The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

The Simple Sophisticate podcast began its fourth year this past September, and as we did I continue to feel fortunate for listeners' interest and the guests who wish to stop by. This year's topics ranged from contentment to daily routines to being a better partner to everyday life in France and enjoying eating each and every day. Below are the 14 top posts out of the 53 that were part of the 2017 year. While today is the one Monday of the year a new episode does not go live, be sure to tune in next Monday (episode #189) when author and Francophile Jamie Cat Callan will stop by to talk about her new book Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and that Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi which will be released on January 2nd. Thank you for tuning in, and if you have been enjoying the podcast, if you could take a moment to leave a review sharing what you most enjoy, you not only will help future potential listeners decide if this is the podcast they are looking for but also have the opportunity for your review to be shared on an upcoming podcast. Click here to leave a review on iTunes. Have a look at the top episodes of 2017 organized by order of posting date.

Episode #137:Welcome the Quality in 2017: One Month at a Time

Episode #144: 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday

Episode #147: 10 Truths About Independent Women & Love

Episode #155: 6 Life Lessons on Living Well from Julia Child

Episode #159: 18 Ways to Define Your Classic Style in LIfe and within your Closet

Episode #160: The Butterfly Moment: Don't Wait, Just Live Well

Episode #161: Ask Shannon Episode

Episode #162: From Seeking Happiness to Cultivating Contentment: A Shift in Pursuit

Episode #164: The Importance of a Daily Routine & How to Create One You Love

Episode #166: Love & Discovery: How to Be One Half of a Healthy Relationship

Episode #168: French Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni

Episode #170: Being Single is Luxurious Living

Episode #172: How to Refine Your Style in Your Wardrobe & Life

Episode #181: The Importance of Finding Contentment

View the Top Episodes of the Podcast from Previous Years:

~Top 5 Episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast

~Top 10 Episodes of 2016

~View all of episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here ~Check out TSLL's new Vodcast, The Simply Luxurious Kitchen Download the Episode

Direct download: Top2017.mp3
Category:podcast -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #188
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"But I love New Year's Day, because I can never get over the generosity of the fact that we all get a BRAND NEW YEAR, totally for FREE — with no dents, or dinks, or mistakes yet. It's the ultimate REFRESH button." —Elizabeth Gilbert

With 2018 just two weeks away, I am, as I am with each new years, inclined to be quite excited for a fresh start. No matter what the current year shared with me, surprised or delighted me with, the gift of a chance to improve is a priceless opportunity that only arrives once every 365 days. And so, I readily choose to seize it and apply what I have learned over the past 12 months and put it to practice, to improve upon who I reveal myself to be the previous year. As I look ahead to the new year with plans to finally get back to France since far too long ago (2013), I couldn't help but look to my collection of French living and culture books which I didn't fully realized is as plentiful as it turned out to be in my personal library (a sampling captured recently of many of my French themed books) for inspiration as to how to step forward into 2018. Below I've gathered 18 quotes of wisdom, insights and inspiration for beginning anew, renewed and brilliantly rested and ready to make 2018 the year we wish it to be.

You Know More Than You Realize

1."a quarter to a third of all English words come from French, and good thing; otherwise, learning this language would be even harder than it is." —William Alexander in Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart  

Read Books Like You Need Them to Breathe

2. "France retains a reverence for the printed book. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States, the market here is healthier, largely thanks to government protections that treat the stores as national treasures . . . in France, booksellers —including Amazon —may not discount books more than 5 percent below the publisher's list price." —Elaine Sciolino in The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs  

The Gift of a Balanced Life is a Beautiful Life to Savor

3. "So here is a trilogy: food/movement/know thyself. Again, these are important elements in my life and also in the lives of French women who don't get fat (and perhaps do not want or need facelifts)." —Mireille Guiliano in French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude   

Trust Your Journey, and As You Travel, Just Be Yourself

4. "'Seize the moment . . . pay attention to your life right now' . . . What I failed to see, sitting around the coffee table on those nights, was the possibility that I didn't have to keep looking for a family to belong to; I could create one of my own. I had conflated my deep need to belong to something bigger than myself with a more superficial need to fit in, to look and dress and act like others. But fitting in is not belonging. This seems so clear now, but at the time I didn't understand the difference. I was still floating between New York and Paris, at least in the sense that my identity was tied to both cities. I lived in New York and worked at a New Yorker's pace, but I couldn't let go of Paris —Paris, which had shaped me more deeply than college or even my Manhattan childhood. Returning to Paris felt as if I was reawakening some part of myself that had been asleep since I'd left." —Kate Betts in My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine  

On Style: Mix It Up

5. "Forget the 'total look.' Frenchwomen love to mix and match. Pascale Camart, womenswear buying manager for the Galeries Lafayette, told me that having designer labels next to ordinary ones on the same floor was 'on purpose. The Frenchwoman likes to put different things together.' The Parisienne, she says, doesn't buy evening dresses. She sticks with basics and then finds the one distinctive jacket or scarf or top that will make the ensemble a knockout." —Harriet Welty Rochefort in Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing Like the French  

The Importance of Elevating the Everyday

6. " You don't go overboard, exhausting yourself over the holidays when you make every day an occasion for friendship and family, fun and celebration." —Jamie Cat Callan in Bonjour, Happiness: Secrets to Finding Your Joie de Vivre  

Choose Quality in Your Food and in Your Life to Elevate the Experience

7. "Édith Piaf famously sang, Non, je ne regrette rien ('No, I regret nothing'). Although I have my share of regrets, using good chocolate to make a soufflé is never one of them." —David Lebovitz in L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home  

Let Your Body Tell You What It Needs and Listen

8. "She knows exactly what she has 'a taste' for, and once she's had enough, that's it. She eats what she wants, when she wants it, until she is satisfied. Food is not a moral or emotional issue for her. She does not describe foods as good or bad; to her they are neutral, just food." —Carol Cottrill in The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management  

The Essence of Real Beauty Goes Beyond the Surface

9. "Style without substance is unacceptable, largely because it's boring, one-dimensional. In France, it's inadmissible to provoke ennui. Real style is built upon a solid foundation of informed intelligence, quick wit, and an impressive panopoly of culture references. One must hold her own in a lively conversation. The essence of beauty is to continue educating oneself and constantly to learn something new. Simply put: these are the keys to eternal youth." Tish Jett in Forever Chic: Frenchwomen's Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance  

Keep Persevering to Create More 'Luck' in Your Life

10. "Persevering is often not simply a matter of working hard and refusing to quit; often, by trying again, failing again, and failing better, we inadvertently place ourselves in the way of luck. Yet another reason to keep on keeping on." —Karen Karbo in Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life  

Cooking Need Not Be Complicated & Thus an Necessary Element of Socializing Well in Everyday Life

11. "Yes, Parisians have more fun when they go out. But they're also ten times less likely to eat out. And in Paris, there's no ordering in —you cook. It's simple cooking, really: You can have five friends over, create a fast, delicious pasta with zucchini and mint. Or you just buy cheese, figs, wine and call it a night." — Garance Doré in Love, Style, Life  

Opening Your World to Other Languages & Cultures Deepens Appreciation and Perspective

12. "Linguists call America 'the graveyard of languages' because of its singular ability to take in millions of immigrants and extinguish their native languages in a few generations. A study of thirty-five nations found that 'in no other country . . . did the rate of the mother tongue shift toward (English) monolingualism approach the radity of that found in the United States.' Immigrants to America lose languages quickly; natives of America fail to acquire them. Only 18 percent of American schoolchildren are enrolled in foreign language courses, while 94 percent of European high-school students are studying English." —Lauren Collins in When in French: Love in a Second Language  

Incorporate the Arts into Your Life

13. "As often as you can, take an evening off and seek out the arts. Attend the ballet, visit an art show at your local coffee shop, go see an independent theatre, attend a symphony performance or a rock concern. These moments are often too few and far between, especially when family and work life seem to always come first. Indulging in the pleasure of the arts feels decadent and is a magnificent way to recharge your soul. Purchase your tickets in advance. Knowing that you are going to attend the ballet in three weeks gives you something delightful to look forward to." — Jennifer L. Scott in At Home with Madame Chic  

Luck is Hard Earned

14. "In truth, her luck was not yet finished. Not even close. These two daring shipments were to make her one of the most famous women in Europe and her wine one of the most highly prized commodities of the nineteenth century. As Louis told her, it was a succes born out of 'your judicious manner of operating, your excellent wine, and the marvelous similarity of your ideas, which produced the most splendid unity and action and execution — we did it well, and I give a million thanks to the bounty of the divine Providence who saw fit to make me one of his instrument in your future well-being . . . certainly you merit all the glory possible after your misfortunes, your perseverance, and your obvious talents.'" —Tilar J. Mazzeo in The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It  

On What Is Worth Appreciating and Savoring

15. "The weight of history means that the French don't wipe the slate clean to make way for progress the way Americans do. Because of their centuries-old attachment to the land, restriction is their second nature, not expansion. The French have completely different ideas about what's public and what's private, and those ideas influence how they think about money, morality, eating, manners, conversation, and even political accountability. The French glorify what's elevated and grand, not what's common and accessible. They value form as much as content. And finally, they created many of their instituions to try to deal with the after-affects of two major wars. These factors don't add up to a neat picture that diametrically opposes French and Anglo-Americans. They just explain a lot about why the French think the way they do. Unless Americans recognize these differences, they will never understand the French." —Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow in Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France, but Not the French  

Stop and Nourish Your Body & Mind Daily

16. "No matter how fraught our workload, we stop and have a proper meal. It helps us calm our brains and bodies, and we know we will work more efficiently afterward." —Mathilde Thomas in The French Beauty Solution: Time-Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out  

The Importance of Quality Living for the Individual Living It, Not for Outward Applause

17. "Ambition—another virtue that becomes a vice when taken too seriously. Time is not money for the French. It's an ephemeral currency and should be spent doing the things that make life worth living. Remember, the French woman might have an acute sense of breveity of time and the immediacy of pleasure; that said, she also has a strong predilection to enjoy not only the finer things in life but the things that make life fine." —Debra Ollivier in What French Women Know: About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind  

Let Your Dreams Lead the Way and Never Stop Striving Forward

18. "Willa Carter believed that if you have a wish for something from a young age and you nourish it, if you continually make an effort to nurture this wish and stay connected to this dream, then you will live a fulfilled life. If you believe in something, it invests everything you do with meaning. Paris has always stayed with me, close to me, and I've continually felt nourished by it." —Kate Betts in My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine   At the core of living well is appreciating the value of now and tempering longings and future hopes so that we are soley living in the future. Our lives are indeed right now. Just for a moment, examine where you were in your life one year ago today, now five years ago, now 10. Could you have precisely known where you would be when looking toward the future as your younger self? The future is exciting, but as many of the sage words remind, it is often the simple, the patient and present that make life truly fulfilling. Thank you for stopping by, and remember to stop by next Monday when the Top Episodes of 2017 will be shared. A new episode will return on Monday January 1st with Francophile author Jamie Cat Callan (her new book Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and that Certain je ne sais quoi will be released on January 2, 2018) as well as an excited giveaway for listeners and readers (hint: it is something for your kitchen). ~Tune in to French-Living inspired posts/episodes from the Archives: ~#4: 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile ~#23: The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life ~#32: The Francophile Style Guide: The 14 Essentials ~#96: Everyday Living in France - My Interview with Sharon Santoni ~#127: 20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne ~#144: 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday ~#151: 10 Style Tips to Embrace the French Woman's Approach to Effortless Chic ~#155: 6 Life Lessons for Living Well from Julia Child ~#167: My Good Life in France: Author Janine Marsh ~#168: Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni ~#169: Understanding the French Culture: My Interview with Géraldine Lepere of Comme une Française ~#182: David Leibovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home   ~Check out the new addition to TSLL destination: The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Have a look at the pilot episode below and learn more about this new venture into vodcasting in which we will focus on "Seasonal fare to elevate the everyday meal" here.

 

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Salmon en Papillote (Salmon in Paper) - view the entire recipe here

 

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Direct download: 188FrenchLessons.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #187
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

~The following episode/post is part of the year-long series Welcoming in the Quality in 2017, One Month at a Time. To view other monthly topics touching on all arenas of our lives from style to money to eating well, click here Upon stepping off the plane at Heathrow last month and wandering into the Devon countryside for a week, I also drastically limited my access to American news. My focus was initially on successfully arriving at my destinations, not missing my train, exploring desired sites and soaking in all of the beauty of the landscape and the culture. While I did turn on the BBC from time to time out of curiosity of what Britain's culture was focused on and their observations as an outsider of American news, I did so for brief windows of time each morning and evening. Stepping out of my routine of regularly having news radio on in the background while working and scanning my social media, which prior to my trip contained a long list of news sources that I would frequently check out throughout the day happening without conscious intention initially, and going about my days with this new unconscious habit revealed a lightness about my day that I haven't experienced for some time. Due to this observation upon arriving back in the states, I set out to revamp how I took in the news. Now at this point in the post, some readers may be nodding their heads and going so far as to say, "I never read/watch/view the news. It's so depressing." And while, yes, it can be tempting to refrain from all sources of news and go about our days in our own bubble, I would advise that it would be dangerous to do so. As I have shared in 2012, staying abreast of current events is, at its core, crucial to being an informed citizen. And to toss away the power to be able to think critically is a foundational component of living well and creating a world for ourselves and around us now and in the future that we wish to live. In 2020, the United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment (women's suffrage), and to understand the struggle and suppression women fought to rise above should never be forgotten. Our voices are reflected in our vote and with such a powerful responsibility, we must stay informed. However, there is a healthy balance to be struck, and while I do need to stay abreast of the news for my teaching curriculum as well as for my own knowledge, I became determined to find a better way of staying informed without decreasing the quality of my life. In a study by the University of Sussex, researchers found that indeed viewing negative news has a negative effect on our well-being. However, as it is important to remain an informed citizen, how does one balance the two? The effect of negative news:

  • exacerbates personal worries and anxieties
  • begin to catastrophize your worries — when you think about a worry so persistently that you begin to make it seem much worse than it was at the outset and much worse than it is in reality
  • begin to think and talk about your worries far more

As mentioned above, I wrote a post regarding the benefits of staying abreast of the current events of the day, and the last reason is a point I want to break down and examine today: become an educated citizen. It can be tempting to ignore news all together. The positive effects on your mind, and lightness of being will be immediately felt as I discovered during my week long holiday in England. But, when we say no to all news, we also say no to progress, not only improving our own lives, but the lives of those we love, the lives of the generations which will come after us and the quality of life and the quality of the world and the environment of which we call home. There is a reason the founding fathers chose to organize a representative government rather than a direct democracy. They didn't trust the common man (or woman as it eventually became her right) to choose well when it came to elections. In other words, they didn't feel the public was educated enough on matters they would be making decisions. And while we should all have the right to vote as free and fair elections are the cornerstone of a democratic society, we wouldn't want ignorant voters to place a vote based on lack of understanding of how a particular system of government works. Below are a few reasons to not run away from the news all together:

  • improve critical thinking skills
    • observe bias
    • determine credibility
    • begin to think objectively
    • understand most issues involve a lot of grey and are not merely black and white
  • change can only occur when we know what is actually going on and thus understand what and how to change it
  • enables you to form your own opinion
  • cast a vote that supports the world you want to see materialize
  • holds those in power accountable

So while yes, the peace I so deeply enjoyed while traveling was something I wanted to return home with, I also knew a balance needed to be struck, as there are many benefits: The Benefits of a Healthy Balance:

  • reduce stress
  • broaden perspective
  • more emotional energy to focus on priorities
  • better sleep
  • healthier relationships
  • confidence in decisions in upcoming elections

Each of us will make different changes, so it is important to understand ourselves and how/why we do welcome excessive news into our lives. With the first suggestion, we will drill down to the core of the shift that needs to be made and then follow with eight more ideas for striking a healthy balance that elevates the quality of your everyday without leaving you in the dark.

1.Become aware of the changes you wish to make and why

Come to understand the cue and why you respond the way you do. What is the reward you think you are going to receive? Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Charles Duhigg wrote The Power of Habit, and within the book he explains how habits occur and how to break them if they are not serving us well. It comes down to understanding the three part cycle: Cue, Reward, Routine (see the detailed graphic here). Part of why I turn on the radio, the news, or scan my social media to stay apprised of current events, is that it is part of my routine. Within in that routine, I am seeking a particular outcome. In other words, I am craving something that I think this habit will satisfy. Once I identified that I wanted to learn, and knowing that this routine is not procurring the outcome I actually desire, I can shift the routine. But first, I needed to understand the cue that shifted my attention to feeling the need to stay aware or learn something. Also, in some moments during the day (because he suggests looking at the time of day in which the habit takes place), it was merely to have background company while I worked. Understanding these three components is a significant step toward altering the habit that you've discovered, in this case watching, reading or hearing too much news. In the following steps we'll talk about how to create new habits that satiate the craving.

2. Understand the tactics and all the purposes of the news business

While yes, the news is meant to inform (find the who, what, when, where and the why), the networks/channels need to keep you watching as each station is funded by advertiser dollars (BBC and PBS being exceptions) and thus, need to keep your eyeballs on the television for as long as possible. Often the "why" is something that cannot be answered immediately; however, the anchors would like you to think they can find the answer: the answer will reveal itself with the next guest that will be chatting in the next segment, and that is one way to keep you tuned in.

3. Adjust the sites, channels you view

Either view a neutral news site or challenge yourself to view the opposing columnists, news sites, opinions and commentaries to better understand their argument. One assignment I give my rhetoric students each year is to read a columnist who leans to the left on political issues (domestic and international) for the first semester, followed by reading a columnist from the opposing side the second (have a look at the list here - I am always adding to and tweaking it). I too continue to read columnists from the left and right to better understand the issues at a level that is far deeper than the short talking points shared in headlines, comment sections, etc. Often, what I find is that I become a bit calmer after reading the opposition (credible source is a must) as the fear mongering has been reduced and I am able to better understand why the other side adheres to their ideology on a particular topic. Another site I would recommend you checking out to view multiple sides of issues is a source our school's librarian has shared with our staff: AllSides. As you will see, it is organized just as the name alludes: each column is placed on its respective place on the continuum, so you can have at your fingertips, multiple sources and opinions about a current event topic.

4. Welcome a deeper understanding of history into your reading repetoire

Part of the fear and angst that intensifies is due to a lack of knowledge of what has happened in the past. A deep understanding. The cause, the effect. It's one thing to memorize the dates of events, but its another to understand the catalyst that led to the event occurring and the outcome that followed. This takes time. This requires more than a viewing of a three minute segment on the news. Pick up a book on a topic that interests you that has parallels to the issues that matter to you and dive deep into the archives of history.

5. Adjust how you receive the news

Perhaps turning off the notifications on your phone is the first step toward change that will limit your stress. Then look to how you are receiving the news: social media or newspapers; radio or television? Often we take in news without being prepared to receive it. In other words, we are passive receivers of the news - we are letting the news come to us when it wants to arrive. Instead, choose to be an active receiver. Choose when and how you will receive the news of the day. I prefer the radio and the newspaper as I have more control as to when I am ready to learn what is going on in the world. I recently went through my Twitter account and unfollowed nearly 100 different people who were associated with news or world events that typically shared information that stressed me out to read. Now my feed contains primarily inspiring, trusted and less inflammatory sources of individuals. I also have chosen to receive a daily news email that arrives in my inbox each morning (rather than alerts), so that I can determine when I see the news and prepare myself for it, read it, and move forward with my day. Most major news sites have an email subscription service like this. Some even have daily podcast episodes: short and current - such as NPR's Up First app (10 minute rundown each weekday morning with the Morning Edition team).  The Daily Skimm is another great news source to receive the headlines of the day upon waking up to start your day. Another idea that will also tickle your interest of other cultures is to read the news through the lense of another country. Part of the reason I enjoyed the news a bit more in England was the distance and perspective an outsider gave to the perceived pressing issues of the United States.

6. Set a time limit

One show I thoroughly enjoy each week is Sunday's Weekend Edition on NPR: the puzzle with Will Shortz, the music and book interviews, as well as a glance at world and domestic news and politics. Also, CBS's Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley. However, once I've heard or viewed them, the radio and television goes off and I enjoy my leisurely or project-driven day to do as I please without rachetting up the worry.

7. Satiate your need for learning with other non-news sources

As I mentioned at the top of the post, part of the reason I sought out the news was to continue my learning, but as I knew but didn't apply, there are many other ways and sources to garner knowledge. Perhaps you have a list of blogs you read each morning or once a week, or maybe you view a particular show or public television program that tickles your fancy for travel or history or antiques or art or the list could go on for some time which means there is a wealth of ways we can welcome knowledge into our lives. Carve out time for these activities as they are a healthy choice for living well and staying informed.

8. Take action

Often part of the reason the abundance of news we receive overwhelms us is that we feel helpless. And while we may not be a politician or an individual who holds a seat in government at the moment, why not do something that supports the cause or causes you believe in. Begin by donating or volunteering your time, but in all sincerity, why not consider running for an office locally? Or if you are someone who prefers to stay behind the scenes, investigate who is running for offices in your local community, state or your state's federally elected senate and representative seats and see how you can support them.

9. Find alternatives to replace previous news viewing/listening/reading moments

Classical music, walking, reading a different section of the newspaper, reading deeper more investigative articles rather than viewing snippets on the news, all of these are ideas I incorporate into my life and now I have added a few more. I recently shared on Instagram Stories that I found the app I have been looking for for months: WRTI, a classical and jazz music station based in Philadelphia (an NPR affiliate). The primary reason I am most a fan of this app is that it has an alarm clock to enable me to wake up to classical music rather than the news radio app I used to use or a beeping sound (it also has a sleep timer). I tend to listen to classic music in the morning and jazz during my work day. If you have found alternatives that are working for you, please do share, as each of us will design the balance of staying informed and reducing stress thereby elevating the overall quality of our lives in our own unique way, and the more ideas, the more options to see what might work best. While my shift is fairly recent and I will continue to share my progress and the changes I observe, I have already noticed a return (or maintenance) of the lightness I so enjoyed while exploring and relaxing in the English countryside. I am certain we all can strike the right balance so long as we know how. And in so doing, continuing to fine tune the dial, we will find the precise spot that works best for us individually.   ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~A Thinking Life = A Happy Life

~Why Not . . . Spend Time in Nature?

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

 

Petit Plaisir:

My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz

~read this post by David of the process of My Paris Kitchen finally coming to publication ~Listen to my interview with David Leibovitz (episode #182) about his recent book L'Appart in which the purchase and renovation of his now Paris apartment which took place while he was trying to write and publish My Paris Kitchen.  

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Direct download: 187BalanceNews2.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #186

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects." —Nikola Tesla

Have you heard someone else or maybe yourself say something similar to the following: Well, when you reach a certain age, things just start falling apart; or I am forty. I should have it all figured it out by now; or I'll never be able to [insert anything from touching your toes, to be being able to find real love, to earning a certain amount of money or travel around the world].

A year of quality continues. As we began this month-by-month examination of how we each can improve the quality of our lives in a variety of different arenas, November was chosen to focus on self-imposed limitations and how to eradicate them. While I am a few days into December, if you'd like to take a look at the entire 12 month list, click here. The perplexity with self-imposed limitation is that we don't believe we are setting them. We think they are real. We think they are reality. Take for example the age limitation shared above. Many people sincerely believe that at particular ages, certain things must happen, but they would be incorrect. It just so happens you are at an age when biologically, due to bad health, lack of attention to your body or lack of understanding how to better take care of your body combined with the genetics you were given from your parents that at a particular age in someone you observed, certain occurrences were observed. To continue to understand the level of perplexity, anything you have control over are self-imposed limitations, but so often, as I just described above, we don't realize how much control we actually have and we sadly toss it away and assume it is "how things occur".  Thus, anyone who is ignorant to, in this particular example, is still stuck in level one of consciousness. Psychology Today explains there are three levels of consciousness: (1) the level of the senses; (2) level of conscious awareness; and (3) level of conscious connection. Level two requires of an individual to be self-aware. In episode #143 I broke down in detail what self-awareness is, how to attain it and the many benefits of doing so. Defined succinctly, self-awarenss is the act of "creating connection to ourselves, questioning our expectations, ideas and assumptions and exploring our perceptions" as stated by Psychology Today. In other words, examining what we have accepted blindly, what the world has told us without our own examination of the information and discerning the difference between how we truly feel and why and what others have told us is the reason we feel the way we do. Once we have reached the second level of consciousness we are able to see what is or isn't in our control. As well, we can determine why we are setting limitations. We are able to have a better understanding of our own emotions, detaching from them and examining them. Being honest with ourselves and getting to the root of fears, questions and doubts.  (If you are looking to become better attuned with your own emotional awareness, tune in or read episode #140.) What you will discover once you reached the second stage of consciousness is that you have more in your life that you can control that you most likely previously understood to be malleable as you wish it to be. From your thoughts, your decisions, your assumptions, your understanding of the world and how it functions, the world may look and feel anew to you. Such an aha moment is exhilarating. Then, in the next breath it can perhaps seem daunting because if you succeed, it is you who navigated to where you wished, but if you don't, then it is you who navigated to where you did not want to go. In other words, we are truly the navigator of our ships which comes with an immense amount of responsibility. But once you wrap your head around the gift you have been given, you realize you have just set yourself free. Free from worries that you are not doing as you should (a particular career, having children, not being married, marrying the person who your family approves, voting a certain way, living a certain way, etc., etc. etc.), free from the zeitgeist of generational mores, free from the parochial limitations of how you spend your time, and the list goes on. You are free. Now it is up to you do something which is authentic to you and in so doing you begin to enjoy the present moment. The reason you begin to savor and be fully present each day is because you begin to enjoy the life you are living. You are not hoping something will happen down the road (yes, you can have goals), but you are enjoying how you are living in the everydays. You are not biding your time or hoping your desires will change so that somehow who you are will morph into what people approve of which prevents you from enjoying the "right now" moment. Why? Because if you don't think who you are right now is okay, is good enough, is worthy enough, you can't savor the gift that is you at this very moment. And you are - a gift. Your ideas, your passions, your curiosities, even many of them that may not have been found, are waiting for you to let go of the limitations and let them bloom. But you can only do that when you are present and aware. When you are able to step into the present moment, the change you seek begins to reveal itself. Gradually over time that evolution will be significant and this process is conscious connection, the third level of consciousness. Now you are connecting to what is the truth after having stripped away what is not and freeing it to become, freeing yourself to become, your most authentic and magnificent, and thus the world around you to shine as well. Long story short, self-imposed limitations will hold you back, but now that you know you most likely have at least one or two you have accepted and now need to reëxamine, you will be able to set yourself free and elevate your life. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Emotional Intelligence (EQ): A Crucial Tool for Enhanced Quality in Work and Life (episode #140)

~Examining the Benefits of Self-Awareness (episode #137)

~24 Ways to Live Beyond Labels (episode #153)

 

~Petit Plaisir

~Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas (Dave Koz & David Benoit & Rick Braun & Peter White)

 

~Modvin Giveaway:

  • A lovely gift for the Francophile or foodie on your list, maybe even for your own home
    • 18 in x 24 in (45.7 cm x 61.0 cm)
  • Anatomy of a French Meal (Anatomie d'un Repas Français) illustrated print (value $39)
  • Enter here to win the print seen below. Enter by Sunday 12/4 (noon, Pacific time)
  • Save 15% on all items found at Modvin (formerly Lyra Press) with promo code TSLL

~enter by 12/4/17 to win the giveaway of the above print (18 in x 24 in or 45.7 cm x 61.0 cm)~

Sponsors for today's episode:

Direct download: 186SelfImposedLimitations_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #185
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

By default we choose comfort over a better life, but we don’t think that is what we’re doing. We think we are choosing the better life. Why? We don’t know what or how the “better life” will unfold, but we do at least know what is somewhat okay. For example, we may have gathered up the gumption to let go of a partner because the person we were becoming or the life that was evolving was shrinking or limiting or unhealthy in a myriad of ways, but after a few weeks or months or maybe even a few years, we think, well, at least I know how it will unfold. At least I know. Another example is the job that doesn’t excite us, but it pays decently or enough and at least we know we have a job; we have a rhythm, even if that rhythm includes complaining more than we are cheering. Yet another, our weight is not what we know it should or could be, but we are comfortable with our daily eating and exercise habits. We like the food we are eating, and yes, the food we eat brings comfort, even if we know it doesn’t bring us the best health for our body and mind. Let me share two more examples: the location on this planet we call home. Yes, we can make wherever we are home, but maybe it is too much or too little. Too unkempt or too parochial. Too noisy or unstimulating. But, we think to ourselves, at least we know how the days will unfold, who we will run into in the streets, how to drive on the left or right side of the road, how much are property taxes will be each month or how much our rent will be from month to month. Lastly, our attitude. The words we utter, the thoughts we allow to pop up unsupervised often become a default, and because we know how to navigate in our world with these thoughts, we keep allowing them to have their way. Even if we know we may be a bit too snarky, sarcastic, cynical or negative about the likelihood of unknowns, at least we won’t be made a fool. At least those around us know what to expect, and we know what to expect of their reaction. Since it is the holiday season, I would like to say, and feel free to join me in doing so, bah humbug! Bah humbug to each of these comforts and most certainly more that I could share that limit us, that stand in the way of living a better life that allows us to experience reaching our fullest potential. How can we step out of the comfort zone of each of these? By giving ourselves permission to feel awkward. As many of you know who virtually came along with me on my weeklong trip to England either via Instagram, Facebook or here on the blog, the trip was full of beautiful experiences. And many of these experiences were opportunities to feel awkward. Never before had I rented a car in a foreign country, let alone drove on the left side of the road and in the car. Never before had I traveled internationally during the holiday season, never before had I ventured outside of the metropolis of London. Now for those of you who may have had the opportunity to do any or all of these opportunities, they may seem simple, easy, and/or nothing to stress one’s self about. But to others who have never done them, the response may be quite different. Why? Because we see the comfortable life, the good life, the better life, through our own experience. Some readers who have always wanted to get out of the city and explore the countryside may be daunted by the idea of having to drive in a foreign country in order to spend time in a lovely rustic cottage, or others may dismiss international travel at all, but the truth is, if the only reason you don’t do what you wish to do, long to do, is because it will be uncomfortable and full of unknowns, most likely putting you in a position to feel and appear very awkward, that is actually the sign you need to see. Because that is precisely the new venture that will open your world up and reveal to you a better and more amazing way of life that you couldn’t have imagined if you only kept dreaming. While my experiences in England are timely for me and with the fresh feeling of feeling awkward (I drove quite slow on the narrow, beautiful country farm-lined roads), this is just one example of how giving yourself permission to feel awkward is the right choice. Let’s go back to the list of examples I talked about at the top of the post. Relationships. If you are used to being in a relationship, having a partner, and after months or years of being together, you are no longer in each others’ lives, for some it will be awkward to be alone. I would argue for most of us it will be awkward depending upon how long we’ve been with our partner. But again, allow yourself to feel the awkwardness. Revel in it, dance it, laugh about it, journal about it and then step into it and eventually you will step through it. After time passes, you will look back on your old journal entries, recognize the discomfort you were feeling, but also see that such feelings, while natural, were simply part of the process of growing, of expanding into the life you wanted to live, were capable of living, even though there were many unknowns in front of you. Yes, it would have been easy for me to say, nope, I cannot go to England, stay in the dream country cottage I discovered (more on the details of this cottage on December 15) during the holidays because it isn’t fair to leave my dogs with a dog sitter, who travels alone on the holidays and I don’t want to worry about driving as the English. But instead I said yes. I said yes, and as someone who does know the experience of things not going as we might have hoped, I was truly fortunate for my plans to unfold beautifully and even exceed my expectations. And that is the gift of giving yourself permission to feel awkward: you discover how beautiful the world can be in reality and not just in your dreams, you discover strengths and preferences you may not have been sure about regarding yourself, you begin to trust people and the world again (or at least a little bit more after considerable vetting – doing your homework truly does pay off), and you build a deeper appreciation for life and the clarity of the life you want to build. So whether you are allowing yourself to feel awkward trying a new sport, taking a more challenging fitness class, stepping into a new career, meeting a new person or trying to become more comfortable with your own company, know that feeling awkward as you begin the journey is a brilliant sign that you doing exactly what you should. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~11 Life Truths About Contentment that Seem Impossible Until We Experience Them

~Why Not . . . Assume It Will Be Brilliant?

~Why Not . . . Ask the Question "What If?"?

~View more images of TSLL's trip to England on Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife) or search #tsllengland on Instagram

Petit Plaisir:

Dries

 

This episode was sponsored by the following:

~Swap.com
  • Save 40% with code SIMPLE40 on your first order through November 30th
  • Receive free shipping on orders over $10
    • Free shipping code: C4Y7FP4XJERY
Direct download: 185Awkward.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #184
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

~Natural History Museum Ice Rink, London~

The holidays can be glorious and overwhelming at the same time, magnificent and demanding, joy-filled and draining. And since the holidays of Thanksgiving for Americans and a handful of religious and non-religious commemorations will take place in December for people around the globe each year, it is best to navigate an approach that enables the annual celebration to be something to anticipate with excitement. It will be three times this Thanksgiving that I have enjoyed either the turkey holiday or Christmas in a unique fashion: on my own. Each time in the past it was a choice and each time it was an opportunity to explore or take part in something or a way of life I had not experienced. As a teacher, there are few times besides the summer months in which a vacation is allowed, and so I have become more and more inclined to use the week off for Thanksgiving and the two weeks off to end the year and begin the new year traveling, exploring and relaxing. My approach is unique as I have two furry children who will gladly celebrate the exploration of their stockings any day of the month or not at all as a calendar is not something they fuss over. And while I do have family and friends I enjoy visiting, I enjoy more intimate opportunities to spend time with them over the course of the year. Now, don't get me wrong, sitting down to gather with loved ones over a festive meal is something I not only enjoy being invited to but also being the curator of, but I also am very much appreciative of opportunity to take the hype and the expectation of "have-tos" and instead cultivate an authentic experience with people I enjoy spending time and lose track of time with. Inspired by the goal of cultivating a holiday season to eagerly look forward to and revel in from mid-November through the first of January, I came up with a list of ideas for a making a pleasurable holiday season.

1.Create your own traditions

As an adult, you may remember holiday traditions you loved and a few you begrudgingly went along with. However, now you are an adult, so why not reconsider what you want and have to do. Take a look at my thoughts on traditions here.

2. Ease into the season

If the festive season of ho-ho-ho seems to begin far too early, then set your boundary and gradually ease into the celebrations. Maybe there is a particular time when holiday music can be played or the first film can be viewed. As a way to build anticipation, make each occasion a special one: for the first movie of the season, plan a feast of comfort foods shared with close family or friends.

3.  Try one new decoration idea

Michael of Inspired by Charm shared with his Instagram followers a couple of weeks ago how to decorate your holiday tree with ribbon. If this is something you've always wanted to try, go ahead and give it a shot this year. Trying something new is a challenge and an adventure and who knows what new memories and traditions it will inspire.

4. Find a wood burning fireplace and enjoy sitting next to it

Whether you are fortunate enough to have a wood-burning, cracklingly fireplace in your home or not, make a date at least once (more for me please!) to snuggle or sit next to a warm fire with something warm to sip and either an enjoyable conversation to share with someone or a book you cannot wait to dive into.

5. Locate warm gloves for everyday

Keeping your digits warm is a simple way to feel a little more cozy and soak up the snowy moments or freezing, crystal clear days. Enjoy shopping for them and trying them on as gloves are one of the easiest items we wear to try on multiplies of without spending too much time.

6. Follow Peter Mayle's Example

Having reread Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence, it was his decision to throw a holiday party for his workers just prior to Christmas in the middle of the day (his soiree began at 11am) that made me realize, why not? Not only do you have some time in the morning to prepare, but you also have time in the evening to relax and savor the gathering without the worry of the roads, darkness or freezing temperatures at night.

7. Take a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the lights

Instead of hopping in your vehicle, even if you live far away from neighborhoods with lights, park your car in a parking lot and stroll the streets with a friend or partner. Just strolling along, all bundled up is a reminder to slow the pace of life down, take in the festive sights and become infused with the holiday spirit.

8. Keep the tree decorations simple

The boxes upon boxes of holiday decorating may be appealing to some, and at least some decorations for my home are a must to remind me each morning when I wake and afternoon when I arrive home that it is indeed the holidays, but too much can become overwhelming and turn the holidays' arrival into a chore. Keep it as streamlined, yet as festive as you wish, and don't feel bad for not putting out the set of reindeer that you feel you "have-to". Remember, you're designing a holiday approach that enables you to enjoy the holidays you are celebrating.

9. Keep the tree small

For the first time last year, I purchased a three foot tree. And the ease and pure pleasure it brought to my weekend was a change I am going to be adhering to for some time. I still paid careful attention to the ornaments and ribbon. I still strung white lights, but I saved some money and experienced no stress what-so-ever trying to put it up.

10. Learn a new holiday recipe

So many delectable, amazing recipes abound around the internet, from family members and friends that choosing just one may be difficult, but similar to trying a new decorating idea, it is a fun challenge and adventure to look forward to each year. Hey, and if it turns out, that's the icing on the cake!

11. Shop Small Business Saturday

Make a habit of shopping locally as often as possible and even on the designated Saturday after Thanksgiving here in the states. While yes, so much is available at the end of our fingertips as we peruse the internet, if we are able, why not build relationships with our neighbors as they work at their businesses and continue to strengthen the community we call home.

12. Perfect a simple holiday cocktail

Last year, I came up with a super simple cocktail recipe that is a show-stopper when it comes to looks as well. Whatever drink is your favorite, or you are looking for a favorite, always have the necessary ingredients on hand for those last-minute holiday invites of friends visiting from out-of-town to add that extra little holiday touch.

13. Volunteer

Whether you are someone who enjoys stepping into the kitchen and serving a holiday meal to your local citizens in need of a warm meal or you enjoy the ski slopes and can volunteer to tend to the local cross country runs which you frequent yourself, choose some way to give of your time as a way of showing gratitude and building a bond of kindness without seeking anything in return.

14. Select Favorite Holiday Comforts (films, music, candles, etc.)

Each of us has our holiday favorite comforts (Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack is my favorite - hands down), so make sure to carve out time to savor these comforts as a way to deepen the appreciation for this time of year. Do you have a luxurious hot chocolate recipe that you save as a special treat only to be devoured during these last few weeks of the year? Put aside any guilt and indulge. Being present in these moments of simple pleasures and comforts is a practice we can take with us throughout the rest of the year.

15. Find time to read one or two books you've been curious to read

Earlier this week I shared a list of 10 books to enjoy on your holiday travels or vacation. From novels to non-fiction, even a cookbook as well, I know during this time of year, I savor the extra minutes to enjoy more of the books I haven't found the time to read up until now.

16. Let go of the myths and expectations

The holidays are yours to make as you will. Choose to plan your calendar thoughtfully, knowing what you value, what is important and most importantly don't be afraid of saying "no". Yes, we would all most likely agree, the holidays have become far too commercialized, but we can change that with our habits. And our habits can change if we choose to do other activities that brings us the reward we associate with the holiday season: joy, contentment, love, pleasure. (Click here or here for two posts on cultivating good habits and how to break bad habits.) I recently shared with someone my plans for the Thanksgiving break (learn of my plans here), and they immediately said, "Well, that doesn't sound like Thanksgiving".  But their response exemplifies exactly what was shared above, the holidays, Thanksgiving in this case, can be defined how we want them to be defined, celebrated how we want to celebrate them, but it is up to each of us to have the courage to examine why we do what we do and then allow ourselves to get excited about what works for us. I know that I am giddy to be where I am and will be on Thursday. I hope you will be too. (Discover where I am and will be this turkey day on IG - #tsllengland). See below a few pics from the trip so far.

~the skies upon arrival at Heathrow were a brilliant blue (as seen below)~

~took some time to walk and wander in the Victoria and Albert Museum~

~The Royal Albert Hall~

~My love affair with London's limestone~

~Enjoy 15% off all TSLL Notepads, Planner Pages & Signed Copies of Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide when you spend $10 or more with promo code HOLIDAY15, through Monday November 27th.

Petit Plaisir

~Murder on the Orient Express

~Agatha Christie's original Murder on the Orient Express (January 1, 1934)  

This episode was sponsored by the following:

~Swap.com
  • Save 40% with code SIMPLE40 on your first order through November 30th
  • Receive free shipping on orders over $10
    • Free shipping code: C4Y7FP4XJERY

    https://youtu.be/z68frP9Q7XA

Download the Episode

~All Images via TSLL's Instagram, London November 2017 Trip

Direct download: 184holiday.mp3
Category:holidays -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #183
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

The arrival of the holiday issue of The English Home in my mailbox brought a larger smile to my face than previous years. As I flipped through the pages of recommendations by the editors of special holiday events in which to partake in London and around the city (Liberty London holiday windows, visiting the Borough Market, and strolling down Regent's street), I immediately began to add the ideas that caught my eye and interest to my itinerary. After five years since my last visit to England, TSLL will be returning for the kick-off of the holiday season, and to say I am excited to do so in and around London is to only express a morsel of my eagerness to arrive in the land of Jane Austen. As such, I am fine-tuning my preparation for international travel. Five years ago I shared a three-part series on International Travel which is also included in TSLL's first book with further details not included on the blog. With each trip I have since taken requiring a passport, my travel experience deepens and prompts me to want to share what I have discovered.

1. Check Visa requirements and Renew Passport, if necessary

A simple check on this U.S. government website will confirm whether or not you need a Visa or merely your passport to travel to the international country on your itinerary.  For example, if traveling to Australia from the U.S., you will need a Visa. A U.S. passport is valid for 10 years (five years for children under 16) and the renewal fee for an adult passport book is $110 (an additional $30 for a passport card). On the website, it states that renewals take between 4-6 weeks, but to be safe, do it at least three months in advance.

2. Apply for a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry

One of the best $85 I spent was going through the process to receive my Known Travel Number (KTN). In fewer than five minutes in any U.S. airport, I was moved through security without having to take my shoes off or empty my bags. I do still have to run my carry-on through security, but I was able to remain clothed and not take out all of my personal items. The ease set the tone for the trip that was pleasurable and less harried. Remember to renew within five years. Now for international travelers, the TSA Pre-Check works for our departures, but once we are abroad, we will have to go through international airport security unless we have a Global Entry number. While not all countries are a part of the Global Entry program (check here to see which are), there are certain travel frequency requirements to meet in order to obtain this status. The cost is $100 (also must be renewed every five years).

~the red smiley face was the note to the TSA security check that I was TSA Pre-Check, and I moved swiftly through the security line~

3. Reach out to your financial institutions (credit card and checking) to alert them of your travel destinations Once you know which credit or debit cards you will be taking on your travels, call your bank to let them know where you will be traveling abroad and during which dates. Why? If you have a bank that keeps careful track of where you spend your money as to alert you to any fraudulent purchases, they could prevent your card from being used while you are in a destination you normally aren't. Simply let them know, and you will be set.

4. Pack the proper adapters and converters

In my first post regarding international travel, I recommended a brand of adapters that while they worked, I found them to be too flimsy after using them a couple of times and often they didn’t stay in the socket (the post has since been updated). So the hunt began for a new brand which I found and am happy to report is affordable and offers very sturdy adapters. Made by Ceptics and offering adapters for nearly any country you may be traveling to, I paid $7 for three adapters fit for the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Check this post out for converters and for what purpose you will need them (most laptops convert automatically) - scroll down to #4.

5. Purchase necessary sleep aids to alleviate jet lag as much as possible

I have yet to not experience jet lag in some capacity. And even when I am convinced I am not experiencing it at the time, inevitably, upon reflection, I was. However, taking an over-the-counter sleep aid isn't a bad idea to try to sync your body on the plane sooner rather than later. Bring a sleep mask, and perhaps even change into pajamas if your flight is extra long.

6. Educate yourself about the culture 

If you've never traveled to your destination, do your homework. Come to understand the customs and expectations, and if the country speaks a different language, learn the basic greetings (hello, thank you - see a more detailed list here - check out #7 on the list).

7. Check the driving license requirements

If you are planning on renting a vehicle, check to see if the country you will be driving in requires an international driving license. Some countries simply need your driver's license from the country you are from, but others are more particular. Rick Steve's writes about driving in Europe here and here is a link to AAA which will issue you an IDP for $20 (good for one year).

8. Purchase transportation passesd in advance

If when you arrive you will be using the local transportation (subway, metro, tube, bus, etc.), consider purchasing in advance (if available), the necessary transportation passes. For example, London makes available in advance of your arrival their Oyster card for visitors, as well as offering discounts on the fare prices. I particularly like knowing my transporation from the airport and for the first day is taken care of as due to the lengthy travel itinerary, I am quite exhausted and merely want to arrive at my accommodations and settle in without more stress of the unknowns.

9. Pack a neat and well-stocked travel tote for toiletries

The 3.3 ounce rule applies to liquids and lotions if you are taking your travel tote in your carry-on, so pack thoughtfully. I just found these TSA approved squeezable liquid containers on Amazon which come with pre-made labels. If you are bringing your travel tote full of toiletries and/or make-up, finding the perfect sized tote is the goal. It has taken me some time to find this item. Having gone through a rolled up cloth and mesh version and a plastic version just to name a few, I finally found a leather travel tote with a couple of different compartments and zipper pouches that fit the exact size I needed. (View my list of items for a travel tote here.) This striped toiletry tote also caught my eye.

10. Invest in sturdy and secure luggage

After going through at least three suitcases in which the handle would either be ripped off, the zipper broken or the collapsible handle becoming extremely loose, I realized I should have taken my own advice and applied it to travel luggage: invest in quality. Rimowa and Tumi are two top well-known and trusted brands making their luggage available in sturdy aluminum. I happend on a great deal last spring and purchased my Tumi at a fraction of the full-price from Neiman Marcus. Save up, and purchase what you can afford and you won't have to waste money on buying multiple pieces that don't do their job.

11. Reserve your taxis before you leave

If you will need a taxi to and from the airport as you leave your home, as well as when you arrive at your destination, make the reservations ahead of time. Peace of mind and not having to pull your luggage through the local transportation is a simple investment if you have more than a carry-on. As well, when you hop (okay, who am I kidding, after a transcontinental flight, it is more like lumbering) off the plane, seeing your name on a piece of paper with your driver waiting to take you to your accommodations with a nice soft bed is a welcome sight.

12. Prep your home

Depending upon the season and weather, tend to details of home care and home-sitting if necessary. As well, alert your mail carrier and newspaper delivery to be held or speak with a trusted neighbor to enjoy the newspaper while you are traveling.

13. Pack your carry-on

Whether you are taking an item of luggage with you as a carry-on or not, you will want to stock your travel tote that will be traveling with you on-board with the necessities. Below is a list of items to consider:

  • sleep mask
  • reading, viewing and listening material (downloaded is applicable)
  • earbuds
  • empty water bottle
  • sleep aid
  • basic beauty bag (facial wipes, concealor, moisturizer, dry shampoo, mascara, blush, facial oil, lip moisturizer, hair brush)
  • favorite tea bags (if you're a tea drinker like myself)
  • work material (laptop, tablet, etc.)
  • phone charger
  • reading glasses & contact solution with case
  • wallet
  • passport
14. Confirm accommodations

Make sure you have the proper addresses, arrival times are clear, and the hotels, vacation rentals, know when you will be arriving if at a unique time.

15. Confirm Online Check-In for Flight 24-hours before departure

Most airlines allow you to check-in online from your phone/computer 24-hours in advance to expedite check-in should you just have a carry-on. Other airlines also allow you to choose your seating for free at this time as well such as British Airways.

16. Download helpful apps

From an app to help you find free wi-fi at many international airports around the world (only $1.99 - WiFox), to transportation apps for your city, as well as Uber and the airlines you will be traveling on so there will be no need for a paper ticket, download the necessary apps before you wake up early and head to the airport.

17. Now take a deep breath

You are able and ready to relax, open your mind to the many experiences that await you and enjoy your trip. If you'd like to see exactly where I am going and what I am enjoying while I’m England, be sure to follow along on Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife) or search #tsllengland on Instagram. ~VIEW SIMILAR TSLL POSTS ON TRAVEL HERE

~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Deux (what to pack)

~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Trois (how enjoy your visit to the fullest)

Petit Plaisir:

~Chocolate Almond Praline Cookies

~click here for the recipe

This episode was sponsored by the following:

~Swap.com
  • Save 40% with code SIMPLE40 on your first order through November 30th
  • Receive free shipping on orders over $10
    • Free shipping code: C4Y7FP4XJERY

Download the Episode

Direct download: 183InternationalTravel.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #182
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Paris was always Paris, and the French were . . . well, the French. But because of what happened —j'avais mûri, I had 'ripened,' as they say." —David Lebovitz, L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home (released Tuesday November 7, 2017)

In today's episode of the podcast, food blogger, renowned pastry chef (having worked for 13 years at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse) and best-selling cookbook author David Lebovitz joins me to talk about his new food and Paris destination memoir L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home Having called Paris home since 2004, it was after eight years of renting that he decided he wanted to put down roots, and thus the journey of delights and disasters began. Tune in to my conversation with David Lebovitz and discover:

  • How the real estate market works in Paris
  • The one item he wanted for his kitchen that didn't exist anymore (until David went on the hunt for it)
  • What he discovered about Paris and his move to the City of Light while writing this book
  • How much butter the average French person eats each year
  • What advice he gives to people who are visiting Paris
  • How he is surviving the current butter shortage in France
  • What the French consider a terrible insult
  • One of the challenges that arose while writing the book
  • Why his partner Romain is his hero

Visit David's blog DavidLebovitz.com   As mentioned in the conversation:

 

~images from David's Instagram, and be sure to check out his IG Stories as well~

 

~the French farmhouse sink worth the search as discussed in the episode~

More books by David Lebovitz:

~My Sweet Life in Paris, David's best-selling Parisian memoir

~My Paris Kitchen: Recipes & Stories by David Lebovitz (a cookbook to have in your kitchen and the cookbook he was working on during his apartment's renovations)

~Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes

~Recipe for David's Quiche aux petits pois, lard fumé et estragon (Bacon, Green Pea, and Tarragon Quiche)

~Click here for the recipe

~Tune in to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate below:

This episode was sponsored by the following:

~Swap.com
  • Save 40% with code SIMPLE40 on your first order through November 30th
  • Receive free shipping on orders over $10
    • Free shipping code: C4Y7FP4XJERY
~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.

 

Download the Episode

 

Direct download: 182DavidLebovitz.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #181
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

“There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” —Swami Sivananda

Recently I overheard someone describe their weekend as boring, using the descriptor in a negative tone (remember this post on my thoughts about being boring?). Being someone who revels in what outsiders consider boring behavior such as reveling in the responsibilities of the tasks I have chosen for my life (doggie mama, tender to my sanctuary, chef of my appetite, etc.), I inquired as to what she did. Without going into specific details, it was a weekend at home without demands on their time, permitting them to mosey about and just have free range to do as they pleased. As many of you may be, I was smiling, as such a weekend sounded glorious. Our everydays, our stay-at-home weekends make up the majority of our lives. The underlying premise of living simply luxuriously is making our everydays extraordinary. Now that doesn't mean, everyday will be a celebration of momentous successes, grand good news or unexpected bonuses, but rather we appreciate the simple moments that we have constructed into our everyday routines. As Sivananada shares above, the cravings will always try to place themselves at the forefront of our minds. We are inundated with marketers, even fellow friends and family, but our culture as well, which ever nudges us to do more, be more, see more, acquire more. So long as we can recognize the bombardment and not fall prey to it, we will open the door to observing how magnificent contentment can be. And the magnificent realization is that contentment can be found in every day we live. Thus happiness (my term of phrase - joy) can be found readily at our fingertips no matter how outstanding, or lack thereof, our lives look to the outside world. Where and how to seek contentment?

1.Develop a health routine you enjoy

From the exercise regimen you embark on throughout your week: is it a class with an instructor that soothes your mind or inspires you to sweat more than you could do on your own, a peaceful weekly kayak outing down the nearby river, a meditation routine each morning that sets the tone for the day; to your approach to eating: making grocery shopping an experience to dazzle your tastebuds, explore seasonal produce, try new recipes, cook with excitement and your food and those you share will feel and enjoy it more than you might imagine.

2. Say hello to nature

Feed the birds, stop and gaze about on your walk, stop and sit on a stump while outdoors and just close your eyes to soak up the sun, water an indoor plant, welcome an orchid into your home.

3. Create an end of the day winding down routine

Designing an evening routine is something you will not only look forward to as your day at work or outside of your home begins to unwind, but it will also ensure that something is within your control no matter how harried the day may have been. And if the day was spectacular, your beloved evening routine will be an additional bonus of goodness.  Have a look at a glimpse of my evening routine here.

4. Design opportunities for experiences rather than time to buy more things

Whenever a day or even an afternoon presents itself in which a movie will be showing that I am eager to see, I plan the afternoon around that experience. Not only do I go see the movie, but I plan the before and after as a date with myself to just enjoy the outing all the more. Maybe afterwards I will bring a journal and head to a local coffee shop (if I go see a matinee), or enjoy a nice lunch before heading to the theater. Recently, when I was visiting a good friend in Eugene, we went for a short walk when the rain abated and then sat down for tea with her neighbor and just caught up while the rain came down. Afterwards, I took out my book and just relaxed until it was time for the dinner party that had been prearranged. As you can see, create opportunities for experience, time to relax, time to engage and time to simply enjoy and let go of time.

5. Create and design a welcoming space

Upon walking into the door of my home, I am often greeted with fresh flowers, an abundance of light filling the dining room and living room and two bubbly pups excited that we have been reunited again. A dear friend of mine has curated a home in which upon walking into her cottage, one is greeted with a pair of high-backed tufted suede sofas engaged in conversation, a wood burning fireplace and a vast picture window that over looks the neighbhood. I gravitate immediately to that space with her company or on my own to just unwind. Whether you are able to curate your entire home or simply just a room of your own to always be welcoming, taking the effort to do so will offer priceless moments of appreciation in your everydays.

6. Do something to let your mind escape 

From an easy reading book, an activity that is a habit which allows your mind to relax or even a nap, better yet, a moment of meditation, care for your mind because it becomes exhausted too.

7. Make progress on a project, no matter how minimal

Whether it is something as grand as completing a significant task to edge you ever closer to your goal, or just adding an idea to your journal to ensure you do not forget the aha moment that presented itself during your day, do something that keeps the flames of your dreams and hopes alive.

8. Express love

In some form or fashion, express love to someone, something, the world in general in a means you are capable and comfortable doing. Part of the reason I know living on my own for so long has been a breath of fresh air is because I do have the opportunity to express love to dogs, to make their lives happier and more enjoyable and see the glee on their faces when we go for a walk. As well, giving to your neighbors, sending an email to someone who danced across your mind and you wanted to say hello. No matter how seemingly small or large, exhale love and you will always be able to feel it around you. At the core of cultivating contentment is you and how you choose to go about your days with the choices you make, the attitude you bring to each moment and the flow your daily life takes no matter what the outside world may expect or desire from you. While we may want happiness, the truth is happiness is something outside of ourselves and it is the contentment that we build in our lives that provokes more and more moments of happiness to be savored. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Episode #162 — From Seeking Happiness to Cultivating Contentment: A Shift in Pursuit

~11 Life Truths About Contentment that Seem Impossible Until We Experience Them

~Episode #93 — 15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment

~One Small Adjustment Away from Contentment

 

Petit Plaisir:

Savory Roasted Filberts (aka Hazelnuts), the secret recipe

16 oz of shelled filberts 1/2 cup of soy sauce 2 cups of olive oil (enough to make a "soup" of filberts) Let marinate for 3-4 hours (overnight is even better). Preheat oven to 300 (anywhere between 275-325 - depending upon your oven) Remove from the marinade and place in a single layer the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.  

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 Lebovitz 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!!!

Direct download: 181Contentment_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 11:59am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #180
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

The year 2017 has been dedicated to living a year of quality here on TSLL. While at the core of living simply luxuriously is to focus on quality rather than quantity, I wanted to take time each month this year to focus on one aspect in our lives in which we could amplify the quality and eliminate the extra. Each month we've addressed one area in which to amp up the quality in your life. Beginning in January, the topic was to reduce or eliminate entirely one food or food type that does not serve you well, and you can view the entire list of topic for each month here. While a couple of months leading up to October have yet to be discussed in their own blog post, rest assured they will be in the coming remaining months of the year. Today's we're diving into October's topic as we focus on our wardrobe and discover tools and approaches for ensuring we build a quality wardrobe that enables the woman (or man) in the wardrobe to shine. Be sure to listen to the episode here, on iTunes or on Stitcher as I discuss in-depth each topic. Below is a list of the 10 items. 1. Clarify your capsule wardrobe - Make a List ~My Fall Capsule Wardrobe and How to Create Your Own: My Appearance on AM Northwest 2. Use Online Tools Shoptagr, eBates, Honey, CamelCamelCamel, and SliceWatch (only available on Chrome) 3. Stick to classic, flattering silhouettes 4. Have the necessary shoes for each season ~discover the 10 essentials shoes every woman should have. 5. Stick to a complementary, versatile color palette 6. Pay for quality, but pay less often Learn more about Cost Per Wear here. 7. Choose quality fabric 8. Understand the sale season and be patient 9. Spruce up the classic essentials as needed 10. Invest in handbags, shoes, eyewear, lingerie, and outerwear   View more specific SIGNATURE STYLE posts here    

Petit Plaisir

~Pan Fried Oregon Sea Scallops with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce - click here for the recipe

~As promised on the episode, the recipe for a lovely fall dessert that is simple to make: Rustic Apple Tart for Two  

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!!!  

Download the Episode

Direct download: 18010ShoppingTips_.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~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. ~View Part Une (one) of this series - Choosing a Partner here.

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

Download the Episode

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

~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 PST

 ~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 PST

~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

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Direct download: 176BeYourOwnHero.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~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 Download the Episode Download the Episode
Direct download: 175frenchfood.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~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 PST

~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:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~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.

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Direct download: 172Style.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~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 PST

~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

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Direct download: 170Single.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #169
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

  The French language guide for anyone who is curious about the French culture, will be traveling to Paris anytime soon or perhaps moving there to call it home, will find a wealth of a resource at the website created by today's guest on the podcast: Géraldine Lepere. Her website, blog and YouTube channel Comme une Française will help you learn to speak French and feel French. Because we know, simply knowing how to communicate - which verb goes where?, which tense should be used? - while important, won't help you become immersed comfortably into the way of life in France entirely. During our conversation, Géraldine shares what the important aspects of the French culture are to the French, the issue with the concept of the "doggie bag" at restaurants, what her everyday looks like, tips and ideas for traveling in Paris as well as which cities she recommends you should visit outside of Paris and how to travel the rail and rent a car without a hitch as well as much more. Show Notes: ~Comme une Française blog ~Sign up for the free Every Day Crash Course to Double Your Frenchness in 10 Days Watch a new French language learning video each Tuesday. Check out Géraldine's YouTube channel: Comme une Française TV.  Check out a recent episode below.  ~book mentioned during our conversation, The French Way by Ross Steele Géraldine's Petit Plaisir:

Quatre Quarts cake:
  • similar to a Pound Cake
  • Check out Jacques Pepin's recipe here

https://youtu.be/mFbaos68RbY   ~Listen to more episodes from The Simple Sophisticate podcast here  

TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien! 

Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far:

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Direct download: 169GeraldineLepereAuphonic.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #168
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

  A returning guest to the podcast, author and blogger Sharon Santoni joins me to talk about her new book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons. Her book offers a beautiful glimpse into her everyday life as readers will discover inspiration for each season as they go about hosting formal and casual gatherings, using what the yard and market give them, all the while being present and savoring the everyday. From ideas for the hostess/host to shifting into appreciating the everyday simple luxuries rather than brushing them aside, we had a lovely conversation that is full of ideas and inspiration as well as a a more intimate understanding of the life so many readers have come to love and appreciate that is Sharon Santoni's. In the above photos, meet Gibson and Ghetto (on her lap) on her property in the country as well as the front yard and entry to her French country home. Sharon Santoni's new book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons (released August 8, 2017) Visit Sharon's blog My French Country Home Learn more about subscribing to receive seasonal French artisan goods with My Stylish French Box here (view some pictures below as well) Follow Sharon and discover her everyday life in the countryside of France:

GIVEAWAY:

Enter to win a free copy of Sharon Santoni's new book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons. How? See below:

  • Leave a comment in the comment section of this post
    • Make sure your email is included as a way to reach you if you are the lucky winner just in case you miss Sunday's post
    • Include your first name if it isn't already part of your username
  • Enter by Saturday August 12th at noon (Pacific Standard Time)
  • Stop by on Sunday August 13th to see if you are the winner

  ~Listen to my first interview with Sharon Santoni in 2015, Episode #96 - Everyday Living in France: My Interview with Sharon Santoni  

~Delivery to subscribers of Sharon Santoni's My Stylish French Box subscription. A box of hard to find, top-quality French goods is included each season. Learn more here.~

~Check out more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.

TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien! 

Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far:

Download the Episode

Direct download: 168SharonSantoniFinal.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #167
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Author and now full-time resident French blogger Janine Marsh joined me on The Simple Sophisticate podcast today, and I must say, it was a most enjoyable conversation. I could have easily talked another hour or so just asking more questions about her life in France. But the good news is I can hop over to her blog The Good Life France at any time which is a wealth of a resource for all things France. My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream is Marsh's first book which is a detailed memoir of her journey from being a full-time Londoner, to buying a rundown barn in the northern countryside of France to refurbish and visit on weekends and holidays, to eventually becoming her and her husband's full-time residence. The writing offers vivid imagery and insightful life revelations. All of this and more is discussed in today's interview. Below are a few images of the small town she now calls home along with a handful of the many animals who make their residence on her property: chickens, ducks, a cockerel named Gregory Peck who has an adventurous welcome story to their home which Janine shares in her book, as well as one of her many dogs, Bruno. I think you'll enjoy and get swept up in dreams of France. Thanks for stopping by and tuning in. Show Notes (details shared in the conversation):

  • How to say "I am lost" in French: Je suis perdu.
  • The travel app Janine uses for her extensive and frequent travel throughout France: Google Maps

Janine Marsh's book My Good Life In France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream

~Note: Readers in the US, the publishers have pushed back the release date to August 25, 2017, which was originally set for August 7th. 

~Janine with her black Labrador Bruno~

 

~The refurbished farm house~

 

~Janine with Gregory Peck, the cockerel~

 

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TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien! 

  Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far:

Direct download: 167JanineMarshEntireEpisode_.mp3
Category:french living -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #166
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"If you want to change your partner, change yourself." —Esther Perel, relationship psychotherapist and best-selling author

~Enjoy TSLL's first book Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide in audio format on Audible, iTunes, and Amazon. The unexpected adventure you embark upon when you step into a relationship with a potential life partner is that you embark on a journey of self-discovery. Of course, we can and should go on sojourns of self-discovery before we choose to step into a relationship, but because of the nature of a romantic relationship, often our less developed and tender spots don't fully become exposed. After all, when we care for someone and see potential for spending our future with them and they with us, we experience emotions at a more intense level than we may have before and perhaps emotions we may had never experienced before. Whether you are in a relationship that has been seen years together, are just beginning to get to know one another or not in a relationship at all except the one with yourself, understand what Esther Perel reminds us all of above. If we enter into a relationship in hopes of finding someone who will fill a place in our lives, do what we need them to do and forget that a relationship involves two human beings made up of emotions, aspirations, perceived as well as real limitations, than we need to step back from stepping into a relationship in order to have a healthy relationship down the road. A simple understood truth that most people accept is nobody is perfect, but sometimes we skip over this truth and jump to assumptions and high expectations rather than coming to understand the person we are involved with and finding the strength to truthfully express who we are and our curiosities as well as our boundaries. Let's take a look at at what love, real love unveils and asks of us as well.

Truths to understand

1.You must become a good partner in order to have the opportunity to find and begin to grow a healthy relationship. I must first say, you do not have to have it all figured out when it comes to relationships, what improvements you need to make, etc., etc.. What I mean is that you must come into a relationship as someone who is content in their own company. Someone who is self-aware and therefore also aware of who might make a good partner. Your ability to communicate clearly, as well as be willing to be vulnerable, but also confident and assured so as not to be taken advantage of. 2. A healthy relationship which requires being involved with a secure partner, will provide the opportunity to see faults in ourselves While we are imperfect beings, the truth is when we live on our own or we live in relationships that are not truly intimate, we can refrain from confronting what is obstructing our path to reaching our fullest potential. However, when the carrot of a loving relationship is set before us, we will have moments of opportunity to recognize where can do better. In those moments, take time to reflect, and if necessary, communicate with an objective or trusting third party that will give you tools to shift or change what is no longer working. 3. From time to time we will fall back on defaults that are unhelpful However, the key is recognize these instances when they occur, and gradually with mindful attention, understanding why you do so, choosing a new action that is helpful and healthy rather than hurtful and destructive. 4. High emotional intelligence will not only help you but your partner, and visa versa Becoming someone who can accurately identify how they feel and why they feel the way they do is a step in the direction of refraining from acting unnecessarily on emotions that will soon pass or you are feeling based on past experiences and not due to what is actually and who is actually with you in the present moment. Similarly, when you can do this for yourself, you can then begin to better accurately observe those around you and while not always telling them you know what and why they're doing what they are doing, knowing when it would be helpful and when it would not be. 5. Courage & bravery are required Initially, these may be viewed as the same skill, but the repetition is necessary. We will need to be courageous to reveal who we truly are, what we actually need and be honest about where we can let go. And we will also have to be brave to open our lives up to an individual who is not as well known to us as we know ourselves. 6. It's easy to react. It's more difficult to respond.  However, with thoughtful practice, responding can become your default rather than reacting. It just takes conscious effort. Learn more about the difference between reacting and responding here.

What the journey will involve

1.Both partners consistently choosing to figure out how to best make the relationship work and work well for both individuals involved, as well as for the relationship they want to build together.  What do you want? What does your partner want? What do we want as a couple? Have these conversations, don't be shy. Talk calmly and when you're ready. Explain what makes you feel loved, explain what makes you feel anxious. Talk through it and work through it. Time is often needed as you begin to mesh and move together through life, but communication of what works for you, where you can compromise and where you cannot is the only way to best make a relationship work for both individuals in a partnership. 2. A choice to love beyond the surface  Exterior appearances can be beguiling, enticing and eye-catching. However, as adults, we can appreciate beauty from afar because we recognize that the beauty we see with our eyes is not the only nor the most significant beauty one can possess. 3. Choosing to treat your partner lovingly even during frustrating times It will take a conscious choice to respond rather than react. Being aware of how we are feeling, why we are feeling and not being led around by our emotions is key to maintaining and growing stable, healthy relationships. 4. Moments of deep breaths and time on your own to work through new feelings, circumstances, conflicts, etc. Everything that isn't working out in this moment doesn't need to be solved in this moment (even though we might want it to be because of the uncertainty and anguish it is causing). When we understand our emotions, when we understand ourselves well, we will also be stronger to step away from a conversation that may be highly charged due to a variety of reasons, respectfully explain you need a walk, or some time to collect your thoughts or something to indicate, that you will not move on for good, but you need to step back for now to gain some perspective and come back with a calm and clear head. 5. Understanding that our partner is not perfect We know this logically, but when we meet and begin to build a relationship with someone, it's natural to have high hopes. The key is to have hope rather than expectation. If we default to expectations, we set traps to fall through and get caught. But if we have hope, we are remaining optimistic while being open to what may be. 6. Perspective of what is truly important There will be moments during a relationship when things don't work out as you had hoped and disappointment arises. Perhaps not because of anything either partner could control, and while it is okay to express disappointment, it is also important to put it into perspective with the entire journey you are on together. Will this matter 1 year from now? Will it matter 10 years from now? Simple questions to ask yourself to enable you to not blow small hiccups into ginormous struggles. Sharing and feeling love with another person is a journey, none of which are exactly alike. And I think keeping that fact in mind is key. Key as well is understanding that your vision of a healthy, happy relationship may be slightly or drastically different from your partners and the only way to discover this is to communicate and begin to reveal your lives together, your real selves, yes, your best selves, but knowing that we will have off days and even in those days our best selves will be different. Love asks us to look within and examine ourselves. This can be scary, but often when something is scary it is life's way of saying, look a little closer, examine what is really going on because in so doing, you will set yourself free.   ~TSLL's Audio Book is Now Available: What a Worthwhile Journey

Petit Plaisir:

~Homemade Ricotta Mousse & Fresh Berries

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  Today’s sponsor of The Simple Sophisticate was Trunk. A journaling app to keep your thoughts saved recorded and a daily habit. Try it free for 30 months without having to share your buying information. If you like the app after 30 days, you can buy it when prompted. Currently available on iTunes – find it here

Direct download: 166loveselfdiscovert_.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #165
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Right food, right place, right time. It is my belief . . . that this is the best recipe of all. A crab sandwich by the sea on a June afternoon; a slice of roast goose with applesauce and roast potatoes on Christmas Day; hot sausages and a chuck of roast pumpkin on a frost-sparkling night in November. These are meals who success relies not on the expertise of the cook but on the more basic premise that this is the food of the moment - something eaten at a time when it is most appropriate, when the ingredients are at their peak of perfections, when the food, the cook and the time of year are at one with each other." —Nigel Slater in The Kitchen Diaries: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater

Being able to have what we want is not always a blessing. But having what we need is imperative to our well-being, and what we need is nutrient-rich food and when it tastes its most delicious, it is all the more attractive to enjoy. Supermarkets have made the food we love available for consumers year-round, but we all know a tomato in December here in the states tastes nothing like its summer counterpart. Instead pick up an apple or if you are in Hawaii or on the west coast, a rambutans (seasonally available September through March). Satisfy your sweet-tooth and eat what is readily avilable and full of flavor. I can only speak for myself, but part of the reason I fall into the habit of eating the same vegetable, fruit or meal year round as a go-to is it's easy, I think it saves me time and I don't have to think about it. And while it does ease the need to have to figure out what to eat each night or for lunch, it isn't actually the best for my health. Initially, it will take time and our full attention to learn what is in season and know what to do with it when we get it back to our kitchen, but once we gain this knowledge, it becomes a habit. In essence, we are becoming our own home chef capable of cooking anything with fresh ingredients and what is left in the refrigerator. This feat may sound impossible, and you may be someone who doesn't love to cook, but most of us eat at home a majority of the time, so it doesn't have to be a passion and you don't have to be a foodie to learn the basics of seasonal cooking. Your health, your waistline and your peace of mind will thank you. 1. Shop at small local shops, markets and specialties businesses A fish market, a cheese shop, the local bakery, the farm stand, your neighbor's petite produce stand, choosing to frequent such food options rather than the giant supermarket will make the shopping experience far more pleasurable and the food you purchase will be fresher and most likely in season. As well, you can begin to establish relationships with the experts who run each business, ask them questions and learn about what you will be eating and feeding those you love. 2. Shop once a week for stock up items in the épicerie, but day to day for fresh food

"[The Kitchen Diaries] is a gentle plea to buy something, however, small, each day, to take time to shop, to treat it as a pleasure rather than a chore." —Nigel Slater

The weekly capsule menu is something I believe works wonderfully for planning the meals for the week and the ingredients, which should be versatile, for each recipe item. And while I typically do a weekly shopping run to my farmers market or Trader Joe's, I do stop by the local produce stand or the bakery, etc. throughout the week to ensure I have the freshest ingredients. 3. Curate a kitchen space that works well, no fancy gadgets necessary As anyone who has traveled in Europe and England will attest, kitchens are very small even in the most grand of cities, and while many people especially in Paris and London and well, name your favorite destination, will want to dine at the many restaurants, cooking in a small kitchen is very possible. So don't let the size of your kitchen be the roadblock. I always think of Rachel Khoo in her little Paris kitchen cooking away in minimal space. Most importantly, regardless of space, make sure you have the basic tools and essentials as well as a well-stocked épicerie. See my detailed list for both here. 4. Plant a garden, no matter how much space you have. Whether you have a large plot of land or a window sill, plant what you can, what you're curious about and with each year, add something different, try something new. As well, try to plant something to be enjoyed in each season: rhubarb in the early spring, strawberries in late spring, fresh herbs all summer (sometimes year round depending upon where you keep them), squash and pumpkin in the fall, the possibilities are endless. Have fun and play in the dirt. 5. Educate yourself on seasonal offerings Whether from books, cookbooks are a delight to read, and you learn as you peruse each recipe especially if it is organized seasonally, or textbooks, food television programs or your local farmer, become curious about what is in season where you live. Choose to see it as an adventure of discovery. When I approach cooking this way, I don't kick myself if something doesn't work out, I celebrate the opportunity to try and regardless the food (because it's in season) is usually delicious (again, not because of my prowess, but because seasonal food is good all on its own). I found this very helpful online source for all fifty states. You simply choose your state, the season and voila! It shares not only the produce that should be available and at its freshest, but recipes as well. ~Eat the Seasons (a helpful guide for North America and United Kingdom citizens) ~Epicurious is also a worthwhile resource for recipes on seasonal food, organized by the season 6. Discover the power of food The list is long of which to read to learn about what is the best balanced diet and how and where to find the nutrients you seek, but understanding where you can find fiber (grains - the less processed the better) and understanding exactly what an avocado gifts to your body encourages you to step toward these foods with curiosity and not fear that you are going to be eating too much fat or calories. With these two items, they will satiate you long before the calorie count is anything to worry about, and fat isn't bad, remember this.

"Roast rhubarb on a January morning; 'pick-your-own' strawberries in June: a piece of chicken on the grill on an August evening . . . This is more than just something to eat, it is food to be celebrated, food that is somehow in tune with the rhythm of nature. Quite simply, the right food at the right time."— Nigel Slater

7. Have a plan The primary reason I have created seasonal capsule menus is to provide a starting point or foundation for how to cook seasonally in fall and spring (summer and winter will be coming in my second book to be released in 2018!). With time and practice, you'll begin to incorporate your favorite ingredients and discover which recipes you like and even create your own. 8. Keep it simple Truly, the best meal you will make on a regular basis should be simple, because again, it is the food, the quality of food, that makes it so. For example, my go-to recipe for vegetables year round is to roast them. Name the vegetable and for the most part, I will roast it. Asparagus in the spring, add some lemon and a bay leaf; zucchini and squash in summer and fall - olive oil drizzle, salt and pepper - 400 degrees for 30 minutes; broccoli in the fall through early spring. Oh, and I just tried roasted cauliflower finished in the last two minutes with Gruyère and Parmesan - delicious! 9. Try learning and incorporating a new habit each week Perhaps one week you will learn and become confident with roasting, maybe the next week making your own herb butter, then the next a beloved go-to vinaigrette. Whenever you eat out and you taste something you love, ask the chef how they made it (or the waiter/ess to ask the chef). I recently had the most delicious huckleberry ricotta mousse, and out of curiosity (as huckleberries have a very limited season) I wanted to remember this recipe for the next year. They happily shared the ingredients, and I went online and found a ricotta mousse recipe from a trusted source and adapted it to my taste. (Check out my recipe for Homemade Ricotta Mousse with Fresh Berries here.) 10. Dine at farm to table restaurants  One of the best ways to learn about seasonal food is to try it as it is prepared by well-trained chefs. More and more restaurants are following this model of seasonal recipes and in so doing are teaching and informing their patrons how to cook delicious food at home. Learning how to feed our bodies well takes time, but hopefully with these tips, the journey through the seasons will be pleasurable, delicious and an experience to savor rather than a task to complete.

"The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease." ~Thomas Edison

  ~Below are a handful of seasonal cookbooks that come highly recommended, some new, some time-tested.

  ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Farmers Markets: How to Make the Most of Your Visit No Matter Where You Live

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

~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

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

~Why Not . . . Cook with Olive Oil?

~Why Not . . . Buy Local Produce?

~Why Not . . . Treat Your Body Like a Temple?

 

Petit Plaisir:

~The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

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  Today's sponsor of The Simple Sophisticate was Trunk. A journaling app to keep your thoughts saved recorded and a daily habit. Try it free for 30 months without having to share your buying information. If you like the app after 30 days, you can buy it when prompted. Currently available on iTunes - find it here

Direct download: 165LoveEating.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #164
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 

"With a healthy lifestyle, it's not at all unreasonable to expect ninety or one hundred exceptionally healthy years of life, years in which we will be of sound body, mind and spirit." —Dr. John D. Day, author of The Longevity Plan: 7 Life-Transforming Lessons from Ancient China

In Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, a man who lived from 1706-1790, in Part Two along with his well-known 13 virtues for a good life, he explains his approach to bringing order to his life (the 3rd virtue - "let all things have their place; let each part of your business have its time") with his daily routine written out by the hour. At the young age of twenty, Franklin was clear about a schedule that would enable him to eventually do all that we know he was able to achieve and accomplish, which was quite impressive. Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule:

  • The Morning {5-8}
    • Question: What good shall I do this day?
      • Tasks: Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive day's business, and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study, and breakfast.
  • {8-noon}
    • Task: Work
  • {Noon}
    • Tasks: Read, or overlook my accounts, and dine
  • {2-6}
    • Work
  • Evening {6-10}
    • Question: What good have I done today?
      • Tasks: Put things in their places, Supper. Music or diversion, or conversation. Examination of the day.
  • Night {10-5}
    • Task: Sleep

Why exactly is a daily regular routine significant when it comes to the overall well-being of our lives? If anyone has observed the stability routines provide for children, students, pets and colleagues, one will acknowledge, so long as the routines are healthy, restorative, invigorating and based on sound reasons to benefit the individuals to reach their best potential, that routines are a simple solution to much of what we wish our lives to become: fulfilling, enjoyable, tranquil, and a foundation for moments of spontaneity from which we can springboard from occasionally, all the while knowing we can and will eventually come back to the routine that enabled us to be someone who can think outside the box, who can and feels comfortable taking a risk. From the routine I keep with my blog writing, to the routine I adhere to in my classroom, as well as with my dogs when I at home, the purpose is to gain more energy, to not deplete it in myself and in others unnecessarily, to cultivate an environment in which the unexpected wonderful ideas, experiences and conversations can blossom. Because when we need not worry about our fundamental survival needs, food, shelter, social connectedness, etc., we can then make our why to self-actualization (which I talk in great depth about in episode #25). While some dislike the idea of sticking to a routine, I will admit freely, there have been routines I loathed, either they didn't work with an approach to good health for my body and mind or I was being expected to do tasks, etc., that I didn't find meaning or purpose in. We will all have times in our lives, especially when we are younger or the newbie on the job in which the routine we are given is not the routine we want. The task we are given, or that we must give to ourselves is to ask the question and do the homework, what will work best for me to reach my full potential? Areas of your life to consider aligning into a daily routine: 1. Eating schedule Dr. John D. Day's new book The Longevity Plan describes in detail a diet (not a temporary, but long-term, forever approach to eating well) that will enable you to thrive into your 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond and obliterate the Western assumption that old age is a deterioration. Especially what we eat, but as well when we eat has a powerful effect on our overall health. In fact, he shares, "Erratic eating schedules have been shown to result in decreased metabolism, which can lead to long-term weight gain." 2. Sleep time

"Nobody in Bapan had an alarm clock. When we're hitting at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis, and a regular schedule, something quite amazing happens: We get the exact amount of sleep our bodies need without having to be jarred awake by a buzzer before we're really ready." —Dr. John D. Day, The Longevity Plan

3. Create a life of motion Instead of punishing your body with the workout you think is intense enough you only need to do 3-4 times a week, Dr. Day recommends, based on observing the centenarians in The Longevity Village in Bapan, China, simply live a life of movement. Granted, many of our lives don't easily support this. If we work at a desk or behind the wheel, but even by adding a standing desk to your office or a walking treadmill, the job you have to do doesn't have to keep you sedentary. Again he reminds, our bodies were meant to move, not stay in one place five days a week. Consistency is key and doing what you love is the best way to make it a habit. So if you dread the spin class or the run you are determined to take each morning before work, don't do it. Do something you love, raise your heartbeat enough, but then keep your body in motion throughout the day: park further from the front door, take a stroll after dinner (something those in Bapan do nearly daily), or get outside for lunch. Create a routine of movement that keeps your body awake and entices you to stay active. 4. Productivity As witnessed in Franklin's schedule, having a clear objective is imperative to reaching the desired goal. After all, if we don't know what we want to achieve, how can we ever feel productive at the end of the day? I have found one of the few must-have ingredients in a day that I would need to experience in order to call it a good day would be a sense of achievement, progress, accomplishment or productivity. By no means do any one of these things need to be grand or even known or understood by outsiders, but if I put the task of write the introduction to chapter four as my objective, it not only gives me something to focus on, but when I do complete the task, I feel as though progress has been made. An essential component to being productive is to know what enables each of us to be our most productive selves, and create a routine that fosters productivity rather than making it difficult to find our rhythm. 5. Social lives Social lives are less likely to fall into a daily routine only because you are engaging with others who must adhere to a schedule that works best for them and there will be times, sometimes many, when it will shift. However, the key is to focus on your engagement, how you stay in touch, how much you stay in touch, how you keep your boundaries so you can continue to be productive and how you can support those you love to accommodate their needs (and they hopefully are doing the same for your needs) without sacrificing a quality way of living. 6. Our mind-set

"The way in which we choose to perceive and deal with stress is, after all, a tremendous market of biologic age. Studies show that those who embrace stress actually live 17 percent longer. In contrast, as measured by telomere length, it appears that people who don't effectively manage high levels of stress age their bodies by nine to seventeen  years." —Dr. Day

Shifting from feeling as though we are lacking and rather appreciating all that is going well is a simple way to shift your mind-set for the better. The American mind-set especially, but we are certainly not alone, tends to work more hours in order to earn more money to buy more or bigger things. But in so doing, we are racheting up our stress. As well, finding work you enjoy can reduce your stress level, and paradoxically, Dr. Day points out, enable you to be more productive as you are not depleting your energy but rather are enlivened by what you have the opportunity to do. Such an approach is helpful in both our professional and personal environments.

"At least 70 percent of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related ailments."

Another way to reduce stress is to play. Play not only outside of work, but at work as well. Have fun, lighten up, keep in perspective what is important. "When we treat work as play, we change the very nature of work. We rob it of its power to stress us and deplete us of our energy." Think about someone who turned what they loved doing on the side or out of pure enjoyment into their job. It's possible to do that yourself; the key is to be able to return to that feeling of pure play because it is through play that we learn more as we are fully engaged and not worried about outcomes but rather enjoying what we are doing. Perhaps you are dismissing the concept of playing in your life, let alone at work. Here's another tidbit of information to keep in mind regarding the importance of play. National Geographic has reported that there is a "direct correlation between playfulness and intelligence, since the most intelligent animals engage in the greatest amount of playful activities. The reason is simple: Intelligence is the capacity for learning, and to play is to learn." Hmmm. Make room to play; how wonderful of a directive for living well is that? 7. Environment One of the seven lessons Dr. Day advises we all pay close attention to when it comes to cultivating a life of longevity is to place ourselves in a positive environment from the people, to the homes, to the communities that support healthy living. Where we wake up, the air we breathe, the words we hear, how much technology we consume, the support we receive, the products and furniture we live amongst, the information we consume, each of these items are details that effect our daily lives and to live in a positive environment, a supportive, healthy environment and to wake up in such a place every day is to continue to improve the quality of our lives, as the opposite would be to gradually deplete the quality of our lives.

"Yes, our electronic influencers have a powerful impact on the rhythms of our lives, but our bodies want to be in sync with the natural world." —Dr. Day

With each of these areas in which to create a routine, simply do your best. Even Ben Franklin shares in his autobiography about the creation of his daily schedule, "I enter'd upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continued it with occasional intermission for some time. I was surprise'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined, but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish." Even he did not stick to his routine fully each day, and took breaks ("occasional intermission"), but he stuck to it the majority of the time, and in so doing, saw the quality of his life improve. His routine may not appeal to you, but as he arose each morning with a question, and assessed at the end of the day how the day had unfolded, this simple habit is a grand way to determine what is working, what is not and how to do better tomorrow. Small corrections can be made and a pat on the back can be given as well each day. Find your rhythm. Create a daily routine that hums your tune, makes you tap your toes in excitement to start the day. Rhythm, your rhythm, a rhythm that enables you to reach your full potential will be a song you want to sing again and again and again.

"the reason [the village people of Bapan - Longevity Village]'s hearts are in rhythm is because their lives are in rhythm." —Dr. Day, The Longevity Plan

It will take time, or maybe for some, not much time at all because you've already been stepping into a routine and observing what is and isn't working. Now, consciously, sit down, and ask yourself, what works? How can I do more of that? And give it a shot. Each spring and each fall before my summer schedule begins and before school begins, I sit down and look at the daily schedule that will work best for me incorporating routines that will enable me to reach my goals. I love this bi-annual ritual. To help me make the best schedule, I will reflect back on past year's schedules to see what worked and if it didn't, why not. Just this year I have added something new to my routine, a weekly check-in on my progress along with my nightly journaling. This weekly check-in usually takes place on Sunday evenings after the week has wrapped up and a new week is about to begin. I find myself able to quickly rectify anything that didn't go as planned or get back on track before it goes too off the rails without much of a fuss. I also am reminded and motivated by observing what I have done well, what daily routines are producing the outcomes I have desired and this is motivation to keep adhering to my daily routines in the new week. Again, this is what works for me. I have always been someone who loves to plan, write it all out, not excessively, but in a manner that is clear for me to visualize. Today, consider for a moment the benefits of establishing a daily routine that works for you. Perhaps Dr. Day's list of benefits will provide even more motivation:

"The overwhelming majority of cases [cardiac arrest], perhaps up to 80 percent, can be prevented, and half of the people with arterial fibrillation can reverse their condition through lifestyle changes aimed at eating better food, maintaining a healthy mind-set, building supportive communities, staying in motion, and learning to connect with their own rhythms."

And as we create a rhythm in our life that works well for us, we discover more energy to do what we most enjoy, we experience more mental clarity to make sound and successful decisions for the life journey we are on and as all of these benefits are felt, our overall well-being begins to soar. There is nothing boring about that. I am continued to be reminded that is us, humans, who make life difficult. Real luxury. The luxury of living a life of quality and true contentment is actually quite simple: create a daily routine that enables you to live well and experience your life begin to improve.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The Benefits of Daily Rituals

~My Daily Breakfast: Steel Cut Oats

~Why Not . . . Celebrate the Ordinary?

~Art & Happiness: Discover Art's Ubiquity and Power to Improve Your Everyday Life

Petit Plaisir:

~Farro Salad with tomatoes, sweet onions, avocado, herbs, a poached egg, chicken and garlic vinaigrette. Find the recipe here.     SaveSave

Direct download: 164DailyRoutine.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #163
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Growing your inner strengths through taking in the good is like deepening the keel of a sailboat so that it's less jostled by the worldly winds, it recovers more quickly from big storms, and you can now safely head out into deeper waters in pursuit of your dreams." —Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness

The founding premise of the book Hardwiring Happiness is change your brain, change your life for the better. Having discussed this fact before on the blog/podcast, it may not appear to be profound on the surface, but what always keeps me reading is how do we change our brain to change our lives for the better, how does it actually work neurologically? And the how is exactly what made the most sense to me above any other book I have read upon reading Hardwiring Happiness. Simply put, we need to deeply savor the good that occurs in our lives, the small as well as the overtly large and as we do, we begin to build new synapses into our brain, enabling it to expect the good rather than spontaneously always looking for the bad. The skill that we all need to develop, practice multiple times a day and then use habitually is to take in the good. What is meant by this is a four step process which Hanson outlines in his book, but essentially it is to be present in your life, to be engaged, to be paying attention, and thus, to recognize, and then savor those moments, no matter how small or large, that are good.

"By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience you'll help turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure . . . the practice brings you into the present moment and teaches you to have more control over your attention."

Did you wake up and feel rested? Savor this moment for 10 more seconds and let it truly be absorbed by your mind. Did you receive a loving gesture from your partner? Slow down and savor it, engraining into your memory to be appreciated even after the moment has passed. Did you feel safe in your home last night? Tip your hat to the world you have created and take a deep breath to again welcome even more appreciation of the fact into your being. An analogy (and he uses an abundance of them throughout the book which I found quite helpful) Hanson uses to describe the three step process of rewiring the brain is comparing it to making a fire: "Step 1 lights it, step 2 adds fuel to keep it going, and step 3 fills you with its warmth." He also further explains that often step 2 & 3 overlap which makes sense because you can adding wood to the fire to keep it going as you are remaining warm. To repeat the steps (notice the acronym - HEAL):

  1. Have a positive experience 
  2. Enrich the experience
  3. Absorb the experience
  4. (optional step) Link positive and negative material so that positive soothes and even replaces negative

All of this may sound overly simplified, but after reading and coming to understand how the brain works, how it creates paths of memory and why it has evolved the way it has, Dr. Hanson, who is a neuropsychologist, demonstrates that it is in the daily routines and the daily tracks we allow to run through our mind that create a happier, I like to use the word contented, way of living every single day not matter what is going on outside of us. Why? Dr. Hanson dives deeply into this, but a basic synopsis is "In a positive circle, feeling better helps you act better, which helps the world treat you better, which helps you feel better." And on the flip-side, if we continue to let negative events run through our minds and become absorbed by them, we are making tracks in our mind, strengthening synapses that reinforce the need to be on the look out for negative and thus reactive rather than responsive which I detailed in episode #145 of the podcast. In fact, Dr. Hanson points out due to our ancestral need for survival which actually impedes our way of life in the 21st century, our brain is designed in such a away that "negative stimuli are perceived more rapidly and easily than positive stimuli". In other words, "the default setting of the brain is to overestimate threats and underestimate opportunities and underestimate resources both for coping with threats and for fulfilling opportunities". Which is why, it requires a conscious effort to rewire the brain to be less fearful and more positive seeking, and if we do nothing, the above hereditary scenario will persist throughout the duration of our lives blocking us from attaining our full potential. Knowledge of how the brain works is power. And upon reading the book, if further understanding of the most powerful tool in your body is of interest to you, you will appreciate this book and how he delivers the information. Let's talk about the "how" of savoring the good moments, both enriching them and absorbing them. 1. Slow down In order to recognize when a good moment has occurred, we need to slow down. At that time, take 10 more seconds to just fully observe, imprint in your memory what is going well. 2. Become fully aware of what surrounds you Being present in the now will help you to be fully aware of all that is going on, all that is going well and even if certain things are not, because you are fully aware, you can put it into perspective, bring forward the good and ratcheting down the not so good so that it doesn't become more inflamed than it needs to be. 3. Strengthen emotional intelligence  There are many components to being emotionally intelligent (I go in detail in episode #140), but the key component to rewiring your brain is to be able to identify your emotions and what you are feeling accurately. And then once you understand what you are feeling, if it is a positive feeling, you can grow the feeling into a mood - for example as Dr. Hanson points out, you can grow a feeling of gladness and gratitude into a mood of contentment. Conversely, if you recognize you are feeling sad about something, you can combat the feeling from developing into a mood of depression simply by recognizing what you are feeling, why you are feeling and combating it by shifting your mind and even your environment to a positive scenario so that your mind doesn't become fixating on something that isn't productive or helpful. 4. Instead of wanting, choose to like or appreciate the moment Often we are fully aware that a moment or an experience is exponentially good and because we know it is good, we want more of it. But by wanting, as Hanson points out, we aren't experiencing what is going on right now. We are removing ourselves from the situation and acting in such a way that reveals we unconsciously feel we lack something, thus the "want". In fact, our "want" is killing any growth of more goodness. Instead, be present, enjoy what is occurring, appreciate it for what it is without cajoling to trying to make more and relish what you have the opportunity to be amongst. As I have learned upon bringing more appreciative and secure people into my life, is that when such beautiful moments happen, I can take that moment with me in my memory so long as I savor the experience and allow my memory to absorb it fully and then replay it whenever I need to to brighten my future days. Again, more is not better, simply deepen what you are given by following the three step process: have a good experience, enrich it/savor it and absorb it/commit it to memory.  5. Give yourself permission  I recently was listening to Christopher Kimball's Milk Street Radio podcast, and he was interviewing Nigella Lawson who stated on the topic of guilty pleasures, "Look, if you feel guilty about pleasure, you don't deserve to have pleasure." Back in 2013 I wrote a post about the difference between pleasure and joy, and while one is not bad and the other good, knowing where each is derived is important. However, with regards to rewiring the brain, anytime we observe and experience a pleasure, we can turn the pleasure into joy which is something entirely within our own control. For example, I pulled an excerpt from the post mentioned above. Here is a list of how to welcome more joy into your life, and upon doing so, you can make all of these moments opportunities to rewire your brain as you shift to a more contented way of living each and every day. 1. Look inward – become at peace with who you are, and celebrate your uniqueness. 2. Take time to meditate, pray and be still. 3. Allow external inspiration (art, nature, music, conversation) to stir your inner creativity, and act upon those moments of inspiration – create, dream and act according to what is provoked within you. 4. Figure out your purpose/passion and then go pursue it 5. Be thankful for what you already have, rather than what you lack 6. Give when you have the resources, time and energy to do so 7. Pursue avenues/dreams that are meaningful and align with your values 8. Plan activities that cultivate more moments of joy – simple meals, gatherings, events that you are curious about, etc. The conclusion of Hardwiring Happiness that drove the point home for me of choosing to take on the task of changing the hardwiring my brain (because initially it will have to be an entirely conscious choice) was the realization that when we shift away from seeking more happiness and running or trying to avoid pain, we come to recognize that we have the ability to be content wherever we are at any given moment. We have that power. We do not have to chase it, we don't have to run from what we perceive as bad moments. Because as we begin to live more consciously, as we begin to focus on the good, take it in fully and commit it to memory, we begin to build a life that snowballs in the best of ways. The cycle that was mentioned above strengthens and we attract people, moments and environments that are full of goodness to appreciate because we are someone who brings and cultivates moments of goodness in our lives and those around us.

"Taking in the good is not about chasing after pleasure or chasing away pain. It's about bringing the chase to an end."

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~How to Be the Master of Your Mind

~11 Ways to Live More Mindfully

~From Seeking Happiness to Cultivating Contentment: A Shift in What We Pursue (podcast)

 

Petit Plaisir:

~The perfect simple and delicious appetizer for summer: Melons & Prosciutto (cantaloupe & cured ham)

History: An Italian antipasti favorite, dating back to the second century, it was Galeno, a doctor during this time who believed that the combination of these two ingredients was the perfect way to incorporate the four things a being needed to feed what he believed each human was made of - warm, cold, dry and juicy corresponding to the four elements fire, air, earth and water.  The melon was cold and juicy and the cured ham was dry and warm (salty and cured).  Learn more here.

~The other appetizers are Tangy Cucumber Bites (recipe here) and figs with chèvre.

 

All images via TSLL's Instagram & IG stories

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Direct download: 163RewiringHappiness.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #162
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Focusing on happiness as our ultimate goal is self-defeating; being in a constant state of happiness is, simply put, impossible."—Paul Hudson

Place the word happiness on the cover of a self-help book and it will sell more times than it won't (Amazon has over 40,000 book titles with the word). The concept of happiness has a mass following as once we've experienced the feeling of our happy neurochemicals surging through our mind and being, we want more. And who wouldn't? However, as Paul Hudson reminds, "Happiness is not a natural state; it's an elevated state." Since happiness is not a natural state that we are born at (however, we can attain it, just as we can attain sadness, but we are not born sad), the question to determine is at what state are we born? A couple of years ago I shared Dr. E.P. Seligman's equation of what happiness consists of. Set range based on your biological parents Circumstances of your life (money, relationships, health, religion) Voluntary factors under your control (how you deal with the past, think about the future, etc) The Equation: H (happiness) = S + C + V Based on the realization that we individually have a set range as the foundation (accounting for 1/3 of our happiness potential), it is the other circumstances and voluntary actions that can heighten or depress the level of happiness we may attain. You may be looking at this equation and thinking, "Well, I absolutely can be happy all the time if two of the primary components are in my control." Are they though? Entirely, your circumstances and the voluntary factors are not in your control; however, how you respond to them, how you manage them, how you navigate the events, people and setbacks is in your control. Therefore it is how you navigate, it is the place from which you approach your circumstances, change them as you can and how you change them, that will either heighten the chances of moments of happiness or decrease. When we look closely at the term happiness, the root "hap", it is of Old English origin that came to be used in the 12th century.  Its definition was "one's luck or lot" and "an occurrence, happening, or accident". I understand that words evolve, change and shift according, quite simply, to their use and context. After all, when Thomas Jefferson and his crew in the late 18th century added "the pursuit of happiness" as an inalienable right for all Americans, the word's meaning shifted significantly. It became about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. It became about me, not others, society, and community. Gone was the understanding that "Aristotle believed that happiness was the by-product of a life of virtue".

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”– Helen Keller

It is important to point out that simply having the time and ability to think about what makes one happy and then cultivate a life more attractive to moments of happiness is a sign of significant prosperity. And since you are reading this post, that in and of itself is something to celebrate, but now the important part is to shift how you go about experiencing happiness.

“There’s a certain tendency in our culture to want to graft some kind of happiness onto an existing structure,” Hanson said. “If you just fill in the blank — get this car, find the right shade of lipstick, go on vacation in Mexico, lose those five pounds — suddenly you’ll be happier and have the fulfillment you want in life ... Let’s be clear: The main happiness industry in America is the advertising industry.” —cognitive psychologist Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring Happiness,

Do not fall into the trap psychologist Rick Hanson points out above. Do not let the outside world, the marketing world tell you what it takes to attain happiness. Rather take a look at the list below and discover how to make the shift in our daily lives from seeking happiness to cultivating a life of contentment: 1.Shift your perspective on challenging situations 2. Understand that fear of the unknown is a good sign 3. Not being happy doesn't mean you are sad The expectation of constant happiness gets in the way of learning how to feel and exist with these other emotions that are not all the opposite of happy. We can be curious, interested, ambivalent, neutral, focused, challenged, and I am just barely scratching the surface. Take a look here at a lengthy list of different emotions. What our job needs to be is properly identifying what we are feeling, and while sometimes we may be able to explain why, we don't actually have to know the root all of the time. Simply knowing what we are feeling and letting ourselves feel that particular emotions is a very healthy skill which leads me to . . . 4. Build a life of wholeness 

"We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position — it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much ... I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is." —Australian social researcher Hugh Mackay

A life of wholeness, as pointed out above will involve from time to time sadness. To feel sadness is to have known love, joy, tranquility and yes, happiness. It is how you navigate through these daily occurrences. And when you know how to navigate, much like driving a car or navigating the subway or airline travel, you empower yourself to arrive successfully at your destination. 5. Choose to handle negative situations in a productive way  Which builds your resilience and persistence, thus building your opportunity to experience happiness when opportunities come along that require you to be resilient and persistent in attaining them. 6. Practice patience: Let go of the need for fast fixes 7. Practice mindfulness Being mindful asks us to be present which requires us to have the ability to be the captain of our mind. 8. Improve self-awareness  

Our natural state needs to be content rather than happy. Once we realize and practice building and living a life of contentment, we broaden the opportunity for happiness to be experienced. I have written extensively about contentment here on the blog (have a look at the posts below)

~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment

~11 Life Truths About Contentment That Seem Impossible Until We Experience Them

~10 Things People Who Have Found Contentment Understand About Uncertainty

~One Small Adjustment Away from Contentment

~True Contentment

"Happiness is essentially an end result of some action we’ve taken," marriage counselors Ben and Janelle Novell

So much of our discontent is a misunderstanding of what constitutes happiness. Once we put it into its rightful place, which is a glorious experience to behold, we can appreciate it all the more as well as not be so disheartened when it doesn't last indefinitely. The good news is, it will return so long as we cultivate a life of contentment. And that is something we can do each and everyday.  

Petit Plaisir:

~Gruyère Tomato Tart, click here for the recipe

  ~View more episodes from The Simple Sophisticate here. ~Listen to the most downloaded episode in a single day (#161 - Ask Shannon) here.

Direct download: 162HappinessContentment.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #161
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
In the first annual "Ask Shannon" episode of the podcast, listeners and readers have sent in their questions. With an episode full of the answers, this extra full episode (75 minutes) will address the topics of eating well, traveling to Paris: where to say and what to do, adhering and refreshing your signature style, my personal strength training routine, how to get your "mojo" back after life has thrown you an unexpected twist and this is just a taste. Readers and listeners from around the globe asked away, and upon tuning in you will hear my detailed and personal answers. Below you will find all of the show notes and details mentioned in the episode, as well as this week's Petit Plaisir.

SHOW NOTES:

Food & Wine: Skincare Routine: Style/Clothing: Fitness/Strength:   Paris Recommendations:
  • Ma Vie À Paris by Astier de Villatte, as a Petit Plaisir in episode #134 of the podcast (see below)
    • Order online here
    • Order from Nicole Michelle Decor (based here in Bend) who will ship to your U.S. address
      • phone:541.306.3000
  . . . More Paris recommendations:   Blog/Writing: ~TSLL Planner Pages (three different sizes and the planner you see below) ~TSLL Notepads for all of the lists I make ~the image below as discussed regarding the second book's arrival (click to read the post)   Happiness: ~The Difference Between Pleasure and Joy ~38 Invaluable Lessons About Attaining Happiness, episode #131 ~The How of Happiness   Thank you for everyone who emailed me with questions. I wish I could have answered them all. Until the next Ask Shannon, be sure to keep emailing me your questions and perhaps your question will be answered in an upcoming episode. Stay tuned! New Ask Shannon Episodes: ~January 2018, episode #191 (What to Pack for Paris, the Classic Tote and more!) ~On Monday June 25, 2018, the annual Ask Shannon will go live, episode #214

Petit Plaisir:

~Ariel Pocock, second album Living in Twilight (released June 9, 2017) ~Song clips heard on the episode of the podcast: https://youtu.be/4ikop85KJ00   ~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here ~If you enjoyed the podcast, leave a review here, and your comments may be shared in an upcoming episode. Download the Episode Download the Episode
Direct download: 161AskShannon.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #160
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"'How does one become a butterfly?' she asked pensively. You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."  —Trina Paulus

In a blink of an eye, in an unexpected, ordinary moment, the unimaginable can materialize before our eyes. And in such a moment, due to its magnificence, a feeling of surreality washes over us and we stand confounded, yet buoyant as it feels we've reached the surface finally after much hard work, planning, and hoping what seemed against hope. Butterflies have always been a source of spontaneous glee for me. As I shared more than six years ago, spotting a butterfly is a reminder: “This was what the struggle was all about.  Now you have the knowledge.  Now you know how to fly on  your own and reveal your gifts to the world without disguising yourself to fit in.” Much like the people that come into our lives and the opportunities that cross our paths, we cannot know when the butterfly will metamorphosize from the stage of being a caterpillar. Two weekends ago, we decided to go paddle boarding, and along the way, the butterflies began to dance around me. Like a child giddy at the sight of a new puppy, I all but tap danced on my board. As we continued to paddle, I noticed they were puddling, and it seemed endless butterflies were all clustered at this one wet, muddy puddle area on the side of the river. Never before had I been surrounded by so many fluttering wings, paying me no mind and going about their nutrient gathering behavior. Then again this past weekend, as Norman and I were on a walk amongst the pines, more than a handful of butterflies joined us as we took our daily constitutional.  And I couldn't help but remember how six years ago, the butterfly was on the other side of the picture window and Norman was intent on watching it, trying to make sense of what it was. Now, the butterflies walked with us and Norman didn't bat more than an eye or a quick nod. And so I began to ponder further lessons butterflies can teach us. Always trying to remember the lesson of the butterfly, as mentioned above, these most recent encounters made me take note that no matter how badly we might want to become something or evolve into something, sometimes it is our intense focus that blinds us and prevents what we desire from materializing. While we must put out into the world, and know within ourselves, what it is we seek, what it is we wish to become, once these truths become clear, we need to step back and just go about the everyday tasks, take the necessary risks and accept the uncomfortable challenges so that we can gradually grow and evolve into the person we wish to be. At that point, we don't know when we will attract the similar energy of others or jobs or beautiful life moments that take on the guise of the "blink of an eye" moment mentioned at the top of the post. We cannot know. Just as I could not know about the many butterflies I was going to paddle into when I placed my board onto the water that morning. But here's the lesson, we have to keep putting our board in the water. We have to keep paddling in order for those moments to have an opportunity to be discovered. You may be wondering, Okay, Shannon, speak to me directly. What are you talking about? How do I keep putting my board in the water? How can I apply this to my life right now? Two things: First decide what you want and how to attain it, followed by focusing on what you've decided to pursue and letting go of what is not part of the equation. Now, what each of us will have ascertained will be unique, but something that is universal which will help you along your journey is to strengthen these 11 skills, focus more on your "to be" list rather than your "to do" list, cultivate everyday habits that build a life of true contentment, and become comfortable in your own unique skin. In tending to each of these, you let go of your strangle-hold on the outcome and hold fast to what you can elevate (yourself and the person you bring to the table each and everyday). And in so doing, the life that is meant to be yours will cross your path and you and it will begin to intertwine as you recognize how well the two entities work together. This is the butterfly moment. The natural coming together, and the ability to recognize it and appreciate it and be reminded that the life you've built did take work and will continue to take work, but the work enables the quality of your life experiences as you travel together with the partner you have found, with the friendships you have built, with the career you have invested in, to be heightened to a level you may not have truly trusted was possible. Edith Wharton says it beautifully regarding when the moment you've hoped for will happen (the butterfly moment so to speak), "They seemed to suddenly come upon happiness as if they had surprised a butterfly in a winter wood." You truly cannot know when it will all come together, but at least you know you'll be ready to walk with it when it crosses your path. And it all begins with what the first quote at the top of the post brings to our attention, decide to let go of being a caterpillar, in order for your wings to break through and reveal themselves to not only the world, but to you. You may just be amazed at what is hidden in the depths of your being if only you would allow it to come forth. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~What Butterflies Have Taught Me

~Let Go and Elevate Your Life

~12 Ways to Live a Full Life

~Why Not . . . Trust the Timing of Your Life?

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Paris Can Wait, starring Diane Lane, directed by Eleanor Coppola
~View theaters and times here 

~If you are in Bend, it plays at the Tin Pan Theater through this Thursday June 22nd. Over the weekend, the small boutique theater in Bend brought to its small screen the film written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola. Yes, that Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather series, The Outsiders, etc.) for 54 years. Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival this past May, Paris Can Wait is Eleanor's first narrative feature film, but you wouldn't have known. Now, not all the critics are loving it: The Boston Globe felt it was strained and relied too heavily on clichés, even those who thought they would love it came away unsure due to the ambitious ending, but it is precisely the different approach to making the film that makes it lovely. Coppola has shared that the film's plot was inspired by her own life (be sure to read the San Francisco Chronicle's interview with her here), but not every piece and parcel of the story (there was no male companion). Along with the struggle Diane Lane's character (Anne) wrestles with is what Coppola herself did as well, the "'inner conflict, the push and pull' she’s felt her whole adult life about pursuing her own creative ambitions while raising three children and supporting her husband’s career".  As well, both women (the character and Coppola) have suffered the loss of a child which is briefly, but touchingly included in the film. Some readers have shared with me, they didn't enjoy the insinuation of infidelity, but I think that may be taking it further than Coppola intended as nothing occurred, merely adoration and a woman (Anne) who was keenly aware and  steadfast. What Anne's journey does do for her is awaken her to her strengths, to her passions, to the realization yes of her imperfect, but still very adoring husband. And by not giving viewers the concrete ending, leaving us wondering, Coppola does something I must applaud her for: She doesn't tell us how to think. As someone who has been immersed in Hollywood due to her husband, then daughter and son's successful involvement with silver screen productions, she doesn't fall prey to the formula. Maybe she does have a sequel in mind, but I hope not only because this film, as she has stated, took six years to raise funds as it wasn't full of "aliens, nobody dies, there are no guns and no car crashes. There was nothing that an investor wants to invest in. No sex, no violence".  Rather it was a piece of her life she wanted to share and explore, and in so doing, she allows the viewers to ponder what we don't often see in movies: a leading female role who is complete all by herself so long as she embraces her passions, lets herself feel what she feels, appreciates her allure which may be initially noticed due to her beauty but is profoundly powerful and substantive due to her intellect and character. And whether or not she remains with her husband (who isn't perfect) or explores her attraction to Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard (who also isn't perfect or ideal either) shouldn't be needed for a happy ending. What the happy ending is is liberation for Anne who hears the reminder from Jacques to share her talents with her husband (and perhaps the world if she so chooses), and to savor the pleasures of everyday moments and food without rushing to Paris.   https://youtu.be/LGyZnzjm7Og

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Direct download: 160ButterflyParisCanWait.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #159
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Style trickles into everything you do, who you are, and who and what you attract in life. Whittle down your style to what matters and project what's meaningful to the world: Be the lighthouse. Be honest. Be real." —Kate Schelter

Settling on a style that is our own can be overwhelming. Beginning with the style that adorns our bodies, but also the style with which we approach life, our routines, our hobbies, our habits, our way of contemplating and dancing with the life we have, and journeying toward the life we want. With so many options, ideas, seasons, and lifestyle icons to draw inspiration from, there is such a thing as paralysis by abundance.

Creative director and stylist Kate Schelter understands the quandary which is why she wrote her new book Classic Style: Hand It Down, Dress It Up, Wear It Out. Having read through the style resource, I picked 18 gems of wisdom I have found to serve as trustworthy guideposts when it comes to homing in on our individual classic style. There are of course many more as well as a wealth of examples which is why I encourage you to take a look at the book, but until then, let me offer you a taste to assuage the fear that curating your style might be impossible. Quite to the contrary, you can do it, and these sage descriptors of classic style will help you do so.

~Be sure to tune into the audio episode of the podcast as I dive into each item on the list in-depth, sharing specific examples. Below merely touches on the surface of the content that is shared. 

Your classic style will . . .

1. Bring you joy

2. Be functional for your lifestyle

3. Be deeply simple 

4. Add a touch of a signature

5. Be unmistakably beautiful to you

6. Free you from constraint

7. Move toward what you fear

"The jitters are love in disguise, reminding you that you're getting closer to what you want. Face it. Go toward it. Do it. Dive into your most meaningful experiences and relationships —the ones that make you feel like you're alive. Don't worry if you can't access what you want just yet. It will come. "

8. Have no expiration date in sight

9. Be a reflection of your character

10. Will use a limited color palette

11. Offer proper proportion and scale

12. Will focus on less rather than more

Schelter suggests shopping like an editor, "Turn down the volume. Tune in to yourself. You really don't need much."

13. Involve creating your own personal classics

"Find fabrics, colors, cuts and shapes that work on you. Then Repeat-wear and rely on them without a second thought. Know that they are yours to trust."

14. Find a balance when it comes to personal grooming

"Just the right amount of grooming: not too much, not too little."

15. Require quality tailoring

16. Involve investing in what you love

With patience, saving up and waiting for what you know will work and what you know you love will earn you the reward of "quality, craftsmanship, and charm".

17. Require you to not buy based on the size, but buy what looks best on your body

18. Not knowing is actually a positive sign, so long as you keep your eyes open

"When you embrace not having a set direction, you may experience the "dead zone" (dormancy, fear, dread, confusion, self-doubt), but that always comes before the spark of spring . . . When you give up expectations and rules you sow seeds for creative thought; you give yourself room to find your individuality and your own vocabulary. You are no longer defining yourself in someone else's terms."

Listen to your life. Listen to what puts you at ease, what makes you feel beautiful, what fires up your confidence. And then ask yourself why. When you listen, when you tune in to what your life is revealing to you, your true personal classic style will come forth.

"The key to personal style is simple: Forget what's cool and trust your gut. The magic is in your mix. When you draw confidence from your classics — pieces that you come back to again and again — your style is your own. Classics let you do more, and be more, with less." —Kate Schelter author of Classic Style 

Petit Plaisir:

~Springtime Peonies
  • Best to buy in the bud stage as they will last longer; don't forget to cut an inch off the bottom and remove all leaves that might be submerged in water. Add plant food.
  • Common peony meanings include romance, prosperity, good fortune, a happy marriage, riches, honor, and compassion — but peonies can also mean bashfulness via FTD.com
  • Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there, and are often referred to as the “king of flowers”.
  • The peony is the state flower of Indiana.
  • It is also given for twelfth wedding anniversaries because the peony symbolizes honor, fortune, and a happy relationship.

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SaveSave

Direct download: 159ClassicStyle.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #158
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Perhaps you've seen her pottery: simple, purposefully imperfect, white with black singular font, whether for your morning tea cup, the salt and pepper holder on the stovetop or a dish for your furry best friend. Rae Dunn's passion for simple and functional pottery has brought her deserved recognition. And it is with her eye for the simple everyday that led to her new book of French inspiration titled France: Inspiration du Jour. An artistic sketchbook of Rae's travels through Paris and Provence, be swept away to France no matter where you live as you peruse the pages. With pictures of everyday life in France paired with watercolor illustrations of the scenery, food, drink and daily activities, discover why Rae finds beauty in the everyday moments. Today on the podcast, Rae Dunn joins me to talk about how the concept of the sketchbook came about, why it's important not to overthink anything you are curious to try or explore and rather just step forward and feel your way, the power of serendipity, the realization of where true beauty resides and the importance of treasuring the imperfect. The discussion is one with a successful woman who simply followed what she loved and in so doing created a successful business which reminds us all to "notice and appreciate the small things". Have a listen to the interview and discover more than a few simple pleasures at the end of our conversation as Rae reveals this week's Petit Plaisirs. ~Rae Dunn's website ~Follow Rae Dunn: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram (a new illustration each day) ~Shop Rae Dunn pottery here and here ~Learn more about her new book France: Inspiration du Jour here ~Sharon's Art Studio in Golden Gate State Park ~Rae Dunn's recommendation for what to visit in France: Picasso Museum in Arles, France - Musée Réattu

~a sampling of Rae Dunn's daily illustrations on Instagram~

~samples of Rae Dunn pottery~

 

Petit Plaisir:

  ~Find more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.

Direct download: RaeDunnInterviewFinal.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #157
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Jazz and France is a coupling that instantaneously grabs my attention. Add a woman who has followed her passion, appreciates the moment and lives life to the fullest all the while staying grounded in this ever-changing thing called life, and I want to get to know her further. Elizabeth Bougerol is not only the front woman of The Hot Sardines vintage jazz band that is making "the old sound new" again, but she is also the co-founder with the bandleader and man at the piano, Evan Palazzo (above with Elizabeth, bottom right). The band's music has been described by The Times (London) as "simply phenomenal" and their music has reached the No. 1 slot on the iTunes Jazz chart in the U.S. and internationally. With songs in both English and French, their first two albums are a must-have on your jazz playlist. Elizabeth joins me on today's episode to talk about jazz and the journey she has been on as The Hot Sardines have begun to catch many an ear of fans and critics alike over just a few short years. As well we discuss passion projects, knowing when to leap, redefining the term "stability" and of course we talk about France, where she was born and raised and regularly visits. The discussion continues into the differences between the French and American cultures and the different approaches regarding daily living, and the importance of living in the moment. From food to listening to the voice inside that wants to give something a try that may not align with your perceived self-image to taking advantage of opportunities even if you do not feel entirely ready, today's conversation is one to take 45 minutes out of your day and enjoy. I have a feeling, if you're like me, you'll walk away with at least one (if not many) thought to ponder and apply to your life. See one below, as well as the song (one of two) that is played and discussed during the episode. ~The Hot Sardines' website ~Elizabeth Bougerol's website ~The Hot Sardines: Instagram | YouTube |Facebook | Twitter ~Tour Schedule Albums:

~The title song of The Hot Sardines' most recent album: "French Fries + Champagne" ~The litmus test which sparked the partnership between Elizabeth and Evan: "Your Feet's Too Big" ~Elizabeth's recommended destination to visit in France: Cancale  

~@hotsardines - Instagram pics: Elizabeth with Alan Cummings singing "When I Get Low I Get High"; with Alan Cumming who is featured on French Fries + Champagne; Elizabeth enjoying French Fries + Champagne; The Hot Sardines~

~The song I have been playing on repeat. "Wake Up In Paris".

In our conversation on the podcast, Elizabeth shares her inspiration for the song, as well as how long it took her to write it. Be sure to tune and discover where exactly the inspiration came from for the first two notes of the song.

https://youtu.be/ulsK9jvgsAw

Petit Plaisir:

Elizabeth shared with listeners, not one, but two of her favorite Petit Plaisirs. Have a look below:

~On the road: 

~At Home (see below):

    An enormous thank you to Elizabeth and her team for taking the time to join me on The Simple Sophisticate. ~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.

Download the Episode

Direct download: ElizabethBougerolFinal.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #156
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Each time NYC stylist Tiffani Rogers stops by The Simple Sophisticate podcast we begin with a conversation about the most recent trends and fashion events, but then it leads to a life discussion as we both, women in our 30s who are striving to enjoy the everyday, making it our own as well as reach our full potential while learning from the many lessons life abundantly shares with us. And this interview was no different. As mentioned in the title of today's episode, relationships and how to meet new friends and potential romantic partners are both discussed, as well as inching toward 40 and loving it. Tiffani also shares a couple of life lessons she has learned thus far, and we discover there is one approach we both use to remind us that we are doing just fine in this thing called life. Be sure to tune in. Below are all the links, photos and videos discussed on the blog. Style by Tiffani

  • Shop the City - Shopping Guide of Manhattan, use promo code SIMPLYLUX to save 10%
  • Discover Tiffani's styling services: personal wardrobe, bridal, special occasion (online or in person)
    • Did you know you could hire her to be your on-call stylist? Yes! Weekly, Monthly, Yearly or Seasonal check-ins
  • Visit Tiffani's blog for insights into taking care of your wardrobe, shopping and styling

~Past interview with Tiffani Rogers on The Simple Sophisticate:

~2017 Met Gala, honoring Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo. Red Carpet style discussed on the episode:

~Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren~

~Gisele Bündchen in Stella McCartney~

~Katy Perry in Comme des Garçon~

~Blake Lively in Burberry~

~Watch Norma Kamali video on the difference between 21 and 71 here 

 

~Petit Plaisir

~Blueberry & Rhubarb Crostata, find the recipe here.

Download the Episode

Direct download: TiffaniInterviewFullEpisodeMay2017.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #155
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

~Julia Child's kitchen as seen at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., as it was in Cambridge, Massachusetts~

The more I read about Julia Child, especially in her own words, the more I find inspiration regarding how to successfully journey through life. Saying yes to life, remaining curious and refusing to be intimidated by obstacles, unknowns and not knowing how to do something, we all could probably learn something from Julia Child whether we enjoy cooking or just eating good food. And the lessons she provides are applicable in every arena of our lives. After reading and loving My Life in France, the Petit Plaisir in episode #152, I wanted to come up with a list of some of the life lessons unearthed about how to navigate each of our journeys successfully in Julia's own words. Below are six, but there are far more. If the list intrigues you, I highly recommend picking up her memoir which was published just after her death, as she herself, along with her nephew having completed it just prior.

1. Listen to what stirs you. When a passion worth pursuing presents itself, you'll know. 

"Now that I had started writing, I found cookbookery such fulfilling work that I intended to keep at it for years and years."

2. If we choose to, we can change.

"After driving to Rouen, we stopped in for lunch at La Couronne, where we ordered exactly the same meal that we'd had on my first day in France, more than two and a half years earlier: portugaise (oysters), sole meunière, salade verte, fromage blanc, and café filter. Ah me! The meal was just as sublime the second time around, only now I could identify the smells in the air quicker than Paul, order my own food without help, and truly appreciate the artistry of the kitchen. La Couronne was the same, but I had become a different person."

3. Self-doubt is natural, and a sign that you truly care about what you are trying to do. Continue to push forward.

"Ah me. There was still so much to learn, and cooking was only half of it. I felt I'd have to teach at least a hundred classes before I really knew what I was doing."

4. Often the first rejection is a test to determine your true desire.

"I sighed. It just might be that The Book was unpublishable. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself.I had gotten the job done, I was proud of it, and now I had a whole batch of foolproof recipes to use. Besides, I had found myself through the arduous writing process. Even if we were never able to publish our book, I had discovered my raison d'être in life, and would continue my self-training and teaching."

5. The key to delicious food is quality ingredients.

"This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with: not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat. It was classic French cooking, where the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, 'Food that tastes of what it is'."

~TSLL Capsule Menu (how to create it and the Fall Sample Menu)

 
6. Time, perseverance and asking for help from experts does pay off

"It would eventually take us two years and something like 284 pounds of flour to try out all the home-style recipes for French bread we could find. We used two French textbooks on baking and tutored ourselves on the fine points of yeasts and flours, yet our best efforts still fell short . . . One day I read a newspaper article about Professor Raymond Calvel, an eminent baker and teacher at the École Française de Meunerie . . . Professor Calvel showed us what we'd been doing wrong, and taught us all about making proper French bread . . . By the end of the day, our loaves were turning out just right, and I was feeling euphoric. It was as though the sun in all his glory had suddenly broken through the shades of gloom!"

~Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II by Julia Child & Simone Beck

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Decor Inspiration: Julia Child's Provence Home, rent it!

~Julia Child Rules

~11 Life Truths About Contentment That Seem Impossible Until We Experience Them

~Petit Plaisir

~Dark Chocolate Truffles, click here for the recipe

Download the Episode

Download the Episode

Direct download: 155JuliaChild.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #154
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." —Nelson Mandela

Amelia Earhart, at the age of 23, had a dream awoken within her that she could not explain. Filled with both fear and pleasure, she "knew she had to fly". Julia Child was determined to change the dining, cooking and eating experience of Americans, also known as the "servantless cook". At the time, no one had written, nor demonstrated how to successfully engage with real food, delicious, satiating cuisine as she had (and as I know, many of you are quite aware being Francophiles ;)). And so it was hope, not fear that she, as well as Amelia Earhart pursued their vision with dogged perseverance. It was the nebulous vision held within, unknowingly willing their dreams to materialize, how and when they could not know. I am reminded of Nelson Mandela's quote often with the many different new experiences and people I have had the opportunity to encounter in my now nearly two years living in Bend. A multitude of unknowns dance about untamed in my life that have tested my confidence, faith and desire. From the desire to become once again a home-owner, to producing a second book of quality and inspiration for devoted long-time and newly introduced readers of living simply luxuriously to finding and cultivating real love and friendships based on trust, curiosity and similar passions shared authentically, just to name a few. And it is at times of doubt and unknown situations, that self-preservation can be the default my mind wants to revert to. After all, it is a rare individual to travel unscathed by pain, loss, hurt and disappointment through life; and therefore, it is only natural to allow the mind, when it recognizes seemingly similar behavior equivalent to a pain-inflicting person from our past to put up its defenses, assume the worst and no longer step forward. But such behavior is to ignore Mandela's directive, such behavior is to make a choice that reflects our fears. And when we continue to make decisions that reflect our fears, we are no longer building a life in which we can thrive striving toward our fullest potential; no, instead, we are merely surviving and watching pass by beautiful opportunity after beautiful opportunity, of the life we have not yet experienced, but could if only we would make choices that reflect our hopes. Last week, I began to make firm plans for a summer holiday in 2018. Money has been invested, dates have been confirmed, rentals have been secured. While I am not sure how all of the details will come together or even exactly how long I will be away, I at least know a dream I set in 2011 will be taking place. I chose to build a life based on hope. I chose to believe that the pieces would gradually fall together if I set out the invitation enabling them to materialize. I chose what I am excited about, rather than what I am fearful of. To have hope may not seem to be enough, and I would argue, while it isn't enough, it is a significant part of the foundation of the beautiful life we wish to build for ourselves and those we love. Think of it as building a sanctuary in the country, complete with koi ponds, long, tree-lined lanes and thoughtfully planted perennials that awake in their designated seasons in order for a full year of natural beauty. Such a creation, while yes, taking time, also requires of the dreamer to plan, design and educate themselves, but then act in a manner that involves decisions that open the door to the possibility of ample and abundant beauty. Conversely, a life built on our fears resembles a fortress of stone, iron walls, gates, anything to protect the individual(s) inside from being penetrated by the unknown. No engagement with the outside world unless deemed fit and suitable. No plan except to build higher walls that are no more natural and healthy, let alone beautiful, when it comes to a well-lived life than forced solitary confinement.

"Worry retards reaction and makes clear-cut decisions impossible." —Amelia Earhart

Yes, the former example leaves us open, leaves us more vulnerable, but it also invites the natural world to thrive. The seasons to work their magic, relationships to grow and mature, life to move through its cycle and for the residents to appreciate each step. Whereas the fortress controls everything, or creates a way of living that presents a façade of having everything under control.  When in actuality, the beauty that could flourish is killed due to lack of sunlight. In other words, hope is driven asunder. No, we will never know how everything will work out. We will never know precisely when the economy will ebb and rise or why prior to the event that sparks the change. We will never know when we might run into that person that captivates our attention more than anyone we have ever met before. We will never know when we will hear yes, or when we will hear no. We will never know when our time will be up or for those around us. We will never know anything except how we choose to respond to any situation. Having hope doesn't mean we are being fool-hearty. Having hope doesn't mean we cannot do our homework. But when we are left with unknowns, choose the hopeful outcome rather than the fearful one, and your behavior and words as you interact and engage with the world will reflect this choice and thus the energy that is reflected back to you. A funny, and aha moment awareness I had recently is that not all of my negative defaults have been a result of personal experience. Some of my negative, self-protecting defaults have come from the media, from plots and tales that are told as entertainment and some as cautionary tales. Now most, I have recognized were experienced unconsciously as a younger child and adult, and so the lesson for myself is to feed my life experience well. Not only with the entertainment, literary journeys and news I consume, but also with the people I spend time with. What conversations, what lives, what tales are shared? No, we must not sanitize our lives; we must know what is going on in the world; we must be aware of suffering to an extent so that if nothing more we can be a part of the effort to alleviate it; we must be conscious citizens. But then we need to get in our lane. A lane that is based on self-awareness, clarity of direction and a mind that is constantly being fed and nourished and live our lives well. But how do we that, especially when at times it will feel as though living in fear is far smarter? First, vent or express your frustration in a healthy manner: understand that you are not seeking a solution, but rather a means to express and release the frustration. And then do not dwell. Move forward. You are human to feel frustration, maybe even anger, but in recognizing that we cannot control everything, we recognize what we can control how we respond in such moments. Second, and most powerful, let go of the outcome. We can only control our behavior, our thoughts, and our preparation. Focus on these three things and let the others go so that you can enjoy the life you have cultivated for yourself, no matter what life may bring, toss or surprise you with. And as we go about our lives, having invested in hope rather than fear, we are more likely to awake unexpectedly to a ladybug on our shoulder.

"When I was a little girl, I used to run around in the fields all day, trying unsuccessfully to catch ladybugs.  Finally I would get tired and lay down for a nap. When I awoke, I’d find ladybugs walking all over me.” —Under the Tuscan Sun

https://youtu.be/G7t_gCfTPlM

"...decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying...." —Amelia Earhart

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Make Your Own Life Rules: How & Why, podcast

~Decide to Act

~Remember to Embrace Your Unique Journey

Petit Plaisir:

Sweet Palmiers, click here for the recipe (savory is an option as well)

 

Direct download: 154ladybugs_.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #153
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

". . . for those of you who are tired of trying to squeeze into constrained categories, who long for integration and wholeness in everything you do, without limits on who you are or who you will become . . . it's time to move beyond labels." —Maureen Chiquet, author of Beyond the Label

Labels by definition provide a boundary, an end, a predetermined area of where something does and does not exist. And while a label on our wine bottle that we have chosen to serve with dinner may reveal the year in which the grapes were harvested or where a particular item of clothing or an accessory was made ensuring us of what we choose to support regarding labor, these aforementioned labels are helpful, reassuring and welcoming, but contrarily, labels placed on people, individuals, women, men, different ethnicities, generations, are limiting. In many cases, labels for people have and do lead into stereotypes, all of which are reductive, oversimplified and purposely (by the one placing the stereotype on another) limiting on the group of focus. In all cases, as Maureen Chiquet, the former CEO of Chanel shares in her new book Beyond the Label, "The labels themselves make life more difficult." As a child when grand family-gathering food holidays would arrive on the calendar, it was always the women who were in the kitchen cooking the extravagant meal and after dinner, it was always the women who were in the kitchen cleaning up. I hated the assumption of these roles which nobody conferred with me about. Granted I was a young girl, and I did what I was told, and as a young girl, I didn't know why I felt this way, but as I grew up and still saw this pattern in some instances, I then knew why I had just grave reservations: I didn't want to be in either group, especially not the clean-up group as so much work and effort had gone into the meal. Was it the women's job to cater to the men who sat in the living room, laughing, chatting and sipping their coffee or evening drinks? There was no part of this assumption or label that appeared fair. Now some of the women may have sincerely wanted to be doing the cooking as well as the cleaning, but I know I was not the anomaly. Who wouldn't want to be fed and relax after the meal? I share this experience with you not to complain, I am adamant that while I love cooking, the clean-up task should at least be shared, especially if it is a dinner for two as a way of thanking the cook or providing more time to chat and unwind together, but to offer up the conversation about the roles we inhabit and why we do so. Often we step into roles not because we have an earnest desire to clean the kitchen, per say, but because we've seen others do it before us and that is "just the way it is done". If we constantly adhered to this way of living life, women would still be domestic property of their husbands with no means to be independent. Needless to say, roles should be questioned to determine who is benefiting and why such a role is being perpetuated. The labels and roles we embody throughout our lives should be in accordance with the individual, regardless of sex, regardless of social standing, regardless of . . . well, pretty much anything. It may seem safe to do what has been done before, but it is limiting, it is squashing of the incredible gifts each of us has to offer not only to the world and those we choose to share our lives with, but to our spirit and true contentment as we experience the life we have been given. Whether it's the assumption that the teaching profession is best suited for women because they are born nurturers (a false assumption, and a limiting label by the way for all the men who are innately nurturing as well) or the assumption that tall men with deep voices are better leaders (why? Because . . . they can sing bass and have to duck to get through the door? The last I checked, neither abilities were needed to lead successfully.), we reduce the potential to flourish and find the best fit for every individual when we place labels based on exterior appearances. As Maureen Chiquet points out immediately in her new memoir and life guide, she "hates labels and boxes".  And it was her fondness for the French culture that drew me further into her book as she shares in her introduction, "It wasn't just beauty that the French seemed to live for and breathe in, but a kind of freedom that emboldened me to radically extend the border of my more conservative Midwest childhood in the 1970s." Her curiosity is what opened the door to recognizing that the labels that were being placed on her, or she felt being placed on those around her were inaccurate and soul-depleting. And it was her curiosity that led her to achieve the life and professional success which she leads us through as readers. She listened to the voice within, she was fortunate to have parents who encouraged her curiosity and didn't limit her dreams, and she was courageous enough to do even when she didn't know what the outcome would be. https://youtu.be/gNp6ohq-9Sk Today I'd like to share with you 24 sage words of advice from Maureen Chiquet's new book, released last month as a means of encouraging us all to examine the labels we accept to be placed upon us and come to understand why so that we might let go of those that are limiting and remove all together labels or at least help to redefine or change the world's understanding of the possibilities of said labels that we may fall under at different periods of our lives. 1. Listen to your curiosities and follow where they lead you

"It's often a matter of following the whispering intuitions and inkling that defy standard categories such as college major or job title . . . I do know the kinds of attitudes and sensibilities, the questions and the curiosities, that will lead you on paths to self-discovery, beyond recognized borders and conventions, and well beyond the labels that others want to use to define you."

2. Reclaim femininity on your own terms

"Being a woman [is] not a handicap but an advantage, a source of strength."

Simply by reading the word "femininity" we may have an idea of what the word entails, but we immediately limit in our minds what a woman is capable of being if we provide a definition beyond the actual definition "the quality of being female; womanliness", we limit what is acceptable for someone who is a female to do. In other words, there is no one way to be a woman. With every woman in the world, there is a different way to be, just as there are more than seven billion people in the world, there are seven billion different ways to be.

Take a moment today, tomorrow or sometime soon to examine how you live your life that assumes behaviors and roles you partake in merely because you are female. Who set those rules? Why do you follow? Does it sit well with your being? Some women, no matter society's expectations will revel in wearing make-up and pearls, while others will be out on the lacrosse field at six in the morning training with their teammates forgetting entirely about wearing any sort of make-up. A woman is simply a woman for the sake of biology, that is all. Beyond that, reclaim your own definition.

3. Redefine how a leader leads

"I started to understand that if women weren't rising to the top more often, it wasn't only because they weren't 'leaning in' or weren't just as ambitious as their male counterparts. It wasn't just because corporate policies didn't allow enough time for maternity leave or the flextime needed to raise families. These things were, and still are, crucial and must be addressed. But the underlying issue, the nut no one had cracked, was what kind of leadership we value and how we teach, assess, and promote 'good' leaders in all organizations —whether women or men."

4. If you feel something is missing, trust the observation of the void and look beyond "the world's obstacles, rigid structure and set definitions." To be able to look beyond, we must first look within. We must become so well in tune with ourselves that we know when something is not present and needs to be, even if we cannot put our finger on it at the moment. From my own experience, even at an early age, there were many instances, people, situations and ways of living that just didn't make sense, and so as I began to build my own life, I explored, I asked, I became more informed and I stepped out of what I had been introduced to by others and began introducing myself to ideas that were new to me until eventually I found what made far more sense disregarding whether others approved or not. 5. Follow Coco Chanel's approach to life: learn the rules, then step outside of them

"Chanel seemed to break every rule by combining seemingly opposite elements and by elegantly subverting convention to create something breathtakingly timeless and fresh . . . a woman who refused to blindly accept the aesthetics of her time in order to invent her own."

In the rhetorical writing class I teach, one of the first lessons I share is while there are many rhetorical tools an artist/writer/speaker/architect/musician can use, in order to use any one of them, they must first know the standard rules of grammar they are breaking. Therefore, when they choose to use the rhetorical tool, they know why they are breaking it and what effect they hope to provoke.

6. Savor life's beauty When we follow our curiosity, it is a striving toward creating a life that we want to dance with each and every day. And if we are lucky enough, when we are lucky enough, to cultivate this life, we don't want to rush, we don't want tomorrow to come today. We want to savor each and every day. In other words, "slow it down, relish it, take it in fully". 7. Become comfortable with a little discomfort Uncertainty or unhappiness. The two concepts were juxtaposed recently in an article I read, and the point was quickly absorbed. Are we willing to give up a little discomfort in not knowing how or when something we hope for, but deeply want, will occur in order that we may no longer be unhappy? Often we stay in circumstances, or remain under labels that do not fit us because it is what we know. And knowing is, for more than a few, far more comfortable than uncertainty. In the long run however, we only do ourselves a disservice and miss out on the beautiful life we could have led. 8. Let go of external definitions and lenses through which you have been defined and start from scratch. Ask why?

"The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself." —E.E. Cummings

9. Search until you are broken open similar to the relinquishing of a protective shell In coordination with #7 and #4, many times we do not know what we are missing or what we will find when we step into the unknown.  However, the protective shell we are under, that we think is offering us the best possible life, is actually the limitation, the barrier we need to step out from underneath if we are going to realize our own unique potential. It is easy to know and accept this life concept, but I sincerely recognize far harder to put into practice. But, if you are feeling squashed, and keep bumping into a wall that time and time again has demonstrated it is not going to move, try a different path, even if you don't know where it will lead. So long as you head out into the direction that speaks to your curiosities, trust that you are doing yourself a grand favor. 10. Refrain from following prescribed expectations and instead simply "be" and express yourself authentically (and allow others to do the same). Find your tribe. Search out people who sing the same song or at least applaud you for staying true to yourself. Along the way, you may have to let go of those who want you to stay in the lane they became accustomed to you traveling, but model by example and support everyone's mode of travel and path chosen to travel down. When we all become more accepting of different ways of living life, we free each other to step into a lane (or off into the open field) to be what comes most naturally and applaud the unique contributions we all can give. 11. Knowledge allows the magic to happen

"Every discipline in the humanities —literature, history, art history, philosophy, or religious studies —teaches us how to question how we see and interpret the world and who we are as human beings."

As someone with a bachelor of arts degree, I took classes in art history, communications, history, literature, dance, sociology and a few other arenas in the humanities family that each contributed in their own way to the journey I am on now. I may not have pursued a specific career in most of these fields, but as I examine the careers I am pursuing, all of these classes have offered skills, knowledge and aha moments that helped me connect the dots and have given me a deeper understanding of the world, and thus my journey within it.

"[S]he who has the most information wins." —John D. Rockefeller

Ultimately, knowledge can only open doors and the beauty is, it can never be taken away from you. Knowledge of the "why"s in the world, how certain religions came to be, why this war was fought and this right denied, etc. are all bits and pieces of a grand puzzle that will help you understand why the labels that may be given to you don't actually fit at all. Allow all that you know and wish to know, as you pursue it fervently to be the key to opening up doors that curiosity leads you to.

12. Focus more on how it will work out and what could go right, rather than getting caught up in the reasons why it cannot be fulfilled (life has a funny way of adhering to what we consume our minds with - self-fulfilling prophecies)

"It a little bit like when you are skiing. If you begin to stare at all of the rocks, crevices, and obstacles, you're sure to hit one."

13. Take the first step even if the plan isn't complete

"Sometimes, you have to take that first step without a fully formulated plan, follow your intuition, and be ready to go with the flow, just like plunging into oncoming traffic at L'Etoile."

14. Improvise regularly

"Indeed, if you only memorize the score, you can be sure to hit the right notes, but will anyone remember your bland tune? The creative spark depends on patience, persistence, and practice, but you have to be willing to take risks, too. To improve requires having a sense of where you want to go, then letting that resonance emanate from deep within yourself, the place where love for your sole expression resides. "

15. Let go of fixed expectations 

"Letting go of fixed expectations, or at least being willing to upend them for a time, allows the possibility for an act of creation to surprise us, to leave us dizzy with the excitement of discovering something new that, somehow, feels just right, as if we were waiting for it all along."

16. Seek out respect coupled with love

"I had never felt love like that from any guy I had dated. It went beyond love; it was the purest form of respect."

17. Find a path that allows your "beauty", your real assets to be be utilized

". . . 'beauty' — my real assets (intelligence, character, judgment, and taste)"

18. Embrace challenging circumstances as they unearth the pearl of a life you truly wish to cultivate

"Challenging circumstances and discomfort are often excellent teachers inasmuch as they require us to get closest to what we fundamentally care about."

19. Raw learning experiences exist everywhere in every stage of your journey

"No opportunity is ever too small to show you what you can accomplish, and no boss is ever so mean that you can't learn something, even if it's only to show you how not to lead."

20. Empower people and you empower progress

"People work harder and ultimately deliver better results when they feel empowered."

21. Be calm, confident, self-aware and clear about where you want to go in order to have success

"Horses react to humans in a pure, intuitive way. 'They mirror how we show up. More than eighty percent of our communication is nonverbal, so these nonverbal creatures can reflect back exactly what's going on with us and whether they trust our presence and will follow our lead.' Once you found yourself interacting with, leading, or heading a horse, you learned 'in your body' how to show up differently, how to be attuned to others without losing touch with yourself or your goals."

22. Be the leader of your individual life, manage yourself well to be able to lead others well.

"In order to lead — and to get anyone else to follow you — yes, you do need to listen to others . . . a lot. But you also need to be attuned to yourself —your hungers, your drives, and your trigger points. In other words, you have to manage yourself in order to lead others."

23. Understand how to regain your footing and balance

"I have found that taking a moment to move away from circumstances where you might feel pressure or triggered —to ask yourself what's most important to you underneath the surface —helps restore your equilibrium."

24. Examine and then release assumptions of how life should be that do not align with your newly defined self

"There is no one right way. There is not one label you can slap over your family and call it perfect . . . It is the labels themselves that can make these choices even more difficult. If we don't unpack these assumptions [women should bear more of the parenting responsibility than men even when we wholeheartedly pursue our careers], if we don't stop and ask why it is so, we just end up exhausted and discouraged . . . by letting go of definitions others might set for us as well as the idealized images we have created ourselves . . . we get what we most want . . . the trick is knowing what it is you do actually want and being clear with yourself and your partner on how you both want to lead and prioritize your lives."

One of the most perplexing answers I struggle to give is when somebody asks me what I do for a living. I fluctuate between "Which should I say first: a teacher or a writer, or better, a blogger?". It will depend upon the person I am speaking with, but most often, when I state that I am a teacher, there is a handful of assumptions that come along with it, most of which are untrue in my case, but you don't want to dive into a deep philosophical discussion necessarily. As well when I open with "I am a blogger", some become even more curious and others dismiss the title entirely. But the truth is, I feel limited by each, and perhaps you do as well, which is why Beyond the Label resonated with me. People ask such questions: what do you do for a living? are you married? where did you grow up? as a means to better get to know the person they are speaking with. The motivation is largely friendly and benign, but as most of us know, the answers, especially upon a first meeting, immediately build assumptions in the listeners mind - for better or worse. And so perhaps the fault is on us all, but that means all of us can play a role in moving beyond the label. "By moving beyond the label, we can all make our workplaces and our lives more effective and more equitable."

"By releasing ourselves from these restrictions, we have a shot at creating success on our own terms."

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

~Diana Krall's new album Turn Up The Quiet (to be released May 5, 2017), her 13th album, 5-time Grammy winner

~view her tour schedule here ~The list of 11 songs on the album: 1. Like Someone In Love 2. Isn't It Romantic 3. LOVE 4. Night and Day 5. I'm Confessin' 6. Moonglow 7. Blue Skies 8. Sway 9. No Moon At All 10. Dream 11. I'll See You In My Dreams  

Direct download: 153BeyondLabels_.mp3
Category:self-improvement -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #152

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." —Henry David Thoreau

To dream big. To dream beyond others' imagination is a risk. However, to dream so vastly is to reveal one's capacity for hope of what could possibly become reality. Do you remember what you dreamt about as a child, in particular your daydreams when the sky truly was the limit? Do you remember why you dreamt what you did? More often than not what we dreamt about had more to do with what we thought we would feel, how we presumed our way of life would be and thus the contentment or fulfillment we would reach. And the exciting news I want to share with you today is that the sky still is the limit. Even as we step into adulthood, our dreams are a roadmap of where we want to go, of what we are passionate about.  The important part that we must consciously engage ourselves in is the dissecting of the dreams that refuse to be forgotten. In other words, look closely at your dreams from childhood. In some form, which ones are you still dreaming about? Maybe as a child you dreamed of traveling the world, partaking in safaris and scaling Mt. Rushmore. Examine now what is dancing through your daydreams. Is it the same thing or is it adventures, perhaps more tame? Look less at the specific destination itself and instead at how you conjectured it would make you feel when you had the opportunity to travel to parts unknown. Perhaps it was the freedom you wanted to always have in your life. Or maybe it was the comfort of nature surrounding you. If you have the courage to investigate why you dream about what you dream, what you dare to dream in other words, you will find a roadmap to your truest contentment. Along the way as you unearth the truth, you may discover a need to become better skilled in certain arenas, and so you do just that. As you continue to proceed, you are aware of what, while being low on your priority list, is impeding your progress, so you understand why you must let some things go that no longer align with your truest path. The gift of dreaming big and having the courage to pursue what you've imagined is that what we focus on, in which pursuits we deposit our energy, we help to manifest and eventually nurture into reality.

“The future you see is the future you get.” – Robert G Allen

While it may seem impossible as you gaze at your dream from afar having only just begun or having so much further to travel, the good news is so long as you stay focused, journal regularly, check your subgoals weekly or monthly, you will gradually come closer to what you wish for. Why? Because you are no longer wishing, you are doing. And with each step, with each task completed and each exercise of willpower to say no to what might jeopardize or get in the way, you are inching closer toward making it your reality.

“At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

Upon moving to Bend, an amazing dream became a reality, calling Bend my hometown. Something I honestly had doubts along the way would ever come true, living, calling home this beautiful mountain, nature-loving, small-town feel with a big city undercurrent. But I never gave up doing what I could to put myself in the best position to give it the potential it needed to materialize.

Now that I have lived here almost two years, a few of my other dreams have seemingly been stalled while others have blossomed beyond my expectation. And as I consider the latter of those two realities, I am reminded that never giving up completely is always the best idea. Sometimes we have to put dreams on the back burner or at least keep working towards them habitually, but what is needed is letting go of the expectation of when they may come to be what we hope they might be. As we do this, we're still making progress, but we're letting go of the pressure, we're recognizing that maybe we really don't have all of the control, but so long as we control what we are able, when the right opportunity presents itself, we will be able to seize the moment.

In moments of doubt, when I am not sure if my dream is even a possibility anymore, I find myself shaking my head. When a step back or a regression of progress appears to be taking place, I want to kick myself and then more doubt is piled on. But then I wonder, what would life be if we didn't have dreams to pursue? Dreams are a form of curiosity, of wondering, can I do this? Am I up to the task? Am I capable? The reassuring answer is, you are absolutely capable, and along the way some pretty amazing moments could happen as well that might open even more unexpectedly splendid doors. And those temporary setbacks, they are going to happen. First, look at why they occurred, and often what you will find is that you were living life, and balancing as you moved forward to navigate what you had to navigate. Simply because you had to take a step back, doesn't mean your progress toward your dream is dashed. It simply means, you may have to reroute, or refuel earlier than expected. But you can do that, no? Because if it is a dream you are ardently passionate about, you will refuel, you will reboot and you will figure out a way to reach your goal.

“Capture your dreams and your life becomes full.” – Nikita Koloff

Imagine the story your life is writing right now. Imagine the anecdotes you are collecting along the way to be appreciated once again upon reflection. View your life as a story, make the choices that will make the reader smile, and since it is a story, accept that there will be moments you do not want or expect, but if you are the savvy writer that I know you are capable of being, you will figure out a way to write a happy ending.

Dream big and let your dreams guide you along your magnificent journey of life.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Dare to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

~11 Things You Must Do to Create the Life of Your Dreams

~Why Not . . . Achieve Your Dreams? (3 part series)

~Petit Plaisir

~My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

~Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Direct download: 152dreamfirstPlanlater_.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #151

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"There is something about the French woman, a sense of freedom that must read and show in the way we dress." —Marion Cotillard

No one has yet pinpointed when the allure of French style came to epitomize the pinnacle of effortless, chic style, but nonetheless, the flattering stereotype continues to be perpetuated and this post will do the same.

Why? In all honesty, if you have been to France, you have seen it. You have crossed paths with the style seen in Paris that embodies classic staples worn with such ease and confidence that the woman appears to be on her own catwalk wherever she goes. Now not every French woman embodies the qualities oft associated with simple, chic, effortlessness just as not every American woman is intrigued by fast fashion and putting more in her closet (if you are a reader of TSLL, I am pretty confident you do not fall into that traditional American stereotype).

But since the French woman has lessons to share when it comes to the style of quality over quantity, and demonstrates how magnificent it can look, people from around the globe have taken note, which may be why so many non-French women have impeccable, signature style as well.

"What defines French Style? An effortless chic attitude - the Parisienne always wears great basics. It's about clever mix and match." -Evelyne Chétrite

Wherever we find the inspiration that moves us to shift and change our wardrobe, it is worth investigating exactly what the fundamentals are of that particular approach to style.

To begin, I must make a confession, I am not someone who enjoys shopping for clothes, but I do thoroughly appreciate and feel most confident when I know the clothes I am wearing work well on my body for whatever occasion I may be involved in. Thus, I have always wanted to drill down to how to cultivate a dependable, chic wardrobe that is versatile and lasts. So it was not a surprise when the French woman's approach to style caught my attention.

Let's take a look at how to incorporate the 10 fundamentals of French style into our lives so that we too can look our best, spend our money wisely and limit the time we spend in shops and online boutiques so that we can go about enjoying the simply luxurious lives we have created.

1. Staples over trends

"In an era of excess, Frenchness speaks to a certain kind of abstinence - but also of a noble refusal to compromise on quality, as well as the confidence to resist tacky gimmicks." —Lisa Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph

Watching the seasonal runway shows are great fun and full of inspiration and ideas what new way to wear a button up blouse or what to pair with a knee-length skirts, but don't hop on the bandwagon if it's a one-season phenomenon. How do you know if it's a one season phenomenon? Ask yourself, would you wear it if you hadn't seen it on the runway or if wasn't cheered by Vogue and the fashion elites? If the answer is no, then just appreciate it and move on.

Staples may seem safe or boring, but as we will discuss in #2, when you purchase well, know your body and tailor to your needs, you will shine. And the key word is you. You, rather than your clothes will be what everyone will notice and that is the intent to dressing well each time we step into our closets. Instead of considering what will draw attention, what will shock, what will woo onlookers, ask yourself "what will look best on me and help me elevate to feel and do my best?" Return to those clothes again and again and again, and you will never be disappointed.

2. Invest, don't skimp

A French woman will have Chanel ballet flats and maybe even a Mulberry tote, but she won't have oodles of ballet flats in her closet or more than a few handbags unlike an average American's closet that is overflowing with bargain finds that may have looked wonderful on the rack at Ross but no longer shine two or even five years later.

Hone in on what you need, save up and purchase what you love and will continue to use for years to come. My Lanvin ballet flats were an investment (always order one to a half-size larger than your regular size), but they were exactly what I had always wanted for years. When I finally purchased my first (I have two now - beige and black) pair, the price was expected, and I continue wear them at least 2-4 times a week (they continue to look wonderful and work with a long list of outfits).

3. Subtle over shocking

Choose neutral hues that work with your skin tone in order to infuse a multitude of options. The white jersey tee works beautifully under your blazer, but it can also be tucked into a pencil skirt worn with heels to offer a high/low look to the office. Don't forget to wear it under your leather jacket as well paired with your favorite jeans. Shocking, while fun, has a shelf-life. Subtle again allows the woman to shine rather than the clothing.

4. Fewer but better

You will have fewer items in your closet and what a beautiful sight that will be when you walk in. Clutter is stressful, too many choices can numb us and make it difficult to choose. Fewer, but better options simplifies the process but amplifies the outcome.

5. A skill rather than a sport

As I mentioned at the top of the post, I honestly do not like to shop for clothing. Beginning when I was a young girl, I became quickly frustrated looking for clothing that fit my tall frame and thus began to see wardrobe building as the goal, not a sport that would waste hours of my day. A significant part of why I share what I learn and discover about style on TSLL is because I want to alleviate the frustration that I had so that you too, whether you love shopping or not, will be able to shop well each and every time, utilizing your time wisely so that you can enjoy the life you have built. Do I love beautiful attire and the craftsmanship, absolutely. If I could snap my fingers and have the wardrobe of 10-15 staple items for each season hanging in my closet that look brilliant on my body, I would snap away and spend the time I would have been shopping walking my dogs, working on a creative project, traveling or any one of the hobbies I enjoy. And so TSLL exists to reveal the tools we all can possess so that we each can build our signature wardrobe without feeling we have to do so each season, because we truly do not if we shop well.

6. Keep it simple

A beautiful silk blouse paired with designer jeans that fall just to the ankle worn with a stunning pair of Roger Vivier flats. Nothing else. Classic pieces, quality pieces. Trust your purchases so that when you do pull them on and pair with them with the other items, you will know they work. Another reason to have fewer, but better items in your closet is that you become more familiar with them as you will have had them in your closet for many seasons. You will begin then to trust what you have, what looks flattering on your body and what other items might pair well with it. The simplifying of the process is a significant factor to loving and trusting your style.

7. Subtle, but sincere statement pieces 

Begin to let go of the costume jewelry. I used to regularly have my large tear-drop earrings that were not that expensive but fun conversational pieces, and then I began to realize I didn't want my clothing to be the conversational piece, I wanted to be talking about topics of more substance. So I purchased these earrings and wear them with nearly every outfit. They are simple, basic, but just the right femininity for work and play. A simple pair of diamond studs would also work beautifully. The key is to not be afraid to invest in a few investment statement pieces, but make sure they are subtle so that you can wear them for years and perhaps a lifetime.

8. Find what works and wear it regularly

If blazers are your flattering cut similar to Emmanuel Alt, then include a couple of quality blazers in a variety of hues in your closet. If you know crew necks are better than v-necks, stay loyal and do not deviate. Such a discovery of our style takes time, but so long as we pay attention, are willing to explore and try something new if other approaches aren't working, we will eventually find what works for our bodies, lives and comfort. Over the past few years, one of the trends that has become my signature is the jumpsuit. Not everyone loves the jumpsuit, but it has been a staple in my wardrobe - layering with blazers, wearing long-sleeve monochromatic versions in the winter and splurging on a versatile silk jumper by Vanessa Seward when it went on sale that takes me to work and is ideal of cool summer afternoons with sandals.

9. Mix the high and low

As much as your investment items are the foundation of the French woman's wardrobe, not every item you wear has to be über sophisticated. Wear a pair of boyfriend jeans with heels (low/casual - boyfriend jeans; high/dressed-up - heels) or a bomber jacket over a camisole worn with an over-the-knee pencil skirt and sandals. The balance of seriousness with playful displays prowess of how to build and wear a wardrobe exuding confidence and personality.

10. Elevate yourself, don't hide

The clothing you wear is meant to spotlight the talented, intelligent, fun and curious woman who you are. While clothing can offer some armor in a world that can be difficult at times, don't hide completely behind your sartorial choices. Let your signature shine. Choose clothing that regardless of the designer label is made well and elevates your confidence. Stick to what works, let go of what doesn't and dress for you, not to mimic what you should do.

Part of embracing the French woman's approach to style is reconciling with the clothes you must get rid of, but on the flip side when you don't have to go shopping as often to fill the gaps or find that one item that you just don't seem to have, you will discover an ease with knowing what to wear when that will be priceless.

As much as I love the power of the sartorial choices we make, I have always wanted the clothing to be the background (an impressive background, but still in the background). While being known for what one wears is initially flattering and a temporary confidence boost, it is knowing that the woman each one of us offers to the world is more than what she wears is valued far more than the clothing and image she projects that motivates me to fine tune and all but perfect my approach to style. And each time I gain more clarity, I look forward to sharing what I learn with you.

May we all fine-tune our wardrobe so that we may make a worthwhile first-impression but follow through with a breath-taking performance offered by our intelligence, charm and wit.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials (podcast episode)

~Why Not . . . Master the Art of Dressing?

~Why Not . . . Organize Your Closet?

~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne (podcast episode

~How to Cultivate Your True Style All Year Long - inspired by Ines de la Fressange's new Parisian Lookbook (podcast episode)

~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe boutique here

~As my way of saying thank you to listeners of the podcast, I have produced two new episodes for this week due to my loss of voice last week and inability to have a new episode as each Monday for over two years (except in one other instance) there has always been one. I appreciate your understanding, your well wishes and your interest in living simply luxuriously. Here is the link to episode #150. Have a lovely week.

~21 Life Lessons Learned in South Korea

Petit Plaisir:

~The Curse of La Fontaine: A Verlaque and Bonnet mystery by M.L. Longworth

~begin with the first novel in the cozy, set in Aix-en-Provence mystery series, Death at the Chateau Bremont   

~Image: French model Ophelie Guillermand captured by Tatel Velasquez

 

Download the Episode

Direct download: 151frenchstyle.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #150

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

The blossoms of spring have begun to bloom; the scents, vibrant green grass and and brilliant pastel hues offer their natural talents of awing us mere humans. And after a winter that didn't seem it would in, the blossoms all along knew they would bloom; they just needed time.

As many around the globe yesterday celebrated Easter which manifest from the pagan holiday coinciding with the spring equinox and the earth's reawakening, I found myself reflecting on all around us that requires time in order to flourish. From the dogwood and magnolia blooms to the delicate baking of a soufflé, extraordinary seemingly unimaginable occurrences and revelations require time to incubate, to evolve and realize the possibilities which are harbored within.

Below is a list of simple as well as significant life events that require the exercise of patience and trust that in time, beautiful outcomes will materialize.

1. A transcontinental flight to a destination on your bucket list

2. Learning how to truly listen

3. Accrued compound interest on savings

4. The zit-from-hell that sprang up out of nowhere

5. Attainment of an academic diploma or skill certificate

6. Learning a new language

7. The pesky debt you are working to pay off

8. Becoming a better communicator

9. Loving well

~responsive vs. reactionary - episode #145

10. Mastering cooking techniques that appear impossible: slicing an onion, flipping an omelette, building a sauce without it separating

11. Mastering your mind

12. Discovering what ignites your soul, stirs your curiosities and what, if pursued, will lead to your fullest potential and true contentment

13. Respect from others

14. Trust from others

15. Personal growth: developing these 22 skills

"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." Leo Tolstoy

Part of the reason I savor the arrival of the spring season, as I mentioned earlier this year, is because the world around us reminds us that evolving into our better selves is possible. And the most important lesson that the arrival of spring teaches us to wait. We must not rush what needs time to develop, to breathe, to heal, to gain its footing and establish its strong foundation so that when it does arrive, it will last as long as it is most capable of doing.

Often I reflect on this life lesson of giving what we seek, what we desire, what we are hopeful for, as a litmus test for what Charles Stanley reminds,"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we're waiting for." So the next time you find yourself frustrated that something isn't arriving quickly enough, ask yourself "How deeply do you truly want it?" And perhaps if you still choose to be impatient and rush it, you were simply looking for a placeholder because you hadn't found what you truly desired. And on the other hand, if you reflect, step back and recognize the need and willingness to be patient, you have discovered what for you is worth seeking. Perhaps for you, you have found your path, the journey you truly wish to be on.

~As my way of saying thank you to listeners of the podcast, I have produced two new episodes for this week due to my loss of voice last week and inability to have a new episode as each Monday for over two years (except in one other instance) there has always been one. I appreciate your understanding, your well wishes and your interest in living simply luxuriously. Here is the link to episode #151. Have a lovely week.

~Petit Plaisir:

~Soft Boiled Œufs et Mouillettes Pour Deux (eggs and soldiers for two)

~View and print the recipe here  

~All images captured by TSLL Instagram.

Direct download: p150wait.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 11:59pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #149

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"What's true style? Knowing how to mix the right combinations of ingredients." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today?

Most of us have heard of and are incorporating into our lives a capsule wardrobe, but as much as we'd love to hire a stylist to tell us what to wear every day and how to style the clothes we've invested in, we either absolutely cannot afford such an extravagance or well, let's get serious. But the truth is, we can do it ourselves. Understanding how to cultivate true style into our lives throughout the entire year is completely possible so long as we learn the necessary tools and fail-safe combinations. Former Chanel model and the epitome of Parisian chic Ines de la Fressange has just released her new book to follow up her wildly successful first Parisian Chicand in it she does the work of the stylist. Parisian Chic Look Book: What Should I Wear Today? does everything for you except the shopping. With nearly every page in the 130 page book filled with styled outfits and noted for which occasion they would be perfect for, this look book is your guide when you step into your closet. This look book is the finishing touch to building your confidence that you do know how to dress well without having too many clothes to choose from and feeling you have nothing to wear. What I would like to do today is share a glimpse of Ines' suggestions and my favorite outfits, and then I highly recommend you pick up or check out this book. If you are someone who appreciates the classic Parisian chic approach to style, if you adhere to a capsule wardrobe approach and if you want to keep it simple but mix high and low items ensuring you look effortlessly style, take a look inside the book and discover how to become the stylist you've always wanted to hire. 1. Stock your closet with the essentials

  • capsule wardrobe essentials
  • handbags
  • shoes
  • jewelry
  • lingerie
  • outerwear
  • scarves
  • belts

Often we have almost everything we need but a few finishing touches are missing. Take a look at her detailed list (above are just the categories) and find what you may need or what to look for the next time you are shopping or a wonderful sale on your favorite designer clothing or accessories offers a beautiful price. 2. Stick to a dress code unique to each general occasion

  • business
    • beyond the uniform that works for you, how to choose an outfit that transitions from one work place to another business appointment (applying for a loan, a business dinner, etc.)
      • "I Have a Tricky Day Ahead"
        • silk print pants
        • v-neck sweater
        • black velvet flats
        • classic watch
        • bangles

  • family gatherings
    • lunch with a family member, a great aunt perhaps?
      • high waisted pants
      • ruffled or signature blouse
      • pendant necklace
      • high heels or platforms
      • a scarf as a belt

  • personal get-togethers
    • a dinner with an old flame
      • over-the-knee pencil skirt
      • velvet jacket
      • camisole
      • heels
      • classic watch

  • evening attire
    • Dinner at Home with Friends
      • blue jeans
      • white blouse
      • black belt
      • gold bangles
      • black velvet flats

  • vacation
    • airport attire
      • stylish sweatpants
      • t-shirt
      • v-neck sweater (oversized)
      • flat slide sandals
      • navy men's overcoat

  • special, unique occasions
    • museum buff
      • black midi, (perhaps body-con) dress
        • denim jacket
        • lace up sneakers
        • saddle bag
        • bracelets

3. Stick to neutrals One common thread I noticed through all of the items Ines suggests is a neutral color palette. Black, navy, white, khaki/biege, gray, light blue, stripes. While there were a few signature pieces, a sequin gold camisole, printed silk pants, a hot pink sweater and a red saddle purse, these boisterous colors were few, but powerful. The mixing and matching becomes easier when you adhere to a neutral palette that complements your skin tone. Don't deviate from this. For example, the pop of color I often choose is blush pink: my skin instantly looks more bronzed and healthy and it pairs well with everything else in my closet depending upon the season and occasion. Other than that its navy, gray, black, white, stripes and light blue. 4. Finish with few accessories, but don't forget them Each of her looks as you pour through the book reveal typically one piece of jewelry being worn if any and an expected, but signature tote, coat or pair of shoes. 5. Purchase well and don't fuss The key with Parisian chic style is mixing the high and low: a beautiful white silk blouse from Saint Laurent paired with classic denim jeans and costume jewelry bangles. Knowing what you are wearing looks well on your physique will enabled you to say no to extra details and finish with just the right amount of detail. Then once it all comes together, you can relax and enjoy wherever you are headed. 6. Learn the fashion style tricks 

  • wear a khaki military jacket over a little black dress
  • wear a rock t-shirt with a pencil skirt
  • buy clothes in the men's department

A sampling of items that what works for me:

  • jumpsuit
  • denim jacket
  • pencil skirts
  • simple black dress
  • long shirt dress
  • black/navy v-neck sweater
  • black/white t-shirt
  • navy blazer
  • trench coat
  • blue jeans
  • slip-on sneakers
  • wellies (farm/ranch boots)
  • black tote
  • classic watch
  • brown/black belt
  • camisoles
  • black panties
  • black bra
  • men's camel coat (I actually wear a woman's but it is one size too large)

Ultimately, seeing how to pull something together, seeing it on a model is a useful visual we often do not see when it comes to basics and not all in one place. Covered in gold that shimmers, the book will be easy to spot on the shelf as you look to use it again and again and again until these classic ensembles become engrained in your memory. THe most significant take-away for me was a sigh of relief when I saw the outfits. The number of items involved were minimal, the key was quality items paired with finishing touches that worked with the woman's body and the other neutral pieces. So start with #1, begin to build the foundation which is the necessary clothing and then have fun and look forward to stepping into your closet again.

Petit Plaisir:

Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes for the Home Cook by Elisabeth Prueitt  

Download the Episode

Download the Episode

Direct download: 149InesTartine_-_32217_6.34_PM.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #148

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die; and then dies having never really lived." —Dalai Lama

Most Sunday mornings at around nine or 10 o'clock you will find me in my living room having just returned from walking my boys, Norman and Oscar, settling in with a pot of black tea, a warm croissant from a local bakery and the Sunday newspapers. Such simple pleasures bring me a priceless amount of happiness, and I look forward to this weekly ritual as I tuck into bed each Saturday night.

The recent trending term hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) in the lifestyle publishing industry springs from the happiest country in the world as found by extensive research compiled by the United Nations World Happiness Report. Simply defined, incorporating hygge into your way of living is a choice to encourage the enjoyment of life's simple pleasures.

There are a multitude of books focused exactly on how to welcome a hygge lifestyle into your life out on the market at the moment (and these are just a sampling released in the past 12 months). Just take a look below:

~The Little Book of Hygge

~The Cozy Life

~The Year of Living Danishly

~How to Hygge

~Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

~The Nordic Theory of Everything

~Hygge: 25 Secrets from the Danish Art of Happiness, Getting Cozy and Living Well

Needless to say, the attention to a way of life that welcomes in the simplicity and everyday savoring of pleasures and reminds of the gifts a welcoming sanctuary can bring into our everyday lives is something that tickles me immensely. Many TSLL readers have pointed out the similarities between hygge and living simply luxuriously, and after reading two books on the subject, I certainly have to agree.

So how exactly do they overlap? How are they similar? Let's take a look:

1. Savoring quality in each arena of life:

  • food (a decadent hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream)
  • relationships, the people you spend time with
  • everyday experiences
  • a small but welcoming home

2. Cultivating a sanctuary to relax, unwind and rejuvenate 3. Light a candle or two or three 4. Cultivating trust in those you love, in the communities you live and work in 5. Building a life that enables you to feel free, thus realizing you have more control over your level of happiness than you may have once assumed. In other words, you truly can become the CEO of your own life while building and being a partner in your community, home and work place. 6. A strong, respectful support system "meaningful, positive social relationships" 7. Practice gratitude, let go of want 8. Build and cultivate strong, healthy, loving relationships The quality of one's happiness increases with improved relationships, not surprisingly when we make more money.

"America has gotten richer, a lot richer, over the past fifty years, but we've not gotten happier." —Jeffrey Saks author of the United Nations World Happiness Report

9. Become a lover of books 

Discover the pleasure reading can bring when a wide open afternoon, evening or 30 minutes anywhere in your day arises. Pick up a book, snuggle up and dive in to discover something new. Keep the television off, put your cell phone away and get lost, letting go of time.

10. Become a regular visitor of nature

"Whether you are sitting by a river in Sweden or in a vineyard in France, or just in your garden or nearby park, being surrounded by nature enables you to bring your guard down and adds a certain simplicity." Meik Wiking

11. Choose to be fully present

Put away the technology, allow your mind to be in the here and now and look around you. Savor the sun, savor the company, savor the flavor of the food. Savor the amazing life you have the fortune to be living.

12. Cultivate calm 

13. Savor simple rituals

14. Let go of competiveness

The mindset of a market economy versus a social-democratic economy is at once significant and worth contemplating. Often, based on where we live and the culture we are raised in when we see our success based on how others fare as well: in a market economy, it is more likely to be an independent mindset, and in a social-democratic economy, it is more of a collective success one seeks. Ultimately, we only have control over ourselves, but to ignore how our behavior and decisions effect others is to ignore the power of emotional intelligence in our lives. When we consider others in our decision making, it is a means of paying it forward, of cultivating more wellness, kindness and positive behavior that builds each other up rather than tears one another down.

15. Seek internal approval rather than external

Refrain from needing to wear labels or purchase more or larger homes, cars, shoes, clothing, etc. A mindset set on fine-tuning one's outer appearance is a person who has not found peace within. When you do have peace within, the external becomes far less important and the once temporary highs are substituted with permanent peace.

The primary, underlying similarity that is at the core of living well, living simply luxuriously and thereby incorporating a hygge approach to life is to truly appreciate and savor the life we've each been given now. To drink the marrow from life so to speak every single day. It need not be excessive, expensive or grand. The true pleasures are actually quite simple.

It is the moments of sitting next to those you love, letting go of time and letting go of worry knowing you are living well, you're living wisely and you haven't been pulled off track by the marketing masses that merely want your money when superficially they promise you more happiness. They are wrong, you are right when you choose to live in such a way that focuses on your well-being. And well-being cannot be purchased, it must be consciously cultivated, tended to and patiently fine-tuned.

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

Petit Plaisir:

~My Master Recipes; 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence int eh Kitchen by Patricia Wells

Download the Episode

Direct download: 148Hygge_-_31917_3.24_PM.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #147

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"And you, you scare people because you are whole all by yourself." —Lauren Alex Hooper

The twenty-first century woman, she has been called on this blog the modern woman, is an independent woman. And while there are many different shades, rhythms and ways of living independently, there are also many similarities. And some of these similarities are misunderstood by outsiders as they expect the traditional response when it comes to the arena of love or they have a misconception that because she is independent she must not want love in the traditional sense. Today I'd like to share 10 truths about independent women and dispel any innocent assumptions that simply aren't true. Love, whether it be romantic, platonic, a love for a passion that we pursue doggedly and without apology is an electric force that provides infinite fuel for life. Love is a necessity when it comes to living a life of fulfillment, contentment and reaching our full potential. And it is the goal of reaching our full potential that is solely at the core and what drives women who are independent. Because reaching our full potential is a unique and original pursuit, what we are looking for when it comes to love, romantic love especially will also be unique, but generally, these truths need to be understood by anyone wanting to be involved, currently beginning to date or having been intimately partnered for quite some time with an independent woman. 1. The enjoyment of her own company is real, but that doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy the company of others Alone time, great amounts or small is a absolute feast for her being. She revels in it, finds immense pleasure in it and doesn't need someone else to entertain her or keep her company. When she shares she will be spending the evening by herself, she will be spending the evening by herself because she wants to and her very busy schedule has bestowed upon her an opportunity that she is ready to savor. Introvert, extrovert, it doesn't matter. 2. When she gives or expresses love or affection, it is real Why? She won't waste time with games or ego-lifting flirtations. She is secure in who she is and doesn't need to drum up interest from others to reminder her of her worth. She knows she is worthy, and more importantly, she respects the feelings of others and doesn't want to lead them on. Because an independent woman relies on herself for her income and fulfillment, she is busy, she is driven and when she welcomes the possibility of a relationship into her life, she has done so thoughtfully. 3. Asking for help is difficult, but when she says she doesn't want it, listen to her An independent woman is willing to figure out her path and then get busy completing the tasks on her own that need to be done. She doesn't reach out and wait around for help. She may pay a contractor, a plumber, an expert in the field she needs assistance from, but rarely does she ask for help from others as she assumes and respects they have busy lives of their own as she does. However, don't be afraid to offer help. The primary reason, as mentioned above, she doesn't ask is because she respects your life and your schedule. She doesn't want to add one more task to your list, just as she doesn't need one more task on hers. Lastly, if you do ask, and she says no, she means it. She's okay with honesty, in fact she demands it and therefore, she practices it as well. 4. She is self-aware and therefore, will not hold on to a relationship if she doesn't see a future or it is a fit that simply won't work Speaking of honesty, she knows what she wants to accomplish. For the most part, she knows what it will take and what she can do. She also knows at this point in her life what works and very clearly what doesn't. And if the fit isn't right, she won't beat around the bush, hanging on to see and hoping that it will iron itself out. In other words, if you are in her life, she appreciates the connection and the partnership that is unfolding and sees potential for both parties involved. 5. Reaching her full potential is always at the core of her being As mentioned above, every woman's full potential will be different. The key is to not to assume anything. Have a conversation, have many conversations. Ask the questions, don't place the stereotype crowns on her head that Hollywood perpetuates. Ask her, does she want to become President, does she want to be a mother, does she want to travel the world helping those in need, does she want to become the next Oprah, does she simply want to write books, walk her dogs and revel in the love she has with her partner? Ask her what reaching her full potential looks like. 6. Friends may be few, but they are mighty The planner is full, goals are clear and days are often long, but she sleeps well and she is excited when she wakes up in the morning, thankful for the opportunities she has in front of her. Because of her full life, the friendships she builds are strong and provide support in one way or another. Quality over quantity as the need for strength is important, the need for trust is vital and with time on short supply, she wants to give fully to those she cares about. 7. Looking for an equal partnership Any relationship will ebb and flow based on the needs of the individuals, but the partnership an independent woman is looking for is not about fulfilling traditional roles. No. It is about setting each other in the relationship free to be themselves. A knowing by one another that there is a level of respect and appreciation for whom each is as an individual and a desire to help each other attain their fullest potential, knowing that the support the relationship provides is part of the equation. Thus, investing in the relationship is crucial. 8. Drama is for television shows and the theater The independent woman, if and when she has time, may watch House of Cards, but she doesn't engage in drama. She may enjoy the reprieve and escape momentarily, but she recognizes the unnecessary burden one puts on their shoulders when they involve themselves in drama with friends, family members and at work. An independent woman seeks to be productive, honest and clear. While she knows how to negotiate, she also understands that people have feelings and keeps this in mind when working with them professionally and personally. 9. Living together isn't off the table, it simply must be with the right person As someone who has never lived with a partner, my reasons were never due to statistics (read this article from The Atlantic), but rather because I simply didn't want to live with them which is probably why the relationships didn't last. Living together is an opportunity to connect more intimately, but only when the independent woman can trust her partner will be her partner, not her roommate, not someone who will add more tasks and chores to her list. In fact, living together, just as finding a partner that meshes well with you, should be an enhancement, not a burden to the life you already enjoy living. 10. We are looking for real love Living alone is a wonderful experience, and once this truth is realized, it makes it easier to determine if you truly are interested in someone. Why? To change or tweak the life that works exceptionally well for you is a significant decision. Needless to say, the person who provoked such contemplation must be someone unlike most others you have ever met. The key to living well no matter where you find yourself in your life is to enjoy your own company, and that is something independent women do exceptionally well. And when you enjoy your own company, you are demonstrating you are secure in who you are, your strengths and while you may not applaud your weaknesses, you are aware of them and don't let them hinder your progression (in fact, you may take time to address and improve them). And because you are secure and therefore self-confident, you are better able to recognize the same characteristics in others and quickly dismiss of those who are not, and therefore would not be compatible or able to be the partner you are seeking, if your are seeking one. The funny truth is, get on with your life. Get on with pursuing your goals and reaching your full potential. Get on with living and living well. Whether you intrigue someone or not shouldn't be the goal. The goal should be internal. Julianna Margules famously shared on CBS Sunday Morning that at the age of 35 she told her mother she didn't want to get married or have kids because she loved her freedom. Epitomizing the independent woman, she lived her life and in so doing she met her husband at age 39 as she was going about living the life she loved, never with the goal in mind to meet him. Real love enters our lives in a variety of ways: through our careers, children, pets, hobbies, service, families, our partner, etc. But it should always begin with having sincere love and appreciation for ourselves. And independent woman understands this. She may struggle with who she is becoming as it is new and seems to regularly be changing as she grows and strives, but once she figures out who she is at her core, that truth doesn't change. And knowing that truth brings a comfort and a sanctuary that nobody can take away.   ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~How to Become a Woman Comfortable in Her Own Skin

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

~Why Not . . . Revel in Being a Woman?

~View all FEMININITY Posts in TSLL Archives here.

Petit Plaisir:

~Radishes with Baguette, Butter and Salt - click here for the recipe

Download the Episode

Direct download: 147IndependentWomanLove_-_31917_1.41_PM.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PST

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ― Confucius

Having never experienced a particular event, feeling or sensation, it can be hard to trust that attaining what we have marked as our goal as something other than difficult to achieve. After all, if it were easy, we would have experienced it by now. But what has lacked in the past is the proper recipe. What I mean by the proper recipe is if we are trying to make mayonnaise (which requires few, but specific simple ingredients: 1 large egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon cold water, and ¾ cup neutral oil such as safflower or canola), but if we pulled out a recipe for a vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and black pepper), no matter how hard or long we whisked the ingredients, we will never make mayonnaise.  This seems obvious, but often in life we are using ingredients (whether it be particular people, misunderstood facts regarding science, neuroscience and biology or confusion when it comes to math) that cannot add up to what we desire no matter how hopeful we are. But when we do finally have the proper ingredients, in other words quality ingredients and stop trying to force an apple to become an orange, the results we desire materialize without involving much effort. And in that moment it seems almost miraculous as we've been thwarted for so long so often in our previous attempts. Today I've made a list of eleven life skills I have found to be far easier than I had once thought. Perhaps you have a few others you would like to add. And if so, please do share in the comments. 1. Boiling the perfect egg  On Sunday I made my first Niçoise salad, and of course, boiled eggs are a quintessential ingredient. Wanting a boiled egg in which the white was solid, but moist and the yolk was runny, I looked to Julia Child. On page 118 in her iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the recipe for an alternative to poached eggs (as I wanter to cook the eggs with the shell on) can be found. Put simply: bring water to boil, place eggs in the boiling water for six minutes, pour out the hot water and run cold water over the eggs for one minute. The perfect boiled egg for salads, breakfast or a mid-day snack. View my recipe for soft boiled eggs and soldiers here. 2. Meditating For years I thought something was wrong with me for not being able to mediate. I assumed, errantly, I had to be able to sit without thinking for endless amounts of minutes (20-30). I was wrong on two points: It's not about stopping your thoughts, but recognizing when they wander and bringing your mind back to the present and longer doesn't mean better. Five minutes is fine, simply observing and knowing your mind is wandering is a significant and successful mediation experience. Learn more about who to incorporate mediation into your daily routine (even if daily is a hope and the reality is a few days a week - the difference is quite positive on your overall quality of life.) 3. Asking clarifying questions Just ask why. Most likely you are not the only person in the room who did not understand the allusion the speaker or teacher made. Ask for clarification. Don't apologize for not knowing, simply ask what they were referring to. Confidence of a student and their sincerity to learn is revealed in asking for further understanding. Be a student of life and regularly ask questions, especially of people who are experts in their fields. Even if they do not know the answer, they would be the best persons to point you in the right direction. Often an expert takes for granted what the listener knows. It's not a negative thing, it's a reality when someone has been working with a particular idea or content for some time. Their perspective has shifted. So simply ask, and no doubt others in the room will appreciate your courage. 4. Letting go of what no longer supports the life you are building Looking at the possibility of letting go of a way of life, a person, a job or anything that you have become accustomed to is a thorny prospect. But the actual letting go and moving forward is easy. It's the decision of what to let go that takes time and careful examination. For when you finally let go, it cannot weigh you down and you begin to feel a lightness that you could never have known prior to letting go. 5. Welcoming love into your life When we have been mistreated, taken advantage of or been around insecure individuals and errant assumptions about what love is (co-dependent, needy, clingy, formulaic, etc.), we can understandably be cautious about believing genuine love exists. Genuine or real love is something we discussed here and here in-depth, but the good news is that it does indeed exist, and when you're ready and able to recognize it, even if you don't believe it when you see it or experience it,  welcoming it into your life is easy. Put down the armor, put down the cynical protections you've been using, stop the mishegas thinking and let yourself be loved. Just be you. Stop assuming the worst, stop thinking about anything that may thwart love's growth, and when you do that, love walks in. 6. Broadening your vocabulary Read. Read often. Read a little every day from any source that piques your interest. Look up one word a week that you run across and do not know. Listen to the diction being used in academic, political, historical films, newscasts and productions. Be curious and read and watch and look up what you do not understand. The more precise your vocabulary, the better able you are to effectively communicate and the more heightened your ability for emotional intelligence. 7. Backgammon My favorite board game to play is backgammon. While I have always wanted to learn chess, I have yet to do so (of this feat I will accomplish at some point in my life, I am nothing but determined). But since I was a young girl, backgammon was the game my father and I would play, and we still do when I return home for holidays. It's simple: move all of your checkers to your home base and remove them before the other player. Yes, there are other strategies and details to consider, but for a board game that looks fancy when it is displayed, it truly is quite simple. Discover the rules here. 8. Saving money for retirement Set it and forget it. Set up an automatic pay reduction each month to be withdrawn from your paycheck. The sooner you do this is your career, the less you will pay no mind to the money that is not going into your checking account for the present moment. 9. Practicing self-compassion The patient is you. And the attending is you as well. Treat yourself the way you already treat those you care about. The love you are able to give outwardly becomes strengthened when you have been giving the same compassion to yourself regularly. Learn more about self-compassion here in episode #122 of the podcast. 10. Improving your health and your skin Yes, using particular moisturizers, sunscreen and oils do indeed make a difference, but the cheapest and simplest way to improve your health (ridding your body of toxins) and enable your skin to look radiant is to drink a glass of water before you go to bed and when you wake up. In between, make water your drink of choice. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 11. Staying healthy and trim It's less about your activity and more about the fuel you feed your body. However, physical exercise reduces stress and keeps the mind balanced. Back to the eating component: Eat a well balanced diet (knowledge of what you eat and what it does for your body is key), don't deprive yourself, moderation. And as far as exercise,  simply walk 5 times a week 20-40 minutes, add some weight bearing exercises two times a week (strength, pilates or yoga). The take away I have discovered is often it is our approach that is thwarting the success, happiness and contentment we seek from materializing. And the problem is that we are not better informed on how to actually attain what we seek. Make sure that anything that is not working at the moment doesn't actually have an easier solution. Are you using the proper ingredients? Do you have the right recipe or did the pages stick together and you, like Rachel in FRIENDS accidentally make a dessert truffle with ground beef? The right recipe can make all of the difference. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Easy Is Never Appreciated

~Simple Rules for a Good Life

~Small & Simple = A Grand & Full Life

Petit Plaisir

~Victoria on PBS, Season 1

~Queen Victoria's diaries made available to the public   https://youtu.be/rKONm_Cy39s  

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Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #145

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"The act of responding requires one to look at the circumstance, identify the problem or situation, hear what is happening and reflect . . . What matters is that you stopped and put an effort to think and suspended judgment. It is a conscious act and shows that you are willing to listen or observe. This ‘gap’ between the circumstance and your behavior is what contributes to gaining a sense of control in your life." —author Debbie Hampton 

Responding thoughtfully to an interviewer's questions versus reacting spontaneously to an inflicted, unexpected pain whether a paper cut or something more severe. The physical examples shared reveal the human responses: the former - responsive, and the latter - reactive.

Responding is a conscious decision whereas reacting is instinctive and done without forethought. And while reacting in emergency situations involving life and death, to scream, run and protect one's self is primarily and understandably about survival, it is when we react rather than respond in everyday situations that we inhibit the potential outcome.

Let's look at it more closely. When we choose to simply react to what occurs in our lives, we behave defensively. Sometimes defensive behaviors take the form of blame, scapegoating or taking revenge. Stephen Covey describes the difference between reactive and responsive individuals quite well.

“Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance. Proactive people carry their own weather with them.”

In essence, choosing to be responsive versus reactive is to take charge of your life, to be the hero/heroine, to be the person who recognizes everything will never be in our control, but our response to circumstances is. Choosing to be responsive is taking responsibility of our lives. Recognizing the power of our words, our behavior, our tone, our delivery, our volume, our timing, make a difference to those in our presence. On the other head, when we react we actually aren't choosing. Rather we are allowing our reptilian brain, the oldest part of our brain, to take control. The reptilian brain is all about the individual and survival: movement, breathing, circulation, hunger and reproduction, territory, and social dominance. But the gift that humans have as well as other highly evolved mammals, is we have two additional brains: the mammalian brain or limbic system, which is highly reactive as it is subconsciously responding to temperatures and hormones thus involves our emotions and feelings, and the neocortex, the thinking part of the brain, in other words where our capability to respond rather than react derives itself. The third brain, as was just mentioned, the neocortex, is the key to gathering information from what we are seeing and feeling, and putting it into context. The neocortex digests the necessary information, understands the world and the fact that there is a future beyond this moment and is capable of making sound decisions. Humans's neocortex is the most highly developed of all primates, and therefore, when we recognize what we have the potential to do, we must utilize this amazing strength of mind. Let's take a look at what responsive vs. reactive looks like in our everyday lives: ~Event: you sleep through your alarm - responsive: edit out timely morning rituals, access what the necessities are to be your best at work (eat well, dress appropriately, look presentable); reactive: scurry furiously around the house setting a mood for anyone in the household to become more frazzled and storm out the door with nothing complete or having prepared you efficiently for the day. ~Event: a colleague or boss states something unexpected that takes you aback or hurts your feelings - responsive: choosing to pause and take a breath you think about the best response, if one is needed at all, and do so calmly; reactive - fall back on your default response to critical, hurtful comments and either don't stand up for yourself and continue to agree or become snarky and sharp in your retort. ~Event: your significant other forgets an important date or occasion - responsive: collect your thoughts, come to understand why or if you feel hurt and determine how to calmly express how you feel during a time when both can talk; reactive - as soon as you see or hear from them you either give them the cold shoulder or speak with a hurtful tone and words. ~Event: a friend texts or emails to invite you do something - responsive: read the text, assess your interest and then consult your calendar or other people's calendar if it involves or effects them, then return the text/email either way; reactive: either respond immediately or not at all ~Event: the line at the grocery market is long and the person at the counter doesn't appear to know how to work the machine - responsive: assess your situation - do you have a time constraint? If so, can you move to another line. If time isn't an issue, observe the wait in line as an opportunity to take a few deep breaths, relax or check your email recognizing that either eventually the line will move or the management will open another line. The paradox of choosing to be responsive is that it requires of us to be both present and aware of the future. We need to both be cognizant of the effect of our actions, whichever we choose to take and we need to know what actions are best in the situation. Fittingly, when we react, we are reacting out of fear based on what we have been genetically disposed to do to protect ourselves. But as we know, we live in a civilized world. It is a civilized, thoughtful approach that will yield us the best results. It is not easy to know how to respond best in every situation. However, being self-aware and emotionally intelligent help tremendously. As these two traits are skills, so too is knowing how to respond well. It will take practice, it will require of us to be able to pause in nearly any situation before speaking or acting, and in its own small way, meditation plays a helpful role as well. When we respond to life:

  • we become the directors, rather than the followers
  • we will establish stronger relationships with anyone we come into contact with
  • we will reduce unnecessary interactions and confrontations
  • we will find more peace
  • we will reduce regret
  • we will build a confidence that we can handle any situation we come up against
  • we will thrive

No doubt all of us, and I know I can include myself in this category, have reacted at times in our lives when we should have responded. And upon reflection, we can probably pinpoint those events quite well usually based primarily on how we felt after we reacted rather than responded. We may have wished we wouldn't have said something, chosen a different tone, or taken a deep breath and simply removed ourselves from the situation until we knew how to respond well. It is just these moments of experience that will actually make it that much easier to respond rather than react as you move forward. Because when we know first-hand the negative experience that can result from reacting, we are far more motivated to make sure we respond in the next similar situation. Our lives provide guidance even through the moments we wished we didn't have to endure. As a student, all we have to do is vow to learn the lessons we are given. We cannot know how to do something until we are shown how. Now we know how to respond rather than react. Now we know the difference and the benefit of embracing responsiveness versus defensiveness.

Petit Plaisir:

~The Magnolia Journal: Inspiration for life and home

  • $20/yr subscription (four issues each year)
  • Each issue has a theme (Note: Issue 2 | Simplicity) - on stands now

~Joanna & Chip Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper ~The bed & breakfast in Walla Walla, Washington, mentioned in today's episode: Green Gables Inn  

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

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #144

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Recently a good friend of mine who is learning French as well, and inspires me with her advanced abilities, asked how my learning was progressing. Disappointed even to say it out loud, I stated I haven't been studying regularly. And while that is entirely true, I find myself playing with the little bit of the language I do know unconsciously throughout my days and in conversations and activities spent with those who know the language. I continue to share and be enticed by French-themed posts, articles and books, and have shared much of what I find on my Twitter feed, but it became glaringly apparent that I haven't written a Francophile post/episode in quite some time. However, as my recent daily schedule has shifted ever-so-slightly to make time for a special individual in my life, I am even more appreciative of the simply luxurious approach to living. In fact, it is the approach I write about here on TSLL and share on the podcast that enable me to let go, appreciate, and savor the everyday moments and unexpected extraordinary moments in the ordinary routine. The realization of the approach of letting go of the unnecessary and focusing on the necessary being the key to easily flexing with life has inspired me to ardently protect and cultivate further these aspects, many of which are inspired by what I appreciate about the French, and some would argue western-European culture. 1. Depend on flavors from herbs, spices and ordinary cooking staples to enhance the flavor of food After a recent conversation with an acquaintance from Belgium, I was reminded of the flavorful approach the French and other European countries take to cooking. First of all, they cook, they play with the food and the flavors and they don't bury their food in thick, sugar-laden sauces. The simple sautéing of garlic and shallots in olive oil to provide a flavorful aromatic base or finishing with lemon to maximize the flavor. How about adding some thyme or rosemary and don't forget the salt and pepper while you are cooking. 2. Discover the pleasure of thoughtful conversation; let go of small talk Part of being a good conversationalist is caring about what your fellow-converser is saying. Secondly, it requires of both to let go of where the conversation might lead. This is not easy for goal-driven, busy Americans. We want to accomplish something, complete it and move on. However, deeper, more intimate relationships cannot be built on demand. Slow down, relax and let the conversation flow naturally. Forget looking at the clock and just enjoy the moment. 3. Cook at home unless a restaurant can do it better Stock and prepare a kitchen that lends itself well to cooking whatever may be in the refrigerator on any given night. Make sure your Épicerie is properly stocked and the necessary cooking utensils are at the ready. Then, begin to experiment. Initially, this can be intimating, but with advice from those who know how, observation and practice, you will be whipping up delicious, simple, satiating meals Monday through Sunday if you so desire. (Learn more about how to become a cook in your kitchen here and here.) 4. Reexamine your diet. Eat flavorful, satiating food rather than empty calories. Eating well involves an appreciation of the food your are eating as well as respecting your body. We shouldn't have to swear off the delicious in order to tend to our cholesterol, etc. Moderation is the key and that requires of each of us knowledge about how the foods we eat affect our bodies. While eating is necessary, doing so mindlessly shouldn't be part of our approach. For example, reduce the soda intake and increase the fruit and vegetable consumption. 5. Savor a glass of wine with a home cooked meal, any day of the week To complement, not to cloud. Wine with dinner, a beautifully thoughtful dinner carefully prepared and presented deserves a savory partner in the form of a glass of wine. Sip, nibble, slow down and savor the culinary moment in front of you. 6. Reduce refined sugar White sugar, white flour, packaged, processed foods with additives. In other words, know what you are putting into your body and what those ingredients do to you body. (Read more here about my January - one month resolution to reduce or eliminate refined sugar.) 7. Think for yourself Have an opinion grounded in fact. Take the time to be aware of the world around you and refrain from rash assumptions. Being tactful in your approach and being aware of your audience reduces the need to be politically correct. Rather be honest, thoughtful and open to discussion. 8. Fall in love with daily rituals From my morning ritual breakfast of steel oats to my Friday evening unwind that begins with a long walk with the boys, cultivating daily, even weekly and monthly rituals gives us something to look forward to regularly. As someone who loves to step into the kitchen and prepare a meal, this daily ritual is something I enjoy beyond measure. Maybe for you it is your weekly yoga class or sitting down with the newspaper or a new magazine. Whatever your rituals are, protect them and cherish them. 9. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate In #11 below, skincare will be discussed and part of an effective skincare routine is drinking water. Keep the consumption of alcohol and sugar drinks low and making water your drink of choice. 10. Treasure the dining experience Sit down for meals, set the table, turn off the television, converse, slow down. Add some flowers to the table to make it inviting even when not in use. Create a space that beckons to guests, asking them to sit down and enjoy a memorable moment. 11. Master a skincare routine Last month I shared with you eight of my favorite skincare products. Some items are inexpensive and some are an investment. However, the attention we pay to our skin is not a vain task. It is a task modeling respect for ourselves and the visage and therefore, the woman we present to the world. Figuring out the skincare routine that will work best for your skin and age will take time and will in some aspects be an ever evolving process, but most items you discover that work for you, will work for you throughout your lifetime. Go, explore and then, pamper yourself each day. 12. Embrace the capsule approach to style Less is more and simple, well curated style speaks volumes, beautiful, powerful volumes, about the woman wearing the clothes. Learn more about the capsule wardrobe approach here. 13. Reserve social media for what inspires you The reason I follow the Instagram accounts I do is to tap into inspiration, beauty and a reminder of all that is full of goodness, diversity and unexpected magnificence in simplicity that surrounds us each day. Rarely do the accounts I follow include selfies, but rather city and nature scapes, a creative fashion combination, books, museum exhibits and vignettes of my favorite places around the world. Why not share with the world what inspires you and never know who will be moved. 14. Let go of trying too hard and begin to trust yourself Last Monday morning I woke up to sunshine and blue skies in Bend, Oregon. The birds were beginning to chirp and the snow was gradually melting. I looked outside and I just smiled. Sometimes, we get in our own way of savoring the gift that is life. In all of its simplicity, for some reason we think it has to be hard, and if it's not, we make it so by over-analyzing, doubting, sabotaging and over-extending ourselves. Life and how we exist in it is simple, and it begins with being present, savoring the everyday, listening to yourself and adjusting to let go of what doesn't serve you and seek out what does and how you can contribute positively to the world. The everydays are the best part. And while it is a grand and necessary task to set goals, set them and then focus on what can be done today, allowing the unexpected to occur and dance with the days as they unfold. 15. Savor a piece of dark chocolate regularly Whenever I share my daily ritual of eating a dark chocolate truffle with a cup of hot tea each evening I do not partake in dessert, some nod their head and contemplate adding it to their routine and others chuckle at its either decadence or simplicity. Either way, I love this daily ritual and have been incorporating into my life since near the blog's commencement. The powers of dark chocolate are subtle, yet powerful and the flavor is magnificent. 16. Keep your Sundays sacred Speaking of rituals, one of my favorite rituals takes place on Sunday (last week it took place on Monday due to my schedule, but I made sure to savor it all the same - see below). The Sunday newspapers arrive (three in total), the hot tea is poured after a long walk with the boys and a croissant is often part of the moment as well. Hours can pass before I've made it through all of the intriguing articles. No matter how you prefer to spend your Sunday, protect, guard it and remember that doing so is an investment in the quality of your life and specifically in the kicking off of the week to come, ensuring it has its best chance possible to be a week to enjoy. ~The New Essentials of French Cooking via The New York Times~ 17. Think critically A few years ago I shared a post inspired by a book titled The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction . And in sharing and in teaching rhetoric in my second job that isn't blogging, I continue to be more convinced that the thinking life is the best way to live. Taking in all that we are exposed to can be overwhelming, but knowing how to do so effectively will enable us to live well. By applying the tools of rhetoric established by Aristotle to examine any piece of information that we come across, we can make sure we are not being led around by the nose and are indeed thinking for ourselves. 18. Revel and appreciate your uniqueness America is a self-help culture, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to grow (see #19), not believing we are enough or not accepting ourselves for who we are in this moment, right now, is not easy for many of us. After all, if we could just lose those last few pounds, if we could just earn a slightly larger paycheck, if we could just fix our relationship status, focusing entirely, constantly on these "small" changes robs us of the now. And who you are right now, however flawed, is a beautiful thing. 19. Invest in Intellectual Wealth Make learning one of your favorite pastimes. Whether it is learning how to skate ski (as I did this winter season for the first time), learning how the three branches of the U.S. government work regarding checks and balances, or learning how to cook Sole Meunière. Tickle your mind and follow your curiosity and you will always find youth to be alive within you. 20. Quality over Quantity in all things The following 19 ways to incorporate the French culture into your everyday life, at their core, involve appreciating the experience and allowing what works well to exist without the excess. Quality, quality, quality. Above all else quality. And what works well for you may not be what works well for someone else, so what each of us chooses to invest in will indeed be different. But if your goal is to build a life that enables you to enjoy the everyday, and not constantly be dreaming about tomorrow, then your tomorrows need not to be worried about for you are ensuring now, today, in this moment, that they will be magnificent as well. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY FROM THE ARCHIVES:

~Why Not . . . Be Fascinated by the French Culture?

~8 Ways to Master the French Mystique

~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life (podcast #23)

 

~Petit Plaisir

~The Good Fight on CBS All Access

https://youtu.be/JsZ2kejlHF8    

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Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #143

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships - not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem." —Deepak Chopra

Feeling happy is one thing. Knowing why you feel happy is another. In fact, understanding precisely why and what caused you to reach a state of happiness is the sign of a person who is self-aware. And when we become self-aware, we become better able to cultivate more of what enlivens us and eliminate or effectively navigate what does not. Let me share an example of both. During the Snowmagedeon of 2017 here in Bend, Oregon, tending to removal of the snow on your roof whether a homeowner or a tenant became a regular activity for a couple of weeks. It was not rare to see more than a few people on their roofs at the same time as you drove through your neighborhood. However, I was only able to eliminate the edges of my home from snow which kept me in a more than regular state of uncertainty. It not only effected my sleep, but my days as well, as I was regularly gazing at my ceiling, something I hadn't done in earnest to note changes until now. I felt anxiety because I didn't know. I didn't know the house (I am a renter), and felt I didn't have control. On the flip side, I recently spent the holidays at the Oregon coast, and it was the not owning and not having to tend to the cabin I had rented that provided much relaxation, peace and comfort. The lack of have-tos, should-dos and must-dos allowed my mind to relax and my body to find calm. Knowing why you are feeling the way you are in any given situation requires each of us to pay attention. While we are most certainly aware and probably by default pay attention to all the external events in our lives, sometimes we neglect to observe ourselves. And not only observe, but then inquire as to why we see what we see, why we feel what we feel. To be more precise, having self-awareness is: Being able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. When we choose this approach, we choose to welcome a life of quality, a life of fulfillment, a life of contentment. Earlier this year, Emotional Intelligence was discussed in depth on the blog and podcast. And one of the four components of cultivating EQ was  having self-awareness. But what exactly is self-awareness? Sounds simple, but upon closer examinations it is a skill that will take our undivided attention, time and then patience as we put what we learn into practice.

But first, let's look at what it isn't:
  • Being passive aggressive
  • Being controlling
  • Being defensive
  • Unconscious behavior changes

In other words, not being self-aware involves not noticing how our behavior adversely effects those around us and how our unhelpful behavior sabotages the relationships we are trying to build. The benefits of being self-aware are plentiful, and overlapping of many of the tools we discuss here on TSLL and podcast (see a sampling herehere and here).

Benefits of having self-awareness

"Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. 'Know thyself' is not a narcissistic pursuit." —Marianne Williamson

1. Become more at peace with yourself When you take the time to listen to how you are feeling and investigate why you are feeling what you are, you become more in tune with your most authentic self. You begin the journey of searching out what piques your curiosity and thus gravitate toward moments that will cultivate more peace and harmony in your life. 2. Become better able to communicate with clarity By understanding yourself, especially the "why", you can clearly communicate with others your joy, your sadness, your frustration, your hopes. And when you speak clearly, others who truly are listening will come to know who you truly are. 3. Decision making is simplified Knowing what you want is the most significant part to making the best decision. And when we finally discover what we want, we can say no quickly to the rest. 4. Clear purpose and direction While we can always appreciate different paths that others take, when we know the direction we need to take and why we are on it, it is easier to stay focused and not stray. 5. An enriched life experience The crucial crux to reaching self-awareness is understanding the why. Magnificent power is given to each of us when we answer with clarity the "why". Upon knowing what enlivens us, what makes us shrink in fear or what tickles our curiosity, we can then seek out what will enrich us, what will heighten our experience and thus what will enrich our lives. 6. Find true fulfillment and contentment Living an enriched life is discovering what fulfillment and contentment are. Being fully present in the moment, in the lives we have created for ourselves and wanting to be there, and then having the chance to experience this similar moment everyday in varying degrees is to attain fulfillment. And we can only do that if we are honest with ourselves about what we feel and why in any given situation. 7. Optimism rises Optimism will rise as we begin to see evidence that applying what we learn about ourselves to life truly does lead us down a path that enlivens our lives. And when we see a fulfilling life is possible, we begin to believe again that life can be a truly amazing gift. 8. Reduction of guilt and regrets Due to the ability to make better decisions, the guilt and the regrets are diminished. When we confidently make decisions, being aware of how we feel and how our decision will effect others, we know the outcome, by and large, before we leap. And once we leap we accept that not everyone will applaud, but we won't regret it and we will be able to let go of judgment from others as we own our decision. 9. Improve relationships Self-awareness is a key component of having emotional intelligence, and as was discussed here, developing our EQ improves our relationships because we are cognizant of our actions and how they effect those around us, and we know how to handle ourselves effectively as we can observe accurately what we feel and why.

How to develop self-awareness:

"Every human has four endowments - self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change." —Stephen Covey

  • Accept the responsibility of changing responses and behaviors to external stimuli: people, situations, life
  • Reflect on the outcome in each situation and contemplate your role
  • Self-care (brain, body, brand)
  • Develop high emotional intelligence
  • Master your mind

The development of soft skills, personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, are entirely in each of our control. We can choose to recognize their power and find the patience to cultivate them as they will take time, or we can ignore an opportunity to enhance the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us. If we seek the development we are choosing to be more present in ourselves, we are choosing to be active participants and come to a better understanding of our role in the world and how we can best be a part of it. At times the process to become more self-aware may be uncomfortable, but the unease and discomfort is only temporary as it is alerting you to something that needs to be tended to before you can move forward. Tend to it and discover an increased quality of life.  

~Petit Plaisir

~L'art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less by Dominique Loreau  

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Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #142

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 

"Individuals can take hold of [style] and make it their own. Style is about an individual and fashion is about an industry and [fashion] runs on insecurity." —Stacy London 

New York Fashion Week motors on as I tape this week's podcast, and for me, it is holiday and a celebration of sorts. While many trends will be on display, there will also be items that will speak to me as I continually hone my signature style. The priceless gift that style offers is being available to anyone. Each of us has a signature style should we choose to understand what it is. For each of us, this signature style will evolve as we too evolve as individuals. Therefore, the good news that Stacy London shared in a recent interview on Refinery29's Unstyled podcast is true, "Style is possible for everyone." Fashion, on the other hand, asks of us, and sometimes it feels as though it is demanding, to buy, to spend and spend again each season, attempting to keep up with the industry. But by simply understanding the difference between style and fashion, we can better appreciate and carefully select beautiful additions to our wardrobes that will enhance our style and not hinder unnecessarily our budget.

"In place of style we have honored Merchandise. Clothes. Style, on the other hand, doesn't demand a credit card. It prospers on courage and creativity." —Hara Estroff Marano

Courage and creativity. While it may be easier to pull on a ratty tee shirt and slip on loose, battered denim, choosing to craft your signature style offers a variety of benefits. And no, it doesn't require a gloriously flush bank account, but yes, it will require time, patience, thoughtful contemplation about who you are and what truths about your identity you want to reveal to the world. Owning your style is not for the faint of heart. No doubt it would be easier to revert to our youth when we were children, so young we couldn't dress ourselves and allow our mother's to make the decision, but then it wouldn't be our voice we were expressing. Often that is what fashion does, it tells us what to be; it tells us how we should look and by mindlessly following trends, we lose our identity. While clothing is reflective of the current culture, simply look back on your middle school and high school photographs. What did the clothes you were wearing reveal about you? Each of us will see someone different. Some of us will want the courage and confidence we exuded in high school while others will see a clone of the peers that surround them. As I have been pouring over each collection as it is revealed in New York these past few days, I am reminded of my vast ignorance in interpreting what I saw years ago and acknowledge how much more I need to learn; however, as I rest somewhere closer to the latter than the former, I enjoy each new collection like a short film. What is the designer's message, what was their inspiration, what am I drawn to, why am I drawn to it? Victoria Beckham's fall 2017 collection walked the runway on Sunday (today, just hours ago as I type), and it spoke to me. The hues, the lengths, the proportions. Nearly everything echoed the style that is me at this moment in my life: comfortable, yet elegant, feminine while ambiguous, modern inspired by classic and simple while being utterly luxurious. Can I afford Victoria Beckham when the line becomes available? No. Maybe, if the items go on drastic reduction next winter, but even then, most likely no. However, I wasn't considering buying her clothing, I was drawing inspiration. What do I have in my closet now (I do have a few) that fit her template? What items do I need to complete the look? The key understanding to differentiate between style and fashion is that style speaks your language to the world, fashion is in a tongue that is someone else's asking you to learn and be the follower. Style never follows, but is rather inspired by what excites them, speaks to them and then interprets it for themselves. Let's take a look at nine ways understanding how this difference and embracing and acknowledging your own style will change your life in magnificent ways.

1. Make a statement, reveal your identity

"Our wardrobe is our visual vocabulary. Style is our distinctive pattern of speech, our individual poetry." - Hara Estroff Marano

As Marano reminds, style is our own unique language, a dialect of fashion that we make our own so to speak. When we first learn how to speak it, we may feel intimidated to show it to the world, especially if it is vastly different, but the more we communicate confidently, the easier it becomes to step out in our own style each and every day.

2. Exudes security in one's self

An individual who is not afraid to take the time to pull a thoughtful wardrobe together understand the power of clothing. An individual who dresses in such a way that allows the person, themselves to shine, exhibits self-awareness and self-knowledge; two traits that take time to cultivate. And when an individual exudes these qualities it becomes clear that they are more secure than not in themselves. Sure, we all have insecurities, but part of embodying self-awareness and self-knowledge requires valuing yourself and in order to value yourself you must have at least a modicum of comfort in who you are without the external world telling you. That is security, not insecurity, that is being strengthened, and that is attractive.

3. Reveals discipline

Having style requires discipline. Discipline to say no to the trends no matter how much fun they may first appear all the while knowing our individual body, lifestyle, etc. wouldn't allow the woman to shine her brightest. Discipline is also revealed as to how we shop, being patient but determined. Knowing what we need in our wardrobe and taking the time to find it, perhaps tailor it in some instances and care for it properly. Discipline in how we invest, knowing the power of quality over quantity as well as cost per wear.

4. Presumed to be a person of interest

When we dress well, we suggest, however subtly, that we matter. And while the clothes we wear and the clothes others wear do not determine our placement or worth, human beings are visual people. We make quick, subconscious judgments about people, and yes, first impressions matter. Dress well and cultivate assumptions that work in your favor.

5. Separates you from the crowd

Dressing to stand out should never be the goal as it may push you to deviate from your true self, but if you dress well in a manner that aligns with who you are and you do so consistently, it will separate your from the crowd. Dressing well, no matter how casually or formally, involves not necessarily the label that is donned, but knowing how to pull together an outfit that looks good on your body, with your skin tone, hair color, expectations of tasks, etc. And as mentioned in #2 reveals your quiet confidence which brings ease to those around you.

6. Memorable

Wearing a uniform, a signature uniform, provides a simple decision when stepping into your closet. Maybe it is the color palette you choose from, maybe it is the skirt lengths and styles or maybe it is combinations you always gravitate toward. Once you find a style that works for you, stick to it until it no longer does. (I share a few of these examples for myself on the podcast). In doing so, people will remember you. Maybe it is something as small as an individual accessory that you always wear with your clothing, but own it. And when you do, with regularly wearing of this uniform, accessory, etc. you become memorable. Think Carrie Bradshaw and her flower broach or The Good Wife's Alicia Florick in Oscar de la Renta suits. Memorable. The shows are long gone, but the signature styles are remembered. They were worn well, they were worn with confidence and we saw them regularly.

7. Each of us can create a unique identity

"[style is] something recognizable and yet at an unexpected angle, with a surprising twist that both reflects someone's personality and expresses that personality to the outside world." -Joan DeJean, a professor of French language and culture at the University of Pennsylvania

The signature item discussed in #6 begins to establish our identity in others' minds. And while we are not directly dressing for others, we are creating an identity that is memorable. Interestingly enough, our identity will evolve as we evolve. That is the beauty of style. When we grow, our style grows, when our lives change due to decisions we make, different life stages we go through, our style must come with us and reflect who we are now becoming.

8. Alters your behavior

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology revealed that by simply wearing a white lab coat to complete a particular challenging task, similar to that of a doctor, compared to participants who did not wear a white lab coat, those wearing the lab coat performed better. Now it may sound overly simplified, but adjusting and norming all other variables, they discovered that what we wear does effect our psychology, our minds and how we go through life.

"Your interest in fashion is not supposed to minimize your intellect. The same way your disinterest in fashion doesn't mean you're not invited to participate in fashion." -Leandra Medine, Man Repeller

I share Leandra Medine's quote to address the irony of clothing. The irony is caring about what we wear can reveal our intellect, as those who truly understand the power of clothing embrace it and utilize its powers. Yes, if all we focus on is what we're wearing and nothing else, that defeats the purpose. But in truth, someone who understands and respects the power of clothing would not toss its powers aside so blithely.

9. Visually reveals change is possible

"The reason [style] is such a great tool is a great anecdote. Because you do see it. It is visible. But when you see a very fast change and visceral change in yourself. Once you see that that's possible you begin to wonder what else is possible." -Stacy London

We want change in our lives: a better job, improved relationships, fewer pounds, etc. And deciding we want change is easy; the process that must be adhered to for it to materialize takes time. However, updating one's style: pulling on the right sized pants, paired with a flattering top, can take minutes to reveal that change is indeed possible when done thoughtfully.

"By changing what you see is the first step in changing what you believe." - Stacy London

And as Stacy London reminds, as we are visual beings: When we see it, we begin to believe it. If we are seeking change, no matter in what arena in our lives, how we present ourselves to the world can serve as a very powerful step in the right direction as we begin to make the change we seek possible. Wearing the right outfit will not magically and immediately lead to winning an Oscar or improving your bank account or [insert your dream here]. But it is the vehicle in which you begin your journey in the right direction. What you wear reveals who you are. And people want to know the who they are dealing with. They want to know if they can trust you (strong sense of self and confidence - see #2). They want to know you are worth investing in (see #3). They want to know that you are authentic (see #5). Let the world see the magnificent person that you are. Find her, dress her and let her shine without apology.

"Fashion is about clothes and their relationship to the moment. Style is about you and your relationship to yourself. Fashion is in the clothes. Style is in the wearer. The distinction could not be more revealing." -Hara Estroff Marano

  ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Utilize Fashion as a Medium of Communication?

~Why Not . . . Discover the Power of Style?

~Why Not . . . Master the Art of Dressing?

~View all Signature Style posts in the archives here.  

Petit Plaisir:

~La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life by Elaine Sciolino

*author of the New York Times best-seller The Only Street in Paris   ~Sponsor of today’s episode is Plum Deluxe teas. Based in Portland, Oregon, and offering handcrafted, fresh, organic fair trade teas. Join the monthly tea club and receive an exclusive seasonal tea, free shipping and more for only $10/month. Learn more here.

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Direct download: 142StyleOwnIt.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #141

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Montreal author Isabelle LaFlèche has been an inspiration to me for many reasons. One of which is her tenacity to let go of what she knew and leap into what she loved. All it took was a nudge from an unexpected stranger to remind her of the creative talent patiently waiting to be released. J'adore New York was first published in 2011 to great success and was immediately followed by her second novel following the journey of her protagonist with a conscious when it came to fashion and ample intelligence in J'adore Paris.  Two more J'adore journeys have followed taking her readers to Rome and Montreal.

Tune into the interview where Isabelle shared the fateful meeting that changed her life in a matter of months, what it means to have it all, the gift and discovery of taking a risk and much more.   Quotes, books and other ideas discussed during the interview:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”-Anaïs Nin

The Great Gatsby

Under the Tuscan Sun

Learn more about author Isabelle LaFleche::

~Discover more interviews with inspiring women on The Simple Sophisticate podcast:

Petit Plaisir:

~Hidden Figures

Book: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly Film: see trailer below https://youtu.be/5wfrDhgUMGI ~Sponsor of today's episode is Plum Deluxe teas. Based in Portland, Oregon, and offering handcrafted, fresh, organic fair trade teas. Join the monthly tea club and receive an exclusive seasonal tea, free shipping and more for only $10/month. Learn more here.

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Direct download: 141IsabelleLaFLECHE_.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #140

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Life circumstances have little to do with happiness because much happiness is under your control — the product of your habits and your outlook on life. Happiness is synthetic — you either create it, or you don’t." —Life Altering Awareness

The uncertainties in life are vast. But to errantly ignore the ability to master the certainties is a mistake. Each of us is capable of cultivating a life that is fulfilling and attains true contentment no matter what changes life may bring by honing the tool of Emotional Intelligence. A term created by researchers Peter Salavoy and John Mayer and brought into the mainstream culture by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional IntelligenceEQ is often the detail forgotten about that upon tending to makes a significant difference in the quality of our lives no matter what the circumstances may be. And the beauty is each of us has the ability to improve our EQ. What is Emotional Intelligence you may be asking? Often broken down into three components and skills: Definition of EQ: 1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others; 2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving; 3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person. Let's look at it another way: EQ is divided into two components the Personal and Social. There are four abilities one will exhibit if they have a high emotional intelligence:

  • PERSONAL: Self-Awareness
  • PERSONAL: Self-Management
  • SOCIAL: Social Awareness
  • SOCIAL: Relationship Management

At the foundation of developing a strong EQ is the awareness of a balance that is often discussed here on TSLL. Exploring and understanding ourselves whilst respectfully and thoughtfully navigating the world around us whether in work or play is, when we look at what our lives are all about, what living well should be all about. Striking a healthy balance between ourselves and the relationships we built, and ensuring the relationships we build with ourselves and others are healthy, respectful, thoughtful, loving and kind. EQ is simple in theory, and eventually does become simple in practice, but initially, it will take time, attention and patience to build a muscle that may not have been worked in quite some time or ever. Now, as you will see below, there are many different characteristics. I suggest taking an EQ test (short or long) to determine where your strengths and weaknesses are as most of us may be quite proficient in some areas, but consciously or unconsciously weak in others. And with any eventual success, the first step toward improving is knowing where you need to improve and pat yourself on the back for what you are already doing well. But first, let's look at the carrot. What can be gained by improving our EQ?

Benefits & Characteristics:

  • be the curator of your own happiness regardless of outside forces, events or people
  • solve a variety of emotion-related problems accurately and quickly
  • can accurately perceive emotions in faces
  • manage emotions effectively – both our own and others – especially when we are under pressure
    • regulate emotions such as anger or jealously and keep them at a healthy level.
  • calmly find solutions to problems
  • exude confidence due to trusting intuition and not allowing emotions get out of control
  • self-aware: can look honestly at yourself - observing strengths and weaknesses - being able to work on areas you can improve
  • comfortable with change
  • strength to say no
  • exemplify sincere thoughtfulness
  • disciplined and therefore can discern between immediate and long-term effects
    • thereby experience much success, effectiveness and productivity
  • strong listening skills
  • less likely to judge and stereotype
  • manage relationships well
  • able to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you
  • manage disputes effectively, become an excellent communicator, and become adept at building and maintaining relationships

The benefit at the top of the list alone is the reason I have been actively researching and continuing to remain curious about the concept of EQ. As I continue to improve and apply the practices of being emotionally intelligent to my personal and professional relationships, I have begun to see remarkable improvements, which is why I want to share with you some tools I have found to work for me, have been suggested by my counselor and shared online via a handful of sources (all are listed at the bottom of the post).

Tools to Enhance EQ:

  • Reduce negative personalization 
    • If the tendency is to assume the worst when an individual does something that upsets or confuses you, instead take a step back. Refrain from jumping to conclusions (usually negative assumptions). And instead, examine the situation from multiple perspectives. By taking the step back you are enabling a more objective perspective, giving yourself room to breathe and collect your emotions and quite often recognizing that what others do more often than not has nothing to do with us (the personalizing) and most often everything to do with them and what they are dealing with, experiencing and feeling at that time.
  • Reduce an all or nothing vantage point
    • Whether in relationships (friendships or romantic partnerships) or at work, provide yourself with a banquet of options. In other words, don't put all your socializing into a relationship with one friend. Instead build a handful of strong, healthy friendships. As we've discussed in the past, often having friends in different arenas in our lives for different interests, etc. is a way to not burden any one friendship and also tend to each of our needs. When it comes to our romantic lives, while we may have a romantic partner, be sure to build a life you love living whether or not that individual is with you. The individual should add to, not be the sole reason for your contentment, so when you aren't together you are enthralled with the everyday routines, activities, and work you are engaged in. Professionally, give yourself options. Applying for a handful of jobs if you are considering a career move rather than just one. Taking an interview at prospective business if nothing else to build your networking and confidence in the interviewing process.
  • Learn to manage stress effectively
    • First we must be able to recognize that we are stress, and identify the triggers. Then, when we do recognize that we are stressed, to manage it in a way that is effective. Perhaps physical exercise or simply going outside and getting fresh air and convening with Mother Nature. For others it may be journaling their thoughts out.
  • Finding the courage to discuss difficult emotions when necessary with the right person
    • Knowing your boundaries and your priorities and values will help first determine when 'necessary' takes place. Not all negative emotions and anger need to be shared with the individual who angered you. Often it is a reaction that is due to our expectations and lack of understanding. But there are other times when you must speak up. Knowing the difference is imperative.
    • When we do decide that we must discuss how we feel to help those we either work with or are in relationships understand our boundaries and better understand us, knowing how to effectively communicate with "I feel . . . " statements is a simple conversation starter. Rather than blaming the other person for which we can never fully knowing why or what prompted their actions, share what you do know for certain: how you felt and why.
  • Become adept at rebounding from adversity
    • Running up against unexpected challenges, obstacles and enduring setbacks is inevitable if we are choosing to forever evolve, learn and be curious about the world and improving our position and potential. It is how we respond to each of these that will determine our success moving forward. So how can we best respond? Asking the right questions: What can I learn from this experience? What are other perspectives and solutions beyond the limited box I have put myself? What is important? What can I be thankful for?
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable in personal, intimate relationships
    • It is not easy to be vulnerable, opening ourselves up to hurt and potential pain, but on the flip-side, we cannot experience true intimacy, deep fulfilling relationships if we do not reveal who we truly are to other people. So how do we know when to be vulnerable and what does being vulnerable look like?
      • Involved in a healthy relationship with an individual that has the potential to be trusted (we will not know this absolutely initially, but as we get to know them gradually, we gradually allow ourselves to be vulnerable)
      • share honest feelings that are supportive, loving, nourishing and constructive
      • affirming what the individual you are with shares with you by acknowledging what you heard and expressing gratitude for their ability to share.
      • Body language and physical touch that is open, respectful, loving: eye contact, hugging, supportive (touching the arm or arm around the back).
      • Make requests for connection, aka as "bidding" and respond to bidding initiated by those you are in an intimate relationship with: As revealed in an article in The Atlantic in 2014, researchers discovered that "masters in love", marriages that continue to thrive exhibiting and expressing respect and love for their partners, responded or "turned-towards bids" 87% of the time versus those in 'disaster' relationships (33% of the time). What does bidding looking like? as grand as engaging in a shared activity and as simple as pointing out something beautiful and the response is your partner acknowledging and commenting positively or supportively to your observation. It can also involve a personalized note, a thoughtful gift, a gesture demonstrating having listened to a previous conversation, a needed favor. The list goes on, but the key is you are extending a desire to engage and the bid is returned with attention or appreciation.
  • Improve your emotional vocabulary
    • Knowing how you feel and how to accurately pinpoint the emotion through words verbally (and written as well) is a powerful way to improve connection with others, building understanding and enhancing relationships.
  • Pause before you speak
    • The primary component of exercising emotional intelligence is acting consciously, and that includes speaking. Pausing to find the proper and most accurate, as well as supportive and constructive words begins to build and strengthen the bond between two individuals.

Emotional Intelligence has been proven to be more vital and a more accurate determinate than IQ when it comes to long-term success in one's quality of life. And the good news is unlike one's IQ, EQ is a learned skill. It is something we can practice and improve upon no matter what our age. However, because it is a skill, as The Atlantic pointed out in 2014, it might also be used for nefarious purposes. In other words, once one becomes extremely proficient at observing and recognizing emotions both in themselves and others they can use the tools to manipulate for self-serving outcomes. However, to counter, as a friend pointed out recently as I was discussion the topic of today's post/episode, if indeed someone is abusing this skill, then are they truly Emotionally Intelligent? Because to return to the original definition of EQ, it involves a vast amount of empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  Life continues to reveal to me that quality is something that doesn't just occur, it is cultivated, it is conscious, it is requires consistency. Yes, it might be helpful if the improvements in our lives could occur by simply buying a particular product, a certain type of home or outfit, but the reality is no matter what clothes you wear, what size your home or what type of degree you have, knowing how to understand your emotions and observe them accurately in others followed by healthy action that respects who you are as well as those around you is the yeast of life. If you want to rise, if you want what you value to rise, invest in your emotional intelligence. Because when we do, beautiful moments in the everyday whether we are with others or in our own company will regularly manifest. ~Post Sources: Psychology Today, Mindtools & The Atlantic ~The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability

~Why Not . . . Master the Art of Conversation?

~Why Not . . . Have That Difficult Conversation?

~Why Not . . . Avoid Unnecessary Stress?

 

~Petit Plaisir:

~"The Power of a Dose of Nature", via The Wall Street Journal ~image from TSLL IG feed (below)  

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Direct download: 140EQ.mp3
Category:self-improvement -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #139

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"When we take the right to rest, when we make rest fulfilling, and when we practice rest through our days and years, we also make our lives richer and more fulfilling." —Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done when You Work Less

Charles Darwin partook in regular 10 miles walks, Alice Munro walked three miles each day, Winston Churchill engaged in painting, Lin-Manual Miranda took his dog each Sunday for walks through the parks in New York City, J.R.R. Tolkien and Ray Bradbury took daily afternoon naps, workers at Bletchley Park during WWII chose chess as a favorite pastime and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court Elena Kagan boxes regularly with her personal trainer.

Initially when the word 'rest' is mentioned, we may think of sitting on the sofa, flipping through channels, but the difference between mindless rest and deliberate rest is that it "enables productivity". When we truly rest, our minds are not actually stagnant. In actuality, we are enabling them to do what they need to do, work through, dispose of, find and reach understandings and connections that when we are active at work, it is unable to do completely.

The difference between mindless and deliberate rest is what you are feeding your brain. Sitting down and watching a thoughtful, engaging film can absolutely be deliberate rest. It may offer ideas and insights that eventually help us make connections we didn't see prior to viewing of the film; the key is to feed our minds well. Give it quality fuel and quality results have the possibility of being produced, even while we sleep.

Recently, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang's new book Rest was released, and contained inside the covers is a wealth of research, seemingly infinite anecdotes from historical and current individuals that reveal the power of deliberate rest being incorporated into our daily lives. Throughout today's post, I will be sharing many different quotes, and unless otherwise attributed, they are pulled from the pages of Rest.

As we begin 2017 and we look to the future we wish to build for ourselves, it may appear as though we have much to do in order to accomplish what we have placed on our list of resolutions or goals. But in order to be successful in whichever destination we pursue, the concept of quality over quantity guides the way. How is that possible? How can we do less and actually attain more? By tossing what the zeitgeist portrays as the "right way" to achieve success out with 2016.

"Today, we treat being stressed and overworked as a badge of honor, a sign of seriousness and commitment; but this is a recent phenomenon, and it inverts traditional ideas of how leaders and professions should behave under pressure. For most of history, leaders were supposed to appear calm and unhurried; success began with self-mastery and self-control."

~For more in-depth discussion on each of the points discussed below, be sure to tune in to the podcast. 

Benefits:

1. Helps to organize your life

2. Cultivates calm in your life

3. Strengthens your will-power and self-control

4. Increases your confidence

5. Increases emotional intelligence and engagement

6. More time is given as boundaries are made firm and clear

7. Increases success and accomplishment, aiding you in reaching your full potential

8. Live a long, healthy, invigorating life

9. Helps you live a simply luxurious life

"It creates a life that's rewarding while it's lived, a life that has purpose and pleasure, work and reward, in equal measure. And that life feels complete and well-spent at the end."

 
How to welcome deliberate rest into your life:

1. Make rest a priority

"Taking rest seriously also helps bring more of your life into clearer focus."

2. Spend only 4-5 hours each day doing strenuous work

3. Establish a consist morning routine

"My morning is all about stilling the outside world so my mind can soar." —Scott Adams, the illustrator and creator of the comic strip Dilbert

4. Set clear boundaries between work and rest

"A day that starts with work creates rest that can be enjoyed without guilt. When you start early, the rest you take is the rest you've earned."

5. Take regular walks

6. Nap regularly and nap well

"The most obvious benefits of napping is that it increases alertness and decreases fatigue . . . but regular naps have other benefits . . . improve memory . . . [and] consolidate things you've just learned."

7. Enjoy a regular, deep night's sleep

8. Detach and take that vacation

9. Exercise regularly

"At first, researchers mainly investigated the benefits of exercise for healthy aging, but studies now show that for people of any age, gender, or athletic ability, exercise can increase brain power, boost intelligence, and provide the stamina and psychological resilience necessary to do creative work."

10. Cultivate a hobby you love and that challenges you

Perhaps when you read #2 on the list above, you said to yourself, nope, that will never happen, not in my world, not in the job I have to do every day to earn my paycheck. And on the surface, you are absolutely correct. But what if you could look at the job you go to each day and redesign your day? What if you could schedule your day so that you did tend to the most strenuous demands at the beginning and then schedule meetings, projects and activities toward the tail-end that allowed you to not tax your mind directly as much?

Understandably, what job you do and for whom you work and the expectations will play a significant role. What I appreciated upon reading Rest is that it validated what I already felt regarding the productivity of my work. When I worked at my best, when I felt my most exhausted, it gave me a reason as to why. It helped me understand my mind, my body and the benefits of what I am doing and what I need to make sure I continue to do and what I can begin to let go of as it no longer serves me or the quality of life I am trying to cultivate.

Saying no to what no longer serves the simply luxurious life you are building becomes easier when we have science to explain what works best, but we also have to understand what type of life we want to build, and when we know that and believe it to our core, the saying of "no" and the incorporation of deliberate rest into our lives becomes far easier. And that is when our lives begin to truly blossom.

We don't have to look busy to gain approval. The gift of living well is that our lives often will look paradoxical: How can she/they/he live such a life and not be exhausted/stressed and have time to enjoy, play and partake in the pleasures as well? But the reality is, it is indeed possible when we choose to live consciously and thoughtfully.

"A life that focuses on what matters most, makes time for rest, and declines unnecessary distractions may look simple on the outside, but from the inside it is rich and fulfilling."

Deliberate rest paired with deliberate work is a partnership: "One provides the means to live, the other gives meaning to life".

"When we treat rest as work's equal and partner, recognize it as a playground for the creative mind and springboard for new ideas, and it as an activity that we can practice and improve, we elevate rest into something that can help calm our days, organize our lives, give us more time and help us achieve more while working less."

  ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment

~10 Things People Who Have Found Contentment Understand About Uncertainty

~Relax: 21 Ways to Know You're Doing Just Fine in This Thing Called Life

Petit Plaisir:

~Equipment silk pajamas, Lillian striped washed-silk pajamas - 50% off at Netaporter ~use promo code EXTRA40, at Equipmentfr.com SHOP Equipment Pajamas: [show_shopthepost_widget id="2336799"]

Image: Vogue UK

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Direct download: 139Rest_-_12217_11.19_AM.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #138
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Enough is the quality of having everything you need and want but nothing in excess, nothing that burdens you." —Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life

While numerically, there isn't a magic number equated to having enough money due to a myriad of variables, it may seem at first impossible to answer the question at all. However, there are fundamental questions to ask yourself and habits to bring into your daily living that will help you inch ever closer to the number that is right for you.

1. Let go of comparisons

"Comparing ourselves to others is essentially a coping mechanism for our own insecurities." —Rachel Cruze of Love Your Life, Not Theirs: 7 Money Habits for Living the Life You Want

Now more than ever as we live in a world where lives of anyone from anywhere are displayed on social media, refraining from comparing our lives to others' is a mental exercise in willpower. And as we know willpower is finite. A dependable way to combat comparison is to become clear about your own life's path. Become clear about what excites you, what you want to improve upon and create a vision for your life. And then become courageous. Read more about how you can live courageously and the benefits, including eliminating the need for comparison, doing so will invite into your life.

2. Debt is eliminated (within reason)

Debt is a broad term. Many of us, if we own a house, will have a mortgage, and business debt is necessary at different periods of a venture. However, personal credit card debt should be at zero. If you can look at your balances and know you can pay them off in full each month without denting your monthly living budget, your finances are in great order.

~Why Not . . . Get and Stay Out of Debt?

~How to Successfully Have a Credit Card

3. Live within your means

A quote that upon first reading has ever since been part of my vocabulary and approach to money was shared by Suze Orman, "I think the nicest thing you can say about a woman is that she lives well, and she lives below her means." And as we know our means will shift, change and hopefully grow from year to year. As was discussed in last week's Why Not . . . ? post, conducting a financial check-in each year is a great way to determine if you are spending too much or not enough in certain parts of your budget in order to live the life you want.

4. Monthly savings goal exceeds expectations

Currently I am saving for a down payment, and with this goal in mind, I have designated that a certain amount will be put into my money market account each month. When I am able to exceed my target amount, I cannot help but do a little dance. According to financial experts, this is a good sign that you are on your way to having enough money.

5. Spending wisely

Take a moment and check your current spending habits with habits from five years ago. Are you spending more? Spending less? Spending more wisely? Staying within your budget? The key reason to reflect regularly is to spend consciously. If you see that your spending has increased, ask yourself why. Then ask yourself, is it necessary? Am I able to spend more? Living well is not a bad thing to do. The key is to make sure you can afford to do so.

6. Proper attention is being paid to retirement savings

While there is no magic formula for retirement savings, the one thing that won't work is doing nothing. The first thing to do is begin saving yesterday. I know that may be unnecessary to say, but begin now if you haven't already. Then sit down and examine how much you will indeed need to retire so that you can have a goal and then create a plan to make it happen. I have shared many money and specifically retirement savings related posts here in TSLL "Money" archives, be sure to have a look here.

7. Adherence to a monthly budget that supports the life you want to build and live

Massachusetts senator and former Harvard bankruptcy law professor Elizabeth Warren suggested organizing one's monthly budget around these percentages: "Spend 50 percent on needs, 30 percent on wants and 20 percent on savings" (NYTimes). Now you may have to dip into your wants for your needs from time to time depending upon where you live and during different periods of your life, but saving 15-20 percent for retirement, emergency, dreams & vacations is a must for peace of mind and the ability to respond to life's unexpected hurdles and adventures. Similarly, diligently keeping your housing payment (rent or mortgage) to 33% is quite savvy. (Click here to view a simple budget spreadsheet to organize both mandatory and discretionary spending.)

It has been debated that we, as humans have a tendency to move away unconsciously from achieving "enough" rather than towards it (Tim Maurer  Simple Money). However, I would argue that it is a choice, it is an appreciation for what moving towards having enough cultivate in our lives which will then make it all the more attractive once we arrive at our destination. The essential premise to making the shift is understanding the essential questions and the necessary answers to those questions, as well as the habits we need to incorporate into our lives, and it really is quite simple as shared above. Thank you for stopping by and may 2017 be your most financially secure year yet.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Money: Being vs Acting Rich

~6 Steps for Mastering Your Money

Petit Plaisir:

~La La Land 

~winner of the record setting seven Golden Globes this year: Best Musical/Comedy, Best Actor, Best Actress, Original Song, Score, Director and Screenplay ~View and listen to the award winning original song, City of Stars here I will profess honestly, I am not someone who gravitates towards musicals, and as Refinery29 frankly reminds that's because La La Land isn't a true musical, which might be why I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down for two hours to absorb the colorful sets, simple and thoughtful love story and a reminder to never cease the journey to reach your dreams. However, respectfully, it is a musical. It is a modern musical. Some have compared it to a long list of musicals from the mid-twentieth century, and while particular aspects and scenes were undoubtedly inspired by revered musicals in the past, La La Land is a 21st century musical. It harkens back to the past with coupled song and dance numbers, but it grabs the future with technology's magic and whimsy. The argument from some is that Emma Stone did not know how to dance, but we must keep in mind neither did Debbie Reynolds when she was cast for Singing in the Rain; however, Reynolds worked her tail off to keep up with an impossibly high talent - Gene Kelly - and executed her role exquisitely. Similar to Stone, it was Reynolds' star power, her authentic joie de vivre and spark that grabbed the audience. Had any dancer been paired with Kelly simply because they could dance, the movie would not have been balanced or as engaging. The woman, who she is, what she exudes, matters as much as her dance steps.  Stone holds her own with the dancing, but much like Reynolds, it is her charisma, her youthfulness and her tenacity that bring her character Mia to life. Ryan Gosling is Ryan Gosling. Movie producers what to sell tickets, and in order to sell tickets there must be chemistry on the screen. Stone and Gosling, paired together for the third time, have undeniable chemistry, and it worked to tell the tale of two passionate individuals enamored with each other but also their dreams to realize what they were ardently passionate about. I recommend highly that you watch this film in the theater for the reasons New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane suggests: the full effect of the scenery, colors and sets as well as the sound system. Let yourself escape. ~Note: In the taped episode, I incorrectly misspoke and called Gene Kelly Fred Astaire. https://youtu.be/je0aAf2f8XQ

Image: waterdrop

Download the Episode

Direct download: 138MoneyEnough_-_11117_9.02_AM.mp3
Category:money -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #137
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

A work of art gazed upon and appreciated by millions, created by the hands of a talented often ahead-of-their-time individual dedicated hours, perhaps months to their creation. A full and luscious garden, cultivated over years of planning, tending and careful editing and replenishing. A relationship built on admiration, truth and kindness, strengthening with time, patience and careful attention. The foundation for living simply luxuriously begins with the concept of a life of quality over quantity in all arenas of our lives. It is an understanding that to build our lives on superficial expectations that appease the outside world whether for appearances or applause is to leave us living in a shell which provides a lack of intimate comfort and joy. And so, as I have been observing ever more reassuringly and mentioned in the last episode of 2016, it is a conscious decision to live a life of quality that will in time, gradually, deepen the life you have the opportunity to experience. Whether it's choosing to live in a town or community that may be more expensive and therefore take more time to save up to live in, as well as forcing you to downsize, but ultimately brings you more peace of mind, an ease to be yourself and those you love to blossom, or choosing to enjoy food that your body needs and rise to the abilities it is capable of rather than reach for what is expedient and temporarily satiating, a life of quality is enriching. But as you may have noticed in both of these examples, it takes a conscious awareness of what you need and why you're doing what you're doing. Clarity, focus and preparation are key, but these investments pay off. How do we then, as we step into 2017, welcome in more quality reduce the quantity that tempers what is possible? As I mentioned here, it requires of each of us to take a simple, but significant approach, to not take on too much at once, but rather one item at a time. So why not take it month by month? Inspired by a few of my resolutions for the year, I contemplated how I could be most successful, and this is what I've come up with. Each month one idea, task or concept will be the focus and I will check in regularly to share how I am doing, and you too can share your journey. The first month of January, since so many of our resolutions tend to reflect on how well or poorly we ate during the holiday season and we want to feel better, not merely look better, we'll be tasked with the following:

~Reduce or eliminate entirely one food or food type that does not serve you well

  • UPDATE: Click here to see how the month progressed at the mid-way point

I've chosen to leave this month quite broad because we all have our triggers. We all know what is helping and what is hurting, what is a weakness and what is easy to walk away from. I have chosen sugar. For one month I am going to eat in such a way that eliminates refined sugars (not natural sugars such as fruit). Recognizing that not all situations that involve food will be under my control (dining at others' homes, work events, etc.), the goal is to eliminate, but there may be lapses. However, I want to observe how I feel as I refrain from eating refined sugars. After reading about a recently released book, The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes, my challenge was solidified. For one month, let's see what happens. Having done this in the past, but not as publicly, I remember the experience being very positive in a variety of ways (better mood, a fierce ability to discern sugar in unexpected items - ketchup, cheap chocolate, etc.), and I look forward to seeing if I can observe the same and perhaps more observations that cultivate more quality regarding my health and overall everyday routine. Over the holiday I gradually began the reduction, as if to wean myself off of the refined carbohydrates, and in just one week, I felt better in my body. So we'll see how it goes. I will check in on Wednesday January 18th to share my progress, successes and oopses. I look forward to hearing what you have chosen to reduce or eliminate as well and learning how the journey is going on the 18th. Each month we'll tackle one item to reduce or eliminate in our lives, as a way to reduce the quantity and enhance the quality. Below is a look at year.

February:

~Letting go of a social media app that isn't serving you as you strive to build relationships

March

~Letting go of busy mentality

April

~Reducing mindless eating

May

~Mastering the use of credit June ~Understanding and reducing self-doubt

July

~Curtailing the negative commentary (internal and external)

August

~How to approach staying informed but not overwhelmed by the news of the world

September

~Designated no work zones

October

~Smart shopping for clothing

November

~Recognizing, understanding and eradicating self-imposed limitations

December

~13 Life Truths to Remember About Making Progress   With so much that is worth attaining and welcoming into our lives, time and attention is needed to be successful. Patience is required. And while sometimes we just want to pounce, so long as we are assured that the path we are on is the right one, we can allow events, our health, our relationships to progress at their natural pace. After all, we first need to know what we want to plant in our garden, then we must plant it followed by much patience, but confidence knowing that we have invested wisely, and in its own time, it will bloom and then we will be able to savor all the goodness. I look forward to stepping into this journey and sharing my experience with you and hearing about yours. Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful week. ~The Simply Luxurious Life Mission Statement

Petit Plaisir

~Claridge & King Boyfriend Shirt

~Images: (1) Portland's Japanese Garden (2) my mother's garden full of dahlias (3) Norman & Oscar along the Oregon coast during a special trip this past fall 2017. 

  Download the Episode

Direct download: 137JanuarySugar.mp3
Category:beauty -- posted at: 12:00am PST

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.

 

In this week's Petit Plaisir, a wonderful newly released book by best-selling author Will Schwalbe Books for Living

Direct download: 13626WaysToLove2_-_1217_9.45_AM.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 10:02am PST

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