reduce our stress, thereby increasing potential ideas and problem solving to happen naturally.

8. Be conscious of the media that you expose to your mind

We may not be able to control the world around us, but we can control whether or not we put ourselves in a situation to consume information that isn't what we know will increase the quality of our lives. Check out this post about giving your brain a chance to calm down.

9. Come up with daily, weekly, seasonal and annual rituals you enjoy and will look forward to 

10. Take time to explore what you are truly capable of and can offer the world

The easiest way I have found to grow is to follow my curiosity. After all, when we follow what catches our attention and we wish to learn more, it doesn't feel like effort. In fact, such efforts may actually fuel us. And when we find what we love, what we enjoy doing, our contentment rises. Fred Rogers once shared about people who were successful, “The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success.” And if we can find a place in this world, whether it is in the town we currently call home, or if we have to move to make such a career possible, our happiness will soar. It doesn't mean we won't face obstacles, but we will be able to work through them because we sincerely care and enjoy what we are doing. Today, consider what surrounds you - structurally - the home you live in, the physical work space; socially - the people you spend time with; concepts and ideas that are heard, seen, read - the media, ideas shared by others and the culture you call home; and what you have accepted as out of your control. Often much of what is in our control can be improved simply by being conscious of what influences our environment. Often it is in the stepping away from our everyday environment, whether because of a weekend getaway or a trip to another country, because when we return we see that life goes on in a myriad of different ways. We have the ability to construct the ways our world unfolds on a daily basis in more ways than we may realize. But when we do realize, more contentment can be ours. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~What Surrounds You?

~7 Ways to Become What You Were Truly Meant to Be, episode #193

~Learn How to Truly Savor Everyday Moments & Watch It Elevate Your Life, episode #163

Petit Plaisir:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? documentary film of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Fred Rogers

~View the conversation on TSLL's Instagram post about the film here.   https://youtu.be/FhwktRDG_aQ  

Image: TSLL's Instagram

Jul 30, 2018
218: Doubt the Default - How My Trip to France Woke Me Up
46:18
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #218
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ― Erasmus

While traveling during the past four weeks in France, I found that I was finally able to default in conversation to a handful of expressions to, on the most basic level, demonstrate I comprehended what was being said - bien sur, absolutement, parfait, ouai, je comprends, merci, de rein, à demain. Again, as you can see, a very basic level. But, there was no longer a pause before I spoke whenever any of these words or phrases was warranted. My mind no longer had to think, I just spoke.  In this instance, I was tickled. Finally, an aspect of the French language, after many years of sporadic studying, was becoming a default in my brain. A muscle had been strengthened to the point of habit. But, again, my responses were basic, simple, surface. "Doubt the default." When I heard Adam Grant utter this simple, concise, alliterative statement in his TED Talk about original thinkers, my attention was captured. It happened three years ago upon arriving in Bend and moving into my new home that I ran into a new neighbor. The circumstances were we didn't know each other, simply put, and I uttered in conversation with this perfect stranger, "trust me, I understand what you mean." At the time, I didn't think about that phrase before I said it, I didn't really consider the weight of such words - "trust me", I just said it out of habit. Default. And I wouldn't have even reflected upon this fact had the woman engaging me in conversation not said, "I don't know you to trust you." The topic of our conversation was about our dogs, but the truth was, she didn't know me, and she was fully present in the conversation. While I thought I was, the words I chose said otherwise. Ever since this conversation, I have thought carefully about what I say in conversations out of habit, filler, silence-enders, space holders. I have done my best to eliminate words such as "like" from my informal speech after I recognized how many times I would say it when, had you asked me, I would have guessed the word never entered into my syntax. Aside from the words I chose,  I began to dive into my living habits, my thinking patterns, and it was with my trip to France that I recognized many cultural defaults as well that I had not even considered addressing. Quickly, another word for "default" is a habit. By definition, a habit is something that frees our mind up to focus on other tasks. So as long as the habit is helpful and contributes to the quality of the life we desire, a habit is a very good thing. Selecting water as your drink of choice, looking for the positive, smiling instead of frowning, wearing the same uniform to work to eliminate wasting time in the morning - all very helpful habits. But habits, defaults, can also be hindering our ability to live a better life, a more thoughtful life, a more engaging life, especially when we don't even realize we have these unhelpful defaults. Below I'd like to share with you a list of potential defaults already in your life inspired by what I saw, experienced as well as caught myself doing without thinking.

1. Not taking a grocery tote into the market

In France, when you go to a supermarket, they will not provide you for free with a plastic or paper bag to place your groceries. If you, as I did on my first occasion, do not bring in your canvas tote, market tote, or anything to carry your groceries, you will have to pay for their grocery bags (ones you can use on your next visit). The price was quite small - ten centimes - but it caught my attention immediately. A good habit could easily become ingrained in my memory of bringing a grocery tote to the store if I knew I would have to pay for a new bag each time I shopped throughout the week. (In one instance, I simply placed all of my groceries into my tote - handbag; and I also saw many people bringing their market baskets to the brick and mortar stores as well - multi-purpose.)

2. Expressing a negative energy during first impressions

When I travel, I love to listen. When I listen, I am better able to observe, and it also enables me to see more clearly, and more accurately, someone's true nature. What do I mean by this? Having had the opportunity to meet many people from all different walks of life, it was often the first impression that upon reflection was the most accurate to their true disposition. When we don't know someone, and the environment is safe, what is your first reaction when you meet them? Most of the people I met expressed warmth which made those few who did not stick out like a sore thumb. Because it is the first impression, their negative or positive energy has little or nothing to do with me, and much more to do with where they are in their life at that moment.

3. Driving faster than necessary

Driving on the roads in France, the country roads, the autoroutes and everywhere in between, it became quickly apparent that most French drivers drove the speed limit. I later had a conversation with Sharon Santoni about the laws of the road and my observation, and once she explained the drivers' point system (each Euro driver begins with 12 points and they can be lost for speeding (automatic surveillance along the roads), using a cell phone, etc.), it became clear as to why the pace of the roadways felt very civilized. No matter where in the world you drive, it would be interesting to consider the defaults you adhere to when you are behind the wheel. What is deemed acceptable, what is not? Buckling up - good. Glancing at your cell phone - bad. Driving a manual car during my entire trip which was something I am accustomed to, but my current car for the past four years here in the states is not a stick, upon arriving home, my left foot automatically began looking for the clutch without success. My brain had defaulted in four short weeks to expecting to use a clutch. This is good news. Not only can we change the defaults that are not helping us, but they can be  "reprogrammed" quite quickly with frequent, repeated practice.

4. Not greeting the shop keeper, artisan, taxi driver, etc.

The many travel writers and travelers of the world, have done a magnificent job of sharing the importance of saying "bonjour" if one is in France, but in nearly every other country in the world as well, upon entering any business, vendor, etc. in order to begin to set a cordial tone. From time to time, I would notice a traveler, in my case, I zoomed in on Americans, but that's not to say other world citizens don't make the same mistake as well, immediately begin making an inquiry of the proprietor without extending a salutation. And while often, the staff would attempt to help them, an opportunity to build a better rapport was missed. I began thinking about this simple habit of focusing first on the human connection before homing in on the task which brought us to the store, market, etc. The difference is there are feelings and emotions involved that must be considered when we choose to first focus on making a human connection. And when we do this, we are being present. No, we do not know how the interaction will go, but the chances that it will go well are greatly increased.

5. Assuming a market will always be open

I quickly learned that I needed to plan my grocery shopping well before my stomach became hungry. While this detail was something I remembered from my previous trips, staying in vacation rentals, I usually wanted to cook my own meals, so making sure a market of some sort was open (restaurants are usually opened each day of the week for at least lunch and dinner) was a shift from my approach in the states. In the states, if I have forgotten an ingredient for dinner on a Sunday, I don't think twice about heading to the market for a quick pick up. Having to know in some capacity that I had what I needed for my meals in advance also enabled me to just relax and enjoy a leisurely Sunday or any afternoon during the week as the outdoor markets wrapped up around 1pm and most restaurants in the small towns shut down between lunch and dinner.

6. Eating the same food year round

In Provence, the melons were nearing their peak ripeness, but green asparagus season was all but over. White beans were a treasure to be purchased and savored during these months strawberries were to indulge upon like candy. However, if I were to return in November, as most of the markets are opened year-round, I would see completely different selections. Now, we know the seasons offer different fruits and vegetables, even seafood, but it can sometimes become easy to forget when we shop in a supermarket and only stick to the same food each trip. The appreciation for the food that only comes once a year is something we can celebrate in our cooking as we dine on the rich flavors. In so doing, we actually do help our waistline as we become satiated more quickly and do not overeat as we are eating real food with natural, wonderful flavor.

7. Perfect and impersonal

The idea of a perfect home, a perfect outfit, perfect hair, a perfect life, as we know is a futile pursuit. And to this point, most intensely, it was the decor that woke me up throughout this trip as I appreciated the signature touches made available by the treasures one can find at the many brocante markets. Now this is not to say, one cannot decorate a home outside of France without the access to brocantes. Absolutely not, but what I think is tempting is to make everything look ideal immediately in our homes - paintings, furniture, tabletop vignettes, etc. And as Sharon Santoni and I were talking, a beautiful home that is the sanctuary for the inhabitants is one that has layers of unique and thoughtful decor choices, and these layers take time. When I stepped foot onto Sharon's property, enjoyed meals with her family, and stayed in her guest cottage, it was immediately clear that they lived there. I couldn't purchase her decor details", but I could be inspired by them because it was more than the things, it was the stories that came with them.

8. Speedy and surface conversations

As I shared at the beginning of my post, it can be easy to say certain catch phrases without really thinking about what the words themselves mean. While idioms exist in every culture, sayings that mean more than what they are literally saying, it's not the idioms I am talking about here. When we are in a different culture that asks of us to reach beyond the language we are most comfortable with, often the conversation can be slow. While this may be frustrating as we want to talk quickly like locals, it shows thoughtful care. We want to make sure what we wish to say is said and not something that will offend or confuse.  I find that sometimes in conversations we say more words than our necessary. Just as in every other arena of our lives, quality over quantity. When we choose our words carefully, we can say so much more. Excessive use of superlatives (best, largest, toughest, most amazing, prettiest) waters down the actual compliment if all you use are superlatives for something you either love or loathe. Precise words and thoughtful timing of when we engage in conversation, demonstrates we are listening, we care and we are trying to understand.

9. Drama is necessary and thus inevitable

Initially, it was my lack of access to the regular news sources I look to or listen to on a typical day when I am in the states that made me realize that I had been accepting the noise of problems, clashes and pain as normal. But even with the shows and books we read, we can come to expect, even look for, the clash, the conflict, the drama, that must be there somewhere. The truth is, often things to work out. In fact, it is human nature biologically to remember the instances that didn't work out more readily than the times that did for survival. But when we accept this biology, we ignore that when we are aware of why this happens, we can shift our expectations, our reactions and instead rest more easy, enjoy the steady, even balance of our lives that go well quite often. Why look for the drama when it truly doesn't need to be there?

10. Assuming an incapability

I can't travel alone. I can't drive in another country. I can't live without [insert something that you cannot travel with]. Often when we travel we discover something, if not many, things about ourselves we were not consciously aware of. Many of these discoveries are awesome, exciting bits of information that awakens us to our best selves, but sometimes we discover that we have been limiting ourselves unnecessarily. If our default in our minds is "I can't" instead of even just "I'll give it a shot" when a new task or new experience is placed in front of us, we may miss out on the most beautiful London plane trees lined country roads in France (see below), or meeting Walter Wells (I ended up after attempting to walk to class at Patricia Wells' cooking class the first night, getting lost, and ended up calling Walter who came and found me and picked me up in his car to take me to their property for dinner - we had a lovely conversation). We often sell ourselves short regarding what we are truly capable of doing, and we especially do so when our default setting is immediately "I can't". Yes, you can. You may have to do a bit more homework, save a bit more money, or have some patience, but "I can't" is often more an expression of hoping that we could so badly but we just don't know how.

"Default choices often remain unchanged for no reason other than being the default, either because of this lack of information or humans' status quo bias." —Marvin Ammori

Adam Grant was right, we should doubt our defaults because when we don't we are either living unconsciously or not living as full of a life as we could if only we had more information to make different choices and take different actions. Kristin Armstrong states it frankly, "We either live with intention or exist by default." When we live with intention, we are living well. We may not have success on our first attempts at speaking differently, acting differently or engaging differently, but we are doing it out of a conscious choice to live more authentically, thoughtfully and more engaged with the world we are living. While traveling to France made this concept of living with defaults quite glaring to me, we don't have to travel outside of even our own town to know that we may have defaults that are not serving us or defaults that are limiting our full potential whether it be in our appreciation of life, our relationships, even our success at work. All it takes is a choice to reflect and ponder, why do I greet people the way I do? Is that the energy I want to extend? If so, that's awesome, but if you recognize you want to make a change, you can do that too. When we doubt the default, we are choosing to be selective about the habits we allow to be habits in our lives. It's when we do not know we have these habits that we step on our own toes, so to speak, and trip ourselves up without realizing we are the ones slowing our progress down. And that is great news, we each have the skills and the opportunity to stop tripping and start striding into the life we love living. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisian, episode #127

~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93

~Why Not . . . Live a Life of Quality?

~Listen/Read more French-Inspired podcast episodes here. ~Learn more and subscribe to TSLL's weekly newsletter here.

Petit Plaisir:

~Filt shopping bags (made in Normandy, France)
  • more colors here and here
  • A net and rope company based in Caen, France, since 1855 with a goal of creating environmentally-friendly products.

 

~Sponsor of today's episode:

  • Lola 
    • Use promo code SOPHISTICATE to save 40% off all subscriptions
Jul 23, 2018
217: French Trip Travel Musings, Part Trois
15:52

The final episode taped in France during my travels shares a few memorable moments I had the opportunity experience, and as I had the opportunity to stay at author, blogger and photographer Sharon Santoni's home in France, I wanted to share a few images from the cottage I called home for a few days in northern France.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #217
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

~Dining at La Couronne (the location where Julia Child enjoyed her first French meal in 1949). Check out more images in my IG Highlights - FranceTripP2 I look forward to writing detailed posts on all that I experienced during my month long trip in France this summer. Look for a majority of the posts to be shared during TSLL's annual French Week which begins on Sunday August 12th; however, a few will be posted prior to this date as I have an abundance of content. TSLL will be taking a week off to settle back into my life in Bend beginning today and resuming with a brand new episode of the podcast and the regular weekly post schedule on Monday July 23rd. ~Catch up on all of my #TSLLFrance2018 moments on Instagram (and be sure to check the Highlights as well). ~Listen to the previous episodes from France below:

~episode #216, French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux

~episode #215, French Trip Travel Musings, Part Une - Why Not . . . Make the Effort?

Petit Plaisir:

~Fresh goat cheese drizzled lightly with fresh, high quality olive oil, paired with a fresh baguette to be enjoyed after the entrée course of a meal. Below enjoy a few images from Sharon Santoni's cottage where I stayed over the past weekend. Sharon will be sharing tips about her approach to decor as well as details about the many tours she gives throughout France when TSLL's annual French Week takes place beginning August 12th.

Jul 16, 2018
216: French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux
34:19

As my travels continue in France, Part Deux of the travel musings-themed episodes is shared today as I recorded the episode while walking in the country amongst vineyards, olive trees and under the brilliant blue sky of Gordes, Provence. Be sure to tune in as I talk about topics that have been on my mind these past few weeks. Some have to do with travel and some have to do with everyday life and how to elevate it. I also share a few upcoming posts that I will be sharing in the coming weeks and months inspired by the trip. Below are specific topics and links to deepen the discussion. Thank you for tuning in and have a great week. Bonne journée! ~Follow TSLL on Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife)

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #216
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

~Traveling Alone

~3rd Annual TSLL French Week - Sunday August 12-19, 2018

~How to Create a Healthy Approach to Staying Abreast of the News, episode #187 ~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208 ~Daily Simple Luxuries (to enjoy while traveling or at home in our everyday lives)

~Listen and Catch Up! French Trip Travel Musings, Part One, episode #215 BELOW: images captured like walking and talking (taping episode #216 on July 7, 2018) just outside of Gordes, France.

~the sandals I have been wearing constantly during this trip - les tropiezennes. Recommended to me by author M.L. Longworth (who I had the opportunity of meeting in Aix-en-Provence this week - a detailed post will be coming soon on my excursion to this fantastic French city), these sandals are made in the south of France and can be ordered from the states - which is what I did prior to traveling.

 

~Tour the vacation rental I have enjoyed this week while staying in the Luberon region. You too can rent it as well! Click here for the entire tour as well as expert decor tips from the owner.

~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter (delivered every Friday)

Petit Plaisir:

~Enjoy an aperitif and nibbles before a meal or with friends for a casual gathering.
  • Aperitif definition - a drink enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite
  • Keep it simple: Do make complicated appetizers, but instead serve fougasse or slim breadsticks, hummus, olives, nuts, and/or slices of meat.
  • Fougasse bread - typically associated with Provence, but found in many other places. It is a type of flatbread made with flour, yeast, salt and water.
    • infused with herbs and in Provence olive fougasse is quite popular.
    • Check out Paul Hollywood's recipe of his version of fougasse
  • No cheese (save the cheese course until after the entrée)

~SPONSOR of Today’s Episode:

Jul 09, 2018
215: French Trip Travel Musings (Why Not . . . Make the Effort?), Part Une
30:19
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #215
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

"It's worth the effort." —Patricia Wells

(The following episode was taped while traveling in Provence, France, using a handrecorder. Please excuse indulations in volume.) The legions of birds and their signature melodies, the playful butterflies that promenade amongst our meals, the clock tower reminding us that indeed we are not dreaming and the vintner on his tractor tending to his vines. The sounds of Provence. More specifically, the sounds of Vaison-la-Romaine. As my fellow classmates and myself sat down for our final lunch together with Patricia and Walter Wells concluding a week long experiential cooking class, the words above were shared with the group. Speaking not only of the effort to plan, prepare, and shop at the market, but also to have the patience with our lives to curate them carefully so to provide the fertility for a beautiful life to grow, the Wells demonstrated that a good life can be simple, slow and yes, thus absolutely luxurious. In this particular moment the effort made by the Wells was to welcome a group of people that would appreciate in their own way the gathering as well as the food (which was exquisite and seasonal). Traveling abroad to a country which doesn't speak a language we know well can be intimidating, and for some seemingly dream crushing. But it need not be. In fact, as a language teacher, when the words are removed or pared down to the essentials of living an everyday life (thank you, please, how much, where is, I love, etc.), we are invited to see the world through a different lens. We begin to observe actions far more carefully, to value the importance of kindness and thoughtfulness. When we rely only on our words to navigate in this world we forget how influencial our body language, our facial expression, our tone can be on any given situation. Yes, even a smile can be sinister or sincere, and if we are studied in the skill of physical observation, we can ascertain the slight and subtle difference. Yes, undoubtedly, words are powerful, and to live well in a civilized society such as ours and much of the modern world, knowing how to communicate well in the language of the country and community in which we live is fundamental, but it isn't the only skill we should practice and improve regularly to build the relationships we want and need in our lives. So if there is another world (country) you long to see, to experience, to taste, but the language barrier is currently the dilemma, fear not. Ironically, I have found that the best way to pick up a language, for it to stick in my long-term memory, is to be amongst as it is used in the world. It has been with each trip, moreso with each subsequent trip, to France that while I do not understand 60-70% of what is said, I understand more and more and feel less of someone on the outside. What we fear is not knowing French, but what we long is to be amongst the French culture. What better teacher than a Francophone country? When you step into your fear, the language will gradually come. Not an immense amount, but in spurts and stalls. Give yourself the gift of one more language, even if you speak it poorly (which I do when it comes to French) because as the Chinese proverb reminds "To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world" and as the Czech proverb teaches, "You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once." And so if we each have one more window to broaden our perspective and provide a deeper understanding of the world and then one more life, how rich and wise are we? What does making an effort look like when it comes to our dreams? For the Wells it was purchasing a farm in the hills of Provence, remodeling for decades, little by little and choosing, taking the risk, to share their lives, a glimpse, but an intimate glimpse, eight weeks a year (one week at a time) with strangers from around the world. Effort. Let's take a look at other examples of effort: 1.Waking up early to begin the day with more time than needed so you do not have to rush 2. Saving each month money for retirement 3. Choosing to get to know yourself 4. Recognizing you can grow and becoming a student of the skills you can learn 5. Not doing as others do, traveling every weekend or every summer and instead, saving, planning or living where you love calling home. 6. Being thoughtful in your relationship building 7. Taking the time to understand someone who is good, but communicates or lives differently, in order to strengthen and express love 8. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, but also recognizing emotions are like the weather, not the climate - temporary. 9. Taking care of your health and body 10. Strengthening the muscle that is your mind

"It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly." — Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve

As much as we are advised and even tell ourselves to live in the moment (heck, TSLL talks regularly about being present), we are given the gift of perspective as human beings. And it is through effort that dreams can be realized that are worth savoring upon not only attaining them, but making the journey towards them. My trip to France as I mentioned a few weeks ago has been years in the making. I might even suggest it began the moment I made my first month long journey in 2000. In some ways my trip to France is part of a larger journey toward other visions I have for my life, so in many ways our lives contain dreams within dreams that we pursue. Which when you contemplate this composition creates a beautiful life quilt consisting of many dreams that bolster and provide foundation for one another. Effort is worth being given, and your dreams are worth being pursued. Have the patience to let them fertilize, mature and grow when they have the strength to emerge. This requires of each of us careful awareness, a flexibility, but also a courageousness. All of these are skills; therefore, we all can learn them and use them. Bonne journée from Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Everyday Life in Paris: A Fashion Show in the Palais-Royale (I was not invited)

~Back to Paris (summer 2018)

~9 Life Lessons From French Women about Women

~View allFrench-themed podcast episodes of The Simple Sophisticatehere. ~View allTSLL French-themed blog postshere. ~Follow TSLL on Instagramto see all of the pics from my France trip. ~Sign-up forTSLL's weekly newsletterand never miss a post or exclusive news (delivered each Friday to your inbox)!

Petit Plaisir:

~My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now by Peter Mayle (his final book)
If you are just beginning to read Peter Mayle's work (he has published 14 books, 7 of which were novels), begin with the memoir that caught the world's attention A Year in Provence, and if you love cozy mysteries set in France, begin with The Vintage Caper (2009) Sam Levitt detective series, there are four in the series. ~Visit Peter Mayle's website ~Read my full review here - Peter Mayle's Love Letter to Provence

~Sponsor of today's episode:

Download the Episode
Jul 01, 2018
214: Ask Shannon 2018
01:16:30
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #214
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Today's episode is over one hour of Q & As. Questions from TSLL readers and podcast listeners and answers from me, Shannon. :) This annual episode began last year, and was so well received (the most downloaded episode of the year), it has returned. I do hope you enjoy and thank you to every listener who emailed me your questions. Below you will see a list of topics that are discussed and as well as more specific points. And, the final Q & A is a lengthy excerpt from TSLL's new book, so have a listen if you've already ordered your signed copy or would like to. Be sure to tune in to the episode as I go in-depth on each topic. The links included in today's show notes are recommended to further what is discussed during the episode. I do hope you enjoy the episode, and if you'd like to listen to last year's inaugural episode, have a look/listen here (#161). I also did a mini Ask Shannon episode in January 2018(#191) in which traveling to Paris was one of the topics (what to pack), favorite totes and much more. Health & Beauty: Relationships:
  • When to stay and when to go
  • Splitting the tab at meals
A Fresh Start: Work
  • successfully working with coworkers you do not get along with
Living: Mind/Attitude:
  • Correcting a mistake
Food: French Language: Reading: Family:
  • advice for young teenage daughters and dressing for school
Misc.:

Petit Plaisir:

~The New Paris podcast with Lindsey Tramuta (Lost in Cheeseland blog) ~inspired by her latest book The New Paris (2017)

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase
Jun 25, 2018
213: The Art of Savoring: How to Invite the Skill of Savoring Into Our Lives
27:32
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #213
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

"Alone, we can plumb local markets and examine their wares closely. We can breathe in and relish the flavors in a sauce, or the coolness of a pitcher of cream. We don't necessarily take time to do these things in the presence of company, particularly during lively conversation. A solo meal is an opportunity to go slow; to savor."

—Stephanie Rosenbloom, Alone Time

Discovering an enticing book and being delighting with the contents even more than expected, wanting the pages, vivid images and revelations to continue beyond the last chapter. Experiencing a day long anticipated that unfolds seamlessly, exceeding expectation. Sitting down for a meal bursting with precisely paired flavors which make it all but impossible not to solely absorb and beg your memory to remember each moment of the experience. Savoring, as Stephanie Rosenbloom shares in her new book about solo traveling, has been long recognized by social scientists to be one of a number of ways to enhance our levels of happiness. And psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky shares the benefits of becoming skilled in savoring, "People who become skilled at 'capturing the joy of the present moment', are also 'less likely to experience depression, stress, guilt and shame." Okay, the skill of savoring, count me in! Now let's talk about how exactly to invite more opportunities to savor into our everyday lives.

1.Become acutely aware of all of the goodness in each moment

Citing Fred B. Bryant's book Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experiencewe must come to be able to recognize when we are experiencing an positive moment. And in the moment "aim for the most joy to be found". That is the definition of savoring.

2. Utilize all of your senses

Rosenbloom cites Julia Child enjoying her first meal in France at La Couronne in Rouen and Poilâne founder's granddaughter as precise examples of becoming aware of what each sense is experiencing. From what something not only looks like, but smells, feels, sounds and tastes like.

3. Take your time

When we rush, we miss out. We miss the butterfly dancing around our nose, the passersby's exquisite sartorial taste displayed in the most subtle, but creative manner, and the scent of the boulangerie's freshly made bread in the morning as we walk to work. Savoring requires of us to slow down, to reduce the amount of "to-do"s and prioritize what we truly need as well as want to do. When we edit well, we live well as it permits us time to be fully present. And when we are full present, we are able to pause, observe the detail in the pastry we are looking forward to enjoying, but appreciating the artistry and attention to detail that was spent.

4. Give your full attention

Case in point, in order to savor, we must be in the moment, we must not be distracted. Not only must we not be distracted by our phones, but our minds and the ideas and thoughts that swirl about. Of course, we should use our minds and when we get lost in our minds, we can discover the most creative ideas we never thought would be possible, but when we are experiencing a positive moment, choose to set the thoughts aside and soak up all that the current experience is offering you.

5. Let go of habits that don't enhance opportunities for savoring

In some instances, adhering to habits can be a truly beneficial concept to welcome into your life, but it is imperative to examine closely the habits you follow. Rosenbloom suggests letting go of "multi-tasking, worrying, latching on to what's wrong or negative, and ruminating about the past or future."

6. Focus on what you want and you'll find it more often

In order to find something to savor, we must look for it, desire it, imagine it, come to understand it. And if we are thinking about positive outcomes and experiences, we are more likely to come across them in the present moment.

7. Limit how often you let your mind wander

According to a study conducted by Matthew A. Killingsworth, A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society scholar, and Harvard psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert, "one of the strongest predictors of happiness is whether or not your attention is focused where you are in the present . . . people are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they're not."

8. Appreciate every moment as finite

When we recognize that any moment is precisely that - a moment - the skill of "temporal awareness" Rosenbloom states heightens our ability to savor and thus our enjoyment of said moment. For example, today we have three more days of spring. Why not do something in the next three days that you will not be able to do when summer arrives? Drink up this activity, relish it, get lost in it, so that when summer arrives you can know you drank up all that spring offered and are ready to be fully present in the new season.

9. Plan ahead to appreciate the event even more

Studies have also revealed that planning well ahead of any trip or event heightens the appreciation when it arrives as well as our happiness leading up to it in anticipation. The recognition of the work and effort paid to make the plans and either bring people together or attain a particular experience. So upon being in the moment (the trip or the event), we are more readily prepared to be present and savor the experience. While Rosenbloom's book is focused on travel, and specifically solo travel, when we welcome the skill of savoring into our everyday lives, we begin to enhance the quality, reduce the need to cling and trust that we will be able to find something to savor each day - some may be grander than others, but each offers a gift to experience happiness. Ultimately, when we acquire the skill of savoring, we are creating a memory in our minds, a file of sorts of our experiences from each day, trip or event, so that when we want to get lost in our past in a positive way, we can recall the beauty that we had experienced, and thus be encouraged about how amazing our life has been and will continue to be. And so last Friday on the concluding day of school and the commencement of summer holiday, I put into practice the skill of savoring. The boys and I went to a local bakery, found a cozy seat and table outside, ordered tea and pastry, and just took in the beautiful weather, the temporal company and a very good book. It was something I knew I wouldn't experiencing for another 12 months and I did my best to soak it up in its entirety. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~9 Reasons to Savor Begin in the "Choosing Seat": The Gift of Being Single in Your 30s, 40s, 50s and Beyond, episode #199

~Why Not . . . Savor the Reasons for the Season?

~Learn How to Truly Savor Everyday Moments & Watch It Elevate Your Life, episode #163

~Why Not . . . Savor Life? 

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Ocean's 8

  https://youtu.be/MFWF9dU5Zc0  

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase

Jun 18, 2018
212: The Six Pillars of Good Health
25:44
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #212
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Lessons learned and applied. Often it is what we have done in the past that informs us how to do a similar task better in the future. Whether the mistakes were small or large, upon reflection we can be reminded of what didn't work, then examine more closely why and improve in those areas moving forward the next time. Tending to our health is a journey of discovery, of trial, of success, of I-wish-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now, and because we are creatures of biology, our bodies and minds are changing thus requiring each of us to remain a student of our health. Recently I was reminded, upon reflection, why certain tasks and situations had gone well as of late and why others had not, but it wasn't until a guide in my own life (my counselor) brought it to my attention. Immediately, I recognized it and knew how to fix it. And the frustrating, but truly fortunate thing about this realization was that I had this knowledge already, I had just needed to be reminded to apply it. Similarly, today I'd like to talk about the six pillars of good health - of mind, body and each of our unique spirits - and while the list may be something you recognize, if you're like me, there may be a moment as you are journeying in your life when you need to be nudged to take a quick self-check to see if each pillar is functioning well. Here we go!

1. Exercise

Just as our overall health has pillars, so too does an effective exercise regimen. And in this case the physical health pillars are aerobic, strength and flexilibity. While the amount of days per week, even the amount of time each time we exercise varies from expert to expert, what they do have in common is insisting that it is regular and is at least moderately challenging. In episode #201 I detailed my approach to tailoring a strength training program, and in this post, I shared in detail how to get and stay in shape. The flexibility aspect is often the detail that is forgotten about, but as someone who for a period in my twenties did neglect this detail, it is one of the most enjoyable without less time and effort required (not to say certain yoga classes aren't challenging, but that is when they incorporate the aerobic aspect as well), and while I incorporate a weekly yoga class into my regimen, pilates or simply a stretch routine your follow at home (check out SELF magazine's list of the 21 best stretching exercises) would work just as well. ~To Get & Stay Fit: Keep It Simple, episode #190

2. Nutrition

As we settle into the twenty-first century, as a population we are becoming more aware of how food works (or does not work well) in our bodies. The subsequent locally sourced restaurants that are on the rise around the country are challenging long-loved food chains to step up their game. At home, we too have more choices and more information to enable us to eat well each night of the week all the while amping up the flavor. Such a topic is something we've talked about quite a bit here on TSLL and the podcast (and in September TSLL's new vodcast is dedicated to sharing how to eat well while incorporating seasonal fare), so this isn't a big surprise. However, it is important to remember to listen to our bodies, be kind to our bodies and enjoy exploring with new flavors as well as becoming aware when our minds and bodies have become accustomed to something, such as sugar, that isn't serving us well. Below are just a few of past posts/episodes on this topic.

~How to Feed Your Body Well

~Love Food, Love Your Body, episode #8

~How to Treat Your Body Like a Temple

3. Sleep 

A few weeks ago in TSLL's Weekly Newsletter I shared I was reading Arianna Huffington's book The Sleep Revolutionand specifically chapter 7 which focuses on master our sleep. In 2013, I shared nine benefits of enjoying a good night's sleep regularly, because aside from being absolutely pleasure-filled, it is the cheapest preventative medicine we can take to improve the quality of our lives.

4. Skincare

Often our skin, once we've moved through puberty, is a mirror of the quality of our overall health. It reveals if the body needs more hydration, more rest, less alcohol, just to name a few tell-tale signs of how we live our lives. On the flipside, it also demonstrates to the world when these factors are balanced and tended too: a good night's sleep, protection from the sun, effective hydration and a balanced diet. Below are a few posts/episodes that dive deeper into creating a skincare routine that works and enables your best health to shine.

~8 Ways to Create Glowing Skin, episode #13

~8 of My Favorite Skincare Products

5. Social Connections

Our relationships do not need to be many, but we do need to have them and they need to be healthy. Depending upon your temperament, you may have a multitude of friendships, familial relationships and connections you tend to in your career network that with each one strengthen your overall health. For others, it may be fewer, but each is deep and intimate. Whatever your preference, whatever works for the quality of life you need to be your best self, having a strong and healthy social life is fundamental for an overall good life. In episode #92, the concept of a strong social well-being was discussed. I encourage you to listen/read it as it simplifies our social life into three compartments: the relationship we have with ourselves, the platonic relationships we have with others and our romantic partnership. All three are unique, but each involve similarities seen in the others.

6. Mental Strength & Agility

All five of the above pillars are essential, but without an awareness of how our mind works and how to ensure we are exercising it so that it works for us, not against us, we must keep it healthy. In episode #20, how to master your mind is explored in detail as 10 specific ways to do so are shared. From becoming fluent with our emotions, to understanding what you initially believed about what goes through your mind and the reality of what is going on to  recognizing that the mind is a muscle and in order for it to function optimally, we must execise it regularly. Most likely, most, if not all of the pillars of good health are known to you, but as I was reminded last week, sometimes when our life is becoming frustrating in one arena, it can affect other arenas unconsciously. Sometimes all it will take to get back on track for our overall health is to take a moment and check each of the six pillars: How are they working? Have each been tended to recently and regularly? Perhaps today's episode will be the reminder to check, readjust if necessary or applaud yourself for how well you are doing and reward yourself. As the French say, à votre santé (to your health). May we embrace what is fully in our control and enable it to elevate the quality of our lives.   ~Subscribe to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208

~Why Not . . . Live a Long, Healthy Life? (3-part series)

~10 Simple Ways to Live Healthier

 

Petit Plaisir:

~RBG, documentary film

https://youtu.be/biIRlcQqmOc

Images: TSLL captured of the boys on a recent walk

Jun 11, 2018
211: How to Stay Relevant in Our Ever-Changing World & Embrace Each Year More than the Last
32:33
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #211
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

In America we have the story that ... your sex drive evaporates. ... Nobody wants to sleep with you, but you don't want to sleep with them either. ... And it turns out that that is really much more of a cultural story than a biological story, and ... people's behavior responds to this cultural story. ...

In France there's a slightly different narrative. ... Women in their 50s and 60s in France are much more sexually active than women in America are. So I don't think you can ... snap your fingers and switch cultural narratives. But just knowing that it's not biologically inevitable I think gives you some power over it." —Pamela Druckerman, author of the new book There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story (read the entire NPR interview here)

Over the past four or five years I have taken notice of how women step into each year of their life after forty. Whether women who are in my inner circle or women in the media spotlight, I listen to how they speak about their physical capabilities, their physical beauty, their curiosities, their chapters in life, the roles and careers they wish to stay or become a part of. As someone who is 39 and has truly let my age just be a number, not centering my identity around my age as it is one detail I cannot control (sometimes I forget my age, does that happen to anyone else?), I am intrigued in the shift in what is expected of women by women - and thus society -  as they age through the decades. Because our message to each other has power, and that message in large part tells the world what will be accepted or ignored. As someone bringing up the tail-end of Generation X and partially straddling into the Millennial Generation, I certainly have seen a shift in the knowledge and thus attention to good health when it comes to fitness and well-being as opposed to my grandmother's generation. A tremendous shift in society in the late 20th century brought to our attention what our bodies and minds are truly capable of so long as we care for them well. I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her whip-smart, savvy prowess on the Highest Court in the country at the age of 85. I think of Dame Helen Mirren who at the age of 72 continues to playfully immerse herself in her acting career and her life as she explores the world. I think of 52-year old Oscar winning actress Viola Davis and her determination and talent on the big screen and small screen, as well as her physical good health and Sandra Bullock as well as Cate Blanchett and Michelle Obama and Diane Keaton and and and and . . . the list goes on. Each one of these women marries knowledge with curiosity and applies it to their mental as well as physical health. Physical maladies can certainly befall us due to genetics, but there is far more health obstacles that are avoidable so long as we provide ourselves with the information and live in such a way to be preventative. Two situations happened over the past couple of years that found me responding in frustration internally, but saying nothing in the moment. The first was a situation with my own mother and my young pre-teen niece in which my mother said something about what was physically inevitable when you hit "her age". In actuality, what she shared was false, and I later did say something in private to my mom as I am someone who has heard such "untruths" from older women when I was young. I know now that what they shared was their ignorance regarding how the body grows and ages, but I didn't want my niece to have to navigate toward to the truth when the knowledge was readily available. The second situation is an ongoing one as I have a dear friend who refuses to say her age or acknowledge her birthday as her husband told me she is "sensitive about her age". While I respected this wish, I also want her to know how much I want to celebrate her because I think she is absolutely amazing, talented and uber intelligent. The truth is if we as women will let go of identifying ourselves with our age, then half of the world will stop seeing us through the narrow lens of assumption regarding what "should be" happening at a particular point. We all know that with different people, different things happen at different periods of our lives. Case in point, actress Rachel Weisz is pregnant at 48, yet press in the U.K. is fearful it may be nearly too late for Meghan Markle to conceive. Are you kidding me? What we consume or accept as a culture can either limit us or liberate us. What we allow to be accepted because we do not contradict it when we know it is utterly false will continue to be perpetuated. We can either speak up or act in such a way that demonstrates the falsehoods are indeed false. Each of us will choose what is most comfortable for us - speaking or acting, but I implore you to not shrink to fit inside the limiting box that society would have women at any age stay within. Part of the difficulty with staying relevant, man or woman, is staying apprised of the dynamic world we live in. With each year we are layering more information on top of what we already know and in so doing we become acutely aware of how much we still have to learn. It can become overwhelming. It happened this year as a teacher who began teaching at 22 and knew how to relate culturally with the students - the music, the films, the colloquialisms, each far simpler to grasp and understand because I was partially still in their bubble - that I acknowledged and took note that I could be considered two generations removed from my students. While I still understood some of the references made by students, there were cultural allusions that no more my students grasped (the 80s hit sitcom Cheers, for example). While some cult classics are returning and being devoured by teenagers thanks to Netflix and YouTube - FRIENDS, The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on PBS, etc. - but after listening to different podcasts my students will bring my attention to or music my students will mention in class, I am reminded that we all live and will always live in a dynamic world. And the key is to understand how to remain involved, knowledgable and curious instead of quailing, shrinking or removing ourselves due to fear or confusion or exhaustion.

How to remain a part of the ever-changing world:

1. Build a social network of all ages

One of the benefits of teaching is that there is youth everywhere each and every year. While yes, it's kind of like Groundhog's Day (the film), the benefits far outweigh the negatives as I am reminded that learning is always available if we choose to seize the knowledge and therefore change is perpetually constant. Progress is always possible and staying the same is never a good idea if we wish to reach our full potential. And so why not build friendships, acquaintances, mentor or mentee relationships with individuals of all ages? When we do and do so with an open mind, our perspective is broaden, our understanding deepens and we come to appreciate where we've been, how far we've come or become even more excited about where we are heading.

2. Refrain from ageist comments (younger or older) 

The quickest way to shut-down an opportunity to get to know someone is to make assumptions about what is expected at a certain age. When we do this, instead of seeing the individual and being patient enough to get to know the individual, we are telling them (consciously or unconsciously), who they truly are and who they are capable of becoming is not all that important to us. As well, when we make ageist comments we perpetuate limitations that we ourselves will eventually be subjected to. In other words, we have the power with the words we do or do not utter to change how society views anyone at any age.

3. Master your mind and cultivate a positive mindset

“When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.” ~Marty Buccella

Providence, St. Joseph Health shares, "Negativity saps vitality and creates stress, which affects your health and well-being." So literally, by being cynical, negative or close-minded, we are exacerbating the aging process and making ourselves physically older unnecessarily.

4. Let go of the word "should"

Whether speaking to others and expressing what you think they "should" be doing or the internal dialogue that runs through your head saying you "should" be doing something in your life at any given point, stop. Nobody wants to hear what they should be doing. Instead inspire others to do something with how you live your life or simply let them navigate their way in their own way.

5. Seek out diverse experiences that stretch you

Whether with the places you travel to, the food you eat, the books you read, the podcasts you listen to or the people you engage with in conversation, let your curiosity be fed. Often the reason individuals regress into what they've known and the "way it has always been" or "when I was younger" constructs and wish to stay there is because they are fearful of the unknown. What they know is comfortable, and we all somewhere along the continuum want comfort. However, too often, when we don't know about a particular culture, a particular way of life that becomes more prevalent in society due to news coverage or a change in economic structure, until we explore, prompts people to make limiting assumptions that shrink our world. The world is big, vast, amazing and from my experience here on the blog and in my own travels meeting people from around the world, the majority of us are seeking contentment, love and peace. This may sound over-simplified, but truly, our general goal is the same, it is a matter of having the courage to keep asking questions, keep making ourselves vulnerable and recognize that we do not have all the answers and respecting all people as they too are trying to figure it out.

How to enjoy each passing year more than the last:

1. Learn something new regularly

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”   ~Hasidic saying

I have seen the deterioration of one's mind in late age when a particular octogenarian who prided himself on having only read one book in his life gradually sees the quality of his life diminish. Knowledge is power in not only understanding how to live, but in keeping ourselves vibrant and able to engage with the world fully. Studies have recently been shared that regular cognitive challenges - problem-solving, learning a new skills, in other words brain exercises - are good for brain health. It is something we keep alive or by not giving it "homework" passively let wither away. Once we have the knowledge and understand how to continue to acquire it as we move through life, then we can apply it and see the benefits of the efforts we've made - thus the harvest. So keep planting seeds and continue to see your harvest become richer and richer with each passing year.

2. Choose to understand the world

Providing context as to why events happened, why people made the decisions they made and why people reacted as they did deepens not only our understanding of the world but also how to move and live successfully in it so as to live a life we are proud to share with the world as well as reflect upon.  Never settle for one person's version of events, explore, ask questions, pick up a biography of someone else who lived in that time, read a historical account from multiple perspectives and come to understand that the world isn't simple, events aren't a singular cause and effect, but more often a confluence of causes that create the outcome that after some time has passed becomes simplified into a singular soundbite. As well, come to understand the social sciences - psychology and sociology and how people interact with others, how our minds work, how our bodies work regarding hormones, endorphins, adrenaline, etc. Choosing to understand the full human experience paired with the events of the world that led us to where we as a world are today is empowering and can assist us as we figure out how we wish to move forward.

3. Contribute to the world 

In another study, it demonstrated that we must live in such a way that goes beyond giving, or "feeling useful"; we must take action so as to do something that leaves the world better than when we found it. Taking action will be different for each of us, but just giving of our time to help the next generation isn't enough (it's a start). Sometimes taking action will not be comfortable for those around us. Sometimes it will not be comfortable to us as we will have to push ourselves to learn something new, shift our views and understanding about something we had become accustomed to but now we realize we were wrong, misled or misinformed. But when we find a purpose that fuels us, that we truly have a passion for, we will find the fuel to push forward. And in pushing forward, the example we share with the world will potentially alter how society comes to understand what is possible at any given age. 4. Let go of negative stereotypes and stop perpetuating them regardless of your age

“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” ~Jackie Joyner-Kersee

A study conducted at Yale revealed that "older adults who held more positive age stereotypes lived 7.5 years longer than their peers who held negative age-related stereotypes". Not only should we shift away from negative age stereotypes we should stop burdening others with these beliefs as well. Whether it is our observation and commentary about strangers on the street, in the store or mere acquaintances, refrain from defaulting to ageist remarks (about those older or younger than you). When we assume, we limit what we are willing to explore as we get to know people, and I am confident none of us would want to be limited.

5. Revel in each year

“The trouble is, when a number—your age—becomes your identity, you’ve given away your power to choose your future.”  ~Richard J. Leider

Right now I am soaking up all that the remainder of my third decade on this glorious planet will share with me. As well, I am excited to enter into my fourth. When we choose to be present in our lives, we create memories that will always be with us. No we cannot go back and relive them literally, but we can in our memories and that is a gift we can take with us for any age we reach down the road. Each year has the opportunity to be your singular definition of what it is to be [pick a number]. And it is important to remember that that is your definition and yours alone. To place it on someone else and expect them to live the same as you is to limit what they may be curious about. On the flip side, embrace what you are curious about each year. Embrace what the universe has given to you in this particular year and drink it up like it was water in the desert. When you revel, you enliven your being and you share with the world your exuberance. That is how we shift age stereotypes.

6. Take the risk

Maybe you've had a dream in your mind for years, but you have never known anyone who took such a risk. At least not anyone in what you perceive to be your "situation". Let go of needed a model to follow. Let go of thinking the dream shall remain a dream and instead take the risk. Do the necessary homework and then give yourself permission to get so absolutely excited about living the life you have dreamed about. Yes, you can live that life. And that will enliven you like you never could have imagined. From time to time I will catch myself pushing back against progress when it finds me quite comfortable with where I am in my life (a state that is not always easy to attain for any one of us as we strive toward goals), and then I poke myself. It is at that moment that I remind myself that progress is good as it demonstrates to all of us that we are alive, the world is alive and has the capability of improving. Even when we think we are comfortable (as I have felt in those moments), we often are limiting what we understand to be possible in the quality of our lives. Often I do think part of the push back to progress is exhaustion (which is why it is imperative to get a regular night's sleep - I kid only slightly). Perhaps not physical, but emotional exhaustion as we have seen and experienced and worked for so much and we don't know if we have the energy to continue to strive, shift and improve like we have in the past. But that is when we need to seek out others who see the world and all of its potential as we do, and then we can find the energy we think has been lost. Thus another reason to build a social network of all ages. The world is greater with more diverse voices, lives and experiences. And with each year of our lives we deepen what we bring to the world so long as we continue to truly live each year we are given. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Learn How to Truly Savor Everyday Moments & Watch It Elevate Your Life, episode #163

~26 Ways to Create the Life You Want

~Why Not . . . Extinguish Self-Doubt?

Petit Plaisir:

~fresh seasonal fruit, in my case most recently - Oregon strawberries
Recipes to try:

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase
Download the Episode
Jun 04, 2018
210: 10 Simple Things We Unnecessarily Complicate
27:48
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #210
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” – Amelia Barr

You react in anger when a moment of frustration arises only to have to take more time (once you realize you shouldn't have reacted in such a way) to apologize and rebuild a relationship. The best decision, the simple decision, would have been to say nothing at all in the moment, step away from the situation, and decide what, if any, response was necessary. In a hurry to clear your inbox, you scan through emails too quickly, miss important details and end up having to respond twice or three times to correct the initial response. In an attempt to create a relationship, you cling or hang on to someone who doesn't fully welcome you into their lives. The simple truth regarding relationships is if people want you in their lives, they will make room for you and not create guessing games, just as you have opened your life to them. There are many ways we can complicate our lives when it is absolutely unnecessary to do so. While we often hear that we must struggle in order to reach the goals we desire, while there is much truth to the duration, there are many details along the way that do not have to be complicated. In fact, to complicate them, discourages our journey toward success. I was reminded that even those who value simplicity in order to elevate our lives (me!) can make the mistake of creating complication where they need not be. Over the past month I have been putting off a task that I knew in my good conscience needed to be tended to do. The delaying only built up more stress and fear that would have been assuaged or negated had I simply took action, discovered what the solution was and put my energy toward reaching the solution rather than putting my energy toward stressing out about the unknown. Often we complicate because we don't want one more thing to fill our plate. Ironically, we are putting more than one more thing on our plate; we are at least putting two: the task that needs to be tended to and the worry that we expend wondering. In other words, we accrue interest, and in this case, not the good kind. Today I'd like to take a look at 1o simple ways we unnecessarily complicate lives with the goal of avoiding these mistakes. Because once we recognize our mistake, we can simply correct our course.

1. Small, regular steps, to reach great success

When we see our goal at the end of the long journey, there is a natural assumption that a grand step must be made. And while, yes, the distance is long, the journey is simple. So long as you are clear about what needs to be done and break it down into mini tasks, then all you have to do is the daily tasks each day on a regular basis. Whether it comes to improving your health, saving