The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #136

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"It's never too late to learn anything for which you have a potential . . . and the limitless potential of love within each person [is] eager to be recognized, waiting to be developed, yearning to grow . . . If you want to learn to love, then you must start the process of finding out what it is, what qualities make up a loving person and how these are developed. Each person has the potential for love. But potential is never realized without work. This does not mean pain. Love, especially, is learned best in wonder, in joy, in peace, in living." —Leo Buscaglia, in Love: What Life is All About

Nurture or nature. Acquired or known. A natural or skilled. There are some capabilities we each have that come more naturally to us: the ability to sing like a songbird or swim like a fish. This is not to say that practice and expert coaching won't help, but in each of these instances, there is an innate ability that advances the individuals that apply themselves to such great lengths others may not reach. On the flip-side, there are skills that anyone can learn if they choose to, and here is the good news. One of these skills is how to love. We are not born knowing how to love well. We learn by observing those who raise us, observing the world we are born into and by what we read, view and absorb. The catch is not all of us are watching how to love well. Some of us will have a distorted view, some of us will be limited by what we see while others will observe healthy, kind, thoughtful ways of loving. While there are many wonderful ways to express love, there are essential components, and that is what we'll be discussing today. And if as an adult you have come to discover the models you observed were not healthy, you can absolutely change and become a student again learning how to love well, and thereby enriching your life moving forward. Life, a well-lived and savored life, is a life asking of each of us to acquire skills to be successful. As I mentioned yesterday in the first post of 2017, often those of us who make mistakes along the way as we travel through life are not trying to make mistakes or incapable of improving. Instead, we are doing what we were taught, what we know. We are less skilled. But we can absolutely improve. Take a look at 26 ways you can learn to love well: ~A more detailed discussion is shared on today's episode of the podcast, so be sure to download and take a listen for further explanation on each point. 
1.Experiment with your own life

"Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life." —Herbert Otto

2. Forever be a student
One cannot give what they do not possess. To give love you must possess love. One cannot know what they do not study. To study love you must live in love. One cannot appreciate what they do not recognize. To recognize love you must be receptive to love. One cannot have doubt about that which they wish to trust. To trust love you must be convinced of love. One cannot admit what they do not yield to. To yield to love you must be vulnerable to love. One cannot live what they do not dedicate themselves to. To dedicate yourself to love you must be forever growing in love. —Leo F. Bascaglia
3. Cultivate your own contentment

"When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love."

4. Find, unearth, your true self

"Be able to love, heal and accept yourself, so you can then offer these gifts to others."

Many times we seek out love in order to alleviate our own suffering, and the suffering is due to a conscious or unconscious refusal to take the time to get to know ourselves.
5. Be mindful
Coming to understand how to create moments of joy for yourself enables you to give that joy, thus the love, to others.
6. Be kind
7. Practice love
One must live love. Take action.
8. Stop objectifying love
Love is not a thing to possess. You already have it, love, within you, now you just need to tap into it, foster it, practice it and then live in love.
9. Build within yourself trust, self-respect and confidence
10. Become a good listener
Learn your partner's "love language".

"To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them" and that begins with listening well. —Thich Nhat Hanh

11. Stop labeling
Stop making assumptions, stop jumping to conclusions. Let go of stereotypes about cultures, groups, etc.
12. Let go of being perfect, and just be human

"A base for love and the potential for growth in love is also present in each man. Love is then a process of 'building upon' what is already there. Love is never complete in any person. There is always room for growth."

"If you know, accept and appreciate yourself and your uniqueness, you will permit others to do so. If you value and appreciate the discovery of yourself, you will encourage others to engage in self-discovery."

13. Be vulnerable

"Man may know that only by being vulnerable can he truly offer and accept love." —Leo Buscaglia

14. Open your palm

"And then, the lover, to learn and to change and to become, also needs freedom. Thoreau said a wonderful thing: 'Birds never sing in caves.' And neither do people. You've got to be free in order to learn." —Leo Buscaglia

15. Let go of expectations, but have clear boundaries
16. Cease placing conditions

"Others can and will only give what they are able, not what you desire they give. When you cease placing conditions on your love you have taken a giant step toward learning to love."

17. Be patient
"The human seeking love will find that love is patient. The lover knows that each person can enhance [their] knowledge of love and bring them closer to themselves . . . each person will grow at their own rate, in their own manner, at their own time, by way of their unique self. Therefore, it's helpless to berate, judge, predict, demand or assume. Love must be patient. Love waits. This doesn't mean that love sits passively forever, if necessary, for the person to grow. Love is active, not passive. It is continually engaged in the process of opening new doors and windows so that fresh ideas and questions can be admitted."
18. Learn how to communicate well
19. Become an expert of understanding your own emotions
20. Meet your emotional as well as your physical needs
"A human's basic psychological needs are these. She requires to be seen, recognized, appreciated, heard, fondled, sexually satisfied. She must be allowed the freedom to choose her own way, to grow at her own rate and to make her own mistakes, to learn. She needs to accept himself and other human beings and be accepted by them. She desires to e an 'I' as well as a 'we.' She strives to grow into the unique individual that she is."
21. Be present 

"Love lives in the moment."

22. Believe the world is good because it is 
23. Help others reach their full potential

"As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, As soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead the other person to themselves, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, it is not true love."

24. Create an everyday life to savor

"Another responsibility of love is to create joy. Joy is always an integral part of loving. There is joy in every act of live, no matter how menial or repetitive . . . you can make the day a chore; dull, nerve-wracking, frustrating, a waste of time. Or the same day can be taken on with energy, enthusiasm and a determination to make it one of the best days of your life, for yourself and those about you."

25. Stand in your strength

"It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong." —Leo Rosten

26. Become love

"For to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the dedicated, the knowledge of the scholar, and the fortitude of the certain."

  Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, the allegory of true love" https://youtu.be/MCmZ2jrQooE ~Books mentioned in the episode: ~Love: What Life Is All About by Leo F. Buscaglia ~How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

Petit Plaisir

~Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
 

Download the Episode
Direct download: 136HowtoLove_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:29pm PDT

“It is within the boundaries of reflection we are able to become aware of insights that can lead us to understanding.”  ― Kat Lahr

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #135
On the first of January with each new year, twelve months stretch before us full of potential to progress and evolve and to observe the magic that we could never predict. The year 2016 has offered life lessons in abundance. Having filled three journals over its duration, as I was trying to decide what today's topic would be, I had a long list of ideas I wanted to share, but seeing that it is the end of the year, I thought let's take a look at the year that was and the aha moments it provided, all of which are life lessons that could help provide the magic for 2017 should they be applied. 1. Sometimes what we need is the one thing we think we cannot possibly do In previous years I have shared the benefits of meditating, and most recently, written a handful of posts which included meditation as a practice worth incorporating into our daily routines. I know some, even my previous self, dismiss meditation, each for our own reasons. Mine in my twenties was that I couldn't possibly be still with my thoughts - it was, to be frank, frightening. But as I contemplated this real fear as to why I wasn't investing in the practice of meditation, I realized it was the most important reason to begin meditating so that I no longer had to be fearful of my mind, or frightened to experience emotions or ideas that I wasn't comfortable with. While I am by no means a guru or even a semi-proficient meditator, I do find I look forward to meditating (of which I try to do each day, but sometimes a few days each week are unable to find the time - something I am still working on). I also find that rogue thoughts (that still pop up from time to time) no longer scare me. I have come to understand how to use the tools of observing and then letting go all thoughts, as well as being more present rather than arrested by worries about the future or anguish about the past. I had initially begun using Headspace a couple of years ago and then abandoned it citing no need for someone to tell me how to sit still with my thoughts. However, after I stopped using the app, I also stopped meditating regularly. So with the inspiration from a friend who uses it regularly, I re-downloaded it onto my phone (the first series is free and you can just loop the series again and again if you don't want to upgrade), and have been meditating with the app for the past two months (this summer I meditated each day for 5 minutes, and now with the app I am up to 10 minutes - small, but significant growth). There are other helpful meditation apps based on what you want, and one of my go-to podcasts, The Positive Psychology podcast shares three of them in episode #72 with a detailed explanation of what each offer (one is Headspace). 2. Practice physical exercise that you love and that loves your body and mind Stepping back into a former method of exercise this past summer was one of the best decisions I made. For me it was yoga, and while I stepped away for about a year and tried Pilates as a replacement, I soon realized it was yoga that had not only helped my physical body, but my mind as well. Most important was having instructors that were inspiring, encouraging and warm. Since August, I have been taking a vinyasa yoga class one day a week from one of two different instructors depending upon my schedule. Not only have I seen a return of flexibility, but of calm and a quiet confidence that while not entirely due to the return of yoga, certainly was encouraged with my weekly practice. 3. True friendship is a slow blossoming fruit As someone in her thirties having relocated to an entirely different town, the establishment of friends has been quite intriguing. On one hand, I find people are quite clear about what they can and cannot do as they have priorities, responsibilities, some have families, others busy careers as they hold top positions as they rise in the ranks, but due to these same reasons, finding the time to build deep friendships is hard. Some people already have their tried and true relationships, not necessarily wanting to exclude you, but not having the time to dedicate to an unknown entity as their time is limited as is their energy. In other instances, due to people as they reach their thirties and forties coming to understand what they want, who they are and how they enjoy spending their time, connections with others who do not share a similar interest dash the potential of a friendship almost immediately. In 2012, The New York Times shared an article on just this topic, forging friendship after turning 30. However, what I have also discovered about friendships in our adult years is that it is a lesson in quality over quantity and patience over expediency. Let me explain. Initially meeting people can begin by attending events of genuine interest and striking up conversations with those who have a similar passion. But even if you do have a similar interest, or a common connection, the determination of someone as a friend (and there are a variety of different types of friends that enhance our lives, and not all will be a person you reveal your most intimate self to) takes time. Spending time with others whom you have just met in many ways is like dating in that you need to give yourself time for the qualifying process. I don't mean you are judging or comparing, but in many ways you are determining what you can share (remember the ping pong analogy?), observing how the neophyte relationship makes you feel while you're with them and after you've spent time with them. It has been my experience that it is not the initial meet-and-greet that will reveal if someone should be welcomed into your life, but rather a duration of experiences and in time, any masks or façades that were presented will be worn down, if they even existed, and you will be better able to determine where or if that new friendship will play a role in your life moving forward. 4. Embrace a healthy tension when it comes to your life fulfillment A regular Youtube series I watch for inspiration and boosts of confidence and direction with the ever-changing tech entrepreneur path I feel fortunate to be on is Marie Forleo. And it was this episode that provided a significant aha moment after more than a year of contemplating a few big questions in my life. The topic was lasting fulfillment and she reveals that while we need to feel accomplished and successful in some of what we seek along the journey of fulfillment, we need not have accomplished everything. In fact, it is the tension that helps provide the fulfillment as we come to understand that we have the power within ourselves to cultivate the fulfillment we seek. It doesn't need to be external, in fact, it cannot be. Everything we need and are seeking already resides within each of us, we just need to discover how to tap into it. And with the help of experts in the fields we are passionate about, we can do just that. 5. It's okay to feel uncomfortable My first experience with the French meet-up group here in Bend required of me to overcome great trepidation. My first real date after truly being open to the idea of a relationship again was nerve-shakingly absurd beyond what even I thought I was capable of. But guess what, all went well. Not well in the fairy tale sense: I still do not speak fluent French or even hold a conversation beyond the basic hello, how are you, nor am I madly in love with another, but in the sense that I was reminded that my nerves were for naught. I had worked myself up for nothing, but because I was unsure of how it would go, the events that would unfold were out of my hands, it threw me. Maybe it was partially because I had undergone so much change in the previous year with the new move, the new job, selling my house after having dedicated so much of myself into it, but it was also because it was out of my comfort zone. And as I wrote about a handful of years ago, we are all just one small adjustment away from contentment. Jennifer Aniston's quote regularly dancing in my mind when I contemplate the idea of allowing myself to feel uncomfortable during the pursuit of something I desire, “Everything you want in the world is just outside your comfort zone.  Everything you could possibly want.”  6. The mind is malleable One valuable lesson I have discovered is that my mind, unbeknownst to me until now, was not being utilized in a manner that was conducive to the life I have been seeking. Not entirely, at least. And the beautiful reminder, after seeking out experts to help me understand more fully and completely was that I had the power to change the mental stories I had allowed to run on repeat for years and years and years due to conditioning, modeling and an unhelpful perspective. The mind can either be our most valuable tool or our most destructive adversary. And if we don't understand why our mind falls into ruts that are not helpful, choosing to investigate and then heal and redirect them is one of the best life investments we can make. 7. Old bad habits can be overcome Speaking of falling into ruts. The ruts will always be there, but we can overcome them. Perhaps bad eating habits, maybe negative default comments or thoughts that pop up or are uttered without even thinking about it, whatever your unhelpful ruts are, we can reroute our behavior, but it must be conscious, and we must repeat the new habits again and again until they become engrained. In repeated posts, habits (how to cultivate, which ones are worth our time and investment for a better everyday life, etc.) have been discussed in-depth on the blog. Part of being successful with the shift in your habits is understanding that it is possible to overcome bad habits, but because those bad habits have such deep ruts, we need to be conscious that we don't fall back into them when trigger-events take place. Simply being cognizant of this truth will help you avoid them. 8. There is a limit to planning our lives As someone who is a planner and actually loves to spend an evening, morning or afternoon planning the next month, week or year, this life lesson had to repeatedly reveal itself before I accepted it as a truth. Now, not to worry, I am not going to encourage you to let go of planning. Absolutely not. In fact,when it comes to our financial stability, our careers, and our health, planning is an asset and the foundation of living well. However, when it comes to our personal lives, and even the journey our careers take us on, we have to learn to do our best and then let go of the result. And due to a handful of experiences that took place this past year, I have come to realize that we may read books about how things should work out if we do this or that, but in the end all we can do is be ourselves, do our best and then step forward when opportunities present themselves. I have found the key is to have a life, an everyday life of our own cultivation dependent upon no one else but ourselves, that we truly love living. Because if we love the life we have built for ourselves, we are better able to simply let go of the result when it involves other people. (Discover a handful of posts have been written about letting go.) 9. Bigger isn't always better Over the past 18 months I have lived in a significantly smaller house that I had prior to my move, and I honestly have never missed one square foot that I no longer have. I haven't truly thought about it except to contemplate the goal of owning again instead of renting, but even then I am dogged in my pursuit of a small house (which is actually hard to find in Bend). The life I now have the opportunity to live is more alive, engaging and fulfilling than any other time in my life in part due to the fewer responsibilities I have to tend to if I lived in a larger space. Again, what I find to be revealed as true again and again is that it is the quality of life that resides within the home and within the life of the individual, not the size of the house, that determines one's true contentment. A clean home? Yes. A home that is curated to the comforts and needs of the residents? Absolutely. But just as important as a roof over one's head that is warm, clean and inviting is understanding how to live fully and letting go of the unnecessary, the burdens, the false "have-to" beliefs and "must-have"s. Quality over quantity again and again and again. 10. Contentment resides within each of us Each morning, I wake up and I pinch myself. No, everything in my life is not perfect. I still have doubts, fears and wonderings about the future, as we all do, but I don't let them percolate and muddle the truth that the life we can each create, the life I am creating and doing my best to share with you as I make the journey, is something worth savoring each day. As was mentioned in #8, it is far easier to let go when we enjoy the life we've curated for ourselves. When we've tended to all that we do have control over. When we've realized that much of the angst we have about life is self-created and we are causing more problems and worry than is warranted. When we understand the true power we have within ourselves, we open a world of opportunity to live a more fulfilling and contented life. It does take courage to apply some, if not all in some capacity, the life lessons shared today. And as we need to remember, courage is not eliminating fear, it is simply overcoming it. Fear will always want to step in and pull us back into the world of worry, doubt and anxiety, but we have the choice to not give it its power. We have the choice to step up to the plate, put in the hard work and dance with life, because as we also know, some years we learn a weighty amount, other years we have the opportunity to put it into practice and still other years are gifts to simply savor. It turns out 2016 involved a little bit of all three. So is life, unfolding its magic so long as we participate. ~The Simple Sophisticate is taking its yearly one week vacation beginning the week of 26th. The next new episode will be available on Monday January 2nd. In the meantime, peruse the previous 134 episodes or stop by the blog next week for a year in review where I will share the top five episodes of 2016. ~Stop by next Monday to discover the TOP 5 Episodes from 2016.  ~Peruse all of the past 134 episodes here. EXTRA, EXTRA!

~Discover my list of the Top 10 Podcasts I listened to in 2016 here.

 

Petit Plaisir:

~love in lowercase: a novel by Francesc Miralles An international best-seller translated from its original language of Spanish, Love in Lowercase tells the story of 37-year-old Samuel, a professor of linguistics living in Barcelona who while certain the new year will be more of the same hum-drum quickly sees the start of January begin with an array of opportunities all beginning with the arrival of a cat who makes himself right at home in Samuel's apartment. In less than a week, this delightful novel was read and enjoyed, and with its short, topical chapters, readers who appreciate the liberal arts will find an appreciation of the thoughtful character who is more open to grasping onto opportunities when they present themselves than he ever was in the past, and that makes all of the difference. Download the Episode
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Direct download: 13510LifeLessons_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #134

"A startling paradox that bespeaks how we, as a culture, cripple ourselves in the journey to love — if one wanted to learn about cars, one would 'without question study about automobiles'; if one wanted to become a gourmet cook, one would 'certainly study the art of cooking, perhaps even attend a cooking class.' But when it comes to love, Buscaglia points out, we expect the skill of it will magically bestow itself upon us. 'No mechanic or cook,' he writes, 'would ever believe that by ‘willing’ the knowledge in his field, he’d ever become an expert in it.'” -on Leo Buscaglia's Why Love is a Learned Language

Successful business mogul Warren Buffett has famously advised to write down 25 things we want to do in life and then promptly focus solely on the top five and forget about the other 20. Why? The time we have to dedicate to anything is finite, therefore if we want to achieve something of quality: a skill, a reputation, an invention, a business, anything at all, we have to give it our full attention. And if we have a laundry list of things we want to achieve, we are often distracted by what we are not able to do and not fully giving ourselves to what we should be focused on. Along the same argument, in Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling book Outliers, he shares research that finds that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to develop the level of proficiency of most professionals (Gladwell further clarifies that this holds true primarily in cognitively demanding fields, but assists tremendously in others such as sports). Taking into consideration these two components, I couldn't help but ascertain that the combination of focus and practice, deliberate practice, while helpful in our professional pursuits and pursuit of realizing our dreams would be quite beneficial within our everyday lives as well. For example, perhaps we too should deliberately practice as well as pay close attention to learning how to cultivate stronger relationships, a deeper, more fulfilling everyday experience and overall contentment as we proceed through life. Two books (here and here) I have read in the past six months shared a common message about one's success in love. Not to equate love as a competition, but rather to be successful in making healthy, deep, sincere connections with others, choosing to learn how to love is crucial. Considering that expectations, mores and gender roles have been in constant flux for centuries, we don't enter the world knowing how to love and love well. It is a learned behavior. As Dr. Leo Buscaglia reveals in Love: What Life is All About, "One cannot give what he does not possess. To give love you must possess love." And in order to possess love and then know how to give it, we must become a student of love. Imagine for a moment as far back as you are able of what love looked like to you. Maybe it was your parents, maybe it was revealed in the fairy tales read to you, maybe it was the television shows or your older sibling talking about their adventures in relationships. While all of these may have contained aspects of love, some far more than others, love is an action that we only learn how to exercise in our own lives if we practice it. And we can only become successful if we practice it properly. Much like watching a cook demonstrate how to slice an onion, we don't become proficient by observing, we become proficient by doing. We cannot buy love, we cannot hire love. No. Instead, we have to become a student of love, and live it every day. Which leads me to the most magnificent and hopeful news I want to share with you today. Each one of us can cultivate the love we want in our lives. Each one of us has the potential, and it all begins with us and then what we begin to put out into the world.

"It’s simply this — the limitless potential of love within each person eager to be recognized, waiting to be developed, learning to grow." —Leo Buscaglia

With that understanding, let the journey begin. Or should I say let the course on love begin. I, perhaps like you, have always loved the idea of love. But now I have to ask myself, was I errantly and ignorantly getting in my own way? As the new year begins and the first episode of the podcast goes live on Monday January 2, tune and discover what I have found out and am looking forward to sharing. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Stop the Pursuit?

~The Most Important Ingredient for a Healthy Romance

~17 Ways to be a Good Partner

Petit Plaisir:

Ma Vie à Paris (English & French versions) - deliverable to EU countries
—created by French Home Goods company Astier de Villatte, owners Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte —Pick up a copy in Bend, Oregon, at Nicole Michelle Decor —Special order at your local bookstore. ~Learn more about the SAIG Linotype printing press machine here and the process of printing this one of a kind Parisian guide book here.

~hand drawn maps and black and white photos on nearly every page~

  Download the Episode Download the Episode
Direct download: 134LoveMaVieaParis_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:05am PDT

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply luxurious Life
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #133
Maybe you've had a few or many past failed relationships. Perhaps you are currently single or married or in a relationship at the moment, but maybe it just doesn't feel as though you know how to make it stronger, healthier, but there is some part of you that knows it is possible. Even if you aren't in a relationship, you understand that it is a healthy relationship you seek because at the moment, life is grand on your own and far better than being in a dysfunctional partnership. As you reflect on the past, remember this: You gave love, you were hopeful, you did your best with what you knew at the time. Let go. And forgive yourself.

"Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it."

As I look back on my own past that contains a handful of relationships, all of which were unique and different, and began and ended for different reasons, I know I am a different person now, I know that I have learned much more to be a far better partner, but also to be a far better, and more content individual whether I am in a relationship or not. I know now, but I didn't then because I didn't know either what I needed or where to find the knowledge I sought. I either had models that were dysfunctional and I didn't recognize it or I didn't have a deeper understanding of what I was modeling my life after. Most importantly, I was still growing and discovering myself, and thankfully, that journey has never ceased.

Why am I thankful that the journey has continued? Because it has finally lead me to resources, valuable and worthwhile resources to understand what I was lacking when it came to being someone who was indeed ready to be in a healthy relationship. And this is what I have discovered.

1. Explore what interests you In episode #131, the philosopher Bertrand Russell's approach to happiness was discussed in detail and at the top of the list of 38 ways to attain happiness was the idea of exploring what interests you. The key is sincerity of interest and the other component is to have more than just a few interests. For if one falls through or wanes, you have other interests which can fill the gaps and ease the loss in your daily routine of doing what you love and enjoy. To put all of our time and interest into one basket of interest is to put a tremendous amount of pressure on that focus in our lives. Often that focus is a relationship, and while tending to and investing in a relationship that brings us much joy is a worthwhile interest, it shouldn't be the only interest we have. Pursue your love of the French language, pursue your love of cooking, your itch to travel, working in the yard, caring for a pet, time in your art studio, anything that you are naturally drawn to and build a wealthy life of interests that fill your schedule without weighing you down. 2. Investigate and explore your barriers to healthy relationships

“The good news is that every morning we have the choice; not to be controlled by circumstances nor our past but by purposely designing our day, hence our lives better. Not to react to life but to respond with love.” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive

The work behind the scenes that nobody sees, the internal work, is the work that will reap awesome, lasting benefits enabling you to see and experience lasting growth from which you can continue to build on to build the strong and healthy relationships you want but perhaps didn't know how to attain because you kept getting in your own way unconsciously due to either buried fears, insecurities, a past history that played a negative thought track that prevented you from seeing the amazing possibilities you were presented with. Investing in ourselves by scheduling time with a counselor or an expert in the field in which we know we need to grow is an investment in a quality way of life that will not only equip you to attain true contentment but you will be demonstrating that to the world around you and providing an environment and a model of how to live well. 3. Learn how to communicate effectively Some of us as children were able to observe healthy and effective communication habits. The most powerful communication that is often hard to see modeled is when two individuals disagree. How do they express how they are feeling, feel respected without attacking and move forward? If we haven't seen this modeled in our own lives, it is up to each of us to learn, and thankfully, the information on this topic is abundant. Ultimately, in order to communicate well, we must know what we want to say and why we want to say it. And in order to understand the "why", which is actually a difficult truth to unearth, we must get to know ourselves. It sounds odd perhaps, but we need to understand why we are angry in particular moments; we need to understand why we are fearful; why we get defensive; why we get jealous, and look within ourselves to understand our unconscious reactions before we speak and do damage unnecessarily. On the flip-side, we must not cower into ourselves and become passive. There will never be a healthy relationship that involves a passive individual if the relationship wants to grow stronger. We must communicate without attacking, express how we feel, be able to objectively observe our emotions, and listen with intent to learn and understand more deeply. Click here for a more in-depth post on each of these and more tips to effective communication. 4. Cultivate a healthy, strong social life Our social worlds are often tied to our interests as well as our work, and as discussed in episode #36, while they take time to build, the gift is you feel free to be yourself and thus your social life becomes a place of enjoyment, pleasure, respite and an integral  piece to your contented life. With a clear list of people to let go of (of which there on nine) and six people to welcome into your life, the episode reveals that it is who is in your life that will help alleviate your stress and you theirs as well as allowing them and you to be truly free to be yourself that will enhance all arenas of your life. 5. Actively pursue your dreams

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Let go of the have-tos and must-dos of the lives we see modeled around us whether by family members, the media or community and/or national institutions and instead dive into your dream. Perhaps your dream requires you to work on the weekends or each night after work a few hours. Maybe your dream prevents you from celebrating when Friday evening arrives, but enables you to come alive when you immerse yourself in the pursuit. Trust your dreams, not the fears that are thrown at you by the outside world that you are not doing what you should be doing. People are intrigued and appreciative of those who have the courage to tap into something and pursue it doggedly. Not everyone will understand, but those who respect it and admire it will be people with whom you will connect with. And you, in pursuing your dreams will find a contentment that at first will be hard to describe to anyone who is simply following a path that everyone else is one, but then you will learn it is the only way to be truly alive and authentically you. 6. Cultivate self-compassion When we look within ourselves for compassion, we give ourselves permission to be imperfect. We begin to recognize that we must first be kind to ourselves in order for others to know that is how we deserve to be treated. Yes, some will be kind anyway, as it is their way, and a very good way indeed, but for those who may attempt to push our boundaries, we recognize the attempt and can keep them out of our lives unable to do harm. Often we are the harshest critics in our lives, as discussed in episode #122, but the belief that doing so is the best path to success is false. In fact, it is quite detrimental. Rather, being self-compassionate reveals a higher emotional intelligence as we are able to have a broad perspective on our circumstances and move on rather than get bogged down in self-criticism. And when we are the cheerleaders of our own lives, when we are not the bully in our own heads, we look less to the outside world to build us up and are able to build healthier relationships as we can take care of our own emotional needs. 7. Become comfortable with validating yourself If we do not first validate ourselves, approve of the life and the decisions we make within our lives, we will be constantly running around seeking approval from others, dependent upon it, desperate for acceptance, and we will only be harming ourselves, never able to find true contentment. As shared in a post in 2011“You can succeed if nobody else believes it, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.”  But why do many of us fall into the trap of first asking if we should do something and instead simply trusting what we know will fulfill us, what we know will bring pure joy, what we know will make us happy? We want to bond with others, we want love, we want to feel love. This is human. But what it does is bonds us with people who we may not want to bond with. Wouldn't you rather bond with someone who was fascinated with your decision after the fact? After you had made the big decision to pursue that dream which may have appeared ridiculous to some, but made complete sense to you? Wouldn't you want an authentic connection? Yes, it is scary to refrain from seeking validation from others, especially from our parents, peers and those we may have been (or currently are) in relationships with, but when we forget about the power of our own self-approval, we limit the quality of life we could be living. 8. Build a life you love living on your own

“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” ― Emily Dickinson

Cultivating a simply luxurious life centers around the premise of building something that is congruent with your authentic and most true self, letting go of building the life you think you should and upon incorporating the former rather than the latter approach, the quality way of living you seek will materialize. A funny thing happened over the weekend. As I mentioned in a previous This & That post, I have been contemplating picking out a significantly smaller tree for my house this holiday season. Well, I in fact did just that, and as I look around my smaller house (nearly 1000 sq feet smaller than what I had lived in previously) after having decorated the tree, having added a few decorations to the tabletops (I found mistletoe!) and having hung the stockings for the boys (my dogs - Norman and Oscar) and myself, I still had energy and more money than previous seasons in my checking account for holiday expenditures. When we begin to truly listen to what works for us, rather than gravitate toward what we've done, what has been done, what we've seen, what we know, we begin to curate a life that is in alignment with our values. We begin to curate a life that enables us to live and pursuit what we love and thus become enlivened from within. We are the gardeners of a rich and more fulfilling life, if only we will listen to ourselves. When it comes to relationships, we will undoubtedly be involved in many different types, all having the gift of teaching us something about ourselves and the world. But when it comes to lasting relationships, relationships that will endure, however, keeping in mind that nothing is infinite, we multiply the happiness quotient for not only ourselves no matter what we may be doing but also for those we love. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The Myth Hindering an Amazing Love Life 

~Make Your Own Life Rules: How & Why

~What Does a Simply Luxurious Life Look and Feel Like?

~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability

~Romantic Love: What It Is & How to Maintain It

Petit Plaisir:

~Under the Tuscan Sun: 20th Anniversary Edition by Frances Mayes, (paperback copy) (e-book edition)
~Visit Frances Mayes blog and website here. ~tour the house that was seen in the movie (which was remodeled in 2006) here. Frances Mayes house was not the set for the movie. thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life Download the Episode  
Direct download: 133BeforeRelationship_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:03pm PDT

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #132

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other.” —Douglas H. Everett

The arrival of a new year always fills me with giddy exuberance. No matter what occurred during the current year, I am very much like a child eagerly determined to will even more amazing, fulfilling and growth-opportunities into my world and into the world around me. 2016 has brought many of the latter on the list, growth-opportunities, and while I won't be sad to see it go, I am still very grateful for all that it opened my eyes to, all that it taught me, all that it pushed me to do so that I could begin to step outside of, in many ways, an unconscious self-imposed shell. So for that reason alone, I am thankful, indebted actually, to 2016. Isn't that way it works? Some years we savor, some years we sweat, some years are a mixture of both, but all offer the opportunity to be a different person come the year's end. Speaking of year's end, it isn't quite here yet. In fact, we still have one month to make our resolutions a reality, and I don't know about you, but I am excited to finish strong. Let's talk about how to do just that no matter where you might find yourself at the end of the eleventh month of 2016.
1. Balance the monthly budget
Let's talk money straight-away. Nothing boosts our confidence, settles our nerves and brightens our hopes for the future when we know where we stand with our money. As is the case, businesses want to finish strong as well, but we shouldn't help them at the expense of us not doing the same. Holiday gift giving and travel and entertaining can be a roadblock, but with careful planning and a clear awareness of what you are capable of, by the time the end of the year arrives, you will be feeling at ease when it comes to your financial situation.
2. Assess the goals/resolutions you pursued during 2016

Now to the task at hand. How have you been doing on the resolutions you set at the beginning of 2016? Perhaps you set some mid-year goals. How are those going? Be honest, which goes both ways. Notice how much further you have to go, but also recognize what you have done. Sometimes we stop ourselves from attaining what we seek because we are fearful we will fail. Ironically, we fail if we don't try. Trying, no matter how small the progress, is always reason to celebrate. And as Marilyn Ferguson reminds, “Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom.” So let your fear lead you to keep trying and keep striving forward. The other side is indeed worth seeing and experiencing.

3. What habits have served you well and visa versa 
After taking an honest assessment of how you are doing with your goals, what habits are helping you maintaining your progress? Write these down. Do the same exercise for habits that are impeding your progress. Don't worry, I am not about to tell you to break 10 bad habits in 31 days. The first thing to do is recognize what is and isn't working, and then, baby steps. Vow to break one bad habit. Then once that bad habit is broken and you don't even think about it, break the next bad habit. Maybe the chance to begin the second will begin the next week or maybe next month, but have a priority list of habits you want to break and slowly make your way through them.
4. Let go of passivity
Ask for what you want. Remove the possibility of regret.
If events or progress toward your goals aren't moving as you had hoped they would, observe your behavior these past eleven months. Have you been sitting on the sidelines hoping others will notice what you've been working so hard on? Have you been hoping they could read your mind? Speak up. Ask for what you want. Make decisions without asking for approval from others. If it is indeed what you want, what you've been working for, step forward and make what is in your control a reality.
5. Tie up loose ends 
Look around your house, look at your planner. Do you see any projects, large or small, that aren't complete yet? Perhaps you are either putting them off or maybe you began but something occurred and zapped your time availability. Reexamine each and do your best to wrap them up so you can move forward without unnecessary expectations and demands when the new year begins. A fresh start is great motivation.
6. Get busy with small steps
There is still one month left in 2016, and a lot can happen in 31 days. A lot can happen in a mere moment, so get moving. Keep Isaac Newton's words in the back of your mind as you start your engine, and no matter how gradual you roll forward always remember, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest, an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” 
7. Declutter
Perhaps you have some extra time toward the end of the year or maybe at some point during the month. Even if you don't have an immense amount of time, find a way to target the spots in your home, office, life that could you some decluttering. Again, the goal is a fresh of start when 2017 arrives and the visual component of less stuff to look at, take care of, etc. holds incredible power over our state of mind and thus our stress levels. So get busy: go through your closet, your entire home and more specifically your kitchen. Set yourself free and you open the door for more applicable and authentic opportunities and gifts.
8. Bulk up your retirement savings for maximum tax benefit
The list began with finances, but I wanted to focus specifically on retirement savings as well. The more you can invest now, the more powerful compound interest will be and the lower your taxable income will be. So take a close look at your 401(k) or IRA contributions, which have limits of $18,000 and $5,500 this year, respectively. Can you add some more? (Good news: You can actually make 2016 contributions to your IRA through mid-April 2017 which means thereis still time after the New Year.)
9. Decide on a planning system that functions and is something you love
Just prior to each month's beginning I sit down with my planner and add the new month's pages. I then take time to plan out the month with previously schedule events, my weekly and daily routines, etc. I love this monthly rituals, and I especially love the yearly ritual of looking ahead and putting in the pages for 2o17. In fact, I just ordered a new binder and am shifting from Franklin to the six-ring A6 personal binder. And because of this, TSLL readers who have ask for TSLL Planning Pages to fit the A5 and the Personal Planner are in luck. The Personal Planning page (along with the all-inclusive planning package) is now available. Coming in a few weeks, just in time for 2017, you will be able to purchase exclusively sized planning pages for these two new sizes (on top of the Classic and Compact pages already available). It is important to have a system that works for you. Not every one, like myself and many of you, want an all digital planning system, but some do. You know what works well with your lifestyle and routine. Tweak what you have to make it work even better and enjoy setting clear goals, breaking them down and managing each day to help you find the balance of rest and success. ~Shop TSLL Planning Pages for Classic and Compact planners here (and for today only, save 20% with TSLLHOLIDAY20)
~My new planner and binder is seen below. It is an A6 six-ring Ancicraft leather binder (other sizes are available here).
 thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life
thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life
10. What makes you smile spontaneously?
Take a moment and try to recall the moments in which you found yourself smiling without a forethought, smiling due to something tickling your mental funny bone or observing something joyful and pleasure filled. Take a mental note of these events or better yet, write them down. Now, try to cultivate opportunities for these moments to happen in balance with the success you are trying to achieve.
11. Answer this question honestly:
Where and how do you want to wake up on Sunday January 1st, 2017? Now plan accordingly. You will be glad you did and the new year will be assured to be off to a wonderful start. Wishing you a wonderful final month in 2016. May the struggles, if you encounter a few this year, begin to wind down and reveal their fruit and polish, and may the final few days give you a time to celebrate and appreciate all that has gone well and recognize how much you've grown. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Create a Clean Slate for the New Year?

~7 Reasons 2016 Will Be a Wonderful Year

~Why Not . . . Make This Your Year?

Petit Plaisir:

~Till Brönner, The Good Life

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Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

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"As long as one keeps searching, the answers come." —Joan Baez

 
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #131
Life in many ways feels as though it is a treasure hunt. However, I have good news. If my experience is any evidence, Joan Baez's quote above certainly rings true. Case in point, stumbling across British philosopher Bertrand Russell's book The Conquest of Happiness.  I happened to have been perusing in my local bookstore, stopping in to pick up another book that I had ordered when I came across the simple bright yellow cover of The Conquest of Happiness. Mind you, the copyright is 1930 and as the new introduction, written in 2012, by philosophy professor at Tufts University Daniel C. Dennett reminds, Russell's views while quite progress at the time clearly leave laid bare his ignorance about women and minorities. However, these should be set aside as we look through the lens as though he is speaking about all people, because what he reveals gave me reason to take a deep breath of appreciation. As Russell reminds straight-away with his title, happiness is something we must cultivate. It is not something that we are born with. Now, this is not to say that we are born unhappy, no, absolutely not. However, we are born, each of us, into a culture and world we did not choose. We must come to understand our place in it, understand the capabilities that are innately ours and how to offer them to the world all the while protecting ourselves and vulnerable heart. Russell offers wise words about what we can and cannot do. What is true and what we should let go of as once assumed as true along the path to attaining happiness and identifying what we think is causing our unhappiness. I have gone through and found 38 points he shares that through welcoming as either habits, practices, approaches or shifts in our thoughts and beliefs, can usher in a true happiness we may have never thought attainable. First: Determine what you most desire Then . . .  1. Diminish your preoccupation with yourself (stop meditating on your perceived sins and shortcomings) 2. Focus primarily on external objects: the state of the world, attainment of knowledge in a variety of avenues, and individuals for whom you feel affection. 3. Practice moderation 4. Aspire to be interested in a variety of things; the more opportunities for happiness you have, the less you are at the mercy of fate since if you lose one thing you can fall back on another. 5. Even when an unexpected negative event takes place, understand that it too can give pleasure. How? Appreciate the knowledge you have gained to better understand the world and reduce unnecessary fear. 6. Bolster your energy so when you have free time you can pursue what interests you without restraint. 7. Vow to have a zest for life, an incessant curiosity. 8. Understand this truth, affection is given to those who least demand it. 9. Those who face life with a feeling of security are much happier than the contrary. 10. You are more likely to realize what you fear by believing it. 11. Self-confidence comes from being accustomed to receiving as much of the right sort of affection as one has the need for (healthy, non-dependent, etc.) 12. A person who is hardy and adventurous can endure a great deal without damage. 13. The best type of affection is reciprocally life-giving: each receives affection with joy and gives it without effort, and each finds the whole world more interesting in consequence of the existence of this reciprocal happiness. 14. Affection, in the sense of a genuine reciprocal interest of two persons in each other, not solely as means to each other's good but rather as a combination having a common goal, is one of the most important elements of real happiness. 15. A capacity for genuine affection is one of the marks of someone who has escaped from the prison of one's self-absorption. 16. Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. 17. One must cultivate external interests that bring rest and do not call for any action, rather allow you to simply enjoy. 18. Never ignore opportunities to gain knowledge. 19. Contemplate what makes greatness of one's soul. When one is capable of greatness of soul, it will open wide the windows of the mind, letting the winds blow freely upon it from every operation of the universe. 20. During times of grief, loss or pain, turn towards something that is not the source of anxiety. (This is where having many, varied interests comes in quite handy). 21. One cultivates happiness and therefore must find ways of coping with the multitudinous cause of unhappiness. By choosing to unearth the answers, happiness expands. 22. Happiness is an achievement, not a gift. 23. Do your best (effort) and then leave it up to fate (resign). 24. Having an unconquerable hope means it must be large and impersonal (hopes for humanity and being okay with the progress made, no matter how small even if the goal wasn't reached yet). 25. Let go of worry, fret and irritation as they serve no purpose. 26. In times of quandary, it is better to do nothing than to do harm. 27. A certain kind of resignation is involved in the willingness to face the truth about ourselves. 28. Nothing is more fatiguing than to believe things that are only a myth or false. 29. Happiness requires food, shelter, health, love, successful work, and the respect of one's own herd. 30. Fear is the principal reason why humans are so unwilling to admit facts and so anxious to wrap themselves round in a warm garment of myth. 31. Accepting facts and truth is a way to tackle fear and reach true happiness. 32. The happy person is who lives objectively, who has free affections and wide interests, who secures her happiness through these interests and affections and through the fact that they in turn make the person an object of interest and affection to many others. 33. The person who demands affection is not the person upon whom it is bestowed. 34. Don't think about the causes of unhappiness; get outside of it, it must be by genuine interests, not by simulated interests. 35. Once you let go of self-absorption, let the spontaneous working of your nature and of external circumstances lead you. 36. Only what genuinely interests you can be of any use to you. 37. Undoubtedly, we should desire the happiness of those whom we love, but not as an alternative to our own. 38. A happy person feels a citizen of the universe, enjoying freely the spectacle it offers and the joys it affords, untroubled by the thought of death because they feel themselves not really separate from those who will come after them. It is in such profound instinctive union with the stream of life that the greatest joy is to be found. While there is much to digest and contemplate, what left me with hope was the reality that so much of what causes us pain is self-inflicted. While yes, there are many things that are out of our control, understanding the difference is key, but so too is recognizing when we have played a role that has adversely obstructed us from potential happiness. Simply put, we need to get out of our own way, and this list will help us all to do just that. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability (podcast)

~10 Things People Who Have Found Contentment Understand About Uncertainty (podcast)

~Your Fear is Speaking

Petit Plaisir

Paris-Manhattan
~soundtrack for the film ~starring Alice Taglioni and Patrick Bruel (English subtitles) thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life https://youtu.be/XwofBhEMevw

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Category:happiness -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

"Comfort is the root of confidence and not the other way around." —Haley Mlotek in The New York Times Style Magazine

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #130
Confidence is attractive. Confidence can be deceiving. Confidence is however hard to fake. But the hard truth about confidence is that it is rooted in feeling comfortable with that which you project to be confident about. Depending upon the arena, the one who exudes confidence draws the attention from the masses due to either curiosity to figure out how they too can emulate such confidence on a particular subject or way of life that they desire or out of appreciation from others who have confidence as well. Because when one projects an air of confidence there is a sense of security, self-worth, and peace of mind knowing that they are able to think and live independently. Confidence is valuable in a variety of aspects throughout our lives. But it must be understood that confidence is a dynamic entity as it depends on understanding something that is as well quite fluid: life, the world, other people, etc. Because of this reality, it requires of each of us to be always pursuing knowledge, asking questions and remaining a participant in the world in which we live. I first came across the quote above as it was pertaining to beauty and the recent trend to no longer wear makeup as inspired by Alicia Keyes who shared openly this past May in a letter (it's well worth the time to read) that she longed to just be herself and stop the constant work of being a chameleon and being what she thought she had to be, rather than be who she truly was. The article gave me pause because it is difficult to put down the masks that we present to the world as they are in many ways our armor, and it is far easier to just do what is expected, project an image or idea that is expected or easy for all to see and hear. So where do we find the comfort that is needed to have the confidence we seek? ~Take the time to get to know yourself and continue this ongoing process ~Build a healthy social network ~Stretch yourself - try things you have never done before but want to do and someday do well ~Read and learn voraciously and endlessly I can think of more than a few instances when I did not have confidence. Most recently, I have become frustrated when I attempt to converse in French at our local conversation group or with friends or instructors who know how to speak the language. I feel as though I am presenting an entirely different person, as though the person they are hearing and seeing is not the real Shannon. And as I gave this some thought, I realized why I wasn't enjoying myself: I wasn't comfortable and therefore I couldn't be confident and relax. It is a vicious cycle. So, I will admit, for a time, I stopped going to the weekly group conversations. Okay, for quite a lengthy time. I chose to study on my own, but I realized that in order to increase my comfort, I needed to stretch myself. That is the most perplexing paradox of this entire conversation. Yes, we need comfort to be and reflect confidence, but confidence can only be gained if we choose to grow, learn and step outside of our comfort zone. Below are just a few examples of arenas that require each of us to experiment, stretch ourselves and try new things in order to gain the confidence we seek:
  • our preferences in food
  • a way of life (visit a variety of cultures, learn the answer to the "why" questions)
  • our signature style with regards to our wardrobe and our homes
  • with whom we are most compatible: friends, partners, workplace environments
  • interests and hobbies
However, it requires balance. Don't put yourself entirely in uncomfortable scenarios all of the time. Stretch yourself just enough so that you are always able to be growing rather than regressing. For me, on top of trying to develop new friendships as well as learning a new language, I found that I needed to separate the two so that I could be my confident, authentic self with those who were just beginning to know me. So I struck a balance, communicated with them that I wanted dearly to build our friendship, but felt learning a language simultaneously wasn't going to work for me. And they completely understood. When we can come home to a place that allows us to feel comfort, we can then be recharged to go back out and try something new, but we must have a sanctuary of comfort always available to us to retreat to get that fix. The sanctuary of comfort may be your actual house or apartment or it may be a person, an activity or a particular place. The key begins with knowing yourself. Not only knowing what you like and dislike, what makes you feel comfortable and uncomfortable, but why you feel and prefer what you do. Knowledge is truly power, not only as an approach to life, but as well when it comes to understanding ourselves and living our best lives. ~Similar posts from the Archives you might enjoy:

~Confidence: How to Gain It & What It Is Invaluable

~Why Not . . . Read? (three part series)

~8 Reasons to Nurture What Nature Gave You

Petit Plaisir:

~Blind Date (Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément)

~Starring Mélanie Bernier and Clovis Cornillac (2015)

~Find Blind Date on Netflix here

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Image: Paris Vogue, 1974

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Direct download: 130ComfortConfidence.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

tiffani  
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #129
NYC stylist Tiffani Rogers returns to the podcast to share her new resource for anyone who travels to, loves visiting and shopping in New York City and wants to know the boutiques and worthwhile shops to visit in order to discover stylish treasures that will last for many seasons to come in their capsule wardrobe. Just released last month, Tiffani has compiled a guide of her hand-picked shops around the island of Manhattan. With more than 14 pages of detailed descriptions organized by neighborhood, enjoy shopping in the city again. ~Shop the City: A Shopping Guide to New York City A digital download available to you immediately upon purchase, save and shop as soon as your shoes hit the pavement. ~TSLL readers have been given an exclusive discount to save $10 off the regular price. Simply enter promo code SIMPLYLUX. ~Items talked about during the episode: thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life manhattanmap  

Petit Plaisir

~Arugula with Prosciutto & Burrata, inspired by Ina Garten's new cookbook Cooking for Jeffrey  ~click here for the recipe and more pics. thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life ~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.   Download the Episode  
Direct download: 129TiffaniRogers.mp3
Category:fashion -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

"We need to replace the Romantic template with a psychologically-mature vision of love we might call Classical, which encourages in us a range of unfamiliar but hopefully effective attitudes: - that it is normal that love and sex may not always belong together - that discussing money early on, upfront in a serious way is not a betrayal of love - that realising that we are rather flawed, and our partner is too, is of huge benefit to a couple increasing the amount of tolerance and generosity in circulation. - that we will never find everything in another person, nor they in us, not because of some unique flaw, but because of the way human nature works. - that we need to make immense and often rather artificial-sounding efforts to understand one another; that intuition can’t get us where we need to go. - that spending two hours discussing whether bathroom towels should be hung up or can be left on the floor is neither trivial nor unserious; that there is special dignity around laundry and time-keeping.

All these attitudes and more belong to a new, more hopeful future for love." —Alain de Botton

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #128

As young children many of us were told of a Prince Charming and a damsel needing rescue.  Perhaps we were babysat by one too many viewings of Cinderella, the Little Mermaid or Snow White, and as we grew, the bombardment of the idea that of being incomplete, incapable and reeking of subtle desperation until that one special person found the young woman in need of assistance (in modern movies consider Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, Jerry Macquire, The Proposal, The Holiday, the list could go on forever) continued to viewed, digested, absorbed and unconsciously accepted as "how it will all someday work out if I am to be truly happy". While indeed times and some films are trying to make a shift, think Frozen, the reality is, the myth of a soulmate continues to be peddled, sold and accepted as the one thing, if we haven't found, we need to in order to realize true contentment. The funny thing is, or should I say, the breath-of-fresh air that I hope to share with you today is actually to become your own soulmate. And what I mean by this is what I will explain below. Believe it or not, I am absolutely a romantic, but there are some things, as I have discussed before, that must be de-romanticized. The soulmate myth is one of them, and it is the primary reason your love life, and your life in general, has been hobbled. Even if you think your love life is flourishing and you believe you've found your soulmate, believe it or not, this relationship you adore and treasure can be strengthened even more by letting go of this cultural, marketing myth. Earlier this year, best-selling writer Alain de Botton published The Course of Love: A Novel which I read and shared my thoughts on here. The gift of the novel is that it walks readers through the reality of two imperfect people, not unlike many of us who are searching and learning as we love about ourselves, about our lover, about life, etc. And as it walks through years of a relationship it reveals more of the truths that movie producers don't want us to consider: the boring but necessary parts. For example, recognizing that “Love is a skill, not just an enthusiasm.” I often discuss the power of getting to know ourselves on this blog, but the dirty work of getting to know ourselves and the evidence that we have been successful is when we understand the science as well. Such as hormones and in which instances they are released and what they can do to our moods and therefore our actions; willpower - understanding its finite nature and how to conserve it as much as possible; and emotional intelligence - being able to remove ourselves from emotions that appear seemingly instinctively and having the tools to investigate why we are feeling the way we are feeling in certain scenarios in order to move past them successfully. Often we may presume that our partner needs to fill our voids, fix our hurts and protect us from the parts of the world that scare us, but the reality is when we seek this solution to our woes, it's just a bandaid covering a wound that hasn't been tended to properly. Therefore, it will never heal as well as it could. How can we heal the parts of us that seem impossible to fix? By addressing them. By doing the dirty and seemingly difficult work of understanding why certain things in our lives aren't working as we would like them to. Having trouble financially? The solution is not to find someone who makes money, but to figure out how to manage the money you do have well and begin to be the master of money and how to earn the living you seek or live within the means you already have.  As Lisa Martinez pointed out last year in an article for Verily, "invest more of [your] time in becoming a better version of [yourself]". Why? Investing time in winnowing away the aspects that are no longer serving you, coming to better understand how to handle your emotions, recognizing barriers you have in your life and then discovering the tools to work around them, as well as learning how to effectively communicate with others is a gift not only to anyone who you are in a relationship with, but a gift to yourself as well. Once you invest in yourself, you will find you enjoy your own company. You will no longer need to fill your life with appointments, responsibilities that don't support the life you wish you live, and anything to busy yourself so that you don't have to sit quietly with yourself from time to time. You will bring yourself a peace that multiplies your comfort, contentment and therefore your happiness. And who doesn't want to be around someone who is at peace with themselves and doesn't project or throw their pain onto others? The person you need in your life is your best self, and that self is in many ways your soulmate. But why not get rid of the word all together? As Alain de Botton points out "Our strongest cultural voices have - to our huge cost - set us up with the wrong expectations." Love is a very good thing to welcome into our lives, but it has become distorted in part because of the expectation we have brought into our vocabulary with the term soulmate. And it is up to each of us to recognize the perversion of love that is portrayed in media and the culture of which we are part of and come to understand what a loving relationship truly is while removing the need to label the person we would like to welcome into our lives, into the most intimate part of our lives, our soulmate. Because the truth of the matter is there is no truth to the existence of a soulmate. Yes, the dictionary defines it as the a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner, but do you know how words come to be Webster's Dictionary? Consider the word "selfie" which was just added to the Oxford dictionary in 2014 and Webster's in 2013. Words are added to the dictionary as the culture begins using it as a common colloquialism, and therefore, a need arises to define it for the broad populous. The term "soulmate" purports to assume that we are one half of a whole as it originated from the ancient tale of Aristophanes involving two-headed hermaphroditic giants who were cleaved apart by a jealous Zeus, fated thereafter to forever seek their other halves. But here's the part where we need to pause, take a deep breath and think rationally. Growth is a choice. And some of us will continue to choose to grow and learn and progress, while some will embark on some growth and still others will be quite content to remain stagnant (ironically, even by staying stagnant, we are changing, just not in a beneficial manner). The soulmate theory is fallacious because it presumes we are fixed entities, never-changing and always remaining the same and as well the other half that we seek will be stagnant too, never having changed since being born. As discussed here in Psychology Today, "growing apart" in marriages is a common reason for a union's dissolution. Humans are, just as the world is, forever changing, learning new information about themselves and the world and choosing different ways to move forward through life.  It doesn't mean that a relationship cannot endure, it just means awareness of this life truth is crucial, and to return to Alain de Botton's words "love is a skill". The story of a relationship, when the two individuals meet, connect and seem to speak the same language, is only the first chapter. The rest of the story is a conscious choice to invest, learn, listen, communicate, to express kindness and recognize within ourselves the truth behind what we feel when something new arises. The term soulmates limits us, confines us and keeps our feet in cement deterring a relationship from truly flourishing. Yes, it requires the two involved to be present, attentive and brave, but much like choosing to make the most out of our one and only life and reach our fullest potential, the path to a relationship's fullest potential is one with two people who are aware of the truth and open to learning, listening and finding strength to do what is best for both themselves and the person they are in a relationship with. So, the word soulmates? Let it go and liberate yourself whether you are in a relationship or not, seeking a relationship or not, because when you do, you open the door to yes, more responsibility on your part, but as they (albeit in reverse), when you take on the great responsibilities, you give yourself so much more power in living the life that will bring you true contentment. ~SIMILAR POSTS from the Archives you might enjoy:

~Why Not . . . Stop the Pursuit?

~To Complement, Not Complete

~The Prerequisite for a Healthy Relationship

~The Important Ingredient in a Healthy Romance

Petit Plaisir:

~In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney

~blog Design*Sponge

~Listen to Grace Bonney with Garance Doré on the Pardon my French podcast here

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com The Simply Luxurious Life

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Direct download: 128SoulmateMyth.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

Inspired by Sarah Lavoine's new book Chez Moi: Decorating Your Home and Living Like a Parisienne, discover 20 of my favorite tips and ideas for living well in your sanctuary as we talk about decor, dining, style and lifestyle ideas inspired by a Parisienne who lives and decorates with effortless style.

This week's Petit Plaisir introduces the newest addition to TSLL brand: the "Live Simply, Live Well" notepads which have in full-color the newest illustration by Inslee on the layout. 

Direct download: 12720WaysParisienne_-_101916_6.51_PM.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

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