The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #179
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
The desire to share our lives with a partner can be a different vision in each of our minds, but at the core of a strong, healthy, worthwhile relationship is something that is often dismissed as important, but not vital. Too often we are looking in the wrong place, seeking out the wrong traits and even presenting a false self in order to be chosen or to choose a person to potentially be our partner. With the inspiration of Susan Quilliam's book How to Choose a Partner, we dive into to part deux today (check out part une here) regarding how to choose a partner. Sometimes, at least for me, it feels as though there are a multitude of mixed messages of what should or should not be considered when choosing a partner. And as I shared with an acquaintance recently, I can honestly say, the individuals I have had the opportunity to get to know and consider as potential partners continue to be more impressive people, but at the same time, I am more and more aware of what I need and what I can be flexible about. Now the benefit of this reality is that the decision is easier, but the saying goodbye (or no to an intimate relationship, but perhaps still acquaintances) is difficult initially. However, upon reading Quilliam's book, she shares clearly how to live and welcome a partner into your life that will elevate both of your lives and leave no doubt (even when situations down the road aren't perfect) that you are indeed with the right person.
1.The ideal everyday
Living simply luxuriously is ultimately about elevating the everyday and create the extraordinary. An extraordinary that a passerby without deeper insight may not observe, but we, the person living the life we've created savor with deep appreciation each and everyday. While it is important to understand what your dealbreakers are and what you most desire in a partner, a simple check is to "imagine the rest of the day —not special, not peak experience, just normal, solid and satisfying". Since I have a feeling many long-time readers/listeners of TSLL/podcast have constructed and curated everyday lives they love (find out how to do so here and here) already, imagine how a partnership exists within your ideal everdyday. Can you see that person (whomever it may be that you are involved with or considering dating) intertwining well with your ideal everyday? Would you interwine well into their ideal everyday? And perhaps you are still cultivating your ideal everyday, which is most likely the case, even for me. I am always striving, adjusting, improving, learning, and yes, I would love to share my everydays with a partner. So a better question to ask is "could this person help us create the daily life that we want forever?" If you are shaking your yes, even if ever-so gradually, continue to get know the person you are thinking about at this very moment.
2. The truth about chemistry

"Perhaps the only thing that chemistry guarnatees is chemistry. If so, then maybe instead of demanding it as a prerequisite for a relationship, we ought to be seeing it as a distracting delusion."

Sometimes you just wish you'd been given certain advice when you were young and had it tattooed on your palm to read again and again until you understood its truth. Such is the case with #3. Case in point to what I shared in the introduction, I have had dear friends tell me that "chemistry must be there . . . I don't care what anyone else says." And to be clear, we're talking a physical attraction when we say chemistry. But after nearly twenty years of dating, I want to say for the record that I know this to be false. This is not to say I haven't had good chemistry with individuals who I have been in healthy relationships, but it wasn't always the case. And case in point on the flipside, I have walked away from individuals after one or two dates because I felt no chemistry who, upon reflection, were lovely people and possessed the crucial detail I will mention below. The key with chemistry is that it isn't bad, but it shouldn't be the only thing, let alone the most important factor, when choosing a partner. Knowing what is going on within our bodies and why when chemistry occurs is important. However, it is important to note that research even finds it diffcult to "pin down what exactly chemistry is, let alone what causes it." So for us, mere humans, to say without chemistry a partnership cannot occur, is a logical fallacy.
3. Knowing our comfort level
The debate about whether it is best to choose someone who is similar to us or to choose someone who meshes well with us or someone who is polar opposite will forever continue as each human being has a different level of comfort with similarities and differences. The key is to know your comfort level, know what you need and what you can be flexible with and be clear. In other words, knowing thyself is vital.
4. The truth about the differences between men and women
Culture has nurtured individuals within a society to ascribe with certain stereotypes regarding men and women, but the truth is, as biology has proven, "men and women are actually quite similar". The skills each of us learn as we grow up can be attributed to nurture, and thus we can change, we can adapt, we can reflect on what works for us and what does not, and if we choose, step away from from hindering behaviors and thought defaults.
5. The most important must-have

"Emotional responsiveness — a partner's ability to pay loving attention to our emotional needs, and our ability to pay attention to theirs. Note the reciprocity. As well as needing to choose a partner who values our feelings, we need to choose a partner who motivates us to value theirs."

No matter how compatible on paper two individuals may be. No matter how electric the chemistry, Quilliam argues that a relationship without emotional responsiveness is not a relationship you want to be in. A few weeks ago I wrote about the truth regarding compatibility, and shared a list of components that are part of being emotional responsive. The underlying detail is that we have to want to be emotionally invested, we have to want to step forward and love in a way we may have never loved before and on the flipside, we need to see and feel our partner doing the same.
6. Discuss love languages with your partner
In Gary Chapman's best-selling book The Five Love Languages, he shares the primary five ways each of us may feel loved by someone else. Just as with any new language, it is something we have to learn about our partner. How do they feel loved? What actions, when I partake in them, communicate my deep affection for them, and which do not? I broke down these five langauges in episode #87 of the podcast, and I encourage you to take a look because as important as it is to know the love language of our partner, it is just as important to know our own love language. And to know how to communicate what we need to our partner.
7. Understand attachment tendencies
It is human nature to have any one of the four attachment tendencies throughout the duration of our days and lives and thus with our partner as our relationship is growing. Introduced by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth as they studied child development, time has also revealed we carry attachment tendencies with us into adulthood as well, and it makes sense. We are looking for connection, security, love. What are the four attachment tendencies? Secure, Anxious, Avoidant, Attacking. Examine yourself and see where you fall primarily, and then examine when or if you fall into the other categories. Ask yourself, what occurs to make me feel anxious, avoidant or the need to attack? The ideal as you might have already guessed, is to feel secure and to find someone else who is also secure, which leads me to #8.
8. The ideal: Tranquility and Simplicity
Quilliam pointed out that we rarely see a "secure" attachment in the dramas or comedies we view on television, read in books or see on stage. Why? As critics would say, it would be boring. No drama. To me, that sounds perfect, and it truly is what we should aspire to in order to be a good partner and what to seek in a good partner. The outcome of two individuals who are primarily secure individuals with regards to attachment (admittedly, life has its unexpected moments when we stagger and fall back into one of the other three), is a feeling of calm. And this is where some of us mistake our potential partner who makes us feel calm, as boring and not right. This would be a mistake, as Quilliam points out. Calm is secure and content. A turbulent, up and down relationship is not healthy or foundation building that will last. Seek out the calm and be the calm, and you will have a beautiful partnership.
9. The importance of self-love along with loving our partner
In points #8, #6, #3 and #1, a primary and thus necessary component is knowledge of oneself. And along with this self-knowledge is the knowledge of how to love ourselves. How to be kind and gentle with ourselves, how to eradicate the negative voice, to refuse to let others bring us down and respect the boundaries we need in our lives. As Quilliam shares the insight from relationship psychologist David Schnarch "We need to feel 'at home' in ourselves in order to have 'a good place to invite a spouse to visit'". In other words, finding the right partner begins with understanding and then loving ourselves because when we embody love for the life we live, we are then truly able to give it sincerely to others. We may not know when we will meet the right partner or potential right partner, the good news is there are plenty opportunities to do so should we choose to live in accordance with our unique compass and temperament. Quilliam does go into great depth about how to meet potential partners that are best suited for us, and if this is interests you, I would encourage you to pick up her book. Largely, why I enjoyed the book so much was that the truth is if we have the wrong map, we'll never find what we're looking for. And her book is a simple, direct road map that is full of common sense if you are looking for a partner that you want to enjoy your everydays with and build a life together in which both individuals are respected, loved and supported.  

Petit Plaisir:

~A Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking on PBS
The Emmy nominated food feast show which airs on PBS and is hosted by Pete Evans, Australia's top celebrity chef is in its fifth season. Currently season 5 is running on PBS, but you can view the past four seasons via Amazon Video. Click here to take a look at the previous four seasons and check your local PBS listings to see when A Moveable Feast airs in your town. ~Subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine here  
This episode is sponsored by:
~Simply Earth
  • Click here to subscribe to the monthly box with 6 recipes and everything you need to make them. 4 – 5 full size essential oil bottles
  • Enter the coupon code “SIMPLE” to receive a $40 giftcard emailed to you after you subscribe to this fun essential oil recipe box.
    • Click here to begin!
  • Each box comes with 6 recipes and everything you need to make them. 4 – 5 full size essential oil bottles, 100% pure goodness all for $39.
~Mark your calendars Foodies & Francophiles! World renowned chef and top food blogger and cookbook author David Leibovitz is stopping by The Simple Sophisticate on Monday November 6th (episode #182) to talk about his new book: L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home. I am so excited I am pinching myself!!!  

Image via TSLL Instagram

Direct download: 179ChoosingPartner.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #178
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” ― Joseph Campbell

Have you ever thought or uttered this statement, "If only there was someone's journey I could follow, model my life after, then I would be more at ease"? At ease with knowing which step to take when, why I was taking it and where it would lead. While a road map of where to go would be handy - a Google Map for Life, so to speak - I have come to realize I am thankful I do not have one. Why? Well, it isn't because I enjoy adrenaline rushes or the unknown necessarily. Rather it is an understanding I have come to realize that Joseph Campbell explains eloquently in the quote above: Each of our journeys is meant to be unique and while it may be oh so tempting to follow in step those who inspire us, to do so would be to eliminate what can only uniquely come forth from each of us. Don't get me wrong, it can be terrifying to understand such a truth, and to be honest, I know some will say "Not for me. I am going to do what I know and what those before me have done", but I also know many of you, like me, are willing to listen to our internal compass and even if we can't make sense of it, find the courage to step out onto our own trail and forge the path even if we're not quite sure where we will end up or when we will end up where we hope it will lead. Today I'd like to share with you six tips for preparing you for a successful journey that will be uniquely yours.
1. Take the time to get to know the navigator . . . that would be you
One of the first three-part series I wrote when the blog began was a list of benefits of getting to know yourself and how to do it. Ultimately, when you become accustomed to your own unique language, what your true temperament is, what makes your energy soar or sag, what tickles your curiosity and what deflates your hopes and ignites your fears as well as what you value versus what is simply nice, but unnecessary to live a most contented and fulfilling life, you become able to make decisions more readily without second-guessing yourself. You begin to recognize and trust your intuition and you begin to advocate for the direction you know you should head with more confidence.
2. Exercise the mind
The best way to be able to make connections with old and seemingly incompatible concepts is to continue to learn. Read up on history, read a biography, read about the new research findings on neuroscience or the best nutrition. Observe mind-provoking cartoons, challenge yourself with the daily crossword puzzle. Absorb from time to time seemingly unnecessary information because who knows, it may just be the missing piece to solving a problem down the road, or creating a new way of living well for you or those you love or the community at large.
3. Lighten Up

"Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer." —William S. Burroughs

Again and again I am reminded of the above quotes truth when I am trying to locate a solution or think of a particular idea that is escaping me. It is the relaxing of the mind, giving it room to move and be free, which enables it to find what I have been searching for. Even better, when I give my mind a task to work through, sometimes unconsciously, upon getting a good night's sleep, I will wake up in the morning with a fresh mind and often a fresh new idea.
4. Practice gratitude

"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." Eckhart Tolle

It initially seems counterintuitive: If you say you are grateful for what you have, why would you the universe interpret that as a person who needs or deserves or should be given more? But the best receiver of any gift is someone who knows how to truly appreciate it, and we demonstrate this truth by how we treat and appreciate the many fortunate opportunities, comforts, necessities, etc. we already have.
5. Focus on welcoming ease

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” ~Deepak Chopra

A calm mind is a sound mind. If how you have been approaching life isn't working, circle back to what it is that is causing you to stumble. Perhaps it is a default response whether your words, your tone, the thoughts you convey and their connotation, or your physical response - your facial expressions, your body language, your actions, or perhaps it is something so simple, yet so powerful such as your jump to negativity and/or worry that hinders the forward positive progress that you seek. Choose to react differently and you will eventually see different results, sometimes immediately.
6. Always be an iota out of your comfort zone

"If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone." —John Maxwell

Back in June I shared a post titled 7 More Signs You Are On the Right Track, and two of the signs were feeling challenged and feeling as though you were in limbo land and not sure of which way to go or if anything was going to work out as you had stepped out of what you knew and were attempting to arrive some place else. Brené Brown also points out in her new book that the most difficult part of the journey you need to be on, is the one that is yours and yours alone, is the in-between. The in-between where you've come from and where you're headed. The truth is the change you seek will require some courage, and stepping out of your comfort zone, if even only in slight increments, is the only way to grow to your fullest potential and seek the destination that is solely yours to inhabit. Choose to have the courage to arrive at this uniquely singular destination and enjoy the journey.

“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell

  ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Be the Hero of Your Own Story (episode #176)

~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life (episode #40)

~Create Your Own Unique Journey

~Owning your 'Uniqueness"

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Paris Breakfasts
 
This episode is sponsored by:
~Simply Earth
  • Click here to subscribe to the monthly box with 6 recipes and everything you need to make them. 4 - 5 full size essential oil bottles
  • Enter the coupon code "SIMPLE" to receive a $40 giftcard emailed to you after you subscribe to this fun essential oil recipe box.
    • Click here to begin!
  • Each box comes with 6 recipes and everything you need to make them. 4 - 5 full size essential oil bottles, 100% pure goodness all for $39.
Direct download: 178UniqueJourney_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:58am PDT

 ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #177
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or shutting a book, did not end the tale . . . " —Neil Gaiman

The journey of each of our lives meanders and sometimes jet-lines through seasons. As children we are in the spring of our youth, emerging, learning, exploring and stretching our wings to experience all that is unknown. During our summer we invest, we dive deep into life — what we love, whom we love — and beginning the process of reaching a far-off goal that will take time to achieve. The arrival of autumn is that time in which we hope our efforts, our discoveries, our risks, have paid off and what we want to see upon our arrival is a beautiful, bountiful harvest of goodness, of gifts, of joys, and even pleasures. A time to savor is what is desired, a time to take a deep breath and say to ourselves, 'It was worth it. It was all worth the uncertainty, the struggle and the hope without proof during certain moments'. With October's arrival yesterday, I found myself walking along a trail I haven't walked in quite some time. Early in the morning, the sun was only emerging and the aspens along the graveled path were all but brilliant cornflake yellow. They wiggled in the gentle breeze and the glimmers of sun that began to shine through the trees made each leaf glow like gold. The deciduous trees reach their glory in autumn and serve as a vision of what is possible when we choose to be patient, to be thoughtful, to be clear in our focus and present as well to appreciate when the moment comes to stop in awe as I did along my walk and just stand with smile spontaneous, reveling in the beauty. I find it quiet poetic that "deciduous" can be translated to mean "falling off at maturity". In order to ensure our harvest in life is bountiful, below are 10 ways of living during your spring and summer to incorporate into your everyday way of living.
1. Take Action: Daily, Regularly, Steadily
No matter how many exquisite, unique and praise-worthy seeds you hold in your hand, if you do not plant them, they cannot sprout and grow. The seeds are your dreams, planting them is you taking action, learning how to best care for them, and doing so each and every day, season and year. Keep focused on what you want to grow, even if you don't see the small incremental progress because it is underground or happening in such a minuscule manner, trust that so long as you are saving your money, learning your trade or whatever daily tasks must be tended to, every day you are inching ever closer to the bountiful harvest you seek.
2. Become Self-Aware
The world in which each of us lives is ever-changing, and while it may be tempting to, once you've found a way of navigating life that works well, sit back and just relax, to do so stunts our growth. While our core being will not change, how we live within the world of which we do not have entire control is and forever will be. The best way to navigate it successfully is to be self-aware. In other words, come to learn how you are perceived within the world you reside. How do others respond and react to you? What is the reason for the reaction? Is it good or bad? Is what they perceive accurate? Can you improve, better clarify or improve ways of communication to exist more successfully?  (listen to episode #143 in which self-awareness is the topic)
3. Nurture What You Want to Grow
If you want more kindness, be kind to known and unknown individuals. If you want intelligent compassion, continue to learn and along the way be compassionate to those learning as well or encourage them to learn gently. If you want love, give love in ways that are comfortable for you. If you want respect, be thoughtfully respectful and live in such a way that you are proud. We are the farmers who plant the seeds, and so we do have choices everyday that will determine what we will see materialize tomorrow. More division or more understanding? Clear, thoughtful communication or name-calling? We have that choice.
4. Confront the Obstacles
In order to  grow, we cannot turn away from what scares us, what hurts us and what is holding us down from striving forward. What are you fearful of? Address it. Perhaps with a trained professional (counselor) so that you have the net of objective support if the fear is too much to initially face alone. Is a loss preventing you from striking out again toward what you so loved having in your life. Confront it, embrace your feelings and do not judge yourself. If you are someone who regularly becomes jealous, dive deep into where the insecurity comes from. Address it, heal it, so you can move forward. Because you can if you confront the obstacles.
5. Strike a Balance and Protect It Fiercely
Quality work begets quality outcomes. Do not be tricked into believing you have to be working 24/7 week after week, month after month. It's not true. Yes, you may want results now, but don't you want quality results that will last? I have a feeling you do, and in that case, always make time, daily or weekly, for you, for play, for relaxation, for exploration, for no work. Protect it fiercely by learning to say no, especially to yourself. By doing so you are investing in the quality product you wish to materialize when the journey comes to an end.
6. Select the Crop's Components Thoughtfully
Do you have weeds in your life? In other words, naysayers, complainers, squashers of thinking beyond the box? Let them go. Weeding in your crop is necessary because if you don't, you choke out or reduce the potential of what you want to grow. You only have so much energy in any given day. If people regularly exhaust you, stress you out to the point where your thoughts are constantly swirling around what they will say or do, stop and reassess why you are allowing them a place in your field of life.
7. Refrain from Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking, as we've talked about before, promises what it cannot deliver. And upon letting it go you welcome more pleasure, more productivity and less stress. It's a win-win-win!
8. Observe Different Approaches to Living If An Aspect In Your Life Isn't Working
Is there something in your life that just isn't working? For example, have you not figured out how to successfully utilize technology in your life — you need it, but you look at your phone too much. Or maybe you can't figure out how to make time to exercise regularly. Seek out other individuals, other cultures, other anything to see what they do differently in any avenue in which you are finding isn't working in your life. When you travel for example, keep your eyes open as to how others live their everyday lives. There are so many approaches to living well, but the key is to know what you need to enable you to thrive. So long as you keep searching, what will work well for you will be discovered.
9. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a simple practice that aids us in recognizing how wealthy we actually are when it comes to living well. Food on the table, a warm house to enjoy the rainstorm that pounds on our windows while we sip a cup of tea, access to information and entertainment, choices beyond choices. If your schedule or daily routine has strayed away from keeping a gratitude journal or simply having time to sit and savor all that is going well in each day, perhaps usher it back into your life and you may just notice an improved quality in your thoughts and actions toward yourself and others as you go about your day.
10. Invest in Well-Being for Your Unique Self
Today's Petit Plaisir is an example of a small investment I made into my own well-being: knowledge about how to thrive as an introvert. For me this was a small, but powerful choice. The key for each of us is to continue to see our growth as a journey and to come to understand what enables us to be our best selves and reach our highest potential. The mission of this blog, TSLL, is to provide the tools that you need, have been searching for, and break them down so that you can apply them to your life as is best for you in your unique journey. Once you know how to nurture yourself well, you can do so for others and then the world at large. Because when we feel loved, when we feel understood and seen, most importantly by ourselves, we find a centering peace of mind that is the springboard to reach our dreams and savor a bountiful harvest. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Revel in October?

~10 Things I Love About Fall

~How to Attain Success

~7 Myths About Success

 

Petit Plaisirs:

~Clafoutis aux Poires
~The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World by Michaela Chung

Today's Sponsor for this week's episode is KIND Bars:

~Visit kindsnacks.com/tss to receive an exclusive free trial of their 10 bar variety pack and snack club (all you pay is shipping).  

Image: source

Direct download: 177Harvest.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #176
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

" . . . bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the hero of their own stories." —Reese Witherspoon at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards

~Spoiler Alert: The ending of Hallie Meyers-Shyer's new film Home Again will be shared. The power of a Hollywood script which makes it to the silver screen as well as to the small screen better known as our television sets is unconsciously more powerful than most viewers realize, especially younger viewers unaware of the biases, exigence and purpose of the writers and creators as well as producers. Novels as well must be sold to a publishing house, and if the publishers do not believe they will be able to sell the plot to readers, the manuscript isn't accepted. In other words what determines the plots that will eventually be published, produced and brought to consumers is what will sell. But the obvious flip-side is we need to become savvier consumers of entertainment. The good news is producers will listen to noticeable shifts. For example, in 2016 movie ticket sales indicated that the largest growth in sales was taking place with Latino moviegoers, as a result (or possibly, due to) films began offering more diversity in their casting than in previous years. I share this example because when Reese Witherspoon accepted the Emmy with the ensemble for Big Little Lies last weekend (she starred and was an executive producer of all seven episodes), I had to give her credit. She lives what she desires to be brought to the forefront in Hollywood films and series: women being the heroes in their own stories. For example, she started her own production company Pacific Standard with Australian producer Bruna Papandrea (Wild & Gone Girl), branched out on her own with Hello Sunshine, a digital media company and is bringing to the screen a few titles you might recognize Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Something in the Water. And as I shared in episode #174 of the podcast in my review of Home Again, a film produced by Nancy Meyers and written and directed by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, it was the ending of the movie which again revealed that Reese is indeed serious about changing the default in Hollywood that is long over-due for a change. Home Again, as she describes it in a recent interview with The New York Times, isn't a romantic comedy, but rather a modern comedy. A comedy in which, in this case, a woman becomes the hero of her own story. She doesn't end up with a man who saves her from a supposed life that is empty without one, rather her character Alice Witherspoon chooses to divorce her husband (not because he cheated and not because he was abusive) because their ways of living life, of making the most of the one journey they have the opportunity to live had strayed into two completely different directions. The love, the fondness was there, but it had changed. Her character sets boundaries, enjoys herself, supports her daughters, chases her dreams and creates a life of everyday moments that she savors on her own terms, not Hollywood's (well, in this case, yes, technically it is Hollywood, but she is now a part of Hollywood and so is Meyers-Shyer and they are changing what the definition of a happy ending). Recently a good friend of mine who is nearing forty (as I am as well) shared that all was well in her life except the missing piece - a man. And having just stepping out of a relationship, that I can honestly say I wasn't looking for but was delighted to have been in, a good life is determined by one and only one person, the person living it. I continue to urge readers and listeners to fall in love with their lives, to cultivate a life you enjoy living regardless of your relationship status because whether you are in a relationship or not, your issues, the hiccups you haven't dealt with will continue to bubble up, the stresses you haven't figured out how to handle, will continue to exacerbate and hinder you ability to savor the everyday goodness and the relationship skills you still need to polish will continue to seek your attention until you heed them whether in a relationship with a lover or a friend. I am not saying being loved and sharing love isn't an extraordinary experience. It absolutely is, but believing that our hero is someone other than ourselves to assuage our conjured up emptiness is a lie that we have accepted (man or woman), and depending up the known or unknown perpetuators of this life story line (Hollywood, novels, parents, church, school, etc.) and need to relinquish. Because I wholeheartedly not only believe, but can say to know as truth, everyday can be truly breath-taking with or without a partner. And the key is to be the hero of your own story.
How?
  • Find an outlet for your love: begin with yourself, and then with what is leftover choose from the following: a hobby, a passion project, a cause you believe in to your core, your pets, your career, your friends, your family, the world.
  • Strengthen your innate talents and deepen your passions.
  • Find others whom you trust to fill the gaps where you are weak (i.e. - a financial advisor, a trusted CPA, a fitness trainer, etc.)
  • Earn your own income
  • Be proactive. Strive daily toward your dreams. Stop waiting for opportunity plop into your lap. It's like a moving target, so get going.
  • Save for retirement beginning yesterday
  • Come to understand your limits and boundaries and speak up when they are crossed without apology
  • Learn to communicate effectively
  • Step up to the plate when needed and only 60%+ ready, not when everything is perfectly set up to do so (hint: it never will be and you will always be waiting)
  • Build other women up
  • Never judge another woman's life decision. Follow Amy Poehler's advice and simply quote when observing a life path taken by another woman that you wouldn't have chosen, "Good for her! Not for me."
  • Refuse to be talked down to whether by names (girl, boy, little lady, son (when you're not their son), sweetheart, etc.) or by limitations (assuming lack of knowledge or capability). Either address the issue if the relationship is necessary to keep or simply don't respond and walk away. Change in what will be tolerated won't change until we speak up in a manner that is calm and clear. If not for yourself, than for the women around you and those that will follow you.
  • Understand that setbacks are part of the journey, so stand back up and keep going. 
  • Remember Billie Jean King's quote, "Pressure is a privilege." Do something with your opportunity when given the chance.
  • Choose well and choose for you. As you come to trust your instincts, this will happen in small and big bursts throughout your journey, you will begin to know what is best for you. The better you know yourself, the quicker the decisions will be made.
  • Be courageous. Say yes to something you've never done before but that is on the trajectory of the journey you wish to be on to help you reach your goal. No matter how trepidatious you may be. You will come out on the other side realizing there was nothing to be afraid of, just the unknown. And now it's not unknown anymore.

"Once we belong thoroughly to ourselves and believe throughly in ourselves, true belonging is ours." —Brené Brown, from Braving the Wilderness

I want to end with mentioning of Brené Brown's new book because her book is a reminder of what type of courage is needed to be the hero of our own story. Stepping away from the city or place of comfort that is not serving us and toward the wilderness is terrifying initially, but as we step away from seeking the approval of others and head in the direction of the wilderness, the "first step will take your breath away". And as writer, pastor, philanthropist and community leader Jen Hatmaker is quoted saying in the book, the loneliest steps are the in between, but if you "stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness . . . you'll be shocked by how many people already live out there —thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging." Ultimately, if we can all just remember and live each day, who we are and what we can give to the world is our gift. "True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are."

~Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown~

  ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY FROM THE ARCHIVES: 

~Why Not . . . Be Brave? (episode #83)

~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability (episode #126)

~Growth is a Choice: 11 Ways to Grow Up (episode #101)

Petit Plaisir:

~French melon, Charentais, with paper-thin slices of prosciutto, sprinkled with a dash of flaky sea salt.
~click here for more pictures and details about the melon and the recipe.   ~The sponsor for today's episode was KIND Bars. Visit kindsnacks.com/tss to receive an exclusive free trial of their 10 bar variety pack and snack club (all you pay is shipping).    

Image from the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards

SaveSaveSaveSave Download the Episode
Direct download: 176BeYourOwnHero.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #175
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"How you eat, when you eat, for how long you eat, and with whom you eat might be more important than what you eat. Eating and enjoying real food is what matters, not tracking calories." —Johnny Adamic

As reported by Time magazine last year, while the United States unfortunately has been found to describe  34% of its population as obese, France is ten percentage points fewer. The British Journal of Nutrition observed that a significant type of diet that was contributing to the obesity epidemic in the U.S. was what they coined as the "sweet and processed" diet, in other words foods such as "skim milk, fruit juice, breakfast cereal, chocolates . . ." Much of how we approach food is based on the culture in which we were raised and most directly, the household habits in which we live as a child. However, the food producers and advertisers, especially in America (as you will see below) chose to exploit the health of their consumer in order to gain profits, and thus our parents or grandparents may have fell prey to welcoming into our childhood unhealthy food tastes. As shared in The Guardian, "All the foods that you regularly eat are ones you learned to eat" and the good news is since your choices were learned, you can learn new choices and unlearn the habits that do not suit a healthy body, mind and lifestyle. I was recently speaking to a family who had just returned from a month long visit in Italy. Sitting down to listen to them share their experiences with regards to dining and the appreciation for food and the portions served reminded me of why I appreciate the French, and as evident in their anecdote, the Italian culture as well. Food is to be appreciated, embraced and seen as a component in how to live well. While food may not be the absolute centerpiece of our lives, it is indeed a crucial component and to ignore such an everyday avenue to experience pleasure in the short-term and a healthy long life throughout the duration of our long lives is to be ignorant of the gift food can bring. Today I'd like to share with you 14 ways the French approach eating and welcoming food into their lives as a way to enrich each of our appreciation and experience with the daily detail we all balance, experience and need.
1. Step away from sugar at breakfast
As a child I can remember having boxes of cereal in one of our kitchen shelves; however, my mom was careful to limit us to Cheerios and Shredded Wheat. I quickly became aware of the more sugar laden options when staying at friends homes for sleep-overs and so when my mom would on special occasions let us purchase a sugary option, it was always Frosted Flakes. But I do applaud my mom for being cognizant of the sugar content in our morning routine. Since then, I eat the same breakfast nearly each morning as I shared in this post and the only sweet component is the local honey which is why I found it eye-opening that as shared in Michael Moss's book Salt, Sugar, Fat  "the sweet breakfast was an invention of the cereal manufacturers in the middle of the last century". With each year I teach rhetoric to my high school juniors, the more and more parallels I see to not only determining the intention of writers, speakers, and advertisers, but in companies as well. In the case mentioned above, why are those breakfast cereal ads propositioning kids rather than parents? Perhaps because a savvy parent realizes what a child should be eating. My larger point is, rather than make choices of what advertisers would like to sell you or what is the trend in the food world, come to understand what your body needs. Healthy can absolutely make you happy, not artificially so as a sugary cereal will for a short moment and then leave you high and dry before the day has hardly begun.
2. Mind your portions
Recently I reviewed the newly established French Market here in Bend, and one of the reasons I enjoyed my experience as well as the owner and chef's approach to food was the smaller portion sizes. Each time I have dined there, my plate has been cleaned as if the chef knew exactly how much I needed to satiate my palate due to the delectable flavors. Ironically, the local newspaper just shared their review of the restaurant and one of the negatives they shared in their commentary was the small portions. Needless to say, I wholeheartedly disagree. Part of the reason portion sizes have grown in the United States is the food we eat doesn't truly satiate our palate. If food is fresh, well-cooked, seasoned well with herbs and spices as well as salt and pepper (before, not after it is cooked), as well as not smothered in sugary sauces or tasty, yet teasing fried batter, we don't need as much. And neither do we need doggie bags. Géraldine Lepere shared in her interview on the podcast (episode #169) that the need for a doggie bag is a poor reflection on the planning of the kitchen. In other words, when you come to a restaurant for dinner, you are coming for one meal, not dinner and lunch tomorrow, and so the goal is to give you what you need to feel satisfied and satiated in that moment, and no more. As well, the bottom-line of the restaurant is better able to invest in quality ingredients that will satiate their customer's taste buds rather than in cheap processed ingredients.
3. Welcome traditions that work
While not all traditions are worth keeping (ahem, look to #1 - walk away from the sugary cereals), some most definitely are when it comes to food. For example tea and a small treat (savory or sweet) in the afternoon if you are in England, and eating a large lunch rather than a large dinner as is more commonly practiced in France. Why? In each scenario, the body's needs are heeded without going to excess. As well, each tradition involves sitting down, savoring and fully experiencing the food and the company.
4. Mindfully eat
The habit of being aware of what you are eating, savoring the flavors and the preparation enables you to notice when food is indeed delicious and when it is not (stop eating in such cases). As well, being mindful helps to slow down the eating process and allow time for your physiology to recognize when the body is naturally full.
5. Food is the common denominator not the main attraction

"For France, a meal is a very particular moment, in which you share pleasure, the food as well as the conversation." —nutritionist Dr Francoise L'Hermite

While indeed food is an art of its own in France, it is not the reason alone you sit down to enjoy the combination of flavors and seasonal ingredients. Rather the food enlivens the celebration and the moment of time spent with friends, family and even strangers depending upon the situation. In so many ways, food is the common ground regardless of culture, belief or age, and what a powerful common denominator to spark conversation and help recognize that we have more in common than not.
6. Select quality again and again and again

"They know that quality food means pleasure in the short-term and health in the long-term." via Empowered Sustenance

Flavor matters. If you taste a fresh locally grown strawberry that has been sun kissed by the warm summer heat, you don't gobble down the entire garden's worth. Rather you share and perhaps make a tart or a short-cake or a parfait to heighten the appreciation and share with those around you. When food is top quality, we don't need much of it. And when the quality has been selected, we want to slow down and savor it, reminding our bodies to slow down as well.
7. Lose the negative descriptors of delicious food
Guilty pleasures, sinful bites, naughty concoctions. To label food in such a way is to lessen the moment of pleasure we can have when we take the first bite of dark chocolate mousse. Last month I had the opportunity to have dinner at the French restaurant in Portland I have fallen in love with, Coquine. After a lovely, seasonally perfected three course meal, upon paying our bill and to be enjoyed as we returned to our Airbnb, we received a hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie with smoked almonds rolled in caramel and finished with sea salt (here's the recipe). I did not feel once ounce of guilt. I ate that cookie so slowly, with eyes closed and chocolate melting on my fingers that in that moment great pleasure was indeed experienced. The difference is quantity, and again, proportion plays a role. A savvy chef will make food for people, real humans who have a waistline and wish to keep it, but at the same time also want to taste delicious food. In other words, the piece of chocolate at night will not ruin your diet. In fact, if it is quality chocolate (preferably dark), with 60% or more cacao, it will help your overall health. Eat away (just one though, but that is all your tastebuds will want).
8. Take your time
Eating while you drive, while you walk, while you work, while you do anything else besides talking with your dinner companions prevents not only the opportunity to be mindful of what you are eating but also the ability for your body to recognize when it is full. Again food is a significant component in our lives as we cultivate a way of life that is full of quality and appreciation and beautiful moments. And while food isn't the center, it shouldn't be looked at as a boorish necessity to fuel us.
9. Prepare real food, eschew processed and invented foods
Another difference in the French approach to eating versus American and even English cultures is how often we cook our own meals. When we make our own meals, we are aware of what we are eating. And when we are aware of what we are eating, we can choose to cook with food that will heighten the quality of our life rather than inundate us with, for example, constant additions of sugar. As my palette matures and I begin to seek out natural flavors and appreciation of seasonal produce, I find myself noticing sugar in food that has no need for it such as thus choosing to refrain from eating it or seeking out more healthy options (such as Portlandia Foods' organic ketchup).
10. Make the visit to the market an enjoyable ritual
One of my bi-weekly routines is visiting the farmers market (when the seasons permit) and my favorite grocery stores (seen below is my visit last week to Trader Joe's - flowers are always on my list). I truly enjoy bopping into the store with my canvas bag with my list in tow and being part of the community experience of choosing food to fuel my life and savor each day. Such a concept may at first sound frivolous, but we don't enjoy our everyday routines, what are we enjoying? Life is made up of countless conscious and unconscious routines. Why not make as many as you can as enjoyable as you can?
11. Good fat is good for you
Yes, many have questioned the French Paradox (eat seemingly food such as cheese, chocolate and drink wine, yet still stay healthy and thin), but while their obesity rate has inched up due to outside influences (namely the United States' marketing campaigns for processed foods), they continue to eat differently by and large. In fact, 89% of the 2600 French people studied in the British Journal of Nutrition reported eating full fat cheeses. Why? Satiation occurs and the boy seeks out less food to feel full. As shared by Lisa Sasson, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition at New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and a registered dietitian, is “The magic of the French diet, for example, is they still eat whole foods and eat more vegetables than we do. Yes, real food. Not fat free cheese.”
12. Keep it simple and eat the basics, just keep it real
I was recently listening to an episode of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Kitchen, and a great piece of advice was shared about how to learn how to cook well: Master 10-15 recipes you love and learn them by heart. I do agree with this piece of advice, and I also have found that if you master the basic concepts of fundamental recipes (how to create the aromatics for a savory dish, how to roast vegetables, how to make pesto, how to create a basic sauce, etc.) you can then play with these skills and use the ingredients you have on any given day. Part of the reason I made this list for TSLL Épicerie (episode #109) was so long as you have these ingredients on hand at all times, you will be able to make any basic recipe at any given time, regardless of the season (all you have to do is add the freshest seasonal ingredients you find at the market). Knowing how to cook a simple chicken breast so that it is flavorful and moist is a dish you can make again and again and again, changing the flavors up each time and pairing with the freshest vegetable in season.
13. Enjoy wine as a partner to elevate the meal
14. Feeling hungry is not bad for you
Last but not least, the French do not snack (unless you are a child and then after school at around 3 or 4 the children enjoy their le gouter). Allowing yourself to feel hungry, not starving, not famished so as to be fatigued, but hungry is a good sign. In fact, when I wake up in the morning, I hope I do feel hungry as it means my body is ready to eat rather than just eat because it is time to enjoy petit déjeuner. How can you ensure you won't become hungry too soon? Eat well when you do sit down for your meals. Eat well-balanced, yet satiating food. Enjoy eating, take your time and be aware of what you are eating and let go of feeling guilting about eating. An important part of the process of developing eating habits that work for us and feed our bodies well is to pay attention to how the food we eat makes us feel. Case in point, at Coquine, with a brioche shrimp toast as an appetizer, poached Monterey Bay squid and Black Cod (two dishes for two people) for the entrées and Benne Seed Pavlova for dessert, I wasn't full, but I was absolutely satisfied (and the cookie to enjoy on the walk home, as mentioned above, added a sweet punctuation of deliciousness to finish the night). The flavors were thoughtful, and the evening was memorable due to the company, the ambiance of decor and fellow guests as well as the knowledgable the wait-staff.

~the entrées at Coquine, as described in the above text~

Fearing food is to fear life. Food is what gives us life or if thoughtlessly approached, is what can shorten our lives. Why not discover the basic tenets of good eating (see below for posts to get you started or to reaffirm what you already know) and come to understand the simply luxurious approach to food which is inspired by the French: quality over quantity and never deprivation, only moderation. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Learn How to Cook?

~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

~Why Not . . . Keep It Simple in the Kitchen?

~10 Simple Ways to Live Healthier

 

Petit Plaisir:

~The Earful Tower podcast
  • Subscribe on iTunes here
  • View my review of The Earful Tower podcast here
  ~Read or Listen to past French-Inspired podcast episodes of The Simple Sophisticate below: ~Episode #4 - 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile ~Episode #32 - The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials ~Episode #144 - 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday Routine ~Episode #157 - Liz Burgerol of The Hot Sardines shares her thoughts on the differences between the French and American cultures SaveSave SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave SaveSave
Direct download: 175frenchfood.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #174
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
At the age of eleven, now U.S. Tennis Open Champion Sloane Stephens' mom was told by one of the directors at the tennis academy she was attending "that [she'd] be lucky if [she] was a Division II player and I got a scholarship". She didn't believe them. Her mom didn't believe them and now she is only the third woman (which includes the Williams sisters) to win the US Open in the past 15 years. Attaining quality, achieving quality isn't easy and it isn't given out for free. But when we choose to consciously select quality, the experience, the journey and then the outcomes rise in their awesomeness. I've been thinking a lot about quality over the past few weeks, and after years of curating a life built on a foundation of quality, habituating my routines that bring much joy and fulfillment, it has become easier to discern when non-quality events, people, items, etc. cross my path.

"Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company." —Booker T. Washington

The benefits are many when we choose to welcome quality into our lives in all arenas of our life. Such benefits can be as grand as achieving one of the highest pinnacles in the tennis profession as Sloane Stephens or they can be as simple as keeping all of your fingers in tact. Let's take a look at twelve benefits of seeking out and selecting quality in all aspects of our daily life.
1. All fingers remain in tact
As I mentioned above, it only takes the use of an unsharpened or poor quality knife to appreciate a top-knotch slicing and dicing tool. As I shared in this post about the 15 Kitchen Tools to Cook Anything Like a Pro, a sharp, top quality knife is a must. Do not skimp and save on a knife for the sake of having a knife in your kitchen. Your fingers will thank you.
2. Priceless time is saved
Case in point, I give myself my own pedicure every couple of weeks. Using the nail polish remover from a quality brand, the polish is immediately removed. Having, while traveling, used a generic brand, the time it took to remove the polish was absurd. As I flip over the container to see what the main ingredients are, I discover that the ingredient at the top of list was water. Well, no wonder. I just used a product that was doing nearly the job that running my toenails under water would do - nothing. My experience is trivial compared to so many other purchases we make that appear to be saving us money, but in the long run waste our time and effectiveness. In this case, simply paying a few dollars more would have saved me time, wear and tear on my nails and limited my frustration. While not all generic brands are inferior, always check the label to see what the ingredients are to determine if you are indeed buying a similar product.

“There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey.”  ― John Ruskin

3. Unnecessary stress is avoided
When we choose quality products for safety supplies, the vehicles we drive, the homes we live in, the neighborhoods we call home, the flight itineraries we travel, the stress decreases. While it may not entirely go away and while we need to make the best choices for the details of which we have control, we put much in our favor by choosing well and not skimping merely to save a dollar.
4. Deeper, more restful sleep is experienced
When we do what is best, when we refrain from doing what is merely easy, we give ourselves the ability to sleep more deeply. When our minds are not wrestling with unnecessary stress and worry, we sleep more deeply.
5. Experience the vast wonders of the world more deeply
When we seek out experiences of substance, people of substance and tools and knowledge to help us better understand beyond the surface level what is going on in the world, what went on in the world and what could go on in the world, we give ourselves the gift of deeper, more fulfilling experiences, memories and opportunities for self-growth and self-reflection.
6. Reach your full potential
We can settle for what is working okay, what is livable, what is just fine, but if we have a deep passion for something, if we can see something others cannot when it comes to possibilities, a quality of life that is possible requires us to not simply be satisfied with what others say is our limitation. We are actually the only limitation that stands in our way, and often when others tell us to stop, we use it as an excuse. We blame someone else for stopping us from achieving what we once thought we could. No. Remember Sloane Stephens and her mother, and if you believe you can do more, be more, ignore the limitation setters and keep on striving forward in order to see with your own eyes what you truly can become.
7. Deepen your trust in mankind
It has been my experience that when I bring into my life quality individuals, my trust in humanity deepens. I begin to see the amazing people who live and breathe in this world along with me and realize we are all, should we choose to be, full of love, dreams and goodness. It can seem simpler to choose to be cynical, protective and isolated after having experienced negative situations, but not all people wish to hurt. In fact, even those who have hurt are not bad people oftentimes. As Morrie Schwartz reminds, hurt people hurt people. Understanding this truth doesn't mean you should stay or surround yourself with hurt people who hurt you, but hopefully it will give you some understanding that it isn't about you and you need to walk away and surround yourself with one or two or three of the many amazingly loving, kind and trustworthy people who reside in our grand old world, thus improving the quality of your life.
8. The odds lean in your favor
Similarly when you choose to seek out quality and let go of the contrary, windows and then gradually doors begin to open in your favor. What you seek you find, often in ways you never could have planned, but if you believe there is good, if you trust that goodness abounds, you will find it, just as those who believe that people are not good and the world cannot be trusted will find it as well. So long as we have more people seeking the former, the goodness grows. Seek out goodness, be goodness and select a quality way of living modeling for others that such a way of life is indeed possible.
9. Optimal health
From the quality food we select, eating what is in season, reducing or eliminating processed foods, treating our bodies well, we amp up the healthy quotient in our lives and deepened the experiences we can have indoors, outdoors and everywhere in between.

"We eat every day, and if we do it in a way that doesn't recognize value, it's contributing to the destruction of our culture and of agriculture. But if it's done with a focus and care, it can be a wonderful thing. It changes the quality of your life." —Alice Waters

10. Elevate others around you
Related to #8, when we model living a life of quality, letting go of the negativity, hurtful ideologies, the isolationist mentality and nay-sayers, we reveal to those around us that choosing such a way of life, a life of optimism, hope, love and strength is indeed the means to living a most contented life. Sight is stronger than words, modeling is stronger than telling and when we have the courage to say no to what no longer feeds us, loves us, nurtures us, and step down a new path that we may not know how to travel well but that feels more accepting, more loving and more authentic and human, we will begin to see ourselves rise, our moods improve, our health improve, and thus the quality of our lives improve. That is inspiring to anyone paying attention, and that is what it takes to elevate those around you.
11. A mind available to be creative, loving and problem solving.
When we no longer are consumed with unnecessary worry if what we've paid for or invested in works or if the people we've chosen to welcome into our lives are trustworthy, we have a mind that is free to explore exciting new avenues. From being creative, to problem solving what may have seemed impossible to coming up with fun ways to spend time with your loved ones, our minds are in need of constant fuel to be energized, why drain it with what it doesn't need to process?

“The quality of your life is a function of the quality of the thinking you have done.”  ― Pearl Zhu

12. Elevate the world you live in
Taking in the above 11 benefits, as our lives rise because our everydays become healthy, inspiring, and pointed in a direction that enables us to reach our full potential, those around us rise as well and ultimately, it can be a domino effect. None of us will probably ever know all of the people we can influence with our actions. Why not make the influence a positive one? One of selecting quality thoughts, behaviors, and people. Because when we reward what we desire and long for, we will begin to see more of it. However, if we spend more time dwelling on what we do not want, we actually give it more bandwidth that it deserves.

"Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se." —Charles Eames

Instead of dreading how long your life will be, why no focus on making sure that everyday day is one full of quality. For it is "the quality of life [that] is more important than life itself". Alexis Carrel certainly has a point. If we are living but not well, just enduring, protecting and hoping we don't get hurt, worrying about what might happen and not being present, appreciating all that is well, such a life is not much fun to live. And the catch really is, if someone has only know the latter life, they may have a hard time trusting the former is a possibility. But it is. It most absolutely is. And when they see someone model that fact, that is when they may just begin to make the positive changes of living a life of quality. Why not be the model they've been looking for? The model the world has been looking for? The model you need in your life today and as you move forward each and every day?   ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Elevate the Quality of What You Consume?

~Why Not . . . Purchase Quality Worth the High Price Tag?

~Why Not . . . Live a Life of Quality?

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Home Again
  • starring Reese Witherspoon, directed and written by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, produced by Nancy Meyers (of It's Complicated, Baby Boom, Something's Got To Give, The Holiday, etc.)
  • The house in which the movie was filmed plays a large role. Located in Brentwood in 1929, it was once owned by Cindy Crawford and was featured in Elle Decor in 2002. You can see a plethora of pictures and details at Cote de Texas who wrote a wonderful spotlight post on the house.
  ~My review of The Intern (written & directed by Nancy Meyers), episode #63 https://youtu.be/y-oFOgFB2uM
Direct download: 174Benefitsquality_-_91017_3.55_PM.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #173
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” —Oprah Winfrey's mission statement

The first time I sat down to write my personal mission statement after reading Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it took some time. I was in my early twenties, and while I had what I thought was a very clear vision, when I had to put it on paper, concretely define my values, I realized this wasn't something I had done. Loosely I knew what I valued, but I had never examined why; however, upon tasking myself with the goal of completing a mission statement, I reread and reread what I wrote observing a succinct, pointed direction I was to travel. After about 10 years, I began to tweak and fine-tune even further what my personal mission statement, and when TSLL blog began in 2009, it wasn't long before I had a mission statement for it as well (see it below or here)
The Simply Luxurious Life is something I believe every one of us can attain if indeed we are seeking quality rather than quantity, sensibility rather than frivolity, personal style instead of trendy fashion and a truly fulfilling life instead of being led around by the nose, thereby creating a life of true contentment."
The benefit of having a personal as well as professional mission statement is a means to clarify your purpose for walking the path, traveling the journey, you are on. In last week's episode, in point #5, I shared a list of questions as a way to help ensure we know why we are doing what we are doing. When it comes to a mission statement, we are required to become aware of what we value and what we do not. Franklin-Covey has an online tool to help you clearly and quite specifically narrow down what you do and do not value. I encourage you to check it out as it will help you create a mission statement to guide you through your days, focus on what truly drives you through life and help you relinquish what is no longer serving you and ultimately society's way of leading you around by the nose. Another source of inspiration is Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. Described as a Happiness Manifesto, the concept is similar, yet slightly different with regards to a personal mission statement. However the goal is to lead you to your true contentment which is exactly what creating your mission statement will do. How? By keeping you on the right track, assisting in making decisions by eliminating options that do not align with what you value, creating a vision and providing an anchor when change around you inevitably happens. Crafting my own personal mission statement is something I have just recently redone as a new stage feels like it is beginning. As I reflect on where I want to go, knowing how I arrived at where I am is helpful as well. So where do we begin? Begin simply. 1. Clarity about what you welcome into your life: What do you value? What do you not value? 2. Self-knowledge: When do you feel at your best? your worst? What are your strengths? What causes you pain? 3. Work: What aspects/tasks/responsibilities do you love? dislike? 4. Behavior: What behavior are you drawn to and most admire and appreciate in others? What behavior are you most proud of in yourself? 5. Dreams for the future: What do you hope your legacy will be? What is the biggest, most frequent dream you have about your life that refuses to leave your mind? 6. Well-Being: What physical, mental, social and spiritual activities renew, refresh and return you to your best? Key components:
  • Be clear: more concrete, less abstract or general (view The Smithsonian's Mission Statement for examples of specificity)
  • Be succinct: fewer words are better (see Oprah's example above)
  • Add your personality: write with your voice (i.e. Ben & Jerry's mission statement: “Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way”)
  • Be inspired: write something that prompts you to take action each time you read it (Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth.com: “To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.”)
One of the most significant take-aways for me when I began with the structure provided by Franklin-Covey, but then tweaked it after reading Gretchen Rubin's design was to be okay with not achieving everything. Why? What I realized was that much of what I wanted to achieve was because I thought I had to. In other words, there were some goals I was focused on that I wasn't passionate about but perhaps would be applauded by the outside world. One suggestion Rubin makes is to focus on what you do well and strengthen your talents rather than dilute the finite energy you have as you spread yourself thin to learn every skill you have the opportunity to acquire. One of the directives in my mission statement is included in Rubin's statement as well and states, "Do more of what I can do uniquely and less of what others can do." Ultimately, that is the power of a mission statement: It focuses your attention on what you can do well and enables you to reach your fullest potential and experience true contentment as you realize what you are capable of achieving.  Find an afternoon at some point this week or weekend and partake in the process of creating your own mission statement. Initially it may be a struggle, but eventually, the clarity will arrive and you will be quickly writing down what you know to be true for you and you uniquely. Then write it out neatly after a few edits or days of contemplation and perhaps, if you're like me, laminate it and post it somewhere to be viewed regularly (mine is in my office pinned to my wall calendar). What you will have crafted is in written form your purpose. Should you forget, should life begin to whisk by too quickly, find a moment to catch your breath, read your mission statement and be reminded of what truly matters to you. In many ways our mission statement gives us permission to let go or to step in a direction that may not make sense to others at the time. But so long as you know why you are doing what you are doing, do what you need to do. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Find Your Purpose?

~What Will Your Purpose Be?

~Why Not . . . Discover Your Purpose? (3 part series)

 

Petit Plaisir: 

~The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act by Alex Prud'homme

~Image shared originally on TSLL's Instagram~

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Direct download: 173MissionStatement.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #172
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"For me, style is zee whole package: how you dress, talk, move and behave. It all goes together into that first-impression equation. It shouldn't be confused with chic; an extremely chic or well-dressed woman may have zero sense of style. Style is definitely more about who the person is inside. Confidence and individuality are two strong assets for developing your personal style. Can it be taught? To a certain extent, yes, but at the end of the day it has to do a lot with being bien dans sa peau, knowing thyself and having balance in one's life." —Mireille Guiliano, Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire

With a new season of clothing and a new season at work as we all return from rest and relaxation, some of us from travels, some of us simply from a lighter schedule or at least different one as we work with everyone else's change of schedules during the summer months. As is the case, the shift provides an opportunity to reassess, restructure, edit and start fresh or press restart. Mireille Guiliano is often a woman I look to for inspiration when it comes to living well and finding success in a career in equal proportion. In her book Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire, she speaks to the goal of attaining one's unique style and therefore presence as we go about our work days, meeting potential clients, customers or fellow colleagues. Inspired by the quote above, I created my own list of prepping for September as I too will be heading back into my teaching schedule and always am I re-examining how to refine my way of living to elevate the quality as summer ends and fall begins. So often summer provides an opportune time to reflect, recharge, reassess what is and isn't working and come to the end of August with ideas. Let's take a look at six ways to refine your Style:
1. Select and keep quality
As was discussed last Thursday with Helen Raptis on AM Northwest regarding curating a Capsule Wardrobe, when we welcome quality we save ourselves time and money in the long run as well as elevate our confidence as we have selected items that work best with our bodies and lifestyle. As well, selecting quality comes into play when we select our words, select the food we enjoy, select the people we welcome into our inner circle, select how we spend our free time. I will admit I need my television show GGTD on Bravo from time to time to unwind and just tune out, but I also have a news magazine to read, PBS saved as one of my favorite channels and a book offering knowledge I hadn't yet absorbed. Today, examine your life. Where is the quality and what is standing in its way? What feeds you in a way that lifts you up, reinvigorates you and cultivates enthusiasm to live and live well? Sometimes things, people, ways of thinking enter our mind over a period of time, months, etc. that as we contemplate them, do not serve us well. It's hard to notice at first because it's gradual, but over time, we can compare the before and after and recognize a decline in the quality of our energy, excitement, hope, health or anything that we wish to strengthen. Look where you feel depleted and ask why. Often the answer is to eliminate something that is no longer acting in a way that is elevating the quality of your life and unfortunately minimizing it.
2. Be honest about your body
As Mireille reminds in her book, nobody's body is perfect. Nobody's. But often we berate ourselves for not being what we hope we might look like. Find what you love about your physique. If you notice something you can improve that would enhance your health, create a plan and approach to make the changes you seek; otherwise and/or in the meantime, adorn your body so that you love what you wear and therefore you radiate a self-confidence that is inviting and engaging. Tweaking your capsule wardrobe closet will take time, but add one quality blouse that works with at least two other items you already have will give you two more outfits that make you look and feel your best. ~On Friday September 1st, TSLL Fall 2017 Shopping Guide will go live here on the blog.
3. Own your style and celebrate the uniqueness of others
As I shared in this post a few months ago, our signature style will continue to evolve. However, upon knowing and feeling confident in the style you have chosen for your body, lifestyle and personality, you can step into each morning with confidence and celebrate, rather than mimic or feel envious of others'. I admire Meghan Markle's style on USA's Suits. Her slim frame, just-below-the-knee pencil skirts and neatly tucked cashmere sweaters. And while I draw inspiration for ideas on what to pair with my signature style, I celebrate her physique and recognize I have a more muscular frame. The beauty of loving your own style is that you are more open and celebratory of others not only in what they wear, but what they do. We liberate ourselves from unnecessary loss of energy when we do not dwell on what we aren't but rather embrace what we are and what we know we can be as we look for inspiration.
4. Find time to be well
Your life requires healthy fuel in order for you to reach your optimal potential. Such healthy fuel comes in the form of a restful, deep night's sleep in a bed that beckons, cuddles and restores you; a mind that is given the tools to understand how to let go of what is not helpful; a day, each day, that is given time to breathe, moments to step away from expectations and catch your breathe, gather the proper perspective and return anew; exercise that excites, reduces stress and strengthens and cares for your body; ideas, art, information that broadens your mind and deepens your understanding of your role in it; and moments to engage with others in a way that is healthy, loving, playful and kind. As well, knowing what activities you can engage in that will reduce your stress when you find yourself overwhelmed is a tool to learn as there will be days when the unexpected happens.
5. Clarify your journey
Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you living the way you are living? What do you hope to cultivate in your everydays and in your future by going about your precious 24 hours the way you do? Are you spending your money in a way that supports your goals? Are you spending time working on projects that are meaningful to you and align with the person you know you are? Even if you already have your goals set, take a moment and check in. Sometimes simply by seeing how we are progressing, we can be jumpstarted as we see how close we are to our goals.
6. Believe in a better tomorrow, savor today
No matter how wonderful or perhaps frustrating life may be right now, tomorrow has the potential to be beautifully bright. The key is how we approach our everydays. Have we cleared out the clutter and the weight that is holding us down, draining our energy and preventing us from being energized? If so, toss it and welcome the quality. What is our attitude? Do we need a mindset reboot? If so, seek out experts and books to help give you tools to reframe how you gaze at life.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” —Dhammapada, by Thomas Byrom

Most importantly, is to recognize the beauty in the day you have right now. What is going well? Are you healthy? Are your loved ones healthy? As I type, Norman snores rhythmically and Oscar is snuggle by my side, the beautiful sky is calm with a hint of a breeze and there is food in the refrigerator. Maybe my heart is broken and maybe yours is too at this very moment, but there is so much to find goodness within if only we take time to look. Tomorrow will be better, but today can be quite sweet if we shift our perspective.   How we approach our days is the determining factor in the quality of our everydays. I consider those who have figured out how go about their days in such a way, style masters. It doesn't mean life won't throw them a curveball, it doesn't mean their clothing choices won't change as they move through the decades, but it does mean they adapt, stay centered, remain positive and resilient understanding the tools that are needed to be honed and strengthened always at the ready to be used to enhance the quality of their lives. My wish for you is that September begins on a most solid and sound footing. A beginning that offers hope, excitement and a beautiful fresh breath of goodness to savor and multiple as you appreciate what you have and radiate that goodness to those around you. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Gradually Prep for La Rentrée?

~September Back-to-School/Work Checklist

~Why Not . . . Savor the Last Days of Summer?

 

Petit Plaisir:

Chamomile Flowers
Recently while stopping into my local Trader Joe's, I picked up a bundle of Chamomile flowers (see below - bottom left of the image). I was delighted as I hadn't seen such a flower in the store before and found the subtle scent ideal for the summer home decor. For fewer than five dollars, I picked it up and have been enjoying the bouquet in my house for over 10 days now. And the goodness of the Chamomile just gets better. As many of you know, I enjoy a cup of black tea at the end of the day, and if I haven't enjoyed dessert, a dark chocolate truffle. However, I know that not everyone can tolerate caffeinated tea before bed, so I wanted to suggest Chamomile tea and the recipe to make your own at home. With either dried (2 tablespoons) or fresh (4 tablespoons), make tea as you normally would. As you will read in the article linked below for the recipe, while not all health benefits have been scientifically proven or confirmed in recent decades, these health benefits include aid in reducing an upset stomach, anxiety, and even a way of promoting sleep. ~recipe for Chamomile Tea (fresh or dried flowers) ~TSLL Audio Book is Now Available ~View and Listen to more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here. Download the Episode
Direct download: 172Style.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #171
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Introverts are finding their voice, and one author and blogger who is helping to make this possible is Jenn Granneman. With her new book which was just released on August 1st, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World and her internationally enjoyed blog Introvert, Dear, she shares the science, conversations with multiple introverts as well the insights gained from sitting down with researchers in the study of the brain to share the secrets of introverts. Having her on the podcast was a treat as I, as well, self-identify as an introvert. And what was I appreciated was the focus to celebrate on what each of our gifts our, which is something she talks about as well. I do hope you'll tune in.
The Book: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman
Jenn's blog: Introvert, Dear
Other books mentioned on this episode: ~The Introvert's Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D. (Author)   ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, episode #68 ~Why Not . . . Enjoy Being an Introvert? SPONSOR of today’s episode: KIND bars ~To pick up a free sample box, go to KindSnacks.com/tss ~Join the Snack Club
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Direct download: 171JennGranneman4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #170
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

{As always, I encourage you to listen to the audio version as much more is talked about beyond the transcript below: more anecdotes, examples and ideas about how this episode is really about enjoying our time alone whether we are coupled or single.}

Having lived on my own most of my adult life, but significantly so these past five years, without hesitation I can say, I've loved every minute. Some people scoff in disbelief, but it was this time alone (not being lonely) that enabled me to cultivate my dreams and gradually turn them into my reality. Even if you are not single at this moment, I would encourage you to listen/read this post because the more we understand any individuals choice, the more at peace we can be with our own. Inspired by Mari Andrew's recent illustration on Instagram synchronized with the return of my partner who has been working abroad for nearly six months, I have been contemplating the single life and then the life one shares with a partner significantly more than I have in the past. In many ways, I have felt single these past 5-6 months with regards to how I go about my days; however, my heart is partially here in Bend and partially where he was temporarily working which meant my mind as well as my scheduling in order to communicate, definitely did not feel single. But as he returns home, I am grateful. Of course, most importantly grateful for his return, but as well, grateful for the time I had being single and the fact that I sincerely savored these past five years. As I mentioned in 2011 in this post, and went more in-depth in TSLL book, being single is a beautiful opportunity; not something to run from. But rather directly into, embracing every moment. In fact, in my case, I wholeheartedly agree with Elizabeth Gilbert's quote,

"Avoid romantic entanglements in your youth and focus on yourself. The amount of hours of time I spent with boys and men that I could have been ... I could speak fluent Mandarin now in the amount of hours I spent . . . I wish that I had spent those youthful years just feeding this mind." 

It was my twenties with regards to love, which I have shared in my first book that I wish my focus, my priorities, due to societal expectation and pressure and due to my ignorance until I rid myself of that ignorance, had been on myself and my journey, which is what being single (no matter what your age) enables you to do at a much deeper and more independent level. Let's talk about the luxuries of being single and demystify the derogatory notion that being single is a stigma. This stigma has been loosening its grip a bit as fewer women (53%, 18 or older are not married) are married than those that are single in the United States according to a 2015 US Census Report. And of all people 18 or older, 45% are not married. However, the media, communities and the online dating businesses would prefer if you sought out a partner to wed. After all, there is money to be made if you feel you are missing out. You will subscribe to their services, you will purchase their products in order to enhance what we all know doesn't need enhancing (you are enough just as you are), you will fork over money for weddings. Now, I am not advocating for single life and against being married, but I am jumpstarting a conversation about where the pressure to marry is coming from. If it coming from a sincere love and affection for your partner and they for you, beautiful. Dive in. But if the pressure is coming from an external force, inflicting guilt that you wouldn't feel if society didn't apply the pressure or expectation, then step back and recognize how luxurious living single can be. Neither lifestyle is better than the other, single or coupled or married. We each make it simply luxurious based on how we structure our days, our time, our thoughts, our conversations and our priorities. But today, I want to pay homage to a lifestyle that has served me very well and a way of living that provided a haven for my dreams to materialize.
1. Fleshing out your dreams
Since I mentioned it in the introduction, I wanted to start with this benefit of being single: you figure out what you truly want. As you go about your life as a single person, you have the time to listen to yourself, focus on yourself without balancing your pursuit with another's. And upon coming to better understand yourself, you begin to navigate a journey that leads you to new experiences, new people that are more in alignment with what you value, whether they will become a future business partner, a new client or a life partner potentially.
2. A trust in yourself is strengthen beyond expectation
As Mari mentions in her illustration, I couldn't agree more. You begin to recognize how resourceful you actually are, perhaps more than you realized. Need to know how to handle a-locked-out-of-the apartment/house situation? You've done that, figured out a plan B for the next time that it happens, and brought yourself peace of mind in the process. Need to tighten your budget to save up for that dream of investing in your business? You've done that, been disciplined and found out you could live without so many dinners out.
3. Fewer heart worries
What I mean by this is as I have been going about my days these past months, I have been comparing how I felt this year versus last in which I was single. And one of the differences is in moments of worry that are completely out of my control, my heart aches. When you are single, your focus is on yourself, your projects, your job, perhaps more remotely your family, if you have children, they receive more of your time, your pets, and any idea that tickles your fancy. The unknowns are fewer, not entirely gone, just not matters of the heart, which we know are intense when we care for someone deeply and have made ourselves, and they to us, vulnerable with what we've shared. Put succinctly, more of your energy (because emotions are energy) is free to use as we wish.
4. Meal time is anytime you need it to be
As someone who is a very regular breakfast eater and eats the same thing, I never think twice about what I will have because I know I will always have what I need, and I need it as soon as I wake up. When it comes to dinner, I eat when I get home from school or when I am done with a project with the blog. That time shifts and changes, but when I am done, I am hungry and I eat. On the flipside, when you dine with your partner, you want to share the meal with them, so your schedules need to be flexible, patience is sometimes needed, but it is certainly worth it.
5. Bedtime and wake time are yours to choose
Whether you are a night owl or an early bird, your day ends when you say it will end and it begins when you throwback the covers. No need to worry about being quiet, or keeping the lights low or off, the house awakes (if you live alone) when you awake and the day begins.
6. Vacations happen when you are able
With no need to check more than one schedule, when you are available and you have the funds, you can enjoy a much-needed getaway. While traveling with a partner is something I now eagerly look forward to, I also loved the flexibility of going when I needed to recharge. I would just look at my dogs and ask them if they were ready, and they always said yes (I think . . . I hope!) and we were off!
7. Change of plans can happen at the drop of a hat
If you are eager to see a movie, but at the last minute, you're not feeling up to it, no worries, just don't go. If you want to leave the party at a certain time or earlier than you expected, you don't have to check with anyone, just leave.
8. You can be as frugal or as lavish with your money as you please (within your means)
Money is a funny and integral part of any chapter of our lives, but when we are single we are the sole captain as we don't share a mortgage/rent, bills, investments, etc. Some may see this as a drag as we have to foot the entire amount and not split it. But I rather like knowing and have having complete control over my money (not to say you have to relinquish this when/if you become involved). As well, being secure in your money handling skills is a very attractive quality and something to look for in a future partner as well. After all, you can choose the size and location of the house/apartment you want based on how much you want/are able to pay without agreement with anyone, you can splurge one a dress from the fall collections, but trust yourself to skimp on the money spent on an upcoming vacation. You get to make these decisions without explanation. Now there is a flipside to all of these luxuries when we find a loving partner who just walks well with us through life. Each of these positives becomes heightened in a manner that often (at least for me) I didn't expect but wholeheartedly appreciate and savor. The gift, of which there are many, of being single is that we give ourselves time to fully become fluent in the language of ourselves so that we can then be the translator in the world as we work with others. Not only does our time alone enhance the quality of our lives professionally and platonically but when we do, if we do, meet a potential partner, we are more likely to find someone who enables us to keep the luxuries of the single life that we just don't want to give up as well as reveal to us that the luxuries of being part of a couple are pretty amazing as well. From my experience, having a positive experience of living single, embracing it completely, has enhanced my appreciation for the journey I have just begun with my partner. First of all, it was a choice of desire, fondness, affection and respect rather than an act of desperation, resignation and acquiescence. And secondly, I wasn't looking for love, I was already in love with my life which is how we met, doing, seeking out what we each love about the life offered here in Bend.   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

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

~How to Live Alone Well

~Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?

  ~The Audio Book is Now Available of Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide (Audible, iTunes & Amazon), learn more here ~Subscribe to the weekly TSLL newsletter here ~2017 TSLL French Week Round-Up

Petit Plaisir:

~Headspace Newly updated with more series options and mini meditation options when you don't have a full 10 or 20 minutes to meditate but want to keep the daily practice. ~On August 4, 2017, Andy Puddicombe (the voice you hear on the Headspace app), sat down and meditated for 2 minutes with Jimmy Fallon and his audience. https://youtu.be/kP_EY7pdTJY SPONSOR of today's episode: KIND bars ~To pick up a free sample box, go to KindSnacks.com/tss ~Join the Snack Club
  • receive 5% off your order when you subscribe
  • receive the newest products first
  • free shipping is possible
  • free snacks, new swag and tickets to local events
 

Image: TSLL IG

Download the Episode
Direct download: 170Single.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PDT