The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

"I see inspiration everywhere - from the fashion flitting past as I am crossing 7th Avenue to the overgrown flowers exploding from the window boxes of the brownstones of the West Village to the monkeys blinking back at my son and me as we wander through the tropical zone of The Central Park Zoo. It is all waiting to be painted. I often feel giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed by all that there is to paint."Inslee Fariss

In February 2011 I first came across the watercolor fashion illustrations by Inslee. At the time, my blog was just over a year old, and I was looking for a way to put my signature on the heading. With four images including one of Sarah Jessica Parker in a favorite final scene of SATC, one of Ines de la Fressange and yet another one of Henry Bendel's illustrations of stylish women, I reached out to Inslee who was in Washington D.C. at the time. In a matter of two weeks, after a couple of emails back and forth and one phone call, the first TSLL woman was complete, and I was over the moon (see the woman below in the white dress with red clutch (center)). 

Since our first collaboration, Inslee's painting career has blossomed, and she has been living and working in New York City with a studio in the West Village. Painting for Rachel Zoe, working with Elizabeth Arden and many other well known names, she also works on private commissions, some for businesses like TSLL and many for personal stationery, imagery, etc. 

As you will hear in our conversation in today's episode of the podcast, she shares her journey to finding what working environment works best for her to create regularly, how and when she knew she had a gift, as well as how one of her figure drawings (nude silhouettes) ended up being purchased by the now Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). 

~Inslee's illustration purchased by Meghan Markle as discussed on today's episode~

Her observations about enjoying the everyday, what it feels like being a mother to her 17-month-old boy Jackson and where she finds inspiration for her annual calendar are also topics that she talks about. 

Since 2011, I feel extremely fortunate to have received 15 exclusive, commissioned illustrations for the blog (12 of which appear in TSLL's 1st book, one which was created for my teaching blog and the final two which appear on TSLL's new book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life and the blog's header). All of the illustrations are below.

As we discuss in today's episode, one of her amazing talents is to create what her customers are envisioning in their minds. She brings to the canvas her knowledge of fashion and style, the human body, as well as the observations of everyday life that we may dismiss or take for granted, but when appreciated can enliven the quotidian moments more than we might have imagined. 

Be sure to stop by Inslee's website, shop her recent launch of the 2019 desktop and wall calendars (Book Worm & Botanical) as well as her newly launched 2019 Planners complete with exclusive illustrations and beautiful leather binders from Neely & Chloe (the steel blue one has my eye, but there are more beautiful colors available). You can also shop prints of her illustrations and contact her for a commission project. 

As was mentioned in the episode, her Instagram (especially her Stories) will brighten your day. (follow @inslee). 

Lastly, I want to extend my deep appreciation to Inslee for being a guest on The Simple Sophisticate. Until our next collaboration together! 

~2019 Book Worm desk top (March)~

~2019 Wall and desktop Botanical calendar, September~

~2019 Desktop and Wall Calendars, May~

~Steel Blue Planner and binder~

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #233

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

  

~View all episodes of THE SIMPLE SOPHISTICATE

  

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Direct download: 233Inslee.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

"Becoming Parisian is possible, but remaining Parisian is an art." —Nathalie Peigney, author of Sophie the Parisian: Style Tips from a True Parisian Woman

To spend time in Paris is to spend time in a city with a feminine energy. Simply the proper article spoken when saying the city of Paris is la ville de Paris which is feminine.

But what exactly does that mean? And we should ask, does it mean anything at all? Perhaps it simply gives us permission to embrace and explore our emotions whatever they may be, to consciously take pleasure in the beauty that surrounds us either natural or architectural, but regardless of masculine or femininity, Paris is a city to embrace but at the same time let go of must-dos, have-tos and instead enjoy what surrounds you from the energy of the people, the energy of the history that engulfs you ever so, but consistently so ubiquitously and to savor the baguette in the morning by tearing off the end and enjoying it on the way back to your apartment, lingering for a long lunch and dawdling along the cobbled streets as you explore a new-to-you arrondissement. 

In today's episode, a new book that was recently released, Sophie the Parisian: Style Tips from a True Parisian Woman offers detailed insight into ways to infuse your own life, no matter where you may live, but especially if you visit and most definitely if you move to Paris, with daily habits and rituals that will enliven the everyday moments and bring a little Parisian charm to your way of living. 

1.Invest in your personality, knowledge and understanding of the world. True fulfillment does not reside if paying attention to and perfecting one's appearance. Rather, investing in developing our inner beauty is key. In stage of life, knowledge of the world and one self cultivates charm, intrigue and true beauty.

2. Enjoy Apero Time (Aperitif)

3. Have a love affair with a quality handbag. Be practical in your selection, but don't be afraid to invest

4. Wear a leather ballet flat

5. Choose quality essential items for your wardrobe. Have few, but purchase investments that will last. Investing does not mean you have pay full price. Set alerts for sales on the designer labels you love, shop consignment, even visit second-hand shops that sell quality, well-made items. From trenches, to ballet flats, to blazers, cashmere sweaters, and a classic marinière striped shirt. 

6. Hop on a bike.

7. Choose black. It goes with everything.

8. Then, choose navy.

9. Find a favorite cafe and frequent it regularly for an escape from the day and to watch the world pass by.

10. Remember to end your meals with cheese

11. Only artisanal made croissants s'il vous plait.

~a croissant from Foxtail Bakeshop~

12. Adhere to good health practices: Eat well, mainly colorful food, abstain from processed foods like white flour and sugar and exercise regularly.

13. Dress with simple sophistication

~Check out TSLL's Signature Style posts

14. Don't follow trends, cultivate your own style

15. Thoughtfully select flowers that you love for your home. White flowers have been shared by florists to be the top color choice in Paris.

16. Use fewer, yet better and seasonal ingredients to enable the ingredients to sing.

~Check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - Seasonal Fare to Elevate the Everyday Meal

17. Skillfully blend classic and contemporary interior design. And be sure to infuse a bit of yourself into the furniture and decor choices as well.

~episode #228, 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's new book

18. Speak your mind. Have an opinion.

19. Buy beautiful, lace lingerie for you, as well as classic lingerie.

~episode #42, Why Not . . . Create a Capsule Lingerie Wardrobe?

20. Simple make-up, but yes, make-up to enhance your natural beauty

21. Wear high quality marinière tops from Petit Bateau, Saint James, Lux Amour.

22. Visit the farmers market on the weekend (or during the week when the schedule allows), to eat well and rejuvenate your diet

~How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Farmer's Market

23. Visit the great exhibits of the moment. Become a connessoir of your city's history, art and talents.

24. Master the classic favorite moules marinières (et frites!)

25. Classic, natural, simple, manicured nails

26. Add some red to your life - a  red lip, a red blouse, a red pencil skirt, something red.

27. Make time to watch the sun set.

28. Have a simple, classic vinagriette recipe memorized

~Check out Shannon's vinagriette recipe in the first episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen

~Order TSLL's new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self

Petit Plaisir

~Nigel Slater's Orzo with Zucchini and Parmesan

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Direct download: 232ParisianWoman.mp3
Category:french living -- posted at: 5:24am PST

"Just by being a strong and kind, ambitious and likeable, empathetic and decisive, confident and flexible woman, you can help turn around the double standards we all face and permanently change the way women at work are perceived." —Fran Hauser, author of The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate

Authenticity is crucial for success, but for some reason, those of us who embody a propensity to be nice (both women and yes, men too) have often been made to believe that nice won't help us reach the success in our careers that could be possible. Especially with the double standards often placed upon women who do dare to step out of the nice box, society would like us to think that being nice won't work, but actually, being gruff (if that is not our natural nature) won't either. 

So what is the best approach for building a career you love? Be yourself. Be that nice individual you have always been, but let go of the fickleness, let go of the passive-aggressiveness and become more confident in what you know to be true about your strengths, set clear boundaries, all the while building positive relationships with others, and remembering the research done by FastCompany in 2015, that a positive work environment leads to greater productivity, lower turnover, and even better health outcomes for workers. A win-win.

After reading Fran Hauser's new book, I wanted to share 13 takeaways that spoke to me and caught my eye due to emails and comments I have received from readers. While I have boiled them down to their nuts and bolts, if this topic is speaking to you, be sure to take at the book as she offers a multitude of specific examples from her own career and others as well as step by step, specific pointers and tips for navigating remaining nice as well as strong. 

1.Understand the difference between Nice and being a People Pleaser

"Nice is: Positive, yet honest and straightforward; People Pleaser is: Sweeping things under the rug to avoid making waves."

2. Remember to be strong as well as nice

Hauser argues that indeed we can be both, even though the myth is perpetuated that we cannot. How? Hauser suggests speak up, and be humble, be a team player, but still look out for your best interests, and accommodate, but communicate clearly and be assertive. 

3. Understand there are enough opportunities for everyone and refrain from competing with others, especially other women.

A necessary shift from generations past is moving beyond women competing with other women as though there was only one that could make it to the top. Historically, due to gender biases and stereotypes, this was sadly accepted and perpetuated, but times have and are continuing to change. Women can be collaborative, generous and in so doing, lift everyone who is contributing great work. 

When we realize opportunities are in abundance when we shift the work culture and mentality, productivity rises, as does the peace of mind in the work place. How? By having confidence that we have something of value to offer and we can benefit from the talents of others. 

4. Claim your niceness and use it intentionally

As an authentically nice person, to go against your nature will not only gradually deplete you, but it will also feel unnatural. When we choose to use our niceness intentionally, it can appear in how we build relationships with those we work with, and as a result, clients and colleagues show more loyalty as they appreciate the sincere connection and recognition of them individually. 

5. You may have to clarify that your niceness is not to misunderstood for ignornace, lack or knowledge, in other words as a weakness

Hauser shares some helpful statements to respond to those who may doubt that being nice is indeed a preferred way to work, but once you make your stance clear, you will have to explain this truth far less often. 

6. Be humble, but don't put yourself down

Returning to the topic of being nice versus being a people pleaser, when we are humble and don't take ourselves too seriously, we come across as more relatable. This doesn't mean we should diminish our successes or strengths. In other words, never talk about yourself in a way that degrades your competence or paints a negative picture. When you begin to do this, you create potential doubt in clients, colleagues and higher ups who oversee your job. 

7. Speak with confidence

Refrain from prefaces what you are about to share by casting doubt on what hasn't even been spoken. Instead choose your words carefully. Hauser gives the example of stating we need to speak declaratively rather than interrogatively. In other words, observe how you end your sentences in which you are stating a fact. Do you still end it with a questioning tone? This projects lack of confidence. Instead, state it with confidence what you have found to work, to be true or an idea you would like to share. Give credit to those who deserve it if you came to the idea with the help of others, and if necessary, state your reasons for why you feel your idea would be helpful to more than just yourself. When you frame what you say constructively, speak with confidence and refrain from prefacing with doubtful statements such as "I believe" or "I could be wrong", you are already on your way to gaining the trust from your peers and supervisors. 

8. Apply critical thinking skills to tactful disagreement

If you disagree with someone's initial statement, instead of stating this opinion forthwith, ask questions, seek outside perspectives and dive deeper into the subject at hand before jumping to conclusions. When we do all of these things, we step away from any initial emotional reaction and give ourselves time to thoughtfully respond and perhaps gain some more understanding and respect due to our process along the way. 

9. Set emotional boundaries to weed out the bullies and build stronger relationships

"Often, we 'nice girls' carry around a tiny seed of doubt that a conflict is somehow our fault. When a bully spots that doubt, he or she will be very likely to prey on it."

When I read this section of the book, I took a big sigh. For some reason, even after many years as an adult, and even in my youth, this was a tremendous aha for me. 

This particular section is helpful for navigating situations in which a colleague bullies intentionally or unintentionally, but isn't clear about the boundaries, and how to effectively deal with either situation. From the get-go it begins with setting clear emotional boundaries. Begin by seeking out allies you trust, then remember to not be sucked into the drama created by the bully. As well, confront the behavior head on after you have taken a deep breath, but don't wait too long. Sometimes this is an opportunity to strengthen a relationship based on a misunderstanding, and in other scenarios, it clearly states to the bully, you may be nice, but you are not weak and will not tolerate such behavior. Lastly, document the facts of each incident should you need to talk to a supervisor. 

10. Negotiate Effectively, by Playing to Your Strengths

When you marry reason and emotion, studies have shown that you are more likely to be successful, as a woman, receiving the wage, the contract, the [fill in the blank item you are seeking]. 

When it comes to reason, understand your value. In other words, what skills, expertise, etc. do you bring to the table, and how valuable is your time. Also, do your homework, and have the data ready to demonstrate what you want those you are speaking to to recognize. As well understand all of the options for improving your success (not only salary, but stock options, bonuses, schedule, vacation time, other bonuses such as memberships to gyms, etc. and maybe even four day weeks during the slow time of the year). 

On the emotional side, being nice has its benefits, and this is one. Most likely you are observant of others and what makes them happy, what makes them upset, the best times during the day to talk to them, etc. I can remember a principal I used to work for, and early on in my career, the vice principal always advised to speak with him in the afternoon as he was not a morning person. This was helpful and it made me realize, that we are all human, and if we want the best outcome, it would be best to talk with the individual or individuals at the time of day they are more inclined to be awake and open-minded. 

At the core is to have confidence in ourselves, to know we are worthy of asking for fair and equal pay, and to not feel bad for asking for what we know we are worth.

11. Create filters at work

Protect your time. Once you know what your priorities are at work, where you are most needed and valued, and where you can contribute the most, delegate the rest or filter it out completely. 

12. Devise a schedule that elevates your productivity

Part of being both nice and productive is setting clear boundaries around when you will do certain tasks and communicating this effectively to others. Perhaps it is when you will check your email during the day (this is you communicating to yourself as much as it is others), or maybe it is when you will be scheduling meetings and for how long. Be clear about what is necessary to be productive and then communicate your availablity.

13. Become comfortable with saying no to respect your productivity and schedule

Hauser calls it the skill of the "kind No". And again, this is playing to the strengths of someone who is nice, but it is also exhibiting the strength that is necessary to be clear about what you can and cannot do. People will inevitably ask, and that is okay. But what needs to become okay with you is saying no. So long as you do so thoughtfully, and honestly (this doesn't mean you have to share in detail why you cannot say yes), you have been respectful and they can now seek out someone else to help them. 

Petit Plaisir

~Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat - Netflix

~Cook and food writer, Samin Nosrat (check out her website)

~Inspired by her book of the same name Salt Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (2017)

https://youtu.be/2oKbs4jAf7M

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Direct download: 231NiceCareer.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Faith Salie's recent commentary on Breaking News and its meandering into becoming of lesser and lesser importance for the viewers to be interrupted sparked my attention when Salie offered a simple suggestion: more depth, less drama. 

As soon as she said it, my ears and mind perked up. 

What a simple approach to living well. An approach to welcome more substance, less stress, more enjoyment, less unnecessary conflict and more tranquility and less anxiety.

Could it really be that simple? 

Let's start with the drama we unnecessarily welcome into our lives and what we might potential replace it with to improve the quality of our everydays:

1. Viewing Entertainment

Less . . . 

  • drama on the television shows, reality programming or films that further perpetuate stereotypes, harm, violence or simplification and/or misguided problem resolution.

More . . . 

  • depth offered in exploratory programming, documentaries, well-written, thought-provoking plots that include well-developed characters and unique storylines. Reality programming that exhibits teachable skills and positive relationship styles.

~This & That: October 19, 2018 - Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

2. Conversations

Less . . . 

  • dramatic conversations such as superficial, assumptive and unfounded chitchat such as gossip, judging, and labeling simply for the sake of having any conversation. 

More . . . 

  • depth of thought that elevates the conversation, observes possibilities and suggests solutions to frustrations. 

3. Daily Routine

Less . . . 

  • drama provoked by stretching ourselves too thin when it comes to our schedule, our budget, our emotional well-being.

More . . . 

  • depth of reasoning behind the decisions we make that become the framework of our lives - our routines, our relationships, our monetary expenses and investments. 

~18 Ways to Simplify Daily & Weekly Routines

~Archived TSLL posts on Relationships

~Archived TSLL posts on Money

~Today's image is a glimpse of one of my favorite weekly routines as shared on Instagram - Sunday morning

4. Self-Awareness

Less . . . 

  • drama caused by poor engagement with others and letting our worries spill into other areas of our lives. 

More . . . 

  • depth of awareness to recognize when we need a "timeout" to recharge, rest, recalibrate and decide how we will positively address any situations in our lives that are causing us stress so that it doesn't bleed into other areas of our life unconsciously. (check out episode #227 for ideas on Self-Care)

5. Understanding Priorities

Less . . . 

  • drama provoked by unsolicited responses and commentary on every little event that occurs at work or in your life.

More . . . 

  • depth of recognition when it comes to your priorities as you identify which events/conversations requires your engagement and your finite energy. Contribute to conversations that are of importance and you feel you have something unique and positive to offer, otherwise let those who do feel invested in the conversation work through the matter at hand without you. 

~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145

6. Friendships & Relationships

Less . . . 

  • dramatic friends or individuals in your life that thrive off of stress, exhaustion, games or manipulation.

More . . . 

  • depth of character and integrity in the individuals you choose to spend time with. Sincerity, a healthy sense of self and kind offering of one's time and energy.

7. Mastering of One's Mind

Less . . . 

  • drama stirred up in your own mind needlessly due to the inability to master your thoughts, note them and move forward without being hampered by their attempt at distraction or self-doubt.

More . . . 

8. Boundaries

Less . . . 

More . . . 

  • depth of clarity by clearly communicating your boundaries through words and actions. We end up teaching others how we expect to be treated, what we will tolerate and what will never be acceptable not with our words alone, but also how we allow others to speak and treat us. The gift we give ourselves by being aware of how boundaries can be conveyed is that often we avoid drama all together by exemplifing ourselves as a person of self-respect. 

~A Powerful Couple: Vulnerability & Boundaries, episode #126

The beauty in choosing a life of depth over drama is that we won't even fully be aware of the drama we have avoided by living a life of depth because we no longer entertain it as an option. And that is what gives us more energy, more time and more space to spend our lives doing what we love, investing in what we care about and building relationships that we want to welcome and strengthen in our lives. 

Petit Plaisir

~Destination Wedding

~read the interview with the writer and director Victor Levin (writer for Mad About You, 5 to 7) which appeared in The Washington Post

https://youtu.be/TjXQzRWmb_I

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~Image: One of my favorite weekly routines is captured - Sunday morning breakfast and reading material (via IG)

Direct download: 230DepthDrama.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Autumn brings many revelations and rewards. From the harvest of bountiful fruits and vegetables that have been waiting for months to reach their peak of flavor to the brilliant turning of colors seen in the leaves and needles from deciduous and the rare deciduous conifer trees (American Larch or Tamarack). 

Autumn also reveals how well taken care of, how attentive we have been, to said crops and woods to enable them to reach this seasonal stage of harvest naturally and offer their full expression.

As it pertains to each of us, we too are on a journey of self-discovery if we choose to be. I was recently listening to Ina Garten in a conversation she had with Katie Couric about her career with food, and at one point, she offers the advice of looking to our youth, perhaps as young as our early childhood to be reminded of what fascinated us. For her, it was cooking and baking, something she enjoyed as a young child, but not something encouraged in her family.  This something for Ina wasn't heeded until she was 30, at which point she opened her speciality grocery Barefoot Contessa, and then at thet age of 50 wrote her first cookbook. 

As I have shared in the past, timing plays a role in our lives, and so too does the tenacity to remain curious about discovering our deepest and most sincere truths.

Truths such as why you enjoy the company you enjoy versus the company that never quite leaves you inspired or perhaps worse. Truths such as what sparks your laughter, deepens your joy and elevates your motivation to try something new. 

The editor of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalistic endeavor that broke the Watergate investigation in 1973, Ben Bradlee is well known for a simple phrase, "The truth emerges". And while yes, he is speaking more specifically about investigative reporting, I have experienced it to be true in the journey of life as well.

If we examine the significant decisions that have led us to where we are today, at the time, we may not have known with deep, insightful clarity why we were drawn to a particular college, a particular person, a certain hobby or destination on the globe, but if we take the time to thoughtfully examine in hindsight, the powerful ahas as to why may become more crystalized. 

I began to do this for myself regarding why I prefer to live on my own, and have my entire adult-life after undergrad. It has taken me nearly 20 years to understand this truth for myself. 

That's the key - for ourselves. We cannot take someone else's truth and apply it to our lives. In a way that is plagiarizing, and no one can ever truly be appreciative of a life that is not sincerely constructed. Yes, we can absolutely gain inspiration from others' lives, but then we must apply that inspiration to the individual that we are.

The truth I came to see with unwavering clarity was that as a young girl, being busy was valued, and being still not so much. Only with a few select people was enjoying my own company allowed (being able to be silent while together with another is truly one of the most comforting aspects of a partnership or friendship for me). And even fewer still accepted not only my being with my own company, but truly being who I am. Which is why I have curated a life where I can be exactly who I am when I am at home and let my creativity dance as it wishes. The truth, in this lesson, truly has been liberating. 

So how can each of us encourage the truth to come forth? Live consciously. 

Living consciously doesn't mean you have to examine every little detail of your life to death, but it does ask of you one of the fundamental premises of living simply luxuriously - make sure you aren't being led around by the nose. What draws you to the decisions you are making? Is it you intrinsically, or is it external influence? Ask yourself, what brings you peace? What brings you joy? As well, what brings you pleasure? 

There are many factors in life that we can neither control or influence, but we can learn to recognize more confidently opportunity and information that will help us live our lives more authentically. But we can only do this if we are paying attention, listening and letting go of expectations. 

The truth of who we are and who we will become is forever emerging as we are dynamic individuals full of more potential than our limited perspectives can imagine at this moment. But so long as we are striving forward, so long as we remain curious, new aha moments will cross our paths as more truth is given. So why not keep exploring, keep applying what you learn and with each piece of information you gather, your world becomes more enriching, more enjoyable and more inspired as others observe you growing and thus blossoming. 

SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Be Exactly Who You Are?

~The "How" of Tailored Simplicity

~3 Simple Steps to Designing Your Best Life

Petit Plaisir

~In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the CIty of Light by Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide

~similar books - How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are (the podcast episode inspired by the book - 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile, episode #4

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #229
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Podbean

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Direct download: 229TruthEmerge.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

Home sweet Parisian home, whether you live in Paris or not. 

Ines de la Fressange is stepping into the sanctuary with her new book Maison: Parisian Chic at Home (see my profile posts of her previous style books here, here and here), and along with her co-author Marin Montagut, they are both taking readers inside their own homes in Paris as well as inside 13 other Parisian apartments (the founder of Sézane, the duo behind the French decor and candle company Astier de Villatte, just to name a few).

With the opportunity to review a copy prior to its release just this past Tuesday, my decor curiosities are deeply inspired as while there are many reoccurring themes that must be Parisian go-to decor ideas, there was much reaffirming of the ideas I saw this past summer both in Paris, but also throughout the countryside. Many of which are simple and inexpensive ways to add your signature style to your sanctuary whether you rent or own. 

I have created a list of 21 decor ideas found throughout the book, and if more than just a couple of these ideas speak to you, I highly recommend picking it up as the photography by Claire Cocano is intimate and brilliant, and the insights from the homes' inhabitants are insightful and offer even more creative ideas. 

Most importantly, and this was something I spoke with a handful of people while I was in France, the goal with Parisian and even French decor, is not about achieving perfection. Rather it is about creating a sense of bienevue (welcome) to whomever enters, a sense of ease and the ability to live and live well amongst the four walls (and perhaps a terrasse). From the details of essentials in the kitchen, to the touch of the outdoors with ubiquitous bud vases, simple, thoughtful decor takes time and is unique to each individual who lives in a space. 

1.Welcome a variety of textiles

Velvet, linen, hemp, damask silks are recommended by Ines de la Fressange for use on cushions, mattress toppers and other details about the home. 

2. Add the light of candles

Recently a reader asked about my favorite candles, and I am happy to share. I couldn't agree more with this decor suggestion as while having flattering and welcoming light from lamps is a wonderful idea, the natural movement of a flame is a lovely complement. Below is a list of my favorite candles:

3. Use your "Sunday-best" tableware every day of the week

Whether the handmade ceramics you love or the treasures you found at a brocante while traveling or a secondhand shop by perusing, use them and enjoy how the presentation when you sit down to dine elevates the flavor (it really can!).

4. Collect old, slender glass bottles for single cut flowers

I am gradually adding to my collection and loving what I am finding. And even better, it saves money as you don't have to buy a full bouquet.

5. Use straw or raffia baskets (French market totes) in various sizes for storage

In the book, you'll see a picture of Ines' home closet in which she has multiple baskets storing socks (large), make-up and accessories (small).

6. Collect tools of your creative craft

Painter and co-author of Maison: Parisian Chic at Home, Montagut, collects painter palettes and arranges them into a collection or scene in his living space. Often found at garage sales for pennies, they would certainly provide much conversation and color in a home. 

7. Keep your eyes open for details to add to your home

Perhaps it is an old farm door to add to your kitchen épicerie or tiles for a backdrop, you never know when a unique and signature find will be discovered. 

8. Create a backdrop for everyday life

As shared about Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte's apartment - their decor approach, is to welcome antiques (they need not always be expensive, perhaps more readily found in Europe, but such can be the case here in the states - secondhand shops often have many gems) and create a reading nook, a welcoming kitchenette, use beautiful ceramic dishes for everyday uses such as displaying fresh fruit, etc. to elevate the everyday experience.

9. Choose vintage lighting fixtures

I tend to always look up and around when I enter a space and upon seeing signature lighting fixtures cannot help but smile. It is the attention to such details that reveals something lovely about the inhabitant that tended to the decor. 

10. Collect and pair or group demijohns

I saw many demijohns during my trip this past summer, and three of them were beautiful arranged in Sharon Santoni's cottage in which I stayed. Often they are sold with their wicker cover, but after removing the wicker, the green brilliance (there are many sizes and clear glass as well) adds a touch of life and elegance, as well as simplicity to a room.

11. Welcome handmade or handcrafted items into your home, especially your kitchen

While functional, these items are often quite beautiful and can be easily displayed for eyecatching decor. 

12. A wall with many mirrors for multiple perspectives

Multiple homes featured in the book had a wall or a portion of a wall full of many different sizes of mirrors - one in a bathroom and the other in a living room. 

13. Glazed terra-cotta jugs and carafes

Multiple purposes can be found in Provençal finds such as glazed terra-cotta jugs and carafes for wine, water and olive oil as they make a lovely presentation on the table as well. 

~Olive & Branch Profile post

14. White walls, colorful decor

Morgane Sézalory, the founder of Sézane (France's leading online clothing company - see my most recent post on their fall collection) swears by a white palette (walls, ceiling, etc.) and lets the rest of her decor be thoughtfully colorful. 

15. Collect vintage tableware and display it, don't hide it.

If you have plates, a tea/coffee set or anything made of ceramic or porcelain that you love, why not put it on display? Use it, of course as well, but when not in use, allow it serve as your decor as well.

16. Old wooden cutting boards are both functional and beautiful to display in groupings

Wooden cutting boards seem to be just about everywhere online - Food52, Esty, etc., and if you are looking for trays or additional surfaces to cut upon as well as serve food, this idea is a wonderful way to create a decorative touch as well as function on-demand.

17. Paint doors or window frames black and juxtaposed with green foliage

Depending upon the exterior or interior wall color, one apartment featured in the book had a beautiful black door with brilliant green wisteria draped about it during the summer months. The contrast was impressive. 

18. Multiple bud vases filled with seasonal foliage or blooms

Sharon Santoni demonstrated this idea beautifully in her guest cottage this summer, and it immediately captured my attention. I love the uniformity of having the same varietal, but each having their own vase.

19. One long, open shelf in the kitchen for everyday essentials

Depending upon the layout of your kitchen, and if you do not have cupboard space, adding a single, long, shelf above your cooking space with beautiful brackets to hold it place is a simple way to add decor and function. 

20. Select beautiful, simple glass storage containers for your food, and don't hesitate to use them as decor. 

As I shared this past January, German Weck glass jars in oodles of sizes and shapes were my winter investment as I organized my kitchen cupboards; however, any glass container with a lid can enable you to store beautiful your food. Keep your eyes open and mix and match.

21. Add a globe

According to the book, globes are making a comeback in the world of decor - small or large, with ornate stands or simple, artistic bases, if the addition of a globe speaks to you, now is definitely the time to start hunting for one.

Whether you are a Francophile or a lover of signature style in your home, as you can see, it is the individual's tastes that will make the home beautiful. Having grown up with a mother who would take me to garage sales, and on other treasure hunts for the home, I thoroughly enjoy the details that I have welcomed into my sanctuaries over the years. Along with travel, when we have patience with the process and refrain from buying the same thing everyone else is buying from a big brand store, we share a piece of ourselves with not only our guests who cross the threshold into our homes, but we remind ourselves on a daily basis what inspires us and thus keep our creative side perpetually piqued and comforted as well.

To pick up your own copy of Ines de la Fressange's new book, Maison: Parisian Chic at Home, click here

~View all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes here

~Tune in to TSLL's new vodcast - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter 

Petit Plaisir

~TSLL's French Cafe Jazz Playlist (no lyrics)

~The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 1 (Season 2 is coming soon!)

Trailer of Season 1

https://youtu.be/fOmwkTrW4OQ

Trailer of Season 2

https://youtu.be/483SfI1rpJ8

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #228
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sponsor of Today’s Episode

  • Le Mystere
    • the first 50 Simple Sophisticate listeners will receive a free Le Mystere makeup bag-
    • use promo code SIMPLE

Direct download: 228ParisianDecor.mp3
Category:decor -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

"Cozy living is about creating an atmosphere of warmth, contentment, and pleasure within your home and in your life. It is increasing your awareness of and focusing on embracing the simple, everyday moments to rise above problems, release stress, enjoy friends and family, and to appreciate all you experience." —Melissa Alvarez, author of The Simplicity of Cozy: Hygge, Lagom & the Energy of Everyday Pleasures

Over the weekend, I took a day to spend time doing simple activities I don't always have time to immerse myself in as the school year is in full swing. I took a day to exercise the important habit of being present, taking in the beauty of what was surrounding me and let myself feel what I felt.

For many people, the past week was a week of external events affecting our emotions in ways we may not have expected and thus were not prepared for. Add on top of that a busy week of regular to-dos, meetings, responsibilities, etc., and it may have become overwhelming.

During such weeks whenever they arise, but also when weeks are going well, tending to our self-care is essential. A few years ago on the podcast (episode #122) self-compassion was discussed as well as the seven benefits of choosing not to be our harshest critic, but rather being more gentle with ourselves as we do our best each day, which can be different depending upon the day. 

Part of having self-compassion is taking good care of ourselves, being aware of our emotional tendencies, being tough and persevering when necessary, but also respecting that with more self-care, the persevering becomes easier. In other words, simply pushing through without the self-care makes it all the more difficult and the quality of what we produce is often severely diminished. 

While I referenced this week as an example for making the effort to practice self-care, the practice itself is most effective when used preventively. In other words, by instituing regularly routines, rituals and choices into our everyday lives that elevate the quality, we are practicing self-care and thus elevating what we can endure and how well we work through any day that comes our way. 

Today I'd like to share with you 16 ways to welcome self-care into your everyday way of living. Some are as simple as what types of ingredients you use in your kitchen to cook your meals, while others pertain to your relationships, and even others your sanctuary and daily routine. Let's get started!

1.Buy Quality Butter - look for a high butter-fat count. Often these brands will be from Europe - Plugra, Kerrygold and many French butters. Spend a little more and improve the simple experience with everything you enjoy butter.

2. Make a delicious fall dessert (see today's Petit Plaisir for an idea that will melt in your mouth and is simple as apple pie.)

3. Let yourself wake up without an alarm clock.

4. Take a hot shower and just let the hot water run down your body - stand still, close your eyes and enjoy. 

5. Spend time in a bookstore or library.

6. Visit a winery or go wine tasting and enjoy sipping while gazing out upon the fall foliage.

7. Hire someone to clean your house, even if just once is all you can afford. Relish walking through the door and seeing an immaculately clean house asking nothing of you but to sit, relax and enjoy your space.

8. Purchase a luxurious candle, pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers, choose a movie you are curious to watch, either pick up your favorite take out or cook a wonderful comfort meal, and enjoy a truly luxurious solitary evening.

9. Sit outside at dawn or dusk or the middle of the day and just listen and watch the world, Mother Nature, the moment.

10. Cuddle with someone you love. 

11. Bring a small bud or bouquet of flowers into your bedroom.

12. Slip into linen sheets spritz with lavender linen spray and dive into a delicious book. 

13. Pick up a book that celebrates the seasons. I highly recommend Sharon Santoni's My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons

14. Plan a weekend away, even if just a town away where you can spoil yourself with mini adventures and dining adventures you have been eager to try. 

15. Eat a chocolate truffle at the end of the day and sip a lovely cup of tea. 

16. Soak in a hot bubble bath with your favorite tunes, candles lit and finish a good book. (I recently did exactly this and finished a delightful book on living in Paris.)

The gift of self-care is not only what it brings to us and enriches in our daily experience, but how it improves our daily interactions and relationships with others. We begin to become more aware of our own feelings and needs as we listen more closely, and as it is a muscle, we can be better to observe when others are in need of a breather, a rest or a boost as well.

When we invest in ourselves before the attention is needed, we avoid scenarios and situations we do not want to go through without realizing they may have occurred had we not been dutifully tending to ourselves on a regular basis.

Today examine when and what you'd like to do to welcome a few self-care practices into your daily and weekly routine. Enjoy planning and looking forward and when in the moment of these self-care practices, simply savor and soak in the needed nourishment. 

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Revel in Simple Pleasures? (two part series)

~The Hygge Phenomenon and Living Simply Luxuriously, episode #148

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

~What are people saying about TSLL's new venture into vodcasting? The Simply Luxurious Kitchen is an 8 episode video series where readers/listeners can now view Shannon cooking in her own kitchen sharing simple tips and ideas to elevate the everyday meal. Be sure to check out the most recent episode (episode #4) and enjoy the remaining 4 episodes each Saturday here on the blog until the end of October. 

Petit Plaisir:

~Apple Tarte Tatin

~View the detailed recipe here

~listen to my interview with Sharon Santoni as she talks about her latest book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons from which this recipe was inspired. 

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #227
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sponsors of Today's Episode

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    • use promo code SIMPLE for free shipping
  • Le Mystere
    • the first 50 Simple Sophisticate listeners will receive a free Le Mystere makeup bag
    • use promo code SIMPLE
  • Blinkist
  • RX Bar
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Direct download: 227SelfCare_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #226
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Imagine you are walking upon a balance beam in a gymnastics center. Imagine your core is tight, your shoulders are back, your chin is parallel with the beam and your legs are engaged. And your eyes are focused not down, but at your desired destination - the end of the beam. 

In this moment, you are engaging your full body and mind. You are breathing deeply and steadily. You are keeping your heartbeat calm and external noise and distraction is being ignored. With each step, it is thoughtful, it is with intention and your posture reveals confidence, yet ease. 

In good time, you reach the end of the beam without any significant wobbling.

I share this image with you because the key to control is to let go of trying to control it all. More precisely, the key to control is to recognize the only detail you can control is yourself, and everything outside of your being needs to be relinquished. The weather, the words and behavior of others, the outcome of a vote, whether someone - a boss, a potential friend, a date - will choose to return our call or offer us a job - is beyond your control.

So often we expend an enormous amount of time, worry and energy on trying to control others and outside circumstances that we no longer have energy to tend to what would make the most significiant difference - our emotional being, our mental muscles, etc. 

One of the few sports that is purely within the hands of the athlete as even the weather is not a factor is gymnastics. There are others such as swimming and figure skating, but today I'd like to use gymnastics because we're talking about balance without any accoutrements. It is purely the body and the mind working together.

Knowing what is in our control is important to navigating daily events that we cannot predict. 

  • How much you express appreciation verses complaining and worrying
  • Knowing your emotions and why you feel them - check out Dr. Gloria Wilcox's Feelings Wheel to narrow in on the specific emotion. (I talk more about how to use this wheel in the audio version of this episode).
  • Come to be aware of what triggers positive and negative responses. (Again, use the Feelings Wheel to understand why.)
  • Recognizing when you want to react and knowing when it would be best to instead not respond when requires of you to take some distance, collect your thoughts and then engage if it is necessary.
  • Understand what drains you
  • Understand what refuels you
  • How you manage your time
  • How you take care of your health - food, exercise, and mind
  • What you choose to learn and seek out per your curiosity
  • Decide to show up in a way that you feel proud of
  • Invest time into developing skills that will improve the quality of your life you wish to strength - relationships, communication, a technical skill, a social skill, a new craft that engages your interest
  • Solidify a way to move healthily through tense moments - do you forgive or do you harbor anger, do you move forward or do you remain in the past and stew?

When we understand that we cannot hold on tightly, but instead need to exude clearly our boundaries, but also the peace we have with ourselves, we free ourselves from worrying about being hurt by a partner, mistreated by a boss, or ignored by a child. 

There is no guarantee that we won't be hurt, that people won't disappoint us, but what it does do is put the ownness on each of us to front-load. What I mean by front-loading is we need to step into any relationship, situation, community, etc. without assumption of how others will behave. Instead we need to step forward with a clear understanding of how we will handle ourselves, how we will invest in building relationships, how we will invest in strengthening our mind so that when our thoughts are swirling, we can recognize this and understand we were triggered and now is not the time to speak, or conversely, I am prepared, I am calm and I am ready to speak with clarity and confidence knowing that not everyone will agree, but I shared what you feel needed to be known (just as an example).

Losing our balance will occur even to those of us who invest in controlling what we can and letting go of what we cannot. In those moments, we need to not blame the circumstances so much as our ability to be ready to handle it. For example, if we have said "yes" to too many events this week, and the seventh of seven outings during the week finds us short-tempered, exhausted and/or hyper-critical of others, if we are in tune with our emotions, if we know the difference between being well-cared for (self-care), we need not blame anyone outside of ourselves. This is just life's way of reminding us that we need to be conscious of our needs, understand the importance of saying no out of not only self-preservation, but self-care so that when we are involved, we can do so well and add a positive contribution. And when we model this, we help those that look to us care for what they have control over as well and not project their frustrations and exhaustion onto others. 

When we burden others with the responsibilty of making us happy, we are being unfair to them. But on the flip-side when we take responsibilty for developing the skills we can finesse so that we can enjoy our days and thus our lives no matter what is going on around us, we strength and put at ease those in our lives and model how to weather difficult patches as well as savor the goodness that life wants to share with us each and every day.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Learn more about TSLL's weekly newsletter here

~Tune in and view TSLL's new venture into vodcasting!!! The first two episodes of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen are available for viewing. Have a look here

Petit Plaisir:

~My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander

SPONSORS OF TODAY'S EPISODE:

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Download the Episode

Direct download: 226ControlParadox_copy_2.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

 

“Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” —Kristin Armstrong, three-time Olympic gold medalist - road cycling

 

As September arrives I find myself torn between the schedule I love during the summer months and the rigorous schedule I know that awaits me with school's commencement. 

 

It doesn't mean I don't enjoy what the new school year brings - new students, new connections, an energy of excitement and curiosity that is a large part of why I love teaching, but when any transition knocks on our door, if we are happy with where we are, it is hard to welcome it in. No matter what amazing opportunities it may be bringing as a hostess gift. 

 

In such a scenario where there is the gift of what we have loved and the potential for something awesome to be revealed as we go through the transition that is letting us know, that just the way it is, if we shift our perspective to one of gratitude, the moving through and forward becomes easier. 

 

How fortunate are any one of us to not remain stagnant? Think for a moment about a stagnant individual. They may feel safe, they may feel certain, but such certainty is false. After all, as children the reason it is imperative that we learn how to communicate, how to care for our bodies and feed our minds is to initially survive, but then to thrive and enrich our lives. This momentum, this way of life is a good way to live our entire lives. Why? Because the world never stops shifting, progressing and offering opportunities to improve. Never.

 

It can be tempting as adults when we think we have figured it all out to slow down, and even stop and just be. This is not to say we shouldn't relax from time to time, find a healthier balance, etc., but so long as a new generation is graduating, growing up and trying to find their place in the world, there will always be new ideas, and often, so long as we remain nimble, we can benefit from them as well, and even partake in the sharing of knowledge.

 

Part of a civilized society is knowing how to move and work together with a diverse breadth of people, and along the way enabling all to find their way without taking away the basic rights of any human being who is living consciously and respectfully of others. 

 

With all of this said, transitions can be scary or exciting, exhilarating and even full of learning opportunities. It is simply a manner of how we view them. Today I'd like to share with you eight ways to step into and through any transition that you may be confronted with at the moment, and even go so far as to embrace it. 

 

Grasp the reason for the difficulty

 

Psychologist Shannon Kolakowaki points out that a significant reason for the difficulty of any transition in which are lives are changing as we once knew them is because our identity, how we may have defined ourselves or were seen by others, is changing.

 

Recognize the power you are giving the transition to affect your emotions

 

Psychology Today reminds that there isn't a predefined type of transition that is harder than another. We give a transition the power of either being difficult or easy to maneuver through. In other words, our minds play a crucial role in how we approach the changes we are going through. 

 

If we choose to see the transition as an opportunity or a goal we have worked long and hard for, such change would be reason to become excited; however, if it is a change that is thrust upon us, we can drag our feet and make it even more difficult by fighting what is inevitable. 

 

Honor the transition

 

Any life transition, whether it is relocating to a new city, moving through a divorce or going through menopause benefits being recognized for playing a role in our life journey. As Sonia Choquette shared in our conversation about her own divorce after more than 20 years, she wasn't angry at her ex, but rather appreciative for the love and time that was shared, but also observant that it was time to move forward. 

 

One of the hardest transitions in nearly everyone's life has been found to be the relocation from a home we have felt safe in or found great peace. During such times of transition, pay homage in your own unique way in order to provide closure, but also to celebrate the time you spent and the memories that will forever be with you. 

 

Become a great student of the transition that awaits

 

When you know a transition is in your future, perhaps transitioning from college to a career or from a career to retirement, become a student of the transition you will inevitably go through. By learning all that you can, you maximize the experience, enabling it be as positive as possible.

 

Reflect and remind

 

Everyone goes through some type of transition throughout their lives, and often many. If we take a moment, we probably have moved through some transitions quite effortlessly because we didn't think twice or try to fight it. But on the flip-side, there were inevitably transitions we can remember vividly - during adolescence, making career changes, making relationship changes, making lifestyle changes.

 

As you go through the transition you are in at the moment or will be in due time, reflect on those transitions that went well for you. And even regarding those that were hard, assess why they were hard and how you can change what was in your control to improve the next transition in your life.

 

Celebrate the opportunity for a rebirth of sorts

 

Whether the transition is something you want or something you'd prefer not to have to go through, shift your perspective. Something as common as getting older, shift how you perceive "getting older". As we are seeing today, those in their fifties and sixties are far from what I recall of generations past in the same decade. With more knowledge, comes better ways of living and improving the quality of one's experience. In such an instance, celebrate all the experience and knowledge you have acquired and keep using those tools to learn more, explore more and enrich your life even more as well. 

 

Surround yourself with positive energy

 

Maybe you have children who are leaving home for college which opens up your schedule, maybe you are moving into a different line of work - taking on more responsibility, maybe you are returning from a life-changing experience and want to transition into a new way of living. Whatever your transition is, step fully into it and spend time with those who will support you along your new path.

 

As there will be times of excitement where new adventures and experiences have your full attention, there will also be times when you question what you have chosen to do (or if not chosen, question if you can be as happy as you once were). In these moments, having people that will be understanding of your journey, but not wallow and wax nostalgic about the past, wishing in some small way, that the way it was would return, is imperative to navigating successfully through these hiccups that are inevitable. 

 

The good news is that they will subside, but perhaps never entirely disappear. After all, that is a good thing, in my opinion, as it means your journey has been rich, memorable and deeply and intensely lived fully. 

 

Trust that what is not being revealed is worth seeing and experiencing

 

Even when we do step eagerly toward a new way of living, we can begin to doubt that we made the right decision. When in fact, what you are feeling is probably fear rather than doubt (read this post - The Difference Between Being Scared and Having Doubts). And if you are feeling fear, it is actually good sign as it an indication that you are indeed living a life that is true to your most authentic self. Why? Because what you are feeling in that moment is a deep ache for what you wish you attain, or a way of living you wish to make your own. If you didn't want it, if you didn't believe in it, you wouldn't be fearful that it wouldn't happen. 

 

The universe will not tell us how it will all work out. Nope, that is where faith in yourself, trust in your instincts about what is best for you and what you are willing to work for comes into play. 

 

Transitions are opportunities. If we shift our perspective to accept this, the journey through them becomes far easier to navigate and even at times quite pleasurable to enjoy. 

 

 

 

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

 

 

~The Simply Luxurious Kitchen has begun its first season! View the first episode here and tune in each Saturday morning during September and October for a new episode.

 

~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

 

Petit Plaisir:

 

~Visit your favorite local bakery to pick up a fresh loaf of bread for the week. 

 

Whether you enjoy toast in the morning (such as avocado toast), bread for sandwiches for lunch or bread with dinner, knowing it is homemade and a varietal you love welcomes a simple extra flavor to your week.

 

-my weekly fresh bread pick-up at a favorite local bakery in Bend (I often pick up my loaf bi-weekly as I freeze half of the loaf)~

 

~my favorite loaf from the bakery - Black Butte Porter - in use with my breakfast avocado toast (recipe here)-

 

Sponsor for Today's Episode:

 

 

 

 

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #225
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Direct download: 225Transitions.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

"One of the greatest challenges we all face is to find a happy balance between the opportunities that are available to us, the media-implanted urge to have them all, and our own desire to keep focused on the things that really matter." —Elaine St. James in Living The Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More

Momentum is a powerful source of energy, and even though I am far from being a physicist, I understand the basic concept that since all objects have mass, and if an object is moving, it will have momentum, thus power/energy.  We are objects of energy when we keep our schedules and lives running. 

Whatever pace you are moving at currently, if it is a pace you have become accustomed to for some time, it is easier to keep moving along at this pace than it is to slow down, even to speed up. 

As we begin Season 5 of the The Simple Sophisticate podcast today (check out the full schedule of episodes here), many of us are stepping back into a full schedule, or at least one slightly different from the previous season. Whether it is simply a busier schedule due to clients and staff returning from their holidays, or perhaps you as well, the pace tends to pick up, and if we aren't careful or conscious, we can move along with this energy without realizing that it may not work well for the balance we know is best. 

Now, granted, the pace you are stepping back into may be something you relish and works well; in this case, savor it, but simply be conscious of the energy that rolls forward and is easy to become swept up in without our being aware. 

If, however, the pace that fall (or the new season) brings is something you wish to shift, to improve, I have some ideas about how to instill a new pace of momentum that works best for your life. 

For the third time I read Elaine St. James' Living the Simple Life (1996), and it was upon reading it this summer that a few ideas she shared jumped out at me that had not previously. Most predominantly, taking a full month to live your life differently as a way to assess what you really need and determine what is helpful and what is actually hindering the quality of your life. 

As I read this, I recognized my own experience having had the opportunity to travel in France for an entire month this summer. During this time, as I shared in a couple of blog posts (Doubt the Default: How My Trip to France Woke Me Up, episode #218 and Why Not . . . Let Your Brain Calm Down?), the clarity I gained about what was helping and was was obstructing the quality of my life was illuminated. But upon reflection, it was the duration of the trip that enabled this to be more readily recognizable. 

Partly, this was because after spending four weeks in another culture, you are more acclimated than you realize, and so upon returning, there is an element of shock to your system (at least there was for me due to my fondness for the French culture). However, I am confident that we do not need to 'get away' to another country to have the same experience. 

As a teacher, each summer I feel I am given this opportunity to reassess what is working and what isn't, but it is my choice to reflect and then put into place the changes I realize would be beneficial. So here's the challenge and the opportunity - for one entire month, make one, some or all of the following changes to your lifestyle as inspired by Elaine St. James and my own experience and observations to free up more time in your life to do what you love or do nothing at all, simple to relax, sleep more, dream more, savor time with loved ones more, simply live as you please. With the month's conclusion, take an hour or a morning or an afternoon and reassess to see what differences (positive or negative) you experienced. 

  • Arrive at work either earlier or later than you do now, and then either stay earlier or later than you do now. In other words, shift when you are at work to try to find more productive hours, but do not stay longer than you currently do in total. 
  • Get up an hour earlier. While this may require of you to go to bed earlier, observe how the day begins when you give yourself breathing room to savor having more control in how you set the tone for the day. Remember it's just for one month.
  • Stop watching the news. While this doesn't mean you don't have to stay informed as you can read or listen to the news, observe how no longer being the passenger when it comes to news viewing affects your attitude, assumptions and stress levels. But you may want to take it step further and . . . 
  • Stop reading or listening to the news (just for one month!) to see what differences may arise due to the absence of perpetual information.
  • Change your exercise regimen. If you work out regularly in the afternoon, try working out in the mornings and observe how you go about your day and what it feels like to have the evenings free. If you attend classes in the morning, try taking them in the evening instead. 
  • Turn off the television. (posts to read - Why Not . . . Watch Less Television? and Why Not . . . Master the Television?)
  • Take a couple of personal or sick days.
  • Talk to your boss to restructure your work days (just for one month) to four 10 hour work days instead of five 8 hour work days if this is an option. 
  • Spend an entire weekend without making/attending any social or family commitments and give yourself permission to just do what speaks to you. If you can do this for more than one weekend during this month of assessment, you might begin to see helpful trends of what refuels and replenishes you. 
  • Eliminate all shopping except necessities such as groceries and vital personal items. 
  • Don't feel obligated to clean each week. Instead pick up each day as you go and clean every other week. Observe at the end of the month if this is possible. 
  • Take a bath when the mood strikes - morning, middle of the day, etc.
  • If possible, give yourself a long window of no appointments right after lunch as your energy begins to recharge from the fuel of food and the midday break. (This book, which was a Petit Plaisir in episode #194, explains the timing of our days and when we are most productive.)
  • Simplify meals - use the capsule menu approach. Make sure your épicerie is stocked and challenge yourself to shop and cook seasonally.
  • Stop using social media on designated days (the weekend) or every evening after [select a time]. Be stricter than you might think you will do after the month; by doing so, you will be able to see if you actually notice a positive difference in your mood, time saved, etc.
  • Stay off the phone (texting or talking) except for emergencies for the entire month for making plans to meet in person. Sounds extreme, but often we welcome more internal stress with the conversations we have that are not face to face. Yes, a work-around is to use social media, but if this at all sounds tempting (to go text and talk-free), take the challenge and observe any differences in your stress levels. Potentially the quality of conversations may improve as you spend more time face-to-face.  
  • Spend a weekend or a day (or even just an afternoon) somewhere that will feel like an escape from the old habits that you are trying to tweak. Upon traveling to this destination, turn the phone off and be fully present, engage, revel and celebrate. Observe what feels good about where you are and the pace of the day(s). 

Initially this list may seem impossible, but remember, it is only for one month, AND choose what piques your interest. Again, remind yourself as you begin the month with anything that may be difficult, It is only for one month. 

For one month I didn't watch the news, and by doing this, it made it far simpler to return to the states and not turn it on at home. As I mentioned last week, how I have adjusted is to watch the NBR (Nightly Business Report) and read a daily brief each morning. Anything else is quite jarring to me, far more than I recognized prior to my trip. The key for the changes you seek to become more comfortable is to give yourself this one month of practice or living or doing without. This is where momentum comes into play. It is very hard to shift gears as behaviors become habituated, even behaviors that are not helpful. And so when we initially begin to change the habit or behavior, we think the difficulty is due to it not being what is best. However, in truth, it is simple science - anything new, any shift of energy is slow and awkward until it gets going at a good and steady pace. Give yourself the full month to make the shift and redirect your momentum.

When we discover that the blue sky was deeply blue today, far more than it was last week, we realize the pace we had been living previously was not allowing us the ability to be present, to observe and to appreciate. Such appreciation is part of improving the quality of our lives. And when we return after the month we challenged ourselves to above and begin to watch some television for example, we do so more discerningly, more thoughtfully, as we now recognize that indeed what we watch indirectly affects our emotions. 

May in one month's time, you have more free time and therefore a life of increased quality. 

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

~Learn more and sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

~TSLL Fall Shopping Guide 2018 was just released this past weekend. 

~Saturday September 8th - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast debuts its first season!

Petit Plaisir:

~The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film on Netflix

  • Based on the international bestselling novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and completed by her niece Annie Barrows when Mary Ann passed away in 2008. (2009)
  • Click here to learn more about Mary Ann Shaffer's inspiration for the novel. 
  • Lily James from Downton Abbey (Lady Rose Aldridge) stars as the protagonist, writer Juliet Ashton

https://youtu.be/vP9eDmX0ow0

Sponsors of Today's Episode:

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #224
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Podbean
Direct download: 224OneMonthSimplicity_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:31pm PST

 

Next Monday, on September 3rd, the fifth season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast will begin.

 

The first four seasons have covered topics on living your best life, whether that was about self-care, lifestyle, health, decor, travel, relationships, or anything that involves living the simply luxurious life, bien sûr! With now 223 episodes complete, of which there were 22 interviews with guests from the around the United States and France. And of course, each episode concluded with a Petit Plaisir - anything that is a simple pleasure to satiate your sophisticated taste. I look forward to continuing into the fifth season with the same approach - more inspiration for cultivating true contentment, more ideas for building the skills that will enable you to be your best self and reach your fullest potential, all the while sharing insights into discovering how to elevate the everyday each day. As well, more guests, and at the end of each episode -  a Petit Plaisir!

 

Regarding potential guests in the fifth season, if there is an author, a musician, an artist, an entrepreneur or simply an inspiring person you feel The Simple Sophisticate should be introduced to or you want to hear on the podcast, email me and I will do all that I can to invite them onto the show. 

 

And now to Season 5! 

 

As I mentioned in episode #221 and #222, the new season will offer 30 episodes (in previous seasons, 52 episodes were aired).  The reason for the shift in amount of episodes . . .

 

  • I want to ensure I continue to bring you a quality episode each time I press record.
  • In May and August, multiple episodes will potentially air during the annual British and French Weeks that will occur each year. Check out the recent French Week round-up of posts and podcast episodes here
  • As you will see below, two months - April and July - will not air new episodes. The reason for this is in April, due to my teaching of AP courses - this is crunch time and I need to give more time to grading and ensuring my students are prepared for the exam in May. In July, the reason for the podcast holiday is I will be producing the new season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast which will premiere each season in September (and hopefully traveling to capture some footage for the videos). 
  • Each Monday, as listeners and readers have become accustomed, there will ALWAYS be a post to offer inspiration to kick off the new week. So even if a new episode doesn't air on that particular Monday, there will ALWAYS be a new post, so be sure to stop by the blog (just as there is today - be sure to stop by the blog for a new post). 

 

Season 5 Schedule

 

Below you will find the week-by-week schedule of when new episodes will air. You will see podcast Mondays are circled in blue. You can print this schedule out by clicking here or by clicking on the image below.

 

Print save the pdf of the 2018/19 schedule

 

The TOP 10 Episodes from Season 4 based on # of downloads:

 

  1. #196 - Top 10 Style & Beauty Tips Learned from the French
  2. #188 - 18 Secrets & Lessons from the French Culture to Begin 2018
  3. #189 - Jamie Cat Callan's Parisian Charm School: Love, Life & Savoring It All
  4. #193 - 7 Ways to Become Who You Were Truly Meant to Be
  5. #190 - To Get & Stay Fit: Keep It Simple
  6. #191 - Ask Shannon: Paris Travel Attire, Savvy Investment Shopping, Simple Weekday Dinner Ideas & Totes
  7. #186 - How to Let Go of Self-Imposed Limitations
  8. #184 - 16 Ways to Simplify and Make the Holiday Season Pleasurable
  9. #208 - How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life
  10. #182 - David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home

 

~Find all of the podcast episodes here (on the blog), iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Podbean or Youtube. And if you enjoy tuning in and listening to The Simple Sophisticate, I would appreciate your time to share a review on whichever platform you listen. By sharing what you specifically enjoy about the podcast, new and potential listeners will discover exactly what they will find when they tune in. For everyone who has already shared, I want to thank you, as well, as I try to regularly share one review each week upon receiving them as a small way of expressing my appreciation. 

 

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit today's Monday Motivational post (as promised, even though there isn't a new episode of the podcast, there is a new post to help start the week well!). Until then, I'll see you in Season 5!

Download the Episode

Direct download: Season5Schedule.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

 

“The French have a special word for it, La Rentrée; in English it is simply referred to as ‘Back to school’. However we choose to call the September post-vacation return, and no matter how far our schooldays are behind us, few would deny that this really is the moment in the year that shouts ‘new beginnings’, ushering in a renewed sense of resolve and purpose that has far more potency than any January resolution. As grown-ups, the brand new pencil case and shiny new pair of school shoes that signal a fresh start are replaced by the new-season updates that we hope will deliver so much more than just the latest look: the confidence-boosting coat, that uplifting new shade of lipstick . . . But it really is the change of attitude that matters most, the yearning to be smarter, more balanced – in short, the eternal quest to finally get life ‘right’.” – Lucy Yeomans, editor-in-chief Porter magazine

 

The attitude we approach anything with undeniably plays a role in how successful the endeavor we are embarking on will play out, and while here in the states businesses don’t shut down entirely for the month of August or July as well sometimes as they do in France, when Labor Day travel winds down, there is a shift in everyday routines, expectations at work and at school, and a mental shift is expected to occur.

 

The French expression “À la rentrée” is loosely translated to “See you in the fall!” (literally translated to “at the return”), but it is understood September is the date at which all will return – from their extended vacations, from their respite from school, from everyday expectations and regular activity that occurs the other 10 or 11 months out of the year. 

 

Studies have shown, repeatedly that taking the time to literally get away from work, putting down the technology and truly being on vacation can have highly beneficial effects on the brain. When we allow our brains to rest and think freely – problems magically seem to have solutions, creative ideas spring up like daffodils in early spring and we are renewed and reenergized.

 

So no wonder the French celebrate the return from their vacations. September and thereafter offers an opportunity to put our best self forward, to, as the quote above states, ‘finally get it right’. And while nothing will ever be perfect, improving and fine-tuning will always continue to bring different results than if we did the same thing over and over again.

 

Over the past handful of years, I have written posts to help ensure a strong fall. With one short list here, and another short list there, some of them shared a few similarities, while also offering new ideas. However, none of them have been a podcast episode, and now I have a few more items I would like to add. So today, I’ve made a list of 23 ways we can all welcome the beginning of fall (or spring for my southern hemisphere readers!) with optimism, hope and the best possible path too living a more balanced and enjoyable everyday life. This is the actual list I look at each year (and as I mentioned, it is tweaked and improved each year as my life evolves), and I have organized into arenas of our lives: health, wardrobe, beauty, organization, sanctuary, and regular balance/tranquility. In some arenas, things may be moving along quite well, but perhaps in others we know we could improve. Home in on where areas you want to improve, and take a day, or a few hours in a quiet, relaxing setting to curate a life that excites you to wake up to each day. 

 

Overall Health (physical & mental - peace of mind included)

 

1. Ask yourself this question, “What has made my life more enjoyable these past 2-3 months?” or “What routines/habits have made my life easier, healthier and brought more contentment these past 2-3 months?”

 

Often when our schedule changes with the summer months, we unconsciously change our ways of living, ways that we love (or not so much as it will depend upon the individual). However, I have a feeling, you have a few habits that you will miss when the fall season begins. Ask yourself, and be honest, is there any way you can bring them into your year-round routine? Can or should you shift your priorities if it indeed is bringing so much joy and satisfaction into your life?  Remember, simply because we used to do something one way or do something at all, doesn’t mean we cannot stop and incorporate something more fulfilling. In fact, we should.

 

 

 

2. Create a default capsule weekly menu & establish a food shopping plan.

~Learn more about TSLL's seasonal capsule menus here (summer will be posted this Wednesday - August 22).

 

3. Stock your Épicerie

 

As I was taking my lunch break today, I was reminded that I needed to restock my favorite balsamic vinegar which reminded me that having our épicerie stocked and ready for whatever meal we’d prefer to cook is a simple thing to do now to enhance the seamless flow of a day that has little time to wiggle. Here is a post to remind you of the necessities to have on hand.

 

4. Plan a regular fitness routine that works with your daily work/school demands. Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. You don’t want to burn out and quit altogether. Remember it is consistency that will make the difference. So choose activities that blend enjoyment with challenge.

 

5. Balance your budget and know where you stand financially. Due to your schedule potentially changing, financial expectations may change as well, so know exactly where you are and how much you can spend.

6. Make appointments now

Just as our schedules change, so do the schedules of our doctors, dentists, aestheticians and other professionals we wish to make appointments with. While their schedules may have been more limited, but as well, with more availability during the summer months, often that changes in the fall. So why not be proactive, and design your schedule with what works best for you by making those appointments early?

 

Optimal Organization

 

7. Clean your home/office/bedroom/car thoroughly. It will simply make you feel better when you enter each and every time.

 

8. Purchase any necessary supplies for your office, desk and planner

 

9. Spruce up and stock up your handbag

 

Whether you have found your favorite go-to day handbag, take a few minutes, to clean out, and then restock for the new season. Chapstick, Tide-to-Go, hand lotion, breath mints, a favorite pen, anything to get you through your day – stock it up, and then toss the rest so that it is neat and tidy.

 

Wardrobe

 

10. Assess your wardrobe

 

On Saturday September 1st TSLL Fall Seasonal Shopping Guide will be posted here on the blog (no longer do you need to subscribe to receive it!). Full of splurge and save items when it comes to the new trends as well as many items I have hand-picked for your fall capsule wardrobe, knowing exactly what you need makes the shopping easier and brings fewer regrets. (Have a look at the 2018 Spring Shopping Guide here.)

 

~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe Boutique here to view the essentials for each season.

 

11. Take anything to the dry-cleaners that you’ll be wearing for fall (coats, tops, dresses, skirts, sweaters, etc)

 

Beauty

 

12. Stock up make-up supplies that are running low. Visit your make-up counter for make-up to try out the new fall products.

~Why Not . . . Automate It? 12 Ways to Improve the Everyday

 

13. Confirm and/or schedule your regular hair appointment

 

14. Plan/Schedule Beauty Routines and/or appointments. From the beauty routines you can do at home - pedicures and manicures, to the seasonal facials at your local spa to not only give yourself a luxurious hour or so to relax, but also help your skin, tend to these appointments is a way to feel and look your best, but also find a balance in your everyday routine.

 

Creating Regular Balance & Tranquility

 

15. Stock up or put together a home pampering kit (bubble bath, truffles, wine, candles, music, etc). There will be days when your heels are ready to be taken off, your mind is a jumble and emotional stamina has been exhausted. Be prepared in advance and have what you need to relax stocked and ready to go.

 

16. Do you have a travel coffee mug or water bottle that works? For only $15 make sure you have a reliable mug that you can take with you to meetings, lectures, on the commute to help you get your day started off right.

 

17. Create a morning routine to look forward to and set the right tone for the entire day.

~11 Ways to Start the Day 'Smart'

 

18. Create a bedtime ritual

 

The amount of sleep we receive each night is a strong determiner in the day we will have, so be cognizant to the small details that you have control over. You might be surprised of the significant benefits you will reap each evening when you turn in. A few things to try: remove the television and all technology (especially your phone), light a soothing scented candle (lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, or sandalwood) – this is my favorite as it has a fantastic scent and lasts for 60 hours, write in a gratitude journal to end your day on a positive note, meditate (find out how & why here), or read a book.

 

19. Order or Check-Out/Put on Hold Reading Material to Enjoy

 

I can’t wait for the time to snuggle in when it’s raining out or I’ve wrapped up my to-do list, and dive in. A true simple luxury. And since now I have the time to peruse and put them on my wish list, I can rest-assured I will always have reading material to enjoy.

 

20. Pick up a journal

 

As I mentioned above, the daily ritual of writing in a gratitude journal is a simple idea to end the day on a positive note. And even if you’ve had one of those days, there really are things to be grateful for – check this list if you find yourself at a loss for what to write down. Simply taking note of positive events (or non-events – the car didn’t break down!), can be a wonderful reminder that things are going better than we might have first thought.

 

Create a welcoming sanctuary

 

21. Visit your local nursery

Fall plants will begin appearing at nurseries to finish the blooming season – check out mums, daisies and sunflowers. Add a few to your porch or vases throughout the house.

 

22. Look closely at your home's decor

Perhaps you traveled this summer, or maybe you attended a course in which you saw personal growth and a shift in what you value and/or love. Welcome in who you now, let go of what no longer inspires you, and create a space that best reflects you and welcomes you home as well as you guests. 

 

 

 

Putting It All Together

 

23. Set your intention

 

Often when a yoga class begins, one of the reminders at the beginning of our session is to set our intention – what do we wish to receive or achieve by attending class – do we want to push ourselves further, do we simply just want to make it through class, do we want to be more aware of staying focused and letting go of outside thoughts – whatever our intention is, it is ours. So what will your intention be for the fall season and beyond?

 

Choose one, write it down and reflect upon it from time to time. Create daily rituals and habits that help this intention become your reality. I think you will be surprised that what you focus on, you are more likely to create – much like the attitude we bring to any new venture or beginning. If we’re excited, that excitement spreads and invigorates, but if we’re leery or cynical, moments of wonder are less likely to be enjoyed and discovered.

 

Wishing you a lovely start to a beautiful new season, and thank you for stopping by.

 

~PODCAST NEWS: Season 5 will begin on Monday September 3rd, and the new schedule for Season 5 will be shared right here on the blog on Monday August 27th in lieu of a podcast episode. Don't worry, there will always be a motivating post to kick off your work week - right here on TSLL blog. I will explain the entire schedule (there will be 30 new episodes in the coming 12 months) and share specific dates when episodes will air. Looking forward to another season and so tickled we have had such an amazing four years!

 

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

 

~11 Ways to Start Your Day "Smart"

 

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

 

 

~11 Steps to a Fresh Start

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

 

Petit Plaisir:

 

Mini Portable Chargers

 

 

 

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #223
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Direct download: 223BackToSchool.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #222
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

 

 

The Earful Tower podcast is hosted by Australian journalist Oliver Gee. Kicking off in early 2017, The Earful Tower is a weekly, seasonal show primarily based in Paris documenting Oliver as he learns about all things French. 

 

Currently kicking off his fourth season, he and his bride Lena will be venturing outside of Paris on their honeymoon for at least six weeks, and in fact, their Tour de France (aka Le Tour de Amour) will follow the route that may curiously take the shape of a heart. And yes, they are aware of this fun fact. :) 

 

 

Oliver and his wife Lena on their wedding day earlier this month.

 

Have a listen to our conversation, get to know Oliver, find out where and how that now quite famous red scooter of his came to be a part of his life, and if he had a motto what it would be. 

 

There's that red scooter! 

 

Check out The Earful Tower podcast:

 

 

The Earful Tower's Guide to Paris

 

French Week 2018 – Posts So Far . . .

 

 

Guests Who Stopped By for a Conversation:

 

 

Traveling to France

 

 

Shopping French Products

 

 

Extra French Posts

 

 

Giveaways (enter by August 18)

 

 

TSLL’s 3rd Annual French Week continues through August 19th with at least two posts per day. À bientôt!

 

~Catch up on all of TSLL’s French-Inspired posts here and French-inspired podcast episodes here.

Direct download: 222OliverGee.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #221
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

 

"The endless challenge no matter where any of us lives is to choose what we take from all that our surroundings have to offer and put it together in a way that creates our own happiness. I am so glad I was willing to take it on. A person doesn't have to move to Paris to live an authentic life, and may not have to move at all. But we each do have to let go of what isn't working for us; face our deepest fears; ask for help; and be messy, vulnerable and willing to give up being in control." —Sonia Choquette, author of Waking Up In Paris

On today's podcast, author and spiritual teacher of more than 30 years Sonia Choquette joins me to talk about her new memoir Waking Up in Paris:  Overcoming Darkness in the City of Light from her home for more than three years, Paris. 

Diving into what prompted her to move from Chicago to Paris in early 2015, as well as settling into a new community, let alone a new country, Sonia talks honestly about being patient, enjoying her own company, slowing down and the process of reinvention and transformation. 

Discover more about Sonia on her website and social media locales:

~Update: Episode #222 will air this Saturday with a guest from Paris joining us. Be sure to tune in!

~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter Subscription here

French Week 2018 – Posts So Far . . .

TSLL’s 3rd Annual French Week continues through August 19th with at least two posts per day. À bientôt!

~Catch up on all of TSLL’s French-Inspired posts here and French-inspired podcast episodes here

~SPONSOR of Today’s Episode:

Download the Episode

Image: TSLL Instagram

Direct download: 221SoniaChoquette.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #220
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

“It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others…Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companion’s questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity.” ― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

What if I lose my keys to my rental/car/etc. while I am traveling? No one knows me where I am. I am the only source of income - what if my wallet gets stolen? My passport? As a woman, is it really smart to travel alone? But I will be by myself - won't I become lonely? I don't want to eat alone the entire time - and I love to eat! Above are just a few of the fears I have heard from those contemplating or dismissing solo travel, and at times, some of those fears have danced in my own mind when jetlag was severe and my mind was not being mastered well. And while these are all natural fears to utter if you have never traveled alone, each can be assuaged and should be, after proper preparation, dismissed and not to be worried about. I have written extensively on this topic (see all of the posts at the bottom of this post), so I won't go in detail which has already been shared, but rather share a few thoughts on the wonderful opportunity and insights traveling alone provides the traveler. As I type, I have just returned from a month-long excursion throughout France, as many of you already know. But I am writing that as a reminder.  I would advise travelers who may have shaky nerves prior to traveling alone, even myself, to read this post before stepping on a plane for any future trips on our own. Why? Because even I, prior to traveling, especially if my schedule has been busy and harried leading up to the trip, will consider the worst-case scenarios. And every time I return from the trip, I recognize that doing so was energy wasted. All of my energy should be split between preparation and excited anticipation. After all, part of the gift of travel is the time leading up to the trip as studies have shown that it as well can increase our overall happiness. Traveling alone in many ways is a misnomer, as we are never completely alone if we consider our fellow travelers we find along the journey, Mother Nature, and conversations we have with loved ones when we check in from time to time if we choose to do so. The difference is we are never with the same person or persons the entire time which can not only provide variety, but as Alain de Botton shares above, free us from conforming in ways we often do unconsciously. Ironically, when I travel, my barriers tend to come down moreso than when I am at home in ways that allow me to relax and be more fully present. Now that doesn't mean I do not take precautions to protect myself for security purposes, but those are habit at this point when I travel as I have traveled alone for more than a decade and doing so is merely functional as opposed to the emotional barriers that tend to become activated when I am going about my everyday life. The truth is, it was travel that revealed to me this dichotomy of instinctual behavior based on geographical location which caused me to dive deeper into what made me keep my barriers up so adamantly. This examination led me to shift a few things in my everyday life - move away from some friendships, step more intimately into others, etc., and yet this is another example of how travel can improve our lives.

~My luggage for the return flight (one more bag was gained!)~

If we consider the headaches that we worry might happen by choosing to travel alone, most, if not all, could just as easily happen when we are traveling with someone or multiple someones. While yes, you will have at least two heads to solve the fiasco, you will also have two heads to step into a fiasco that could cause the headache in the first place. I guess what I am trying to say is that neither is better; they are just different. The common gift of traveling alone that is universally shared is that your confidence increases as you recognize you can do things you perhaps dismissed were possible previously. And this is true. As well, traveling alone, especially if I have not done so in a few years time, reminds me that I need to trust myself. Traveling alone clears away the cobwebs from my intuition, if I have not trusted it as much as I should have, and shows me that I need to stop doubting so often and instead calmly keep listening to its direction and striving forward. And most importantly, traveling alone brings me back to myself, centers me and shakes me awake if that is necessary.

~Looking up in Paris in late June: I find that when I travel on my own, my feet follow my eyes. Whatever catches my attention is where I often go, and I don't worry about leaving someone behind.~

Speaking of the shaken awake part. It has happened in the past that I was shaken, but not to a clear state of what to do upon returning; however, it was a start, and I chose to see it through, continued to shake upon returning until the cobwebs and learned behaviors that were not aligned with my authentic self finally fell away. Such a shedding doesn't always happen quickly, sometimes it has taken years, but if we keep 'shaking' so-to-speak, our truth emerges, and it is then that we look back at our travels with even more gratitude. And gratitude for having traveled alone. There are truths that I have only been able to experience because I was traveling alone. Partly because at different times in my life, I didn't have the confidence or support to speak up enough to those I was traveling with and say clearly what I would prefer to do or at least in a way that yielding an enjoyable experience. And sometimes I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I just followed what the alpha person suggested. But if I had been by myself on those journeys, I would have just followed my curiosities without worrying about what anyone else thought, when I was supposed to return, etc., which is exactly what I do now.

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

For me, traveling has led me to the life I want to live. Without travel, I would not be and be doing what I am, today. As Anna Quindlen's quote shares, the life I was leading when the trip began, especially the first trip I made to France (which was by myself), is not the life I live now or will be living in the future.

~A journal for your travels is a wonderful way to upon returning, reflect on the person you were when you traveled - where did your mind go, what curiosities caught your eye, how did you feel, why did you feel that way?~

Traveling alone will show you quite quickly where your weaknesses are that can be strengthened. For example, if you immediately are not comfortable in your own company, that is something you can strengthen, and for your best self, you should. As well, if you do not know how to communicate well or engagingly, even if you do not speak the language, perhaps that is a hint that your awareness of the power of clear and effective communication needs to be tended to (which includes body language). One of the lessons I learned on my first trip to France which was in 2000 was to relax, let go of the worry and frazzle that perhaps we have learned when things are not going perfectly, and look around. Ask for help, take a deep breath and know that there will be another train if you miss the one you were scheduled to be riding. More importantly, since you are traveling by yourself, you learn to step outside of yourself.  And while yes, you are taking care of yourself, you begin to see that when we only focus on ourselves, our inner world, our potential is limited. When we instead choose to examine "how can I contribute?", "how can I improve so that I can be effective not only for myself but the community I am currently in?", we begin to get out of our own heads and become more present. And when we become more present, the experiences of travel become far more rich and memorable.

~With moments to engage and moments to observe and moments to reflect~

If you are considering traveling alone for the first time, be sure to read the below posts that have been previously written. They will help you prepare specifically and clearly for a successful trip. And if you have traveled alone, but haven't done so in a long time. Or you find yourself settled and perhaps desiring a boost - consider traveling alone. Not only will it boost your confidence if you need it, but it will remind you how amazing the life you life already is or perhaps share with you how to make tweaks and changes that you couldn't see had you stayed in one place.

~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~International Travel Prep List, episode #183

~Why Not . . . Travel Alone? two-part series (part deux here)

~Traveling with Oneself

~Why Not . . . Travel Well?

~Why Not . . . Travel Luxuriously?

~Travel's Most Wonderful Gift

~Order TSLL's 1st Book in audio format from Audible here ~Sign up for the weekly newsletter

Petit Plaisir:

~Chicken Marsala - view the recipe here

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • HelloFresh – www. hellofresh.com/sophisticate30
    • promo code: sophisticate30 to save $30 off your first week

Images: (1) Gordes, France; (2) Charles de Gaulle airport; (3) Paris - right bank; (4) & (5) Loire Valley

Download the Episode
Direct download: 220TravelAlone.mp3
Category:travel -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #219
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

"Your environment, where you live and how you shape your surroundings, is the biggest, most important and most impactful thing you can do to favor your own happiness." —Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones of Happiness

Have you ever said to yourself - if only I lived [insert your dream destination], I would be happier? First of all, that is perfectly human, and partially correct. Author and researcher Dan Buettner shares in his books and website Blue Zones, which dial into the blue zones of happiness, that while indeed where we live does make a difference to our levels of happiness as we adapt or become conditioned to the habits and way of life around us, so too do the following (as shared on his website - read more here):

  1. Trust. Can I trust my neighbor?
  2. Tolerance. Can I live out my values?
  3. Community. Do I have strong social connections?
  4. Healthy life expectancy. 
  5. GDP. Money does matter…up to a certain point.
  6. Freedom. Do I have the freedom to do the work that is right for me?

As I look around my surroundings in Bend, I am examining, asking and then answering these questions for myself. As well, I am doing the same thing with the English countryside and French countryside as both excursions to these countries saw my happiness pique for a variety of reasons, some that were similar and some that were not. But we cannot always pack up and move simply because we aren't feeling as content or as happy as we want. Making such a decision isn't something done lightly or swiftly for most people, but what we can do no matter where we live is tend to what surrounds us right now. Keeping in mind the list above, I'd like to break those down in more detail, paying special attention to specific areas in our lives that we can look at more closely and discover that indeed we can make some improvements to elevate the overall quality of our everyday lives no matter where we call home.

1. Understand how to cultivate healthy relationships

The only person we have control over is ourselves. But it is imperative that we find a community in which we are accepted and supported as we are able to be ourselves. Within this community that you cultivate, honor this ability for others as well. I have written a detailed post sharing seven ways to build healthy relationship here.

2. Invest in your social well-being

3. Keep tribalism to a minimum

Looking at point #2 above, if we only spend time, live, and congregate with people who think just like us, look just like us and do not engage in healthy disagreements, we are not practicing tolerance of other ideas, cultures and people that live differently than we do. While there is a limit to what each of us can tolerate, understand what is most important as we get to know others outside of our tribe - kindness, respect of others rights and boundaries, and the abillity for individuals to become self-actualized to name a few that come to my mind. If we catch ourselves being judgmental, controlling and stereotyping someone based on something they have no control over, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem of a healthy society.

4. Examine your health and finesse your diet and fitness routines

~The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212 ~Design an At-Home Strength Training Program That Works, episode #201 ~Why Not . . . Take a Walk? Part Deux ~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

5. Build and then strengthen your income and financial future

~Why Not . . . Build a Strong Financial Foundations? 7 Tips to Try Now

6. Cultivate a sanctuary that feels like home

One of the aspects of my recent trip to France was that I chose rentals that would enable me to feel as at home as possible since I was so far away from my own home and would be for some time. Details matter, less but better matters, and choosing details and furniture that enable us to live the life within our homes that is not only functional but comfortable when we do what we love. Some takeaways for me that I will be looking to add to my current living space:

  • adding more framed photographs from my travels, with my dogs, etc.
  • adding more warmth to my rental with linen curtains that I can take with me to my next home that will be purchased as the size is not pre-determined.
  • making sure my kitchen is stocked with the utensils I need to cook the meals I love.
  • furnishing my deck with comfortable furniture for quiet pursuits (reading) and summer dinners with friends and family.

Below is a list of other detailed posts to offer more ideas and inspiration for making your home a sanctuary. As well, be sure to check out my first book Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide as an entire chapter is dedicated to cultivating a sanctuary. 22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up's Living Space Why Not . . . Make Simple Home Touch-Ups? ~many more archived Decor posts here

7. Spend time regularly enjoying hobbies that enable you to be fully present

When we engage in hobbies that allow separation from our work world, even our social world as much as we personally need, we actually are giving our mind and being a rest. And when we let our minds rest, we reduce our stress, thereby increasing potential ideas and problem solving to happen naturally.

8. Be conscious of the media that you expose to your mind

We may not be able to control the world around us, but we can control whether or not we put ourselves in a situation to consume information that isn't what we know will increase the quality of our lives. Check out this post about giving your brain a chance to calm down.

9. Come up with daily, weekly, seasonal and annual rituals you enjoy and will look forward to 

10. Take time to explore what you are truly capable of and can offer the world

The easiest way I have found to grow is to follow my curiosity. After all, when we follow what catches our attention and we wish to learn more, it doesn't feel like effort. In fact, such efforts may actually fuel us. And when we find what we love, what we enjoy doing, our contentment rises. Fred Rogers once shared about people who were successful, “The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success.” And if we can find a place in this world, whether it is in the town we currently call home, or if we have to move to make such a career possible, our happiness will soar. It doesn't mean we won't face obstacles, but we will be able to work through them because we sincerely care and enjoy what we are doing. Today, consider what surrounds you - structurally - the home you live in, the physical work space; socially - the people you spend time with; concepts and ideas that are heard, seen, read - the media, ideas shared by others and the culture you call home; and what you have accepted as out of your control. Often much of what is in our control can be improved simply by being conscious of what influences our environment. Often it is in the stepping away from our everyday environment, whether because of a weekend getaway or a trip to another country, because when we return we see that life goes on in a myriad of different ways. We have the ability to construct the ways our world unfolds on a daily basis in more ways than we may realize. But when we do realize, more contentment can be ours. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~What Surrounds You?

~7 Ways to Become What You Were Truly Meant to Be, episode #193

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

Petit Plaisir:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? documentary film of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Fred Rogers

~View the conversation on TSLL's Instagram post about the film here.   https://youtu.be/FhwktRDG_aQ  

Image: TSLL's Instagram

Direct download: 219Surroundings.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #218
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ― Erasmus

While traveling during the past four weeks in France, I found that I was finally able to default in conversation to a handful of expressions to, on the most basic level, demonstrate I comprehended what was being said - bien sur, absolutement, parfait, ouai, je comprends, merci, de rein, à demain. Again, as you can see, a very basic level. But, there was no longer a pause before I spoke whenever any of these words or phrases was warranted. My mind no longer had to think, I just spoke.  In this instance, I was tickled. Finally, an aspect of the French language, after many years of sporadic studying, was becoming a default in my brain. A muscle had been strengthened to the point of habit. But, again, my responses were basic, simple, surface. "Doubt the default." When I heard Adam Grant utter this simple, concise, alliterative statement in his TED Talk about original thinkers, my attention was captured. It happened three years ago upon arriving in Bend and moving into my new home that I ran into a new neighbor. The circumstances were we didn't know each other, simply put, and I uttered in conversation with this perfect stranger, "trust me, I understand what you mean." At the time, I didn't think about that phrase before I said it, I didn't really consider the weight of such words - "trust me", I just said it out of habit. Default. And I wouldn't have even reflected upon this fact had the woman engaging me in conversation not said, "I don't know you to trust you." The topic of our conversation was about our dogs, but the truth was, she didn't know me, and she was fully present in the conversation. While I thought I was, the words I chose said otherwise. Ever since this conversation, I have thought carefully about what I say in conversations out of habit, filler, silence-enders, space holders. I have done my best to eliminate words such as "like" from my informal speech after I recognized how many times I would say it when, had you asked me, I would have guessed the word never entered into my syntax. Aside from the words I chose,  I began to dive into my living habits, my thinking patterns, and it was with my trip to France that I recognized many cultural defaults as well that I had not even considered addressing. Quickly, another word for "default" is a habit. By definition, a habit is something that frees our mind up to focus on other tasks. So as long as the habit is helpful and contributes to the quality of the life we desire, a habit is a very good thing. Selecting water as your drink of choice, looking for the positive, smiling instead of frowning, wearing the same uniform to work to eliminate wasting time in the morning - all very helpful habits. But habits, defaults, can also be hindering our ability to live a better life, a more thoughtful life, a more engaging life, especially when we don't even realize we have these unhelpful defaults. Below I'd like to share with you a list of potential defaults already in your life inspired by what I saw, experienced as well as caught myself doing without thinking.

1. Not taking a grocery tote into the market

In France, when you go to a supermarket, they will not provide you for free with a plastic or paper bag to place your groceries. If you, as I did on my first occasion, do not bring in your canvas tote, market tote, or anything to carry your groceries, you will have to pay for their grocery bags (ones you can use on your next visit). The price was quite small - ten centimes - but it caught my attention immediately. A good habit could easily become ingrained in my memory of bringing a grocery tote to the store if I knew I would have to pay for a new bag each time I shopped throughout the week. (In one instance, I simply placed all of my groceries into my tote - handbag; and I also saw many people bringing their market baskets to the brick and mortar stores as well - multi-purpose.)

2. Expressing a negative energy during first impressions

When I travel, I love to listen. When I listen, I am better able to observe, and it also enables me to see more clearly, and more accurately, someone's true nature. What do I mean by this? Having had the opportunity to meet many people from all different walks of life, it was often the first impression that upon reflection was the most accurate to their true disposition. When we don't know someone, and the environment is safe, what is your first reaction when you meet them? Most of the people I met expressed warmth which made those few who did not stick out like a sore thumb. Because it is the first impression, their negative or positive energy has little or nothing to do with me, and much more to do with where they are in their life at that moment.

3. Driving faster than necessary

Driving on the roads in France, the country roads, the autoroutes and everywhere in between, it became quickly apparent that most French drivers drove the speed limit. I later had a conversation with Sharon Santoni about the laws of the road and my observation, and once she explained the drivers' point system (each Euro driver begins with 12 points and they can be lost for speeding (automatic surveillance along the roads), using a cell phone, etc.), it became clear as to why the pace of the roadways felt very civilized. No matter where in the world you drive, it would be interesting to consider the defaults you adhere to when you are behind the wheel. What is deemed acceptable, what is not? Buckling up - good. Glancing at your cell phone - bad. Driving a manual car during my entire trip which was something I am accustomed to, but my current car for the past four years here in the states is not a stick, upon arriving home, my left foot automatically began looking for the clutch without success. My brain had defaulted in four short weeks to expecting to use a clutch. This is good news. Not only can we change the defaults that are not helping us, but they can be  "reprogrammed" quite quickly with frequent, repeated practice.

4. Not greeting the shop keeper, artisan, taxi driver, etc.

The many travel writers and travelers of the world, have done a magnificent job of sharing the importance of saying "bonjour" if one is in France, but in nearly every other country in the world as well, upon entering any business, vendor, etc. in order to begin to set a cordial tone. From time to time, I would notice a traveler, in my case, I zoomed in on Americans, but that's not to say other world citizens don't make the same mistake as well, immediately begin making an inquiry of the proprietor without extending a salutation. And while often, the staff would attempt to help them, an opportunity to build a better rapport was missed. I began thinking about this simple habit of focusing first on the human connection before homing in on the task which brought us to the store, market, etc. The difference is there are feelings and emotions involved that must be considered when we choose to first focus on making a human connection. And when we do this, we are being present. No, we do not know how the interaction will go, but the chances that it will go well are greatly increased.

5. Assuming a market will always be open

I quickly learned that I needed to plan my grocery shopping well before my stomach became hungry. While this detail was something I remembered from my previous trips, staying in vacation rentals, I usually wanted to cook my own meals, so making sure a market of some sort was open (restaurants are usually opened each day of the week for at least lunch and dinner) was a shift from my approach in the states. In the states, if I have forgotten an ingredient for dinner on a Sunday, I don't think twice about heading to the market for a quick pick up. Having to know in some capacity that I had what I needed for my meals in advance also enabled me to just relax and enjoy a leisurely Sunday or any afternoon during the week as the outdoor markets wrapped up around 1pm and most restaurants in the small towns shut down between lunch and dinner.

6. Eating the same food year round

In Provence, the melons were nearing their peak ripeness, but green asparagus season was all but over. White beans were a treasure to be purchased and savored during these months strawberries were to indulge upon like candy. However, if I were to return in November, as most of the markets are opened year-round, I would see completely different selections. Now, we know the seasons offer different fruits and vegetables, even seafood, but it can sometimes become easy to forget when we shop in a supermarket and only stick to the same food each trip. The appreciation for the food that only comes once a year is something we can celebrate in our cooking as we dine on the rich flavors. In so doing, we actually do help our waistline as we become satiated more quickly and do not overeat as we are eating real food with natural, wonderful flavor.

7. Perfect and impersonal

The idea of a perfect home, a perfect outfit, perfect hair, a perfect life, as we know is a futile pursuit. And to this point, most intensely, it was the decor that woke me up throughout this trip as I appreciated the signature touches made available by the treasures one can find at the many brocante markets. Now this is not to say, one cannot decorate a home outside of France without the access to brocantes. Absolutely not, but what I think is tempting is to make everything look ideal immediately in our homes - paintings, furniture, tabletop vignettes, etc. And as Sharon Santoni and I were talking, a beautiful home that is the sanctuary for the inhabitants is one that has layers of unique and thoughtful decor choices, and these layers take time. When I stepped foot onto Sharon's property, enjoyed meals with her family, and stayed in her guest cottage, it was immediately clear that they lived there. I couldn't purchase her decor details", but I could be inspired by them because it was more than the things, it was the stories that came with them.

8. Speedy and surface conversations

As I shared at the beginning of my post, it can be easy to say certain catch phrases without really thinking about what the words themselves mean. While idioms exist in every culture, sayings that mean more than what they are literally saying, it's not the idioms I am talking about here. When we are in a different culture that asks of us to reach beyond the language we are most comfortable with, often the conversation can be slow. While this may be frustrating as we want to talk quickly like locals, it shows thoughtful care. We want to make sure what we wish to say is said and not something that will offend or confuse.  I find that sometimes in conversations we say more words than our necessary. Just as in every other arena of our lives, quality over quantity. When we choose our words carefully, we can say so much more. Excessive use of superlatives (best, largest, toughest, most amazing, prettiest) waters down the actual compliment if all you use are superlatives for something you either love or loathe. Precise words and thoughtful timing of when we engage in conversation, demonstrates we are listening, we care and we are trying to understand.

9. Drama is necessary and thus inevitable

Initially, it was my lack of access to the regular news sources I look to or listen to on a typical day when I am in the states that made me realize that I had been accepting the noise of problems, clashes and pain as normal. But even with the shows and books we read, we can come to expect, even look for, the clash, the conflict, the drama, that must be there somewhere. The truth is, often things to work out. In fact, it is human nature biologically to remember the instances that didn't work out more readily than the times that did for survival. But when we accept this biology, we ignore that when we are aware of why this happens, we can shift our expectations, our reactions and instead rest more easy, enjoy the steady, even balance of our lives that go well quite often. Why look for the drama when it truly doesn't need to be there?

10. Assuming an incapability

I can't travel alone. I can't drive in another country. I can't live without [insert something that you cannot travel with]. Often when we travel we discover something, if not many, things about ourselves we were not consciously aware of. Many of these discoveries are awesome, exciting bits of information that awakens us to our best selves, but sometimes we discover that we have been limiting ourselves unnecessarily. If our default in our minds is "I can't" instead of even just "I'll give it a shot" when a new task or new experience is placed in front of us, we may miss out on the most beautiful London plane trees lined country roads in France (see below), or meeting Walter Wells (I ended up after attempting to walk to class at Patricia Wells' cooking class the first night, getting lost, and ended up calling Walter who came and found me and picked me up in his car to take me to their property for dinner - we had a lovely conversation). We often sell ourselves short regarding what we are truly capable of doing, and we especially do so when our default setting is immediately "I can't". Yes, you can. You may have to do a bit more homework, save a bit more money, or have some patience, but "I can't" is often more an expression of hoping that we could so badly but we just don't know how.

"Default choices often remain unchanged for no reason other than being the default, either because of this lack of information or humans' status quo bias." —Marvin Ammori

Adam Grant was right, we should doubt our defaults because when we don't we are either living unconsciously or not living as full of a life as we could if only we had more information to make different choices and take different actions. Kristin Armstrong states it frankly, "We either live with intention or exist by default." When we live with intention, we are living well. We may not have success on our first attempts at speaking differently, acting differently or engaging differently, but we are doing it out of a conscious choice to live more authentically, thoughtfully and more engaged with the world we are living. While traveling to France made this concept of living with defaults quite glaring to me, we don't have to travel outside of even our own town to know that we may have defaults that are not serving us or defaults that are limiting our full potential whether it be in our appreciation of life, our relationships, even our success at work. All it takes is a choice to reflect and ponder, why do I greet people the way I do? Is that the energy I want to extend? If so, that's awesome, but if you recognize you want to make a change, you can do that too. When we doubt the default, we are choosing to be selective about the habits we allow to be habits in our lives. It's when we do not know we have these habits that we step on our own toes, so to speak, and trip ourselves up without realizing we are the ones slowing our progress down. And that is great news, we each have the skills and the opportunity to stop tripping and start striding into the life we love living. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisian, episode #127

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

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

~Listen/Read more French-Inspired podcast episodes here. ~Learn more and subscribe to TSLL's weekly newsletter here.

Petit Plaisir:

~Filt shopping bags (made in Normandy, France)
  • more colors here and here
  • A net and rope company based in Caen, France, since 1855 with a goal of creating environmentally-friendly products.

 

~Sponsor of today's episode:

  • Lola 
    • Use promo code SOPHISTICATE to save 40% off all subscriptions
Direct download: 218Default.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

The final episode taped in France during my travels shares a few memorable moments I had the opportunity experience, and as I had the opportunity to stay at author, blogger and photographer Sharon Santoni's home in France, I wanted to share a few images from the cottage I called home for a few days in northern France.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #217
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

~Dining at La Couronne (the location where Julia Child enjoyed her first French meal in 1949). Check out more images in my IG Highlights - FranceTripP2 I look forward to writing detailed posts on all that I experienced during my month long trip in France this summer. Look for a majority of the posts to be shared during TSLL's annual French Week which begins on Sunday August 12th; however, a few will be posted prior to this date as I have an abundance of content. TSLL will be taking a week off to settle back into my life in Bend beginning today and resuming with a brand new episode of the podcast and the regular weekly post schedule on Monday July 23rd. ~Catch up on all of my #TSLLFrance2018 moments on Instagram (and be sure to check the Highlights as well). ~Listen to the previous episodes from France below:

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

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

Petit Plaisir:

~Fresh goat cheese drizzled lightly with fresh, high quality olive oil, paired with a fresh baguette to be enjoyed after the entrée course of a meal. Below enjoy a few images from Sharon Santoni's cottage where I stayed over the past weekend. Sharon will be sharing tips about her approach to decor as well as details about the many tours she gives throughout France when TSLL's annual French Week takes place beginning August 12th.

Direct download: 217FrenchTrip3.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

As my travels continue in France, Part Deux of the travel musings-themed episodes is shared today as I recorded the episode while walking in the country amongst vineyards, olive trees and under the brilliant blue sky of Gordes, Provence. Be sure to tune in as I talk about topics that have been on my mind these past few weeks. Some have to do with travel and some have to do with everyday life and how to elevate it. I also share a few upcoming posts that I will be sharing in the coming weeks and months inspired by the trip. Below are specific topics and links to deepen the discussion. Thank you for tuning in and have a great week. Bonne journée! ~Follow TSLL on Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife)

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #216
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

~Traveling Alone

~3rd Annual TSLL French Week - Sunday August 12-19, 2018

~How to Create a Healthy Approach to Staying Abreast of the News, episode #187 ~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208 ~Daily Simple Luxuries (to enjoy while traveling or at home in our everyday lives)

~Listen and Catch Up! French Trip Travel Musings, Part One, episode #215 BELOW: images captured like walking and talking (taping episode #216 on July 7, 2018) just outside of Gordes, France.

~the sandals I have been wearing constantly during this trip - les tropiezennes. Recommended to me by author M.L. Longworth (who I had the opportunity of meeting in Aix-en-Provence this week - a detailed post will be coming soon on my excursion to this fantastic French city), these sandals are made in the south of France and can be ordered from the states - which is what I did prior to traveling.

 

~Tour the vacation rental I have enjoyed this week while staying in the Luberon region. You too can rent it as well! Click here for the entire tour as well as expert decor tips from the owner.

~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter (delivered every Friday)

Petit Plaisir:

~Enjoy an aperitif and nibbles before a meal or with friends for a casual gathering.
  • Aperitif definition - a drink enjoyed before a meal to stimulate the appetite
  • Keep it simple: Do make complicated appetizers, but instead serve fougasse or slim breadsticks, hummus, olives, nuts, and/or slices of meat.
  • Fougasse bread - typically associated with Provence, but found in many other places. It is a type of flatbread made with flour, yeast, salt and water.
    • infused with herbs and in Provence olive fougasse is quite popular.
    • Check out Paul Hollywood's recipe of his version of fougasse
  • No cheese (save the cheese course until after the entrée)

~SPONSOR of Today’s Episode:

Direct download: 216FINALFinal.mp3
Category:travel -- posted at: 10:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #215
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

"It's worth the effort." —Patricia Wells

(The following episode was taped while traveling in Provence, France, using a handrecorder. Please excuse indulations in volume.) The legions of birds and their signature melodies, the playful butterflies that promenade amongst our meals, the clock tower reminding us that indeed we are not dreaming and the vintner on his tractor tending to his vines. The sounds of Provence. More specifically, the sounds of Vaison-la-Romaine. As my fellow classmates and myself sat down for our final lunch together with Patricia and Walter Wells concluding a week long experiential cooking class, the words above were shared with the group. Speaking not only of the effort to plan, prepare, and shop at the market, but also to have the patience with our lives to curate them carefully so to provide the fertility for a beautiful life to grow, the Wells demonstrated that a good life can be simple, slow and yes, thus absolutely luxurious. In this particular moment the effort made by the Wells was to welcome a group of people that would appreciate in their own way the gathering as well as the food (which was exquisite and seasonal). Traveling abroad to a country which doesn't speak a language we know well can be intimidating, and for some seemingly dream crushing. But it need not be. In fact, as a language teacher, when the words are removed or pared down to the essentials of living an everyday life (thank you, please, how much, where is, I love, etc.), we are invited to see the world through a different lens. We begin to observe actions far more carefully, to value the importance of kindness and thoughtfulness. When we rely only on our words to navigate in this world we forget how influencial our body language, our facial expression, our tone can be on any given situation. Yes, even a smile can be sinister or sincere, and if we are studied in the skill of physical observation, we can ascertain the slight and subtle difference. Yes, undoubtedly, words are powerful, and to live well in a civilized society such as ours and much of the modern world, knowing how to communicate well in the language of the country and community in which we live is fundamental, but it isn't the only skill we should practice and improve regularly to build the relationships we want and need in our lives. So if there is another world (country) you long to see, to experience, to taste, but the language barrier is currently the dilemma, fear not. Ironically, I have found that the best way to pick up a language, for it to stick in my long-term memory, is to be amongst as it is used in the world. It has been with each trip, moreso with each subsequent trip, to France that while I do not understand 60-70% of what is said, I understand more and more and feel less of someone on the outside. What we fear is not knowing French, but what we long is to be amongst the French culture. What better teacher than a Francophone country? When you step into your fear, the language will gradually come. Not an immense amount, but in spurts and stalls. Give yourself the gift of one more language, even if you speak it poorly (which I do when it comes to French) because as the Chinese proverb reminds "To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world" and as the Czech proverb teaches, "You live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once." And so if we each have one more window to broaden our perspective and provide a deeper understanding of the world and then one more life, how rich and wise are we? What does making an effort look like when it comes to our dreams? For the Wells it was purchasing a farm in the hills of Provence, remodeling for decades, little by little and choosing, taking the risk, to share their lives, a glimpse, but an intimate glimpse, eight weeks a year (one week at a time) with strangers from around the world. Effort. Let's take a look at other examples of effort: 1.Waking up early to begin the day with more time than needed so you do not have to rush 2. Saving each month money for retirement 3. Choosing to get to know yourself 4. Recognizing you can grow and becoming a student of the skills you can learn 5. Not doing as others do, traveling every weekend or every summer and instead, saving, planning or living where you love calling home. 6. Being thoughtful in your relationship building 7. Taking the time to understand someone who is good, but communicates or lives differently, in order to strengthen and express love 8. Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel, but also recognizing emotions are like the weather, not the climate - temporary. 9. Taking care of your health and body 10. Strengthening the muscle that is your mind

"It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly." — Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve

As much as we are advised and even tell ourselves to live in the moment (heck, TSLL talks regularly about being present), we are given the gift of perspective as human beings. And it is through effort that dreams can be realized that are worth savoring upon not only attaining them, but making the journey towards them. My trip to France as I mentioned a few weeks ago has been years in the making. I might even suggest it began the moment I made my first month long journey in 2000. In some ways my trip to France is part of a larger journey toward other visions I have for my life, so in many ways our lives contain dreams within dreams that we pursue. Which when you contemplate this composition creates a beautiful life quilt consisting of many dreams that bolster and provide foundation for one another. Effort is worth being given, and your dreams are worth being pursued. Have the patience to let them fertilize, mature and grow when they have the strength to emerge. This requires of each of us careful awareness, a flexibility, but also a courageousness. All of these are skills; therefore, we all can learn them and use them. Bonne journée from Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence, France. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Everyday Life in Paris: A Fashion Show in the Palais-Royale (I was not invited)

~Back to Paris (summer 2018)

~9 Life Lessons From French Women about Women

~View allFrench-themed podcast episodes of The Simple Sophisticatehere. ~View allTSLL French-themed blog postshere. ~Follow TSLL on Instagramto see all of the pics from my France trip. ~Sign-up forTSLL's weekly newsletterand never miss a post or exclusive news (delivered each Friday to your inbox)!

Petit Plaisir:

~My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now by Peter Mayle (his final book)
If you are just beginning to read Peter Mayle's work (he has published 14 books, 7 of which were novels), begin with the memoir that caught the world's attention A Year in Provence, and if you love cozy mysteries set in France, begin with The Vintage Caper (2009) Sam Levitt detective series, there are four in the series. ~Visit Peter Mayle's website ~Read my full review here - Peter Mayle's Love Letter to Provence

~Sponsor of today's episode:

Download the Episode
Direct download: 215FrenchMusingP1.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 4:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #214
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Today's episode is over one hour of Q & As. Questions from TSLL readers and podcast listeners and answers from me, Shannon. :) This annual episode began last year, and was so well received (the most downloaded episode of the year), it has returned. I do hope you enjoy and thank you to every listener who emailed me your questions. Below you will see a list of topics that are discussed and as well as more specific points. And, the final Q & A is a lengthy excerpt from TSLL's new book, so have a listen if you've already ordered your signed copy or would like to. Be sure to tune in to the episode as I go in-depth on each topic. The links included in today's show notes are recommended to further what is discussed during the episode. I do hope you enjoy the episode, and if you'd like to listen to last year's inaugural episode, have a look/listen here (#161). I also did a mini Ask Shannon episode in January 2018(#191) in which traveling to Paris was one of the topics (what to pack), favorite totes and much more. Health & Beauty: Relationships:
  • When to stay and when to go
  • Splitting the tab at meals
A Fresh Start: Work
  • successfully working with coworkers you do not get along with
Living: Mind/Attitude:
  • Correcting a mistake
Food: French Language: Reading: Family:
  • advice for young teenage daughters and dressing for school
Misc.:

Petit Plaisir:

~The New Paris podcast with Lindsey Tramuta (Lost in Cheeseland blog) ~inspired by her latest book The New Paris (2017)

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase
Direct download: 214AskShannon.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 10:33pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #213
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

"Alone, we can plumb local markets and examine their wares closely. We can breathe in and relish the flavors in a sauce, or the coolness of a pitcher of cream. We don't necessarily take time to do these things in the presence of company, particularly during lively conversation. A solo meal is an opportunity to go slow; to savor."

—Stephanie Rosenbloom, Alone Time

Discovering an enticing book and being delighting with the contents even more than expected, wanting the pages, vivid images and revelations to continue beyond the last chapter. Experiencing a day long anticipated that unfolds seamlessly, exceeding expectation. Sitting down for a meal bursting with precisely paired flavors which make it all but impossible not to solely absorb and beg your memory to remember each moment of the experience. Savoring, as Stephanie Rosenbloom shares in her new book about solo traveling, has been long recognized by social scientists to be one of a number of ways to enhance our levels of happiness. And psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky shares the benefits of becoming skilled in savoring, "People who become skilled at 'capturing the joy of the present moment', are also 'less likely to experience depression, stress, guilt and shame." Okay, the skill of savoring, count me in! Now let's talk about how exactly to invite more opportunities to savor into our everyday lives.

1.Become acutely aware of all of the goodness in each moment

Citing Fred B. Bryant's book Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experiencewe must come to be able to recognize when we are experiencing an positive moment. And in the moment "aim for the most joy to be found". That is the definition of savoring.

2. Utilize all of your senses

Rosenbloom cites Julia Child enjoying her first meal in France at La Couronne in Rouen and Poilâne founder's granddaughter as precise examples of becoming aware of what each sense is experiencing. From what something not only looks like, but smells, feels, sounds and tastes like.

3. Take your time

When we rush, we miss out. We miss the butterfly dancing around our nose, the passersby's exquisite sartorial taste displayed in the most subtle, but creative manner, and the scent of the boulangerie's freshly made bread in the morning as we walk to work. Savoring requires of us to slow down, to reduce the amount of "to-do"s and prioritize what we truly need as well as want to do. When we edit well, we live well as it permits us time to be fully present. And when we are full present, we are able to pause, observe the detail in the pastry we are looking forward to enjoying, but appreciating the artistry and attention to detail that was spent.

4. Give your full attention

Case in point, in order to savor, we must be in the moment, we must not be distracted. Not only must we not be distracted by our phones, but our minds and the ideas and thoughts that swirl about. Of course, we should use our minds and when we get lost in our minds, we can discover the most creative ideas we never thought would be possible, but when we are experiencing a positive moment, choose to set the thoughts aside and soak up all that the current experience is offering you.

5. Let go of habits that don't enhance opportunities for savoring

In some instances, adhering to habits can be a truly beneficial concept to welcome into your life, but it is imperative to examine closely the habits you follow. Rosenbloom suggests letting go of "multi-tasking, worrying, latching on to what's wrong or negative, and ruminating about the past or future."

6. Focus on what you want and you'll find it more often

In order to find something to savor, we must look for it, desire it, imagine it, come to understand it. And if we are thinking about positive outcomes and experiences, we are more likely to come across them in the present moment.

7. Limit how often you let your mind wander

According to a study conducted by Matthew A. Killingsworth, A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society scholar, and Harvard psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert, "one of the strongest predictors of happiness is whether or not your attention is focused where you are in the present . . . people are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they're not."

8. Appreciate every moment as finite

When we recognize that any moment is precisely that - a moment - the skill of "temporal awareness" Rosenbloom states heightens our ability to savor and thus our enjoyment of said moment. For example, today we have three more days of spring. Why not do something in the next three days that you will not be able to do when summer arrives? Drink up this activity, relish it, get lost in it, so that when summer arrives you can know you drank up all that spring offered and are ready to be fully present in the new season.

9. Plan ahead to appreciate the event even more

Studies have also revealed that planning well ahead of any trip or event heightens the appreciation when it arrives as well as our happiness leading up to it in anticipation. The recognition of the work and effort paid to make the plans and either bring people together or attain a particular experience. So upon being in the moment (the trip or the event), we are more readily prepared to be present and savor the experience. While Rosenbloom's book is focused on travel, and specifically solo travel, when we welcome the skill of savoring into our everyday lives, we begin to enhance the quality, reduce the need to cling and trust that we will be able to find something to savor each day - some may be grander than others, but each offers a gift to experience happiness. Ultimately, when we acquire the skill of savoring, we are creating a memory in our minds, a file of sorts of our experiences from each day, trip or event, so that when we want to get lost in our past in a positive way, we can recall the beauty that we had experienced, and thus be encouraged about how amazing our life has been and will continue to be. And so last Friday on the concluding day of school and the commencement of summer holiday, I put into practice the skill of savoring. The boys and I went to a local bakery, found a cozy seat and table outside, ordered tea and pastry, and just took in the beautiful weather, the temporal company and a very good book. It was something I knew I wouldn't experiencing for another 12 months and I did my best to soak it up in its entirety. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~9 Reasons to Savor Begin in the "Choosing Seat": The Gift of Being Single in Your 30s, 40s, 50s and Beyond, episode #199

~Why Not . . . Savor the Reasons for the Season?

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

~Why Not . . . Savor Life? 

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Ocean's 8

  https://youtu.be/MFWF9dU5Zc0  

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase

Direct download: 213Savoring.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #212
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Lessons learned and applied. Often it is what we have done in the past that informs us how to do a similar task better in the future. Whether the mistakes were small or large, upon reflection we can be reminded of what didn't work, then examine more closely why and improve in those areas moving forward the next time. Tending to our health is a journey of discovery, of trial, of success, of I-wish-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now, and because we are creatures of biology, our bodies and minds are changing thus requiring each of us to remain a student of our health. Recently I was reminded, upon reflection, why certain tasks and situations had gone well as of late and why others had not, but it wasn't until a guide in my own life (my counselor) brought it to my attention. Immediately, I recognized it and knew how to fix it. And the frustrating, but truly fortunate thing about this realization was that I had this knowledge already, I had just needed to be reminded to apply it. Similarly, today I'd like to talk about the six pillars of good health - of mind, body and each of our unique spirits - and while the list may be something you recognize, if you're like me, there may be a moment as you are journeying in your life when you need to be nudged to take a quick self-check to see if each pillar is functioning well. Here we go!

1. Exercise

Just as our overall health has pillars, so too does an effective exercise regimen. And in this case the physical health pillars are aerobic, strength and flexilibity. While the amount of days per week, even the amount of time each time we exercise varies from expert to expert, what they do have in common is insisting that it is regular and is at least moderately challenging. In episode #201 I detailed my approach to tailoring a strength training program, and in this post, I shared in detail how to get and stay in shape. The flexibility aspect is often the detail that is forgotten about, but as someone who for a period in my twenties did neglect this detail, it is one of the most enjoyable without less time and effort required (not to say certain yoga classes aren't challenging, but that is when they incorporate the aerobic aspect as well), and while I incorporate a weekly yoga class into my regimen, pilates or simply a stretch routine your follow at home (check out SELF magazine's list of the 21 best stretching exercises) would work just as well. ~To Get & Stay Fit: Keep It Simple, episode #190

2. Nutrition

As we settle into the twenty-first century, as a population we are becoming more aware of how food works (or does not work well) in our bodies. The subsequent locally sourced restaurants that are on the rise around the country are challenging long-loved food chains to step up their game. At home, we too have more choices and more information to enable us to eat well each night of the week all the while amping up the flavor. Such a topic is something we've talked about quite a bit here on TSLL and the podcast (and in September TSLL's new vodcast is dedicated to sharing how to eat well while incorporating seasonal fare), so this isn't a big surprise. However, it is important to remember to listen to our bodies, be kind to our bodies and enjoy exploring with new flavors as well as becoming aware when our minds and bodies have become accustomed to something, such as sugar, that isn't serving us well. Below are just a few of past posts/episodes on this topic.

~How to Feed Your Body Well

~Love Food, Love Your Body, episode #8

~How to Treat Your Body Like a Temple

3. Sleep 

A few weeks ago in TSLL's Weekly Newsletter I shared I was reading Arianna Huffington's book The Sleep Revolutionand specifically chapter 7 which focuses on master our sleep. In 2013, I shared nine benefits of enjoying a good night's sleep regularly, because aside from being absolutely pleasure-filled, it is the cheapest preventative medicine we can take to improve the quality of our lives.

4. Skincare

Often our skin, once we've moved through puberty, is a mirror of the quality of our overall health. It reveals if the body needs more hydration, more rest, less alcohol, just to name a few tell-tale signs of how we live our lives. On the flipside, it also demonstrates to the world when these factors are balanced and tended too: a good night's sleep, protection from the sun, effective hydration and a balanced diet. Below are a few posts/episodes that dive deeper into creating a skincare routine that works and enables your best health to shine.

~8 Ways to Create Glowing Skin, episode #13

~8 of My Favorite Skincare Products

5. Social Connections

Our relationships do not need to be many, but we do need to have them and they need to be healthy. Depending upon your temperament, you may have a multitude of friendships, familial relationships and connections you tend to in your career network that with each one strengthen your overall health. For others, it may be fewer, but each is deep and intimate. Whatever your preference, whatever works for the quality of life you need to be your best self, having a strong and healthy social life is fundamental for an overall good life. In episode #92, the concept of a strong social well-being was discussed. I encourage you to listen/read it as it simplifies our social life into three compartments: the relationship we have with ourselves, the platonic relationships we have with others and our romantic partnership. All three are unique, but each involve similarities seen in the others.

6. Mental Strength & Agility

All five of the above pillars are essential, but without an awareness of how our mind works and how to ensure we are exercising it so that it works for us, not against us, we must keep it healthy. In episode #20, how to master your mind is explored in detail as 10 specific ways to do so are shared. From becoming fluent with our emotions, to understanding what you initially believed about what goes through your mind and the reality of what is going on to  recognizing that the mind is a muscle and in order for it to function optimally, we must execise it regularly. Most likely, most, if not all of the pillars of good health are known to you, but as I was reminded last week, sometimes when our life is becoming frustrating in one arena, it can affect other arenas unconsciously. Sometimes all it will take to get back on track for our overall health is to take a moment and check each of the six pillars: How are they working? Have each been tended to recently and regularly? Perhaps today's episode will be the reminder to check, readjust if necessary or applaud yourself for how well you are doing and reward yourself. As the French say, à votre santé (to your health). May we embrace what is fully in our control and enable it to elevate the quality of our lives.   ~Subscribe to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

~Why Not . . . Live a Long, Healthy Life? (3-part series)

~10 Simple Ways to Live Healthier

 

Petit Plaisir:

~RBG, documentary film

https://youtu.be/biIRlcQqmOc

Images: TSLL captured of the boys on a recent walk

Direct download: 212GoodHealth.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #211
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

In America we have the story that ... your sex drive evaporates. ... Nobody wants to sleep with you, but you don't want to sleep with them either. ... And it turns out that that is really much more of a cultural story than a biological story, and ... people's behavior responds to this cultural story. ...

In France there's a slightly different narrative. ... Women in their 50s and 60s in France are much more sexually active than women in America are. So I don't think you can ... snap your fingers and switch cultural narratives. But just knowing that it's not biologically inevitable I think gives you some power over it." —Pamela Druckerman, author of the new book There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story (read the entire NPR interview here)

Over the past four or five years I have taken notice of how women step into each year of their life after forty. Whether women who are in my inner circle or women in the media spotlight, I listen to how they speak about their physical capabilities, their physical beauty, their curiosities, their chapters in life, the roles and careers they wish to stay or become a part of. As someone who is 39 and has truly let my age just be a number, not centering my identity around my age as it is one detail I cannot control (sometimes I forget my age, does that happen to anyone else?), I am intrigued in the shift in what is expected of women by women - and thus society -  as they age through the decades. Because our message to each other has power, and that message in large part tells the world what will be accepted or ignored. As someone bringing up the tail-end of Generation X and partially straddling into the Millennial Generation, I certainly have seen a shift in the knowledge and thus attention to good health when it comes to fitness and well-being as opposed to my grandmother's generation. A tremendous shift in society in the late 20th century brought to our attention what our bodies and minds are truly capable of so long as we care for them well. I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her whip-smart, savvy prowess on the Highest Court in the country at the age of 85. I think of Dame Helen Mirren who at the age of 72 continues to playfully immerse herself in her acting career and her life as she explores the world. I think of 52-year old Oscar winning actress Viola Davis and her determination and talent on the big screen and small screen, as well as her physical good health and Sandra Bullock as well as Cate Blanchett and Michelle Obama and Diane Keaton and and and and . . . the list goes on. Each one of these women marries knowledge with curiosity and applies it to their mental as well as physical health. Physical maladies can certainly befall us due to genetics, but there is far more health obstacles that are avoidable so long as we provide ourselves with the information and live in such a way to be preventative. Two situations happened over the past couple of years that found me responding in frustration internally, but saying nothing in the moment. The first was a situation with my own mother and my young pre-teen niece in which my mother said something about what was physically inevitable when you hit "her age". In actuality, what she shared was false, and I later did say something in private to my mom as I am someone who has heard such "untruths" from older women when I was young. I know now that what they shared was their ignorance regarding how the body grows and ages, but I didn't want my niece to have to navigate toward to the truth when the knowledge was readily available. The second situation is an ongoing one as I have a dear friend who refuses to say her age or acknowledge her birthday as her husband told me she is "sensitive about her age". While I respected this wish, I also want her to know how much I want to celebrate her because I think she is absolutely amazing, talented and uber intelligent. The truth is if we as women will let go of identifying ourselves with our age, then half of the world will stop seeing us through the narrow lens of assumption regarding what "should be" happening at a particular point. We all know that with different people, different things happen at different periods of our lives. Case in point, actress Rachel Weisz is pregnant at 48, yet press in the U.K. is fearful it may be nearly too late for Meghan Markle to conceive. Are you kidding me? What we consume or accept as a culture can either limit us or liberate us. What we allow to be accepted because we do not contradict it when we know it is utterly false will continue to be perpetuated. We can either speak up or act in such a way that demonstrates the falsehoods are indeed false. Each of us will choose what is most comfortable for us - speaking or acting, but I implore you to not shrink to fit inside the limiting box that society would have women at any age stay within. Part of the difficulty with staying relevant, man or woman, is staying apprised of the dynamic world we live in. With each year we are layering more information on top of what we already know and in so doing we become acutely aware of how much we still have to learn. It can become overwhelming. It happened this year as a teacher who began teaching at 22 and knew how to relate culturally with the students - the music, the films, the colloquialisms, each far simpler to grasp and understand because I was partially still in their bubble - that I acknowledged and took note that I could be considered two generations removed from my students. While I still understood some of the references made by students, there were cultural allusions that no more my students grasped (the 80s hit sitcom Cheers, for example). While some cult classics are returning and being devoured by teenagers thanks to Netflix and YouTube - FRIENDS, The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on PBS, etc. - but after listening to different podcasts my students will bring my attention to or music my students will mention in class, I am reminded that we all live and will always live in a dynamic world. And the key is to understand how to remain involved, knowledgable and curious instead of quailing, shrinking or removing ourselves due to fear or confusion or exhaustion.

How to remain a part of the ever-changing world:

1. Build a social network of all ages

One of the benefits of teaching is that there is youth everywhere each and every year. While yes, it's kind of like Groundhog's Day (the film), the benefits far outweigh the negatives as I am reminded that learning is always available if we choose to seize the knowledge and therefore change is perpetually constant. Progress is always possible and staying the same is never a good idea if we wish to reach our full potential. And so why not build friendships, acquaintances, mentor or mentee relationships with individuals of all ages? When we do and do so with an open mind, our perspective is broaden, our understanding deepens and we come to appreciate where we've been, how far we've come or become even more excited about where we are heading.

2. Refrain from ageist comments (younger or older) 

The quickest way to shut-down an opportunity to get to know someone is to make assumptions about what is expected at a certain age. When we do this, instead of seeing the individual and being patient enough to get to know the individual, we are telling them (consciously or unconsciously), who they truly are and who they are capable of becoming is not all that important to us. As well, when we make ageist comments we perpetuate limitations that we ourselves will eventually be subjected to. In other words, we have the power with the words we do or do not utter to change how society views anyone at any age.

3. Master your mind and cultivate a positive mindset

“When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.” ~Marty Buccella

Providence, St. Joseph Health shares, "Negativity saps vitality and creates stress, which affects your health and well-being." So literally, by being cynical, negative or close-minded, we are exacerbating the aging process and making ourselves physically older unnecessarily.

4. Let go of the word "should"

Whether speaking to others and expressing what you think they "should" be doing or the internal dialogue that runs through your head saying you "should" be doing something in your life at any given point, stop. Nobody wants to hear what they should be doing. Instead inspire others to do something with how you live your life or simply let them navigate their way in their own way.

5. Seek out diverse experiences that stretch you

Whether with the places you travel to, the food you eat, the books you read, the podcasts you listen to or the people you engage with in conversation, let your curiosity be fed. Often the reason individuals regress into what they've known and the "way it has always been" or "when I was younger" constructs and wish to stay there is because they are fearful of the unknown. What they know is comfortable, and we all somewhere along the continuum want comfort. However, too often, when we don't know about a particular culture, a particular way of life that becomes more prevalent in society due to news coverage or a change in economic structure, until we explore, prompts people to make limiting assumptions that shrink our world. The world is big, vast, amazing and from my experience here on the blog and in my own travels meeting people from around the world, the majority of us are seeking contentment, love and peace. This may sound over-simplified, but truly, our general goal is the same, it is a matter of having the courage to keep asking questions, keep making ourselves vulnerable and recognize that we do not have all the answers and respecting all people as they too are trying to figure it out.

How to enjoy each passing year more than the last:

1. Learn something new regularly

“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.”   ~Hasidic saying

I have seen the deterioration of one's mind in late age when a particular octogenarian who prided himself on having only read one book in his life gradually sees the quality of his life diminish. Knowledge is power in not only understanding how to live, but in keeping ourselves vibrant and able to engage with the world fully. Studies have recently been shared that regular cognitive challenges - problem-solving, learning a new skills, in other words brain exercises - are good for brain health. It is something we keep alive or by not giving it "homework" passively let wither away. Once we have the knowledge and understand how to continue to acquire it as we move through life, then we can apply it and see the benefits of the efforts we've made - thus the harvest. So keep planting seeds and continue to see your harvest become richer and richer with each passing year.

2. Choose to understand the world

Providing context as to why events happened, why people made the decisions they made and why people reacted as they did deepens not only our understanding of the world but also how to move and live successfully in it so as to live a life we are proud to share with the world as well as reflect upon.  Never settle for one person's version of events, explore, ask questions, pick up a biography of someone else who lived in that time, read a historical account from multiple perspectives and come to understand that the world isn't simple, events aren't a singular cause and effect, but more often a confluence of causes that create the outcome that after some time has passed becomes simplified into a singular soundbite. As well, come to understand the social sciences - psychology and sociology and how people interact with others, how our minds work, how our bodies work regarding hormones, endorphins, adrenaline, etc. Choosing to understand the full human experience paired with the events of the world that led us to where we as a world are today is empowering and can assist us as we figure out how we wish to move forward.

3. Contribute to the world 

In another study, it demonstrated that we must live in such a way that goes beyond giving, or "feeling useful"; we must take action so as to do something that leaves the world better than when we found it. Taking action will be different for each of us, but just giving of our time to help the next generation isn't enough (it's a start). Sometimes taking action will not be comfortable for those around us. Sometimes it will not be comfortable to us as we will have to push ourselves to learn something new, shift our views and understanding about something we had become accustomed to but now we realize we were wrong, misled or misinformed. But when we find a purpose that fuels us, that we truly have a passion for, we will find the fuel to push forward. And in pushing forward, the example we share with the world will potentially alter how society comes to understand what is possible at any given age. 4. Let go of negative stereotypes and stop perpetuating them regardless of your age

“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” ~Jackie Joyner-Kersee

A study conducted at Yale revealed that "older adults who held more positive age stereotypes lived 7.5 years longer than their peers who held negative age-related stereotypes". Not only should we shift away from negative age stereotypes we should stop burdening others with these beliefs as well. Whether it is our observation and commentary about strangers on the street, in the store or mere acquaintances, refrain from defaulting to ageist remarks (about those older or younger than you). When we assume, we limit what we are willing to explore as we get to know people, and I am confident none of us would want to be limited.

5. Revel in each year

“The trouble is, when a number—your age—becomes your identity, you’ve given away your power to choose your future.”  ~Richard J. Leider

Right now I am soaking up all that the remainder of my third decade on this glorious planet will share with me. As well, I am excited to enter into my fourth. When we choose to be present in our lives, we create memories that will always be with us. No we cannot go back and relive them literally, but we can in our memories and that is a gift we can take with us for any age we reach down the road. Each year has the opportunity to be your singular definition of what it is to be [pick a number]. And it is important to remember that that is your definition and yours alone. To place it on someone else and expect them to live the same as you is to limit what they may be curious about. On the flip side, embrace what you are curious about each year. Embrace what the universe has given to you in this particular year and drink it up like it was water in the desert. When you revel, you enliven your being and you share with the world your exuberance. That is how we shift age stereotypes.

6. Take the risk

Maybe you've had a dream in your mind for years, but you have never known anyone who took such a risk. At least not anyone in what you perceive to be your "situation". Let go of needed a model to follow. Let go of thinking the dream shall remain a dream and instead take the risk. Do the necessary homework and then give yourself permission to get so absolutely excited about living the life you have dreamed about. Yes, you can live that life. And that will enliven you like you never could have imagined. From time to time I will catch myself pushing back against progress when it finds me quite comfortable with where I am in my life (a state that is not always easy to attain for any one of us as we strive toward goals), and then I poke myself. It is at that moment that I remind myself that progress is good as it demonstrates to all of us that we are alive, the world is alive and has the capability of improving. Even when we think we are comfortable (as I have felt in those moments), we often are limiting what we understand to be possible in the quality of our lives. Often I do think part of the push back to progress is exhaustion (which is why it is imperative to get a regular night's sleep - I kid only slightly). Perhaps not physical, but emotional exhaustion as we have seen and experienced and worked for so much and we don't know if we have the energy to continue to strive, shift and improve like we have in the past. But that is when we need to seek out others who see the world and all of its potential as we do, and then we can find the energy we think has been lost. Thus another reason to build a social network of all ages. The world is greater with more diverse voices, lives and experiences. And with each year of our lives we deepen what we bring to the world so long as we continue to truly live each year we are given. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

~26 Ways to Create the Life You Want

~Why Not . . . Extinguish Self-Doubt?

Petit Plaisir:

~fresh seasonal fruit, in my case most recently - Oregon strawberries
Recipes to try:

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase
Download the Episode
Direct download: 211Age.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #210
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

“It is always the simple that produces the marvelous.” – Amelia Barr

You react in anger when a moment of frustration arises only to have to take more time (once you realize you shouldn't have reacted in such a way) to apologize and rebuild a relationship. The best decision, the simple decision, would have been to say nothing at all in the moment, step away from the situation, and decide what, if any, response was necessary. In a hurry to clear your inbox, you scan through emails too quickly, miss important details and end up having to respond twice or three times to correct the initial response. In an attempt to create a relationship, you cling or hang on to someone who doesn't fully welcome you into their lives. The simple truth regarding relationships is if people want you in their lives, they will make room for you and not create guessing games, just as you have opened your life to them. There are many ways we can complicate our lives when it is absolutely unnecessary to do so. While we often hear that we must struggle in order to reach the goals we desire, while there is much truth to the duration, there are many details along the way that do not have to be complicated. In fact, to complicate them, discourages our journey toward success. I was reminded that even those who value simplicity in order to elevate our lives (me!) can make the mistake of creating complication where they need not be. Over the past month I have been putting off a task that I knew in my good conscience needed to be tended to do. The delaying only built up more stress and fear that would have been assuaged or negated had I simply took action, discovered what the solution was and put my energy toward reaching the solution rather than putting my energy toward stressing out about the unknown. Often we complicate because we don't want one more thing to fill our plate. Ironically, we are putting more than one more thing on our plate; we are at least putting two: the task that needs to be tended to and the worry that we expend wondering. In other words, we accrue interest, and in this case, not the good kind. Today I'd like to take a look at 1o simple ways we unnecessarily complicate lives with the goal of avoiding these mistakes. Because once we recognize our mistake, we can simply correct our course.

1. Small, regular steps, to reach great success

When we see our goal at the end of the long journey, there is a natural assumption that a grand step must be made. And while, yes, the distance is long, the journey is simple. So long as you are clear about what needs to be done and break it down into mini tasks, then all you have to do is the daily tasks each day on a regular basis. Whether it comes to improving your health, saving for your dream trip or earning the degree, be clear about your plan and then let go of the longview and trust that your daily habits will carry you to where you wish to arrive.

2. Contentment is in our control

"It's only when you add the infinite battles of yesterday and tomorrow that life gets overly complicatd."—Getting Back to Happy, Marc & Angel Chernoff

Much of the world would have us believe that contentment lies outside of us. Described as happiness, in a semantic sense, I would agree - happiness does lie outside of us, but contentment is entirely within our control. And it is through understanding how to cultivate contentment that we are more available to appreciate moments of happiness. But because we focus on what is outside of us - what must happen that involves others, what they should do, who should be in our lives, etc. we give our power away. Simply, our power for contentment, everything we need, is in our control because it is a matter of the mind. Ahd when our mindset is in order, we become at peace with ourselves and more engaging and charismatic with the world, drawing to us what we most love and appreciate.

3. Sleep Well, Live Well

When I think about going to bed each night, I smile. I smile because my bed is soft, comfortable, and a true luxury to slip into after each day. Sleep is good. In fact, sleep is vital to living well. From how well our brain functions, to improving our health as the toxins are flushed from our bodies, to improving our mood, sleep even supercedes exercise. So protect your 7-8 hours of sleep each night and see the quality of your days improve.

4. When we complain, we aren't problem solving

It is easy to complain and it is very tempting. And while we do need to vent because often we don't know what we are truly upset about until we release the frustration either verbally or on paper, complaining is a waste of energy as it takes away the precious time and brain power that is needed to either solve the problem or move on to something that better uses our time.

5. Learn to say no - focus your attention 

For nearly ten years, my focus has been my passion that is shared every week here on this blog. I continue to follow my intuition, trust that it knows what I cannot see at that moment and keep striving forward to inspire readers to have the confidence to reach their full potential, to shed the limiting views and societal confinements that would hold us back when what the world needs is what we each can uniquely give if only we could unearth it and share it with the world. In so doing my life has taken on its own construct: my daily and weekend schedules are full but much enjoyed, the sights of the world I have had the opportunity to see fill me with inspiration and I continue to arrive closer at understanding how living well, the art of living well, actually works. Because I know precisely why I am continuing to pursue my goal, saying no is quite simple. Whatever you are passionate about, whatever you discover gives you purpose, a deep, driving purpose, once you hone in on it, saying no is simple and the complications that arise from saying "yes" much more than necessary lifts.

6. Feeling loved, begins with loving yourself 

The love stories depicted in cliched rom-coms or traditional fairy tales would have us accept the love we seek resides outside of ourselves. The truth is actually the reverse. As we flip this notion on its head, it sounds too simple, too on the nose to be true, but the truth is you have had the love you have been seeking all along. We cannot truly find someone to love us well if we do not know how to love ourselves. And in order to love ourselves we must get to know ourselves, and when we show the world the self-respect we have for ourselves and thus the world, we attract to us those who appreciate who we are and thus opportunities for quality and lasting, loving relationship. For many, the complicated part lies in understanding how to love ourselves because doing so has been conveyed as being selfish. Once we see someone around us who exhibits self-love, we come to understand that self-love is a form of self-respect and when we respect ourselves we protect ourselves and strike a balance between what we can give to others and what we need to keep to give to ourselves whether it is our time, our energy, or our patience.

7. Reduce excess decision making

From the clothes you wear each day (create a capsule wardrobe), to the flavor/varietal of tea/coffee you drink to start your day, once you know what works for you and if it a foundational decision that needs to be stable so that the other tasks you go about doing throughout your day will be successful, stick with it. During my work week, I drink black tea or green tea. There are many amazing teas to drink, but to ensure the foundation of the start of my day is sturdy I drink tea I know I will enjoy. It's not that I won't try different teas when I travel, enjoy brunch on the weekend, etc.. All it means is that too often we choose coffee to try something new (as a tea drinker) on a work day that needs are focus. And if the coffee does not sit well with us, we just complicated our day unnecesarily.

8. When we worry, we waste our days away

Worry is a depletion of two precious commodities - our energy and our time. As I shared a few years ago, there are many benefits to be had when we banish worry (20 to be exact). And one priceless benefit is a return to a simpler way of living and thus improving of our everyday lives. As I shared as the #1 of the linked post, often it is the "how" to banish worry that is hard. So let me share with you a four-step process you can follow to just that - banish unnecessary worry -  (1) write down exactly what you are worried about, (2) write down what you can do about it (3) decide the best course of action (4) start immediately to fulfill the course of action you’ve decided upon. In other words, action is the choice you want to take when you don't know what the outcome will be, rather than worrying.

9. Tell the truth (about what happened and who you truly are)

"If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything." — found in Mark Twain's notebook, 1894

On a surface level, as Twain points out, when we tell the truth, we don't have to remember which story to whom, but on a much deeper level, when we tell the truth about who we are and reveal to the world who we actually are, we do not draw to ourselves those who think we are someone else. In other words, not everyone will be drawn to us in our authentic state, but those who are are individuals with whom we have a far greater chance of connecting in such a way that has the opportunity to last, deepen and lift each party involved to their fullest potential. 10. Respond rather than react As I shared in the introduction in one of the examples of unnecessary complication, when we react, our emotions have us by the throat, but when we respond (while it may take more time), we are being thoughtful and inviting logic to join the conversation so to eliminate having to make apologies later. The key to living simply throughout our everydays is to make sure where we can simplify, we are. Because when we reduce the complications that need not be in our lives, we open up vast, beautiful windows for the opportunities we seek to introduce themselves. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Uncomplicate Your Life?

~Mastering the Complexity of Simplicity

~13 Benefits of Seeking Out Quality, episode #174

~The "How" of Tailored Simplicity 

Petit Plaisir:

~Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality and Turn Your Trials into Triumph by Marc & Angel Chernoff

~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:

  • Troos skincare & apothecary – www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase

Direct download: 210Complicate.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #209
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"Your home knows your past, it directs you toward your future, and it gives you the comfort of ritual. There is nothing on the planet that knows you and nurtures you like a home. You simply need to give it the tools to take care of you." —Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home by Danielle Postel-Vinay

Whether we've lived in our home for years or only months, tending to our sanctuary is a near priceless gift we can give ourselves when it comes to our inner peace and well-being. Earlier this year author Danielle Postel-Vinay's new book Home Sweet Maison was published offering readers a tour of a home, room by room and how to incorporate what she has incorporated as inspired by the French culture and her French husband. The book is a personal journey, exploration and revelation of how by turning our attention to harness the power of our homes, we, as she shares in the above quote, give ourselves a most wonderful and powerful gift to elevate our everyday and ultimately the overall quality of our lives. Today I have selected 10 ideas that captured my attention, but there are many more within the pages of her book. As she shares in her introduction, "Take what you like and reject what you don't until you create a French-influenced home that is perfect for you."

1. Create a thoughtful entry/foyer

Make it unique. Introduce yourself to the world as this is where you greet the world and the world greets you. Choose a shelf or small table top to display your "memory theater" enabling guests to pause, look around and get to know you, if even to create a bit of mystery about the inhabitants. Your personal story and hints at dreams for the future can also be revealed. As well, make it functional - a coat rack or stand - to immediately allow guests (and yourself) to enter the home and begin to relax. 2. Give each room a purpose

"Fluid spaces introduced by the open floor plan [by Frank Lloyd Wright] create a sense of endless freedom and light in your home, the appearnce of unity and togetherness. But I wonder if this appearance of togetherness translates to actual togetherness?"

When we choose to give each room a purpose, we also communicate to ourselves the ideals we aspire to, a place to practice our values and share them with those we love. Whether it is the dining room being a space to gather tech-free and stay in touch with the lives of those we share the home with or our bedroom (le chambre) in which we share with most intimacy those welcomed into our personal sanctum, similar to our sartorial choices communicating without saying a word, our rooms communicate, encourage and support what we hold dear.

3. Embrace hunger and dine together at designated times during the day

Postel-Vinay sprinkles anecdotes of her French husband's foray into American cuisine and approach to food. Between the larger portions and not waiting to eat until a specified time so everyone can gather and the food can be appreciated, he encourages and reminds how feeling hungry is not the same as feeling starved. Hunger is not bad, he reminds. In fact, it elevates the appreciation for the next meal when it is time to sit down and enjoy.

4. Celebrate the food that has been prepared

Similarly to the point above, her husband is dismayed by the Americans' lack of appreciation for the food that was thoughtfully and with great time created to be enjoyed. An appreciation allows for an understanding of where food comes from and how it was prepared enabling diners to slow down, consciously enjoy the the food and thus not overeat. I also applaud this approach as it nudges us all to eat well and intelligently. In other words, what is it you enjoy about the food? What are you tasting? And you can then carry this into the kitchen to better understand how food is made, prepared, seasoned and its full flavor brought to the table.

5. Encourage all to participate and all topics to be discussed

While some may adhere to the edict of not talking about politics or religion at the table, I would propose, it is how we talk about these topics at the table that ensures that thoughtful, yet still impassioned conversations on any topic can be had. When we ignore our audience and choose to commandeer the table as our bully pulpit to share our opinions, then we have relinquished respect for fellow diners, but if instead we engage in thoughtful, elevated, conceptual conversation, all people can consider, some may learn, some may accept and some may rise to the challenge to offer another thoughtful opinion demonstrating that so many ideas have many shades of grey. As well, Postel-Vinay shares that the French encourage all guests at the table to speak, even the children. Practicing conversation and listening skills, but also demonstrating how to participate in a conversation which leaves no one out and recognizing when someone is monopolizing the conversation is a life skill for any situation involving effective communication.

6. Cultivate a boudoir (which is not the chambre, or bedroom)

"a place of refuge, somewhere to go when the world [is] too cruel, a safe place to let one's guard down"

I too learned more accurately what a boudoir is I mistakenly equated it with the bedroom. But while tangent to le chambre, it is the room or space which leads or precedes the bedroom. Perhaps the lounging area of private gathering complete with a chaise lounge or dressing table or a meditation room off to the side of your master suite; however you want to decorate your boudoir is up to you. The key is you. While Postel-Vinay shares, such rooms are not found as much anymore in France; however, to create a space in our homes for "personal retreat" and a space to "reflect your personal taste" seems to be a worthwhile return to the past.

7. Keep the bedroom private 

In other words leave the bedroom off the home tour.

8. Choose neutral high quality cotton sheets for bed linens and avoid of fancy patterns

Simple, timeless, sensuous and beckoning. Our bedrooms need to be a place of refuge, escape and where restorative slumber takes place. Here is a detailed post about curating a bedroom for comfort and tranquility.

9. Choose a boutis quilt for summer bedding covers

Often found in the south of France, Provençal traditional quilting offers boutis "in which a thin layer of cotton, silk or wool batting is covered on both sides with thick cotton fabric, then quilted."

10. Take the television out of the bedroom

For sleeping, reading and intimate moments with your partner. That's it. That is all that is needed. Keep it simple, keep it brilliantly lovely and a space you look forward to returning to at the end of the day. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVE YOU MIGHT ENJOY: 

~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #105

~How to Set Up Your Home Like Luxurious Travel Accommodations, episode #45

~22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up's Living Space

~Subscribe to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

~Submit ASK SHANNON questions for the June 25th episode (email by June 12th)

~Stop by on June 13th for the reveal of TSLL's 2nd book and the beginning of preordering.

Petit Plaisir:

~Belkin Wireless Charging Pad for iPhone

~SPONSORS of Today's Episode:

 
  • Troos skincare & apothecary - www.troosskin.com
    • promo code: SIMPLE for 30% off your purchase

 

  • HelloFresh - www. hellofresh.com/sophisticate30
    • promo code: sophisticate30 to save $30 off your first week
Direct download: 209FrenchHome.mp3
Category:decor -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #208
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"Health is the outcome of the small choices you make on a daily basis." —Dr. Frank Lipman, author of How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life

The pillars of a healthy life have been enumerated by many an expert, but it was in Frank Lipman's book How to Be Well that delineated and described them in such a way that found me nodding my head in agreement throughout the entire book. The concept of living simply luxuriously adheres beautifully with Lipman's six pillars: what we Eat, the Sleep we get, the Movement we engage in, how we Protect and prevent, finding regular time to Unwind and quality opportunities to Connect all contribute to build a life of good health beyond our physical, but as well including our mental and social lives as well. At the core it is about knowledge and understanding, and just as importantly, it is about understanding the propaganda that swirls around us claiming to offer health hacks, but in reality prevent us from truly living a life of true wellness.

What ideas, products and beliefs should we let go of to live well?

1. Counting calories ~Love Food, Love Your Body - 10 Simple Tips, episode #8 ~Why Not . . . Learn How to Cook? ~Why Not . . . Treat Your Body Like a Temple?

2. Sugar

~From altering your hormones so that your body is not registering hunger correctly which then makes you eat more as well as increasing your cravings for sugar, sugar as Lipman calls it is "public enemy number one". With 80,000 processed foods on the market, 58% of them contain added sugar and that includes items you would never have thought to contain such an ingredient (granola, pickles, baked beans, protein bars, etc.).

3. Processed Foods

Compared to malware on our computer that jumbles the information in order to confuse, Lipman recognizes that most of us know that processed foods are bad, but we can be bamboozled into eating them never-the-less. When I read Michael Moss' book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, I was mortified by their antics, but then felt empowered to eat smarter and not fall prey.

4. Prioritizing exercise over sleep

"Sleep is not a luxury; it is an absolutely esential act of daily mainteance, and it is your ally in keeping your brain sharp and youthful."

5. Remove toxic cleaning products

Forget most labels, such as "green", "natural" or "with essential oils" as they often do not adhere to U.S. federal law when it comes to hazardous compounds. As well antibacterial products for hands and household use can contribute to drug-resistant bacteria. In lieu of fabric softeners and dryer sheets, Lipman recommends using a little vinegar in the rinse cycle instead.

6. Grooming products with toxic chemicals

Check out the "Never List" at beautycounter.com to determine which products to look for and to never purchase products which contain them (they also have a downloadable pdf which is pocket-size for easy reference).

7. Multi-tasking

~4 reasons to stop multi-tasking

8. Chasing bliss

Instead pursue a purpose. While it will take time to figure out what gives your life purpose as you come to better understand yourself, your gifts, the world, etc., choosing to pursue a perpetual state of happiness is a fool's pursuit. ~From Seeking Happiness to Cultivating Contentment: A Shift in Pursuit, episode #162

What ideas should we embrace?

1. Fat (healthy fat)

Fat does the opposite of added sugar; it is something we need in our diet and it gives us stable, longer-lasting energy, controls hunger and helps to regulate our metabolism. Lipman's rule of thumb when it comes to fats: If it comes from nature, it's probably healthy, and if it's made in a factory, be it feedlot or process plant, it's probably not. 

2. Become a savvy food shopper 

Just as in life it is important to be a critical thinker about the information we receive, this also encompasses the food we purchase. First and foremost, eat whole foods when possible. When fresh produce, local meats and dairy are available, support your local farmers and ranchers that way you know how your food came to be on your table. Lipman shares, "We have an industrial food supply that has favored profit over health for so long that it's made disease-causing foods mainstream and health-giving foods fringe." Food for thought - pun intended.

3. Enjoy broth

Lipman shares that the collagen in broth is gentle yet nourishing, healing and supportive for overworked and damaged digestive systems as well broth delivers healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to our bodies, counters inflammation and supports the joints and skin, as well it boosts the immune system. A recipe is included in his book for bone broth as well as pairing ideas.

4. Salt (just not highly processed table salt)

~As an essential micronutrient, it plays an important role in our body helping it to regulate muscle, heart, nervous system and brain function, as well as blood flow and fluid balance. Lipman reassures that so long as you are "eating a clean, whole-food diet and our seasoning your food with salt to taste, your body makes the adjustments to maintain equilibrium". Just make sure to eat unrefined salt, rather than regular table salt (highly processed salt). ~Listen to my conversation with American expat living in France and cookbook author and cooking class instructor Susan Hermann Loomis in episode #192 as she gives some insight into cooking and eating salt.

5. Simplify cooking

~Why Not . . . Keep It Simple in the Kitchen? ~Discover a Capsule Menu: What it is and how to create your own ~Watch the pilot episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, TSLL's new vodcast. Let go of recipes, use a slow cooker, let the quality of the food bring the flavor.

6. Eat the stalks

From broccoli to cauliflower, even the woody asparagus stalks, these hard-to-digest carbohydrates give good bacteria a feast (the is a good thing). Lipman shares that the prebiotic benefits include ensuring a thriving microbiome. Munch on these chewy options raw or cook them along with the rest of the vegetable.

7. Go to bed when you are tired

Our sleep cycles are smart (which is why jet lag is brutal). When we listen to them, we are listening to a wise sleep sage.

8. Investigate when your sleep goes awry

Often when we are unable to sleep, it is a sign that something in our lives needs to be addressed, adjusted or effectively dealt with so we can move forward.

9. Follow a strength training program

Since most of us do not work at jobs that require physical exertion, it is important we welcome this healthy stress to onto our physical bodies regularly. Offering protection from disease as well as enabling our bodies to "meet the demands of and carry the loads of life (joints, tends, ligaments, muscles, etc.), strength training can also reduce the risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. ~Have a look at what I learned when I scheduled time with a personal trainer earlier this year to set up my own strength training routine, episode #201.

10. Move

Any opportunity you have to move, seize it. From the exercise routine you follow, to walking to the market, taking the stairs or getting outside on your lunch break to take a stroll, do so. ~To Get and Stay Fit: Keep It Simple, episode #190

11. Use a foam roller

Lipman recommends using a foam roller five to ten minutes a day to massage the tired muscles and tendons we have kept quite sedentary throughout the day. Also, using a roller helps with circulation and kneading sore muscles which also increases the oxygen flow to the brain. ~Shop foam rollers here.

12. Shop at farmers markets when you can

~How to make the most of the farmers market no matter where you live ~David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home, episode #182

13. Dry brush your entire body

Similar to using a roller, dry brushing your body from head to toe improves circulation. Making strokes with your brush that all run to your heart, making this a habit will also improve your body's glow as dead skin cells are also being removed. ~Shop dry body brushes here and here

14. Become mindful

Being mindful is the opposite of choosing to multitask. When we choose to be mindful, we are choosing to be present, to be self-aware, to respond rather than react. While being mindful is not something we can do once and make it a default that we do without thinking, it is something that requires of us to be entirely present thus improving the quality of everything we do throughout our days. ~11 Ways to Live More Mindfully

15. Say no to overcommitting

One of the benefits of being mindful is that we are aware of what we are capable of and respond in kind rather than by default. Saying no could be literally saying "no thank you" to invitations or creating "no work zones" in your home. ~Discover how to let go of the busy mentality

16. Rest

~An Everyday Necessity: Deliberate Rest, episode #139

17. Commit random acts of kindness

Kindness in our behavior, in our words, in our expression of sincere appreciation. When we choose to commit random acts of kindness, we experience what Lipman calls the "helper's high". Physically our bodies do change as serotonin levels rise and cortisol (released when we are stressed) goes down, as well as our blood pressure.

18. Learn something new each week

Not only is it exciting and confidence boosting when we learn something we weren't aware of previously, we are actually helping our brain out as well. By learning new tasks and information, we are creating new neural pathways which "can prevent degenerative diseases like dementia". ~3 part series - The Benefits of Reading

19. Celebrate small victories

Perfection can be the barrier that stands in our way of celebrating along our journey. Lipman states "This anxious pursuit of perfection can be a hindrance to getting and staying healthy because it denies the reality of nature: Health is a dynamic state, constantly changing and in flux, and it is different for each person. There is no 'perfect point' of guaranteed balance, and striving for it can drive you crazy." I wanted to end on this point because even though the book offers how to live well, we are always on the journey toward refining our lives. We will never reach a point of perfect health and be able to stay there. We must be diligent and regularly apply the knowledge we knew which was reaffirmed today, apply the new information we discovered and continue to learn more about our unique bodies, lives and selves. The first step is understanding and once we know how, we can then go about living well so that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest. ~Perfectionist vs. High Achiever: The Difference

Petit Plaisir:

Avocado Toast recipe
~Discover the many benefits of enjoying an avocado Download the Episode
Direct download: 208healthylife.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #207
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." — Marcus Tullius Cicero

Claude Monet's gardens at Giverny, Butchart Gardens near Victoria, Canada, or the grounds of Versailles in France. Each and many more outdoor masterpieces which utilize the gifts of Mother Nature to enchant visitors are as glorious as they are intimidating to those of us who are curious to welcome similar beauty onto our own properties and sanctuaries. Having grown up with a mother who has a sincere love for gardening and whose canvas is more than a few acres, I watched as she painstakingly watered by hand all of her flower beds, raised garden boxes for years until automatic sprinklers were put in. During the winter months she still goes through the garden catalogs and plants seeds far in advance of the spring season, nursing them in her sunroom and then in her green house before planting them in their final destination in the yard or garden. Needless to say, the effort master gardeners put into their plants, flowers and landscapes can easily be a full-time job. And while many of us may want and appreciate the gifts that spending time around such natural beauty brings into our lives, we may not all either have the space, property or ability due to renting or the time or devoted passion. I find myself a little in both camps for my reasons for not having a bountiful garden and yard. While in my previous home, of which I owned, I invested much money installing automatic sprinklers, planting new trees, installing a cedar fence, along with the seasonal attention that is required, part of me is quite relieved to not have to rake 40 bags of leaves each year or worry about investing in a landscape architect to mold my yard into an oasis because I am currently renting and do not know the cottage I call home at the moment. However, on the flipside, I derive great pleasure from being outdoors, enjoying the vegetables, herbs and somtimes fruit from my garden as well as arriving home to a bevy of daffodils in the spring, lavender in the summer and lush hostas tucked into the shade in my flower beds surrounding my front porch. Mother Nature is an elixir, a form of comfort and a destination to unwind, relax and appreciate the natural beauty that can surround us should we choose to welcome it into our lives. So today I wanted to share with you how you too can welcome the gifts of a yard and garden into your life without being someone who has the Master Gardener credientials or even wants them. Rather by adopting a few or all of these ideas shared below, you can cultivate the simple, yet powerful gifts a thoughtful approach to tending to your garden and yard can bring.

1. Keep it simple

As with other areas of our lives, keeping what is necessary and valued and letting go of what is not enables simplicity to be the guiding principle. Even if we are in awe of our neighbor's yard, our space, time and budget may be different. Taking an approach to welcoming more color and fresh plants as well as a gardening space must work for you. So take a look at what your space and time allow (each spring I know I will be planting five pots, looking for one hanging basket and planting my garden which is 4 feet by 8 feet), and enjoy the process of enriching what you have and celebrating, not comparing what you have createed with others.

2. Find your Hardiness Zone

Depending upon where you live, you will have more success with some plants than others. For example, as IG followers know, I am a fan of hydrangeas, but I have never had luck growing them in either of the locations I have attempted due to the zone in which I grow them. While yes, there are often hardier variations available, the classic hydrangeas with the huge mopheads are not something at the moment, I have the opportunity to grow. Therefore, I do not invest in them. If you live in the states, check out this website to determine your hardiness zone based on your zip code, if you live in the United Kingdom, check out this website, and if you live in Canada, check out this website. For all other countries, simply type in "hardiness zone and your country" and you should be able to find a similar website.

3. Shop smart (when and what)

Now that you know what types of plants to buy (good news, often the local nurseries will primarily stock what does grow well in your area), keep in mind that shopping early in the nursey season will ensure you have the best selection. As I shared a few weeks ago when my favorite local nursey opened its doors for the first time of the season, I made sure my list of annual plants was ready based on what I needed, and stopped by within the first 48 hours. Now, keep in mind, shopping early is key for those particular items you are going to want that often sell out quickly and are not restocked. For example, Creeping Jenny plants (see here) tend to be hard to find later in the spring as they are quite popular pot drapers. And flowering bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and lilies can be planted in spring as well. But other plants or bulbs will not become available until, for example, late summer and fall such as daffodils as you plant the bulb in the fall so that they will flower in early spring. ~Check out the Ultimate Flower Calendar here for which flowers to shop for and when to plant.

4. Grow an herb garden

No matter how big or small or even whether you have outdoor space or not, you can always have an herb garden, and I highly recommend that you do. Especially if you are someone who enjoys cooking, you will be saving yourself  a decent chunk of change by having, for example, a basil plant (and paying $3-5) than paying $4-5 at the grocery store each time you want fresh basil leaves. In 2013 I wrote a detailed post on how to create your own mini garden, and part of the mini garden details having an herb garden, as well as the herbs to include. If you do plant an herb garden outside, some of your herbs will not need to be replanted each year. Sage, rosemary, flat leaf parsley and even oregano have demonstrated in my own garden to be quite hardy.

5. How to pot a pot: Basics that Work

There are three components to shopping for the plants to put in your outdoor pots. Whether they will be in the sunshine or in the shade (hanging baskets can follow this prescription as well - although I often buy a basket full of one plant to simplify), include these three components (just three different types of plants - you can buy multiples if your pot is large enough) thriller (for height), filler and spiller Successfully Grow Plants in Containers. Paul Allen Smith is my garden guru and his terminology of what to put in the pots is easy to rememember. Read his detailed post about how to . For example, in my front porch which is in shade for most of the day my basic formula is a hosta for the height (thriller), coleus for the filler, and sweet potato vines for the spiller (they are very delicate, so while I bought them in April, I kept them inside until just a few days ago when the last frost was well behind us). When summer and early fall has past, I plant the hosta (which is a perennial plant) in my flower bed to continue to bring more green, lush filler to the front of my house.

~This is one of my "sun" pots full of Creeping Jenny in the forefront, the spiller~

6. Add a few perennials to your yard each year

Perennials can be expensive, but part of the reason their price tag is higher is they last for more than one season. Whether it is a shrub, a hedge, the bulbs for tulips or daffodils, roses, or anything thing you determine would complement your yard and survive in your climate, gradually bring a few more into your yard each year as your budget allows. Take time when making decisions about perennials and watch how the sunlight falls in different areas of your yard to determine exactly what plant or tree would be best.

7. Follow an expert or a few who offers ample inspiration and information

TSLL blog is not a gardening blog as readers know, but I am regularly encouraging time spent with nature as a means for a more content life. If I can do anything to assist you in your journey to welcome more Mother Nature into your home, it is to offer the encouragement to indeed welcome her with open arms. There are many fantastic gardening blogs available to read and follow. Some offer expert advice (as I mentioned Paul Allen Smith above is my trusted go-to), some offer visual inspiration (I love Sharon Santoni's home and yard), and some offer it all along with the ability to purchase the flowers they grow such as Floret's Flowers (her dahlias are her rock-star product, but her daffodils are amazing as well).

8. Water regularly

As with anything we want to grow, regular watering is a must. Now for those of who travel, this can become difficult as we want to travel during the summer, but we've also invested some money in our plants and we want to return to a home with living, beautiful blooms. Consider carefully placing your pots so that your automated sprinkler will reach them or ask a trusted neighbor to water your pots once or every other day as necessary.

9. Use good soil

Quality matters as well when it comes to gardening. This year I purchased a yard of organic soil builder - compost - from our local county recycling business for $15. Now I also had to pay for them to deliver it, but I wanted to give my garden an extra rich, nutritious foundation. You can also buy something similar in bags at your local nursery, but price per pound, this was an amazing deal, and I didn't want to pass it up. "Feeding" your soil and ensuring it is of good quality is the key to building a successful garden. There are other ways you can tend to your soil organically as shared by Better Homes & Gardens - add shredded leaves, animal manures or cover crops. Read more here.

10. Make a plan and map it out

Whether it is planning for which plants to put in your pots, how your landscaping will look or the layout in your garden (which vegetables and fruit go where), plan it out first. Better Homes & Gardens offers a Garden Planner which is simple and easy to use, but you can also simply pencil it out on a pad of paper. I find myself over-buying of one plant and not purchasing enough of another, only having to make a second trip (which I don't mind, but it would simplify the process to get what I need in one trip).

11. Visit your local farmers market

Whether you have a garden or not, flowers or not, an outdoor herb garden or not, knowing you can always slip away to your local farmers market to pick up fresh produce, a beautiful seasonal bouquet of flowers for the home and perhaps a potted basil plant for the window sill, is a perfect way to soak in Mother Nature's gifts and welcome them into your home. When we take the time to savor the seasonal bounty having pulled the carrot from the soil, plucked the fresh strawberry from the vine or picked the apples from the tree, we are respecting what Mother Nature has provided and tending to our health and wellbeing along the way. I hope you have discovered a few tips and ideas for beginning or enhancing your home yard and garden experience. For me, having an outdoor space, no matter how small, has always been soothing and necessary to find the balance of my days. However, initially all of the decisions made available when I stepping into a necessary put me in sensory and selection overload. While I still delight in visiting nurseries, I more clearly trust my decision making and enjoy the experience knowing that when I bring home what I have found, my space will become more welcoming and more of a sanctuary than it already is (all the while saving my budget). SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Create a Mini Garden?

~Ina Garten's Gorgeous Garden

~Farmers Markets: How to Make the Most of Your Visit No Matter Where You Live (Bend's Farmers Markets are Shared as well)

~Watch the pilot episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen: Seasonal Fare to Elevate the Everyday (season 1 begins on Satuday September 8th)

  ~ASK SHANNON 2018, Submit your questions now.

  • Monday June 25th will be this year's Ask Shannon episode where I get the chance the answer your questions directly on the air.
  • Submit by Tuesday June 12th
  • Email me at askshannon@thesimplyluxuriouslife.com
  • More information here

 

Petit Plaisir:

~Ritz and Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef and The Rise of the Leisure Class by Luke Barr

~other books by Luke Barr - Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard and the Reinvention of American Taste  

Sponsor of this week’s episode:

 

Images: (1)  from TSLL's home in Bend, Oregon (potted plants, fuchsia, Japanese maple, hostas, coleus and sweet potato vines) (2) pics captured at Bend's first day of the farmers market

Direct download: 207YardandGarden.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #206
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

I am all about simplifying life's daily routines and events, and especially when our schedules become full, our time is precious. As of late, my spring has been bursting. From finishing TSLL's 2nd book, finalizing my summer travel plans, preparing my students from AP testing in May, tending to my pup Norman's mini leg injury and well, just living everyday life, knowing that the necessities that enable life to run well are tended to is way to strengthen the core of our lives. When these necessities are neglected, we can just feel "off", out of sync or unable to fully rest in the little time we have to do so. I have gathered a few of the "life hacks" or simple approaches to ensure no matter how harried a day or week becomes unexpectedly, we can successfully find ourselves feeling rested, calm and free of angst.

1. Take a day off

While this may sound impossible initially, take a moment and consider the quality of the life you are living. The key to living well is to ensure how you are navigating your life is savvy. And if you do not have the energy to do so well, take a day to recharge. Some call such days "wellness days", but no matter what you call it, they are necessary from time to time. Last week, and for the past few weeks, my motor has been geared in high. With unexpected events, finishing up projects and stress levels that didn't have time to descend, I found myself in need of a day to just do nothing. So this past Saturday, that is all I did. Staying at home for me was a necessity that I recognized I needed to fully reboot.

2. Fresh Bouquets that Last for Weeks

Having flowers around my house just make me happy. The house doesn't feel complete without a fresh bouquet of either hydrangeas (yes, they seem to be my year-round flower of choice - #tsllhydrangeas), or any other seasonal bloom I find in the store at a great price. And when they arrive home, I do my best to enable them to last as long as possible. How? Trim stems and add fresh water every 4-7 days. Slice up the stem about 1/4 -1/2 inch to enable the stem to absorb the water. I do my best to buy the most freshly cut flowers, and while sometimes it is hard to tell in the store, look for tighter buds that haven't fully blossomed. Within a day or so, they will be in full bloom and your house will have their full life.

3. Facial masque, put on before stepping into the shower

I try to give my skin either a moisturizing masque treatment or a pore-cleansing treatment 1-2 times a week, but my time is limited. The best advice my long-time estetician gave me was the go-ahead to simply apply my masque (after cleansing), then step into the shower and let the steam work its magic. Rinse in the shower (less mess to clean up), and voilà, two for one!

4. Express gratitude

As a child I had heard the advice that giving and expressing thanks is a powerful ingredient to feeling contentment and finding peace. However, at the time, it didn't compute. Don't get me wrong, I observed this behavior in my parents and those around me, but it wasn't until I was an adult that it truly was understood. When we feel as those much of our lives is out of our control or overwhelming, one of the aspects we do have control over is how we interact with others. When it appears that very little is functioning as it should, or your energy level is depleted, looking around to see what see what we are thankful for and expressing that appreciation not only will paradoxically fuel us with positive energy, but build a stronger, positive bond with those in our lives and community. The purpose is not to gain adulation or something in return, but it is the exchanging of good energy, paying recognition to others and their lives and how they are living and giving of themselves that assuages any negative energy in our lives. The two need not have any connection, but when we focus on the good, we have less time to worry about what we cannot control.

5. Exhaust your physical being

While we all know that adhering to a regular routine is important, it is vitally so when we are overwhelmed to do something to get our blood pumping. Even when I do not have time to work out, I remind myself that it is essential for me to feel better at the end of the day, it will help me sleep better and it will be one less thing to stress about that I did not do. Sometimes the workout can come in a different form such as working in the garden to set up for the spring season or making love with your partner. Whatever exhaustion you prefer, make it a priority. Part of the reason working out is effective when our lives seem overwhelmed is that our minds are forced to be in the present moment. We have to focus if it is an intense strength training session to keep our form correct, or hold Warrior Poise #3 in yoga and not fall on our nose. When we turn our minds off for even 30 minutes, we encourage our bodies to destress.

6. Read a book without a plot or how-tos

I recognized recently that if I am having an particularly stressful week, the last thing I want to do is get absorbed by more drama in the plot of a novel, or feel I need to add one more "to-do" to my self-improvement list by reading a non-fiction self-help book. What I have found to be some of the best reading for such weeks are books about food or travel. An escape into a pleasure that is blissful, relaxing for the mind and an opportunity to unwind. I highly recommend Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries (a diary of his meals through the season) or any of his books/cookbooks.

7. Take a detoxifying bath

Simply add two cups of Epsom salt and let the day wash away. Epsom salt offers sulfate and magnesium, both of which can be absorbed through the skin and magnesium is what stress reduces from our body, so we do need to replenish. As well, epsom salt easing muscle soreness, softens skin and the sulfate helps to flush toxins from our bodies. When I began my strength training program with my trainer, my body had intense muscle soreness, and I was immediately advised to take a bath with epsom salts. Needless to say, sometimes the relief we need can be simple and pleasurable. (Read more about epsom salt here from mindbodygreen.)

8. Reduce unnecessary time using technology

I am just as guilty as the next person for looking at my screen (phone or computer) when it isn't necessary and is simply out of habit. However, it was clear to me that constantly having my eyes on a screen was something that was not helping my stress levels. Put down the phone, plug it in to be charged and walk away. Once we find a spot in our day when we have completed the necessary tasks, and we do not need to be available for a text or phone call, put it in another room. Having it close by increases the likelihood that we will check it, just to see.

9. Talk to someone who is trusted and calm

When we talk to someone who knows us, understands our life, but at the same time can recognize when we need to breathe, reboot and not be so hard on ourselves, we are reminded why we need to connect with others. However, we also come to see the power in the types of people who are in our lives. It is during these stressful moments in our lives that we can be thankful we have built and nurtured such loving, supportive relationships because sometimes we cannot give ourselves the advice we know we need.

10. Turn on a relaxing playlist and turn off the news

Yesterday I shared an Everyday Jazz playlist which is often my music of choice when I want to take a deep breath and unwind. Whether at school, home or traveling, jazz, as well as classical is the remedy to lower my stress-levels and just get me tapping my toe, swaying my head or slowing letting go of anything that came before. While staying abreast of the news is important (we talked about how to find the right balance in this episode/post), too much can be detrimental. Finding an alternative that offers the comfort and pleasure that you are looking for is a simple click of a button away.

11. Sip some tea

The type of tea you choose will be up to you, but for me, since I have a high tolerance for caffeine, I always go to my black teas. The something hot, something delicious and something to sip slowly, slows me down and calms me down as well. Read this post from the archives regarding the many benefits of tea, as well as see my list of favorite teas.   SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~11 Ways to Improve Your Life

~Why Not . . . Automate It? 12 Ways to Improve the Everyday

~How to Ensure a Bountiful Harvest (in life), episode #177

  ~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter or the Book Release News Updates newsletter here

Petit Plaisir:

Ines de la Fressange's new style guide - The Parisian Field Guide to Men's Style, released May 15th

   

SPONSOR OF TODAY'S EPISODE:

  • Lyst.com
    • For all the latest fashion, make sure to check out the global fashion search platform Lyst.
    • Lyst brings together the widest inventory in luxury and contemporary fashion online
Direct download: 206lifehacks_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 6:19am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #205
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"Today's accomplishments were yesterday's impossibilities." —Robert H. Schuller

I was recently watching a documentary on Julia Child, and prior to meeting Paul, falling in love with French food and becoming the revolutionary figure she became in the food industry, there was a point in her life where she felt "ordinary", and not as special as she had assumed. It was shortly after the death of her mother to whom she was quite close and also during a time when a man she had been deeply interested in, married someone else. She returned to her parent's California home despondent and not sure of which way to go or with a clue of what to do with her life. Then World War II occurred and she chose to take part in any way she could. The rest is history in many ways, but this lull in her life provided a time of uncertainty about the future and a recognition that what lay ahead for her wasn't something she could predict or foresee. If you are someone who listens to their life, but also does all that you can to plan and put the odds in your favor, you, like me, have no doubt realized that there are still moments, some short in duration and some quite long, that seemingly give no clue how our lives will unfold. Such times are excruciatingly uncomfortable. Excruciating because we do not know if what we are doing is a lost investment or a wise investment. In such moments we begin to question whether we should have perhaps just "played it safe", not stretched so far, dreamed so vastly and swam so far from the shore. While I cannot sit here and write to each reader and confirm without a doubt that all of your dreams will come true, I can confirm that I am on such a ride right now and have been my entire life in many ways. But I have arrived on the other side of many of my worries in the past to see a beautiful reality that at some point along the way only seemed a dream, and in many cases, an impossible dream. Today I'd like to share with you eight things to either do or ways to shift your mind that will help you travel through these inevitable times that we will be introduced to along our journey should we be strong enough to walk away from the "safe" route. I put it in parenthesis because nothing is assured or 100% safe. In fact, when it comes to our mind, I have come to realize that we often have fear that our dreams won't manifest because we want them so badly. If we didn't, we wouldn't give them a second thought. In this instance, we are creating a sense of anxiety that we can actually let go of which leads me to my first point.

1.Make a plan and keep striving forward

It's one thing to be worried your plan won't materialize if you haven't done the work. It is an entirely different scenario when you have done the work. Now this is not to say that there is a cookie-cutter approach and then voila! what you want will appear. But the key is to do what you can, keep steadily moving forward, each day, little by little tending to the necessary business and tasks and let go of the "when".

2. Seek meaning

In Andrew Soloman's TedTalk regarding one's identity, he shares, "Forge meaning, build identity. Forge meaning, build identity. And then invite the world to share your joy." Another key to the success we seek, the goals we wish to attain is to strive toward something that is meaningful to you. Make sure you are seeking something that is of great value to you. If a particular political issue draws your ire as to how it is being handled, step forward in a manner you are comfortable with and work for the change you seek. As you begin to do so, you will be able to step into areas that you never thought you'd be comfortable going, but it will be your passion for the cause, if it is sincere, that will armor you from the most common doubts. Whatever you are working towards, so long as there is deeper purpose that is fundamental to how you live life or wish to live it, you will have infinite fuel to carry you along the journey.

3. Find the answers to the unknown questions

While we may not be able to find all of the answers we seek, the primary reason we are fearful is because of the ambiguity. When we know, we can relax. And based on my mistake of not fully understanding the benefits of taking my business to the next level (LLC or an S-corp), I wasted years and much money because I didn't ask the questions from people who know the answers. When I finally did as the questions from my now business lawyer, I could have kicked myself. My fears were assuaged because I had the answers, and the answers gave me back the power to make better decisions to determine my financial and personal future.

4. Reflect on your past

As I look back over my past and consider the other uncertain times and what eventually unfolded, I am reminded that so many unknowns that I could not have predicted eventually revealed themselves. So long as I refused to stop striving forward, opportunities presented themselves. The key is to keep striving forward, putting forth your best and most sincere effort, being present and being excited about what you will find. Use your past as a confidence boost and apply the lessons you learned along the way.

5. Leave the familiar path

Even if the crowd or others in your field have been successful doing something a particular way, it doesn't mean you have to travel in kind if that doesn't work or sit well or feel authentic to you. While it is always a good idea to look around to see what inspiration others can spark in you, as Oprah teaches, stay in your lane. Do it your way, do it well. I like to think of it as taking the time to learn the rules, but then breaking them as necessary as you move forward along your own journey.

6. A quick list to remember

  • Don't fixate on the worst - instead envision what you are working to materialize. We create what we believe, and our energy is finite. Focus on what you desire, use your imagination to make it your reality, rather than envisioning what you do not what to have happen. What you look for, you are more likely to find.
  • Don't become stuck in patterns that didn't work in the past - learn from what didn't work and do it differently moving forward. Perceived mistakes are not failures as they often reveal to us how we can do better next time with the next idea, or the next project.
  • Don't see the unknown as a threat, rather see it as a mystery for you to solve. Become your own version of Hercules Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or Nancy Drew, and be the detective who discovers how it can all work out.
  • Don't throw your hands up and try anything, hoping something will stick. Be a savvy adventurer into the unknown.  Know the past, understand how history has unfolded (the causes and the effects), and then take educated risks.

7. Become more comfortable with a little messiness

If every day each wheel of your machine called life was working smoothly, every email was answered in fewer than 24 hours, the house was always spick and span clean, every bill was paid in advance without a tinge of worry, and debts were paid in full each month even while we were investing, I would be dancing with glee the rest of my life. Some readers may be saying, but that is possible. Having seen what was going on in my life when such a vision was a reality, I can say only from my experience that I saw it as an opportunity to grow, to stretch, to see what else I was capable of, and so I took risks. I invested in my dreams. Now, as I advance in life, I do hope to become more settled, but the reason I kept stretching was because I knew there was more I wanted to experience, more ways in which I wanted to grow and more I wanted to explore. Because of these pulls and interests, I needed to take risks. And when that decision was made or being considered, my mind and my office (and inbox) were sometimes a mess. Not a mess to clean up, but a mess to work through, a mess that needed to materialize in order to strive toward a dream that I could not have made sense of at the time. But with time, each of us can see the beauty of what the mess can give us. We just have to stop thinking everything must be perfect all of the time. We need to allow our lives to be messy temporarily, sort through it, toss and keep what we should and then see the beauty that we were meant to find.

8. Become more comfortable with not knowing

Julie Benezet, who in 1999 was working as a director of global real estate for an online company called Amazon as they sought advice on how to best survive and grow their business, in her book The Journey of Not Knowing shares, "I  noticed that when people take chances, they get farther ahead. Too often what happens is people go a more conservative route, because they don't want to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of trying something new when you don't know how it's going to turn out." The key to being willing to take these risks without knowing how they will work out is to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. In this article she shares four approaches to further yourself in business when it comes to risk taking, and while you don't want to jump head-first without doing your homework, it is important to know that when you have already done the necessary work, you will still feel a bit of fear. Recognize this truth, become more comfortable with this truth, and it will set you free to soar. Whether it is the economy that we wish we could predict, the future of the government we live under, or whether or not our boss will say yes, or the weather will cooperate, the unknown is actually a norm in our lives. What lens we see this unknown through will determine how we navigate through the ambiguity, that while temporary, is inevitable. So take a deep breath, get out of your own way, follow the above eight ideas and enjoy the unique journey you are on. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~10 Things People Who Have Found Contentment Understand About Uncertainty, episode #100

~13 Life Truths to Remember About Making Progress

~7 More Signs You Are Moving in the Right Direction

 

~Ask Shannon Episode is coming soon!
  • Monday June 25th, the annual episode will go live and your question could be answered on the show!
  • Send your questions to askshannon@thesimplyluxuriouslife.com
  • Deadline is Tuesday June 12th
  • Ask anything about how to live a simply luxurious life (life inspiration, beauty, fitness, food, travel, France, books, etc.)

~Subscribe to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter, learn more here.

Petit Plaisir

~Independent Bookstore Day, the last Saturday in April (April 28, 2018)

~Visit an Independent Bookstore in your community or wherever you find yourself traveling.

“Consumers control the marketplace by deciding where to spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read the book. This is how we change the world: we grab hold of it. We change ourselves.” ― Ann Patchett, bestselling author and co-owner of Parnassus Books

~Roundabout Books, Bend, Oregon~

   

Direct download: 205Unknowns.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #204
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

The Harvard Business Review pointed out in 2011 that there are many networks we each need in our lives to be successful. Looking at this concept from a business perspective, HBR shared that a manager and leader needs three networks to be successful: operational, developmental, and strategic. As I shared in this post written in 2014, whether at work or at home or while playing, we are our own brand. How we live our lives is a message to the world at large and more powerfully to those we share our lives with, so I wanted to incorporate these three networks into both our professional and personal lives. In successful entrepreneur Julia Pimsleur's book Million Dollar Women, she shares that while women tend to have strong personal networking skills, it is their professional networking skills that must be strengthened. Modeling what she encourages readers to do, Pimsleur's nonprofit and for-profit earnings of more than $20 million dollars demonstrate she knows how to network and network well. Offering masterclasses, coaching and workshops, understanding how to network and the importance of doing so is a skill, and we can all learn how to master it. It is important to note, in order to be successful in our careers, we must have our personal lives well-structured as well. And we cannot do it all if we want to do it well, so we must build what I am calling a Life Network that will optimize both our professional and personal lives. Today, I'd like to break these three networks down, and while using the definitions of each given by HBR, I will be applying them to both aspects of our lives. As I examined my own life, I made a list of all of the people, businesses, groups I interact with through any given year. Some I will see more often than others, some will only be once a year, but all of them are essential parts of my Life Network. I then added a few more to each list that may be individuals most people in certain walks of life need to thrive. Now there may be other networks you need or have in your life, so I have included the definition of each of the networks so that you can decide in which group they would fall based on what they bring into your life.

Operational

  • definition: people you need in your day-to-day life; whose work you depend to do your work; these individuals do not work for you, but the work they do for you is what you depend on (as you cannot do it yourself) for success.  Home experts: house cleaning, maintenance (plumber, contractor, lawn care, etc.)
    • Accountant
    • Web Designers
    • Illustrator
    • Editor
    • Lawyer
    • Real Estate Agentlandlord, loan officer, bank officers
    • Hair Stylist
    • Aesthetician (waxing, facials, nails, etc.)
    • Veterinarian
    • Dog Groomer
    • Dog Sitter
    • Babysitter/Daycare
    • House Sitter
    • Assistants (virtual or in office)

Even if you are not currently in the market to buy a house or maybe you are not working on a project with the contractors you will hire, maintaining that relationships, being cognizant that it is a relationship and being appreciative of it is the strength of your network. Whether it is the holiday extra tip that is given to your hair stylist, paying your bills on time when it comes to your accountant, editor or lawyer, being respectful of the reality that they are running a business, and having paying clients is what enables them to live and work and thrive, reveals how much you respect and appreciate the work they have done for you.

Strategic

  • definition: it is all about tomorrow, looking to the future, creating opportunities or the fertile soil for opportunities to reveal themselves. Sometimes this network will overlap with operationalPersonal Trainer
    • Counselor
    • Financial Advisor
    • Doctor 
    • Dentist
    • Supervisor in your field of business (i.e. administrator, manager, CEO, etc.)

No one can predict the future, but the longer we are in our fields professionally, and the longer we live in this world, the more we understand the causes and effects of events that occur. While we may not know precisely when or exactly how they will unfold, we can know that the economy will ebb and flow. We can know that people retire and new team members will be added; we also know that our good health doesn't just happen and interest doesn't accrue unless we invest. Putting the odds in your favor by being preventative with your health, saving intelligently and early for your retirement, building strong relationships with people within your work environment is being aware that there will be a tomorrow and you want to put yourself in the best situation possible.

Personal (HBR calls this network Developmental)

  • definition: individuals to whom you can turn to for advice, to whom you can trust, a soft shoulder or sympathetic ear. These individuals help you consider best options for growth, improvement, reaching your full potential. 6 Types of Friends (a healthy social circle) - learn more here
    • Partner in life (spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend)
    • Spiritual Advisor (religious leader, meditation instructor, life coach, yoga instructor, etc.)
    • Mentor (also included in 6 Types of Friends, listed above)
    • Equals in your field of business (fellow colleagues: bloggers, teachers, CEOs, etc.)
    • Experts in other fields that don't compete with your field, but their business overlaps with yours
    • Resource for new information about anything of value (industry news, cultural news, etc.)

The premise of living well is to remain curious and continually seek new information. We are dynamic as human beings, and our world as well is dynamic. As much as we may want things to stay exactly as they are once we find a way of life that works best for us, we know that everything else is changing, and so too must we stay privy as well as a student of the world. However, the world can knock us down sometimes, so we must know where to replenish our strength as well as contribute positively to others' lives. So long as we remember we are always a work in progress and will always have the opportunity to grow should we choose, this network will enable us to do so in both our personal and professional lives. As someone who appreciates clarity where it is possible to have it, this list helps me not only be clear about what is necessary to reach my dreams, live securely and enjoyably, but also enable me to recognize that we are a part of a web of other people in this world, and we truly do not succeed on our own. While we may be have the dream, we need the team to help it come into fruition. While we may bring home the salary that pays the bills, we need to handle the money we work so hard for well, so that it serves us the best it possibly can. Lastly, so long as we are aware and appreciative, we will begin to build networks in all three areas that will improve the quality of our lives. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Create a To Be List?

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

~25 Must-Haves for the Efficient Office Desk, episode #60

Petit Plaisir:

~Secrets of Wealthy Women via WSJ podcast 

Sponsors of this week’s episode:

~Image: TSLL's Office, via IG

Direct download: 204lifenetwork.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #203
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

Author of The Provençal Mystery series, featuring Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, M.L. Longworth joins me on today's episode of the podcast to discuss her latest mystery in the series which was just released on April 3rd, The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche. Having lived in Aix-en-Provence for more than 20 years, M.L. shares insights into her daily routine, what she most looks forward to when it comes to Provençal spring cuisine as well as shares tips and recommendations for what to pack might you be traveling to the region. As a writing professor at NYU's campus in Paris, I also had the opportunity to ask her about her writing process and how she instructs students to find their narrative voice. Most importantly, we talk about the plot for her new novel The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche, where her inspiration for her lead characters comes from and other details that fans of her series will love to be privy to (I know I was). Be sure to tune and don't forget to enter the giveaway on Instagram (details shared below).

~TSLL's office (Norman waiting for his treat) pre-taping of my interview with M.L. Longworth, shared on Instagram~

Read M.L. Longworth's entire series in order:

Learn more about M.L. (Mary Lou) Longworth:

~Listen to past French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here. ~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter or learn more here Shop Les Tropezienne sandals discussed in the episode:

Giveaway

Three lucky listeners/readers will receive:

  • a copy of The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche by M.L. Longworth (released April 3, 2018)
  • AND a L'Occitane lavande sachet parfumé (lavender sachet)
  • Both can be seen in the image below

How to Enter:

  • Only on Instagram
  • Three ways to enter (you may enter each way, so you can increase your chances of winning)
    • (1) Follow @thesimplyluxuriouslife & like the respective post with the similar image seen below on Instagram
    • (2) Leave a comment on the respective IG post
    • (3) Tag a friend who you think might enjoy the book
  • Monday April 9 - Thursday April 12 (midnight, Pacific Time)
  • Winners will be chosen at random
  • Winners will be announced on Instagram AND in TSLL's Weekly Newsletter (learn more here) on Friday April 13th

Direct download: 203MLLongworth_copy.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 9:28pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #202
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

In today's episode of the podcast, stylist Tiffani Rogers of Style by Tiffani returns to talk about the trends of the spring season. Be sure to tune as she will share what to invest in, designers to check out as well as how to style a shirtdress and what to do with the trend of the ruffle. Tiffani also announced the new version of her Shop the City Guide (Manhattan + new Brooklyn additions) which just became available this week. As podcast listeners and blog readers, she is extending a discount for her must-have shopping guide (even if you aren't visiting the city, she provides links to their websites and social media accounts to enable you to shop the boutiques she trusts and highly recommends). Visit and follow Tiffani Rogers:

Items, Designers, Etc. discussed in this episode: ~Johanna Ortiz -

  • view all of her collections here
  • have a look below at a few of my favorites from her Spring 2018 collection
  • shop Johanna Ortiz

  ~Tory Burch pink leather sneakers (many other colors available) ~Queer Eye, season 1 (episode #196, Petit Plaisir, trailer included at the end of the post) ~The RealReal ~Listen to past episodes with Tiffani Rogers below:

~episode #156, Self-Awareness, Relationships, Style & the Met Gala

~episode #129, Talking Style, New York City & Sales

~episode #111, A Discussion about Quality over Quantity in Fashion & Life 

~Shop TSLL's annual Spring Shopping Guide now (just released April 1st)

  • 100+ hand-picked spring clothing items
  • shop directly from the post
  • navigate the trends (which ones to spend or save on)

Petit Plaisir

Cézanne: Portraits of a Life

  https://youtu.be/P4L_0PUMeb8

Direct download: 202TiffaniSpringTrends.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #201
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

 "Exercise should be regarded as tribute to the heart." —Gene Tunney

Disspell the myths, push through the pain, discover what you do not know so the wrong information no longer holds you back. The concept of good overall physical health is a tripod: aerobic, strength and flexibility. A regular regimen which includes these three components will offer a firm foundation of lasting health. When we pair strong physical health with emotional and mental health, we are a mighty force with the potential to live well. As 2018 began, one of my resolutions was to improve the quality of my strength program. As I shared in TSLL's first book, in chapter six which focuses on health and beauty, my approach to creating a strength program is to hire a personal trainer for at least one session and hire them to help you design an at-home working routine. Having done this more than thirteen years ago, I realized I may need a refresher to my routine. The opportunity to work with an expert in the field of fitness as well as health and nutrition was something I didn't want to squander. Yes, I know the basics of health. As a collegiate athlete who has competed at the national level, and throughout my entire childhood, as well as coached varsity volleyball in high school, I knew the general concepts of proper form, body awareness and possible exercises. What I didn't have was accountability and someone to push me further than I would push myself. After all, having the energy and the time to accomplish what I want is typically the biggest obstacle I run up against, as I have a feeling most of us do, when it comes to changing the quality of our lives. It's not that we don't know better or don't want to make the change, it the ability (willpower, time, support) that is lacking. Wanting to gain as much benefit from my sessions as possible, I had a list of questions in my mind to address my concerns and questions as well as a clear set of objectives I hoped to attain. Objectives:

  • an effective strength routine I can complete at home
  • a challenging routine that keeps my body toned, lean, and strong
  • to habituate in my mind the act of the created routine

Questions & Concerns:

  • How to not become bulky, what causes this to happen?
  • What should I eat and when to support my objectives?
  • How often and how long?
  • What equipment do I really need at home to complete my routine?

For ten weeks, each Monday, I met with my personal trainer at a local gym. For an hour we went through a training session which was different each week. Later in the week, I would take an hour at home and follow that particular week's strength routine, fitting in a total of two strength routines each week. Part of the reason I hired the trainer for 10 sessions was to accomplish my third objective: to create a habit. Sure enough, now that I have been on my own for two weeks, every Monday afternoon or evening, I carve out 1 hour and get to work. I have chosen a day that works best with the rest of my schedule (blogging and teaching, as well as my walking schedule with the dogs). I have also found tending to my first strength routine of the week on Monday is a wonderful way to start the week as I feel I have accomplished something that does take a lot of willpower, and at the beginning of the week, I have far more than I would have on even Tuesday, let alone Wednesday or Thursday and especially Friday. The component my trainer made available through our sessions together was her knowledge of eating well paired with proper fitness. As a nurse and health coach, she answered many questions that I raised as well as offered a multitude of different ideas for eating well and what to eat directly before and after my training sessions (good carbs and protein). The benefits of regularly incorporating a strength routine into your overall health regimen are immense now and throughout your entire life (US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the age of 85 just released her new book The RBG Workout which include many of the exercises in my new workout - planks anyone?), and below are the most important reasons to create a plan that is effective and consistently adhered to as reported by the Mayo Clinic.

  • Reduce the potential of osteoporosis in later years. Bone strength is greatly increased with regular strength training.
  • The calories keep on being burned. Metabolisms increase, caloric burn continues long after the workout and thus a leaner body results (so long as the eating regimen is in proper alignment).
  • Can reduce chronic pain and health maladies such as back pain, heart disease, depression, diabetes, arthritus and obesity.
  • Improves the mind's agility. Some studies have revealed a connection between regular strength training and the mind's ability to learn new skills and improve memory and analytical thinking.

The truth about about strength training and losing weight is that as The New York Times reported in 2015, if we do not pair our physical fitness — both aerobic and strength training — with a diet of moderation and balanced nutrition, we thwart the positive results that can be possible. (read: How to Enjoy Eating Every Day and Love the Results, episode #165) What does my new strength training entail? Below are the components.

  • 2-3, 45 minute - 1 hour sessions each week
  • Goal each week: work out both upper and lower in either individualized sessions or combo sessions
    • Visit WorkOutLabs.com to see in illustrations as well as build your own routine based on the part of the body you want to train.
      • Begin with a 5 minute aerobic warm-up: walking, rowing, stairs, etc.
      • Determine what will be the focus: upper, lower or both
      • determine how many sets and how many repetitions in each set
        • I usually choose to do three sets of 10, or graduated, 12-10-8; four sets if I am feeling as though I have energy
        • Begin with the most challenging items first (to boost your confidence and get them out of the way)
        • Incorporate abs into every workout by simply keeping them tight to maintain your balance and proper form.
        • Create circuits of 2-4 different exercises, each with their sets and repetitions as it creates "segments" for your workout.
          • Example: Ab workout — knee tap crunches, plank hold and hallow hold (each 10x or 10 seconds, 3 sets of each)
        • End with a full abdominal segment
      • 5 segments is usually what I include in strength routine
      • Drink water throughout
  • Never back-to-back sessions
  • Equipment used:
    • 5 pound hand weights (see in the above image - linked here)
    • 15 lb kettlebell (seen in the image with Norman), 20 and 25 lbs are also something I might add in the future as I used these graduated weights in my workouts with my trainer.
    • Resistance bands with handles in three varying strengths (seen in image above - linked here)
    • Resistance bands, loops in five different strengths (seen in image above - linked here)
    • Considering the following equipment:
  • An elimination or reduction of the following foods:
    • pasta
    • alcohol
    • highly processed foods
    • added sugar
  • Sample Lower Body workout:
    • 5 minute warm-up - walking or jumping jacks or jump rope
    • walking lunges, air squats, 1 leg deadlift (10x, 3 sets)
    • sled down and back in the hallway (see image with Norman in the chair below), kettlebell squats, knee to chest with 1 second pause (works the abs and arms as well). 3x, 10 each or 10 yards for the sled each way.
    • banded kickbacks, ball hamstring curl, ab sit-ups, wall sit (3x, 10 repetitions)
    • ball v-up, reserve side lung (3x, 12-10-8 repetitions)
    • ab work: leg lifts, with weight behind head to overhead, oblique twists, straight arm pulses; 12-10-8
  • Sample Upper Body workout:
    • 5 minute warm-up - see above
    • inchworm with pushup, walking lunges with bicep curl, shoulder taps, wall touch sit-ups; 4 sets, 5-10 repetitions
    • push ups, upright row, chest press; 3 sets, 12-10-8
    • tricep curl, row, box push-up, lateral raise, overhead press, bent over fly; 3 sets, 12-10-8
    • ab work: wall touch, knee touch, knee to chest, plank knee to chest; 3 sets, 10 repetitions
  • Sample Combo workout:
    • pick and choose 2-3 of each workout above

~Norman as weight on the "sled". Counter-clockwise beginning in the lower lefthand corner: (1) First go-round, Norman are you ready? (2) after two lengths of sliding - I've got this; (3) Are we done?; (4) I am exhausted as you look, but anytime you want to push me again, I am here.~

Results and Outcome Thus Far The positive changes I have seen 12 weeks into my new strength training are gradual, but promising. While I do not get on a scale as muscle mass weighs more than fat, I instead pay attention to how my clothes fit: are my pencil skirts tight or do they easily slip on? which loop in my belt am I using? Can I fit comfortably into my jeans? While our bodies do fluctuate throughout the month, understanding our body's rhythms and how we feel after eating certain foods is part of understanding and determining whether our bodies and thus our health is on track. One improvement I have noticed is that my ability to hold poses in yoga has improved which is something I have always wanted to do since I began yoga more than seven years ago. And one of my fears was not realized (bigger shoulders). Yes, my shoulders and arms are slightly more defined, but they are no larger than they were when I wasn't doing my strength training. With the attention to a well-rounded arm strength routine, my entire arm is more capable of holding my body. One detail that was an important point for me to learn was that my body will swell up approximately 2-3 days after a strength training session. While I knew it would be sore (and it was especially so after the first week's session), I didn't realize it was also sweeling due to the body and muscles attempting to heal itself. It is important to note this temporarily change because it will feel (because it is) as though your muscles are expanding, but they will heal and in 2-3 days, the swelling will be gone. Since I keep my weights small (5lb for arm workouts and use high repetition), bulkiness is not something to fret about as was one of my questions from the beginning. The key to losing inches or maintaining the weight we have if that is the goal is to eat smart but not deprive ourselves and workout consistently while mixing up the routine we do each time to keep our muscles on their toes. I don't know if I'll ever fit into size 4 (US) jeans again as I am currently between a 6 and an 8, but the size doesn't matter so much anymore as my goal is to keep my body healthy and strong so I can be hiking, paddleboarding, taking yoga classes and cross country skiing well into my 80s and 90s, as well as go on lengthy walks with my dogs. I hope my experience has helped you, and while this is my tailored routine based on my time with a personal trainer, I do encourage you to seek out an expert in fitness and nutrition who can give you a personal plan for strengthening your body as well. As an investment in our health, I am confident you will see great value in receiving answers to questions you may have regarding your health and fitness journey.   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Lose Those Last 10 Pounds?

~To Get and Stay in Shape: Keep It Simple, episode #190

~15 Things to Do to Not "Feel Fat", episode #52

~Learn more and sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter

Petit Plaisir

~Paris in Stride: An Insider's Walking Guide by Jessie Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz 

~Learn more about why I love this book in a full review here.  

~Sponsor of this week's episode:

Direct download: 201StrengthRoutine.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 2:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #200
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

On Tuesday morning at 9:15 Pacific time in the western hemisphere spring will arrive. No weather prediction can change this reality. Even if it continues to snow where you live (the snow in England and France this past weekend have made me feel as a kindred spirit to the residents as we had snow this weekend as well), the calendar affirms, it will be spring at this time on Tuesday. But no matter when the snow decides to cease falling, we know it will (and even when it does, it melts nearly as quickly, non?). What I have found to be a wonderful activity during such times, along with indoor projects that must be completed, is to tend to spring cleaning of the home. And when the sun comes out, spring cleaning in the yard as well. So yes! Spring cleaning has begun! And oh, does it feel good! (Too cheesy?) Last week, my white burber carpets received their bi-annual thoroughly cleansing (see above), and in so doing returned a brightness to the house. Simply tending to these seasonal tasks, whether we do them or hire someone due to our time constraints, when we do, we begin to officially shift forward to the new season that is beginning. And as it is spring, a fresh start, a feeling of renewed opportunity and revitalized energy. Below are 22 spring cleaning tasks to perhaps welcome into your annual routine as you too say goodbye to winter and hello to the much anticipated spring season.

1. Let in the light! Clean the windows

As soon as you are able to get outside and the sun is expected to shine nearly all day (although a cloudy day is claimed to be best as the cleaning solution will dry less quickly, reducing the amount of streaks), take a couple of hours to clean the windows inside and out. My mom always made a point of washing windows in the morning to enable the ability to see better the streaks as the natural light is shining more directly through the windows (you can also do this in the evening, but again, we're usually tired or have other plans). And the approach is simple, grab a bucket of water and vinegar, the newspapers you just recycled from yesterday's or that morning's reading session and before you know it, you will be bathed in more sunlight. (Yes, newspapers are a great option instead of rags - they are not only cheaper, but will not scratch the glass and are quite absorbent - learn more here.)

2. The floors (and rugs, although not as often) get their special treatment

If you have carpet, welcome in a carpet cleaner, if you have hardwoods, follow the special instructions of care for your particular wood floors. Typically a damp mop (not wet mop) with a few drops of dishwashing liquid is all you need to do (in fact, some experts recommend doing this monthly). Here is a list of recommendations for wood floor care from RealSimple. If you have area rugs, deep cleaning them need only be every 3-5 years as over-cleaning contributes to too much wear and tear.

3. Tend to the window coverings

Whether you have blinds or drapes, dust, wash or send to the dry-cleaners for special careful cleaning.

4. Clean the dishwasher

House Beautiful in their annual spring cleaning guide recommended giving your dishwasher a deep clean, and with the amount of use most of us give our kitchen time-saving machine, it is a good idea. Using a special dishwasher cleaner pack (this one from Cascade will remove the grease, odors and limescale and includes two for fewer than $14), run it with an empty dishwasher and begin the new season with a "like-new" dish-cleaning machine.

5. The remainder of the Kitchen Triangle: the stove and the refrigerator

Give your refrigerator a thorough clean out and cleaning, something I like to do bi-annually as well. Not only does this enable an opportunity to see which staples you have regarding condiments, etc., but it also is a great opportunity to organize your refrigerator into sections. For example, keep your meat and proteins in one section, your cheeses in another, your fruit in one bin and your vegetables in another. Also, drinks have their designation as well. Especially if you are living with others, but even living by yourself, when you give the refrigerator a quick glance before you head to the market, you will know exactly what is needed for your weekly capsule menu shopping. And, do not forget the stove. I will admit, I do not like sticking my head in an oven (for many people who have self-cleaning, just turn it on to work its magic while you clean the refrigerator), or maybe that is just the English teacher in me, but since I do keep tin foil at the bottom of my stove, I find many messy clean-ups are avoided. So find a sturdy oven cleaner, put some gloves on and tend to this annual task. The more regular we do, the less daunting it will be each time.

6. The linens beyond sheets

While bed sheets are typically cleaned every week or two weeks, wash the duvet cover, the coverlets, the throws, the pillow shams and any other linen that does not get regularly weekly attention. Some of these items may need to be taken to the dry-cleaner, so allow for 1-2 weeks to be without. Perhaps you are going on a spring holiday, so plan on taking your linens to the dry-cleaner before you leave, so when you return your linens are returned as well as fresh and clean for the new season.

7. Flip and clean the mattress

A simple flip or rotation of your mattress is easy to do to prevent overuse in one area. As well, vacuum your mattress to remove any unwanted debris.

8. Sinks and faucet cleaning

If you have found you have lime deposits around faucets in your house, HGTV offers a simple solution: Lay a papertowel over the area, pour vinegar over the top and let it sit for an hour. After the allotted time, the lime should have softened, making it easier to remove.

9. Make the stainless steel shine

Now this is something that can be done each time the kitchen is cleaned, but its worth doing for spring cleaning as well. Again HGTV shared this gem: using a spray bottle full of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water, clean your chrome, glass or stainless steel finishes and polish to reveal their brilliance.

10. Assess and organize the pantry

In January I shared one of my winter projects which was to organize my cupboards, which for me includes my pantry items. Similar to cleaning out the refrigerator, when we know what we have, we know what we need. Here is a list of the 34 items to keep at all times in your pantry, or épicerie (episode #109).

11. The closet clean-out

Bi-annually, clearing out, assessing and reorganizing our closet is a wonderful idea to prevent overspending, but also enable savvy purchases as the new season begins. I have detailed how to approach this task in a dedicated post, so if you're curious, be sure to take a look.

12. Seasonal clothing swap

Now is the time to take your winter coats, sweaters and scarves to the cleaners for their annual maintenance. Perhaps you took your spring and summer items in the fall, but if you haven't take them now so they are ready to shine with the beginning of the new season.

13. The walls need your attention

This may sound odd, but while we are surrounded by the walls of our homes, we often do not see them. Cobwebs can form, dust accumulates especially if furniture is in front of them, and all it takes is a simple damp cloth wrapped over a broom stick (to reach high points by the ceiling) and an extra hour or so of a day. If you need to clean stains from the wall, use a few drops of dishsoap, then go over it again with a clean damp cloth to remove the soap.

14. Clean the cushions of your furniture

Pull the cushions out from your sofa and chairs and clean underneath as well as the cushions themselves. You will most likely just need to vacuum them both, but doing so will ensure that all is clean whether it is seen or unseen.

15. Put away the winter

Whether you have certain decor, wreaths, candles of a darker hued color or books that align with the winter season, take this time to swap them for the spring and summer editions. While you are doing this, you are also able to do a little extra cleaning that may not get your attention each week.

16. Bring forth the outdoor furniture

While this may be something you, as I, don't get to do until April, it is still a seasonal ritual to tend to. Bring out the lawn furniture, the patio chairs and tables and giving them a good wash with soapy water. Then the pots come out as well as soon they will be filled with fresh blooms from the nursery.

17. Clean the trash cans

Indoors and out, suds up the trash collectors and wash and rinse them out. A simple task that is quite satisfying.

18. File away taxes of 2017 and organize the office

Most of us have completed our tax returns or will be soon, so now organize them and place them where they need to be and move forward into the new year. As well, dust the shelves, countertops, desktops of your work space. Dust the screen of your computer, dust the top of your printer and other machines you may have and why not bring in at minimum a bud vase for a touch of spring to enjoy as you work?

19. Update your podcast subscriptions

I recently tended to this task as many of the podcasts I had on my list were no longer offering new episodes, so I went through and streamlined my podcast subscriptions to include only the ones that were still offering new episodes as well as episodes I continued to always select to listen to on my walks and travels.

20. Clean and organize your handbags

This may seem obvious, but our lives get busy and before we know it our totes are carrying receipts from two months ago, lipgloss that has been empty and who knows what else. This shouldn't take but a few minutes, but sometimes we have to be reminded of the simple organization that makes a big difference in our daily lives. As well, our wallets need our attention: why do you need so many of others' business cards in your wallet, do you use that particular rewards card anymore? Slimming down your wallet feels good as well.

21. Assess Makeup and beauty supplies

While these tasks can be done at any point in the year, the inspiration behind spring cleaning is an opportunity to start fresh and what better way when it comes to our beauty than to make sure our supplies enable us to shine our brightest. Clean your brushes as well with simple facial cleanser mixed with warm water until it is bubbly and dunk, dunk, dunk and then rinse.

22. Bad habits out, good habits in

Admittedly, when there is less sun, as there is in the winter, it affects our mood, some more than others, but either way, it does play a role in our emotions. Take a moment before you step forward into spring, as we continue to gain more daylight each day for the next three months, to assess what habits are working for you, and which are not. Sometimes simply having more daylight to tend to what is a priority makes a difference in our successfully acquiring the habit. Whether it is meditating in the morning, walking in the evening, eating more seasonally ripe produce or turning on classical music to start your day instead of the news (in episode #197 we looked at the benefits of classical music), spring gives you an opportunity to be more successful, because when our moods are improved, the confidence we have in ourselves to be successful with whatever we pursue also has a better chance for improving as well. Ultimately each one of us will tend to what we need to start fresh with this new season. Perhaps a handful or more, but maybe just one or two of the ideas spoke to you. Whatever you choose to do to welcome spring, and literally or figuratively clean out the clutter of the old season, be sure to take the time to do so as I am confident you will be giving yourself a bit or a signficant bounce to your step as the excitement of what the new year has in store begins to come forth. Welcome the spring season and may this first week (beginning tomorrow - Tuesday) be an auspicious omen for what is to come. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~TSLL Spring Capsule Menu

~Why Not . . . Celebrate a New Year with Spring's Arrival?

~Why Not . . . Spruce Up Your Spring Wardrobe?

~Subscribe to the weekly TSLL newsletter

Petit Plaisir:

~A Taste for Provence by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz

~Learn more about the author who is a professor emerita at Smith College here

Sponsors of this week’s episode:

Image: TSLL's Instagram

Direct download: 200SpringCleaning_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 2:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #199
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"The best part of being single is that I get to know men and see what I love about them in a way that, when I was 19, I never afforded myself the opportunity. At 19, I would think, 'Oh, I got picked!' and I would just go along with it, happy to be picked by a man, instead of choosing, and now, I'm in the choosing seat." —Laura Dern on being 50 and divorced 

~Based on feedback from last week's episode (#198), I highly recommend tuning in to today's episode (audio) as much more is talked about than what is revealed in the show notes below. My thoughts on last week's episode are shared along with a review from a long-time listener that offered valuable constructive criticism that I wanted to honor.  Whether you are single and have never been married, or you are divorced or widowed, whether you have children or your only children are of the four-legged variety, when you step into a time of your life in which you are not romantically attached to someone, some will embrace the change immediately while some will dread the loss of a partner. Today's episode/post was inspired by multiple components. First, actress Laura Dern's above quote sparked my thinking about the misconceptions many of us when we are young unconsciously accept when it comes to dating due to a self-confidence that has yet to find its footing, and secondly, last week's conversation (episode #198) with Jenna Birth on the evolution of modern romance and how to navigate it well in order to find and cultivate a healthy, loving partnership. As I examine and savor my own singleness at the moment, I would not want anything else at this point in my life. I reflect on what the past ten years has revealed itself capable of when it comes to my career, and I know, based on my personality, had my energies been shifted, my life would be significantly different. And from my perspective, based on my dreams, desires and ideas of a quality life, I would not be content. That again, is based on knowing myself. Each individual will define their best life differently and that is where we must say "Good for you, but not for me" (thank you Amy Poehler for succinctly coining a phrase needed for us to understand and accept different ways of living well). As we step away from our twenties and into our thirties, forties, fifties and beyond I find single living can be ever more attractive, and due to this, make it easier to find a partner that we truly mesh with should we choose to do so. How so? Let's take a look at nine reasons being single can be a powerful time of growth, rejuvenation and clarification. 1.You become clear about what is and is not in alignment with your authentic self When you are your own company you become particularly clear and more understanding of what you say yes to without forethought, but at the same time, why you say yes (or no) to anything life presents you with. As will be discussed in #7, once we learn what is sincerely us and what is influenced by the outside world, we can then choose to understand why it is hard to break molds that are merely masks and finally remove them entirely. 2. You become able to differentiate between true connection and lust provoked purely by physical attraction Ah, the innocence of youth. The movies, the media, even everyday people we may find ourselves around at any given time, perpetuate the idea that physical attractiveness need be an primary ingredient (if not the most important ingredient) in order to build a relationship with someone. Oh, the silliness of this belief. Whether we learn this sooner or later, when we finally learn it, we can be far more conscious of why we are drawn to someone. And while it is absolutely healthy and natural to be drawn to someone because of their looks, we also become aware that we need more to pursue for the pursue of a lasting relationship. Celebrate this difference is growth, and makes life and meeting the myriad of people we meet, all the enjoyable. 3. You can invest entirely and build with your full energy a career you love As I mentioned above, the decade of my thirties has been an amazing gift. If I had been in any of the relationships I let go of during the course of this time period, I know for certain, my energy would not have been enough to tend to the goals I set for myself. Now, to find a partner that would support my goals would have been wonderful, as the support should be for both involved, but that was never the case (which is in large part, why we went our separate ways). 4. You date thoughtfully Case in point, you begin to learn what strengths and gifts would work well for you in a partnership and you begin to date more thoughtfully. I have found that as I get older, those people I date are more lovely in general, but my needs for a relationship to work are also more clear as well. 5. You can travel to destinations that pique your curiosity and yours alone Ah, the gift of traveling to and doing what you've always dreamt about. Whether it is venturing to destinations on your bucket list, or returning to the same place again and again, you can and you can enjoy every minute, stay as long or as little as you'd like and meeting amazing people along the way because you are traveling with the world. 6. You become comfortable in your body and understand the necessity of taking care of your overall well-being There is a love for your body that begins as you recognize all that it does for you and that it has enabled you to do thus far. And as we begin to yes, understand, our bodies are like nobody else's, we also begin to want to take proper and thoughtful care of it so that it can perform at its best. I especially have found this to be true the latter half of my thirties and am so grateful for the gift my body is. 7. You have more time to tend to areas of personal growth that need attention (insecurities, self-awareness, etc.) As mentioned in #1, when we become more in tune with who we truly are, we discover our tendencies, we reflect upon our past, come to understand what has been nurtured into our personality and what is truly innate. And when we don't understand something or understand and want to improve, we have the courage to recognize seeking out an expert is an investment in ourselves, not a sign of weakness. By investing in ourselves, we are investing in the overall quality of our lives not only will we enjoy our own company more, the relationships we choose to build will be healthier and have the potential to be stronger should we wish them to grow. 8. You focus on a passion project So much more time can be dedicated to what we are curious to dive into and explore when we are single. Working through the weekend or late into the evenings or waking up early to tend to tasks before we head to work, we can do any or all of these things, and we will be fueled by the results we begin to see and understand how important it truly is to listen to our passions and follow our curiosities. 9. You have a sincere understanding that another person will not complete you, as that is your responsiblity alone As you move through each of the previous eight points, you will begin to realize that what you have been searching for cannot be found outside of yourself; it can only be found within. Doing so does not mean you will be single forever if you do not want to be, but you learn the amazing gift you give yourself by letting yourself be with yourself completely. And depending upon what you unearth to be the life you wish to live, you will know how to proceed successfully forward into your future. The time that we have the opportunity to be single is a time realize that strength we already have within us whether we are in a relationship or not and carry that forward into our next relationship or into the life we will build for ourselves. Just as the image at the top of the post reveals, there is a bright and beautiful, sunlit side but too often we dwell on the negative, what we've lost or what we think we are supposed to have. The truth is, the greatest gift is to unearth our fullest potential and embrace and then share with the world what we discover. ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~episode #170, Being Single is Luxurious Living

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

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

~Sign-up for the Weekly Newsletter

Petit Plaisir

~Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

~The blog where it all began, Daily Routines

Direct download: 199SingleGifts_copy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 2:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #198
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

In today's episode of the podcast, author Jenna Birch stops by to talk about her new book The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love (January 2018). Whether you are in your twenties or have decades of experience when it comes to love, successes and stumbles, Birch offers grounding principles that align in many ways with living simply luxuriously. Below are three of the wide variety of topics touched upon in our conversation.

  • investing in yourself
  • choosing to be authentic, especially with a romantic partner
  • striving to reach your full potential, rather than shrinking to fit a limiting definition of a loving relationship
  • letting go of artificial pressures

Already a staff pick at one of my favorite independent bookstores, Powell's (seen in the image above), it was a pleasure having Jenna on today's episode of the podcast, and whether you are in a relationship, looking for a relationship or have ended a relationship, her book is a researched based approach paired with personal anecdotes from men and women sprinkled along the journey of love sharing a powerful message to trust your journey. Get to know Jenna Birch:

  ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Choosing a Partner: Part Une —Why It's Difficult & the Essentials for Being Ready

~Choosing a Partner — Part Deux: The Importance of Knowing Yourself & the Crucial Must-Have, episode #179

~16 Tools to Ensure You Are Ready for Real Love

~10 Differences Between Men & Boys

~7 Components to Strong, Healthy Relationships, episode #11

Direct download: 198JennaBirchLoveGap.mp3
Category:relationships -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #197
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

As a young girl I took piano lessons, and I will admit, it was not the greatest joy of my life. A timer would have to be set for me to sit down for even 30 minutes to practice, and even then I would get up from time to time to check and see how much more time I had to play. So, no, I was not someone who found joy in playing; however, when my mom would sit down and play and let the notes ring melodically throughout our home, I thoroughly enjoyed listening. We still have that piano, and from time to time I will get the opportunity to hear her play and watch her fingers dance across the keys. There is a tranquility that is shared when such harmonious tunes without lyrics are played. To my ear, it is quite peaceful. Perhaps that is why as well, I am drawn to jazz, as I do prefer music without lyrics when I am working, relaxing and simply going about my day. I enjoy bringing my story to the notes, rather than hearing someone else's. Perhaps that is a lack of imagination on my part, but when there are no words, the rhythm is mine to dance with and let my mind wander. Having always loved jazz since I was a teenager, I have since begun to welcome more classical music into my life and regularly beginning this past fall as I shared in this post (episode #187). Many of my students over the years have been actively involved in the symphony and orchestra, and successfully so, so I do find myself learning from them as I am by no means savvy when it comes to music.

1. Reduce stress

If you find listening to classical music relaxing, then it can reduce your stress levels. Upon listening to classical music, your body releases "pleasure-inducing dopamine and inhibits the release of stress hormones, all of which generates a pleasant mood". Now, the key is to understand what you find relaxing, make it a regular practice and observe your body and mind relax which will then enable you to think more clearly and thus make better decisions.

2. Increase your ability to think abstractly

The Mozart Effect, as it was coined in 1993, was discovered by Dr. Gordon Shaw of the University of California-Irvine to cause a temporary spike in an individual's IQ after listening to Mozart. While the findings need to be clarified: no, listening to Mozart doesn't make you smarter, but it does, Shaw states, "warms up the brain's ability to think abstractly".

3. Heighten EQ (emotional intelligence)

In 2001 Southern Methodist University shared their findings of their study revealing participants were more "expressive and effusive with their comments, [and] . . . more forthcoming as well." Perhaps when we choose to listen to classical music as we relax, our walls come down a bit more, we are more willing to be vulnerable and less quick to react.

4. Increase focus

A study done in France published in Learning and Individual Differences revealed that students who listened to a one hour lecture with classical music playing in the background scored better on the corresponding quiz than those who did not listen to music. Why? The researchers proposed that "the music put students in a heightened emotional state, making
 them more receptive to information . . . It is possible that music, provoking a change in the learning
 environment, influenced the students’ motivation to remain focused during the lecture, which led to 
better performance on the multiple-choice quiz”.

5. Fall asleep more quickly

The University of Toronto discovered that when classical music is played when you settle into bed, participants in the study were able to fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. Why? The study found that the music by Bach, Brahms, Handel, Mozart,  and Strauss offered "rhythms and tonal patterns that create a meditative mood 
and slow brainwaves". The inclusion of listening to classical music in my everyday routine has become a form of simple self-care. Having a sound mind to navigate successfully through the day is an invaluable tool, but it is one that can easily deteriorate if we do not tend to it. Many readers shared their favorite classical radio station (many of which have free apps available), and I have listed them below. An unexpected benefit I am finding is listening to the hosts of each of the programs whether I am listening to KUSC.org or WRTI.org as they speak about each song, often share the history and other intriguing information. I may never pick up a flute, a violin or an obo, but I certainly am finding I appreciate even more those who do and those who have written the music creations. Classical music stations:

I have compiled a Luxurious Classical Music playlist on Spotify (of which there are many others to find as well) that plays for one hour and 16 minutes and includes some of my favorites as well as new music I am ever so gradually being introduced to. View the playlist here.

The Playlist: Luxurious Classical Music:

  1. Vivaldi: 12 Violin Concertos, Op.8 "Il cimento dell'armonia e dell' invenzione" / Concerto No. 1 In E Major For Solo Violin, RV 269 "La Primavera" - 1. Allegro
  2. Yo-Yo Ma - Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007: I. Prélude
  3. Vaughan Williams - The Lark Ascending
  4. 2 Cellos - Moon River
  5. Mozart : Serenade No.9 in D major K320, 'Posthorn' : IV Rondeau - Allegro, ma non troppo
  6. Giancarlo Andretti - Piano Sonata No. 5 in G Major, K. 283: I. Allegro
  7. Murray Perahia - Italian Concerto, BWV 971: I. (Allegro)
  8. Wolfgang Rübsam - Suite in A Major, BWV 824
  9. Dubravka Tomsic - No. 1 in B Flat major, BWV 825: II. Allemande
  10. The English Concert and Trevor Pinnock - J.S. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No.6 in B flat, BWV 1051 - 2. Adagio ma non tanto
  11. Alexis French - Waterfalls
  12. London Philharmonic Orchestra & David Parry - Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: Allegro
  13. Lara Downes - Wonderful Town: Story of My Life
 
 
 

Petit Plaisir:

~Mozart in the Jungle, season 4

https://youtu.be/wiNDPi3mP6A  

Sponsors of this week’s episode:

   

Image: Katowice concert hall, Poland

Sources of research: LiveStrong, USC News, WQXR.org

Download the Episode

Direct download: 197ClassicalMusic.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #196
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"Style is a simple way of saying complicated things." —Jean Cocteau

With the collections for Fall 2018 being revealed this month, I am always on a treasure hunt to find unique and worthwhile takes on the classics. At the same time, I am reminded as the trends shift each and every season of the benefits to adhering to a signature style that complements the individual wearing the clothes rather than the individual bringing applause or attention to the trend du jour. Much of how I have narrowed in on my own style and what has been the muse for simply luxurious style has been shaped by what I have read, observed and learned from French, especially Parisian women. Now, don't get me wrong, there are brilliantly stylish people around the globe, and the classic, effortless approach is not something only seen in Paris. However, the French have claimed it, owned it and demonstrate it regularly. Why? Well, put simply, it works and transcends years and decades of infinite trends that have been paraded down the runways. Today I'd like to share with you 10 style and beauty lessons I have learned from the French along my own journey of discovering my signature style and how to approach shopping as well as dressing each day regardless of the season. Some have been standing principles of the simply luxurious approach and others are new to me as well in the past couple of years. However, all of them work and enable you to look your best.

1. Less make-up, but still some make-up

The best face to present to the world is your face. Less hiding what your visage is and more showcasing its beauty. Beginning with your skincare regimen, well-hydrated skin will always offer a palette to be enhance ever so slightly, and at the same time, hardly at all. Choose a primer, the proper hued concealor, tinted moisturizer and subtle eye makeup. Choose one feature to bring to the forefront — your lips, your eyes or your cheeks and simply brighten the rest. ~8 Ways to Create Glowing Skin, episode #13

2. Rock the flat

Heels are nice, but heels have their time and place. Flats, whether ballet or boots are smart, versatile and comfortable. And we must not forget, stylish. Purchase well made designs, make sure they fit your foot and wear them for years.

3. Trends? No thank you.

If we are busy chasing down trends, we do not have the ability to hone our signature style. And while discovering our signature style takes time, once we do discover it, the shopping is simpler and less frequent. Whereas when we chase trends, we are endlessly shopping and constantly shelling out money. Remember, let your uniqueness shine. No else will have precisely your style, so you will have do the work of getting to know yourself, your body, skin tone and the most enjoyable, what you love to wear which makes you feel your most confident. ~10 Tips to Evolve into Your Signature Style

4. Neutral color palette

Neutrals are not just beige, so don't worry. Remember, start with an understanding of your skin tone and work from there. Certain colors can be neutral for you as well. Navy, for example. And even prints can be neutral and easy to mix and match with other colors in your wardrobe - polka dots or leopard, for example. Shopping for neutrals and keeping them in your closet enables your items to endure as what you purchase down the road will still have the opportunity to pair with what you already own.

5. Fewer clothes, better quality

Cost per wear. Invest in high priced items if they are well-made with quality fabrics and are classic pieces rather than trends. And most important, you like the item and it fits well (remember to tailor as needed). Less frequent shopping and in the long run, less money spent.

6. Lace over cotton (when it comes to undergarments)

The French and lingerie. Wear beautiful lingerie each day for you and for you. Yes, I repeated myself on purpose. In the United States, some brands would have us believe that it is what we look like to others in our lingerie, but rather it should be how our lingerie makes us feel. After all, we are the one's wearing it and when we feel comfortable we will be comfortable and more confident. Whether it is going about errands, hopping on a plane or going on a date. ~Why Not . . . Create a Lingerie Capsule Wardrobe?

7. A luxury investment handbag

Quality accessories make a statement, and a well-made handbag (no exterior label is needed to show the world what you own) completes a look, enables the woman to keep her life and business organized and tucked away all the while going about her business.

8. Find a Versatile Trench

"Wear it on the weekends with jeans, over gowns to formal events, layered with a fur stole when the weather gets colder, over your shoulders during the spring—the possibilities are endless." —Leah Bourne

I am new to this idea, but after reading Leah Bourne's piece for Stylecaster, I could not agree more. Choose a quality trench, one that is the right length for your body that can be worn for day, evening or play. Choose a color and fabric that aligns with your signature style and make it your go-to coat nearly, if not the entire, year round. ~The Perfect Trench is Personal

9. Trust stripes

A broken record I am when it comes to stripes. Wear them when it comes to tee shirts, where striped sweaters, striped dresses and even blouses. Stripes are a stunning neutral inspired by the French marinére or Breton top, and as was shared a couple of weeks ago, their versatility makes them a wise and savvy choice. ~11 Brands for French stripes

10. Find your signature style and stick to it

"Parisian fashionistas develop a signature look, and stick with it. They might update their wardrobe with a few trends, but they always stick to a similar aesthetic. This also makes shopping a heck of a lot easier." —Leah Bourne, Stylecaster

The more simplicity we can bring into our lives the less complexity we have to navigate, but initially the process of knowing what to strip away takes time and careful attention. Curating our signature style occurs in precisely the same manner. Check out this post in which I break down precisely how to determine your signature and then I believe you will find the shopping experience becomes easier and more enjoyable and your style quotient will steadily rise. ~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 SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Frenchify Your Beauty Routine? (Add Micellar Water)

~9 Life Lessons from French Women about Women

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

Petit Plaisir

~Queer Eye, Season 1, Netflix

~NPR interview with creator David Collins ~Correction from the podcast episode: This series makes over both straight and gay men whereas the original series focused only on straight men. Episode #4 is especially moving. https://youtu.be/vTGqDqYP2k4

Image: via Burberry Tumblr taken by Alexis Armanet of Jeanne Damas

Direct download: 196FrenchStyleTips.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #195
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

The 43rd time was the charm. At least in the case for currently number one ranked women's tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. Winning her first grand slam title with the Austrialian Open at the end of this past January, Wozniacki, after 43 entries at grand slam events, earned her first in 2018 after 12 years on the tour. As Caroline's and many other successful dreamers have demonstrated upon finally reaching the summit they had in their sights from the beginning, it takes time. Often more time than one expected upon stepping forward toward their dream, but it is possible. The mindset that a worthwhile dream will be easy is often understood, but what isn't initially understood is what you will have to "pay" so to speak to attain your goal. Much like upkeep on a house, in order to accrue interest, in order to increase the value of your investment, time must pass. As we look at the real estate market today, some will not have to wait long in certain parts of the country while others wait decades to see a worthwhile increase should they wish to sell for a pretty profit. Along the way of living in our homes, there are certain bills that we expect to pay and some we do not. We expect to pay utilities, we expect to pay for upkeep of the roof, siding, etc., but we don't anticipate disasters such as broken boilers or a tree after being struck by lightening sliding down the side of your home and requiring a tree service to remove promptly from the street (the latter examples were both experienced at my last owned home and the tree service was my father). Each of these incidents, expected or not, are bills that must be paid if we want to maintain our home, if we want to someday be able to sell it and receive a return on our investment. Dreamers who set lofty goals are not to be laughed at because what they are choosing to do is courageous as it will require great tenacity, perseverance and willpower paired with clarity of vision. As you will see below, there will be some "bills" that must be paid along the way that most likely were expected by the dreamer, but there will be some that cannot be predicted until we set about on our journey. However, hopefully today's list of "bills" to expect will ease your mind as you run up against each one, reassuring you that such occurrences are not a sign to stop or give up, but rather par for the course. Your dream is waiting to be materialized and now you will know what to be prepared for.

1. The errant belief that it's not possible and the courage to dismiss said belief

Support along our journey toward our dream is vital; however, the catch is that because you are pursuing something that many people have not acquired, you may not have as much support as you would expect. Fear not. The first foundational form of support begins with you. So long as you have an unwavering determination and belief in what you are pursuing, that will reveal to the supporters that do stand by your side to stand tall with you. The supporters that stand with you need not be people who entirely understand what or why you are traversing towards; however, if they know you well, they are confident in your abilities. In other words, it is the quality of support you surround yourself, not a vast amount of supporters. Once you are clear as to why you are pursuing what you have set out to attain, the clarity will be the roots for courage to blossom when unknowns and confusing moments arise.

2. Stepping forward without seeing the tangible outcome

No one can predict the future, even people who are following a prescribed plan of their life based on what society, their family or their community has modeled for them. No one can know for certain what lays ahead for any one of us, but we can put the odds in our favor. We can investigate individuals who have while maybe not having pursued the exact path we are choosing to walk along, have, for example, chosen the entrepreneurial path. We can look to them for the obstacles they maneuvered around and outcomes they attained. Different times combined with different people and talents will render a different outcome each time, but you are the constant. And when you know with clarity where and why you are choosing your path, the outcome doesn't have to be readily visible, but your confidence to step forward does need to be present.

3. Running into obstacles

They will happen. Guaranteed. But as I shared in my conversation on Afternoon Live last week with regards to sticking to your New Year's resolutions, often the universe is double-checking to make sure you indeed want what you say you want. Be sure to have a look at that particular segment to hear more about this inevitable moment.

4. Evolution of your mind and habits

Last week I took a moment to contemplate what my life was like 10 years ago, and I immediately recognized that I could not have predicted in ANY way where I am today and what I am doing. It was only 9 years ago that I began the blog, but 10 years ago if you would have told me I would have not only a blog, a podcast, a vodcast and working on my second book while officially setting up my business as a corporation, I would have been perplexed (in other words, I might have said "what's a vodcast?"). This truth, this "bill" is an exciting bill to pay because it is growth. It is each of us stepping into our full potential and sharing with the world what we uniquely have to offer. We do not often know what it is the world needs and what precisely we can give when we begin, but we figure it out along the way and we figure out the growth we would like to undergo as well in order to achieve what we see as necessary and possible.

5. A trust in your vision that is unwavering

I was recently listening to the second season of the podcast "Making . . . " on WBEZ Chicago (their first season focused on Oprah). Focusing on Obama and his years leading up to the Presidency, the first episode dives into his time as a community organizer and why he chose from that experience to pursue public service. His decision was predicated on the reality that in order to help the people in the African American communities of Chicago and around the country, they needed a voice. From the time in 1984 (he graduated from Columbia University in 1983) upon taking the organizer's job (which paid $12K/year) through this three year time period, his purpose never waivered, he just realized he had to change the methods to making the change plausible. You too will adjust as you make your way toward your dream. You will come to realize that the initial approach you began with is no longer serving the purpose you had hoped it would, and so you will tweak your method. So long as you trust your vision, how you change it won't matter or that you changed it, what will matter is that you remained laser focused on why you are making the changes. The word "bills" is not one we enjoy seeing unless we are the ones being paid, but the truth is that whether we pay with our time, our tenacity, or our money, when we invest wisely with clarity of purpose, the dream will be realized in its own time. Hang in there and you too, like Caroline Wozniacki will find yourself in disbelief, but at the same time reassured, that your journey, your effort and your sincere desire was right on track and on time. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Give Yourself Permission to Be Awkward, episode #185

~The Benefits of Having a Mission Statement & How to Create Your Own, episode #173

~How to Build a Life for Ladybugs: Choosing Hope Over Fear, episode #154

 

Petit Plaisir

~The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love by Jenna Birch

~Look for her be a guest on this podcast, Monday March 5th, episode #198 ~Read many of Jenna Birch's articles and columns here ~Check out Jenna's website    

Sponsor of this week’s episode: Lifesum

~Visit the Top Ranked Health & Fitness app and receive 30% off the Premium Membership. ~Visit lifesum.com/simple

 
 

 

Images of Caroline Wozniacki via The Australian and Steve G Tennis; Jenna Birch author pic via JennaBirch.com

Direct download: 1955billsdream.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #194
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"When we are happy —when our mindset and mood are positive — we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it."—Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work 

Both success and happiness, what they consist of, look like and feel like, can only truly be defined by each individual. For one person's happiness may be another person's hell. And one person's definition of excess stress and misery may be another person's place of bliss and fulfillment, in other words their happy place. Conceptually, happiness has been a hard term to pin down. As I shared in this post about the myths of success, if we look at the construction of the word "happiness" it implies luck, external circumstances; however, with time and cultural shifts in understanding, the definition changes and it will undoubtedly change again. In Shawn Achor's bestselling book The Happiness Advantage, he shares the definition the scientists he worked with agreed up . . .

 ". . . as the experience of positive emotions —pleasure combined with deeper feelings of meaning and purpose. Happiness implies a positive mood in the present and a positive outlook for the future."

Moving forward with this definition in mind, the deeper revelation was the need for happiness to be present in our everyday lives in order to attain the true success we seek. Again, success will be defined differently by all, but success regarding the quality of our "relationships, health, creativity, community involvement and friendships."

"It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive."

The irony his book points out is that for some time the belief has been accepted that we must work hard in order to attain success and then we will be happy. But studies have flipped this false notion on its head. Rather "we become more successful when we are happier and more positive". At about the same time I was reading Achor's book I heard a quote shared on Headspace during one of my meditation sessions, "When the mind is calm, there is clarity; with clarity, there is contentment; with contentment, there is compassion." The progress toward happiness (contentment) comes from knowing where we wish to go, what we wish to do and the qualities we wish to develop. The journeys with each of these realizations is just that, a journey, but when we are clear about our choices, we find contentment and thus we are able to step toward success. The truth about individuals, I have found, who embody this awareness is that there is a sincerity about the work they produce, the lives they live and an indifference toward seeking approval. The work they do and the life they live is their conscious choice made by them and them alone. When someone who is striving toward a life they think they should have, a goal they think they want, but not enjoying the journey, eventually this truth is revealed in the work that is offered forth, the engagements with others along the way and mood they bring to the process. The magnetism is absent or false, the energy is flat and the passionate flame is nowhere to be found. As we know, our lives have expiration dates, so why not stop chasing what you think will make you happy when you finally reach it and create a life right where you are that you enjoy living?

"Waiting to be happy limits our brain's potential for success, whereas cultivating positive brains makes us more motivated, efficient, resilient, creative and productive, which drives performance upward."

The fuel you are looking for involves shifting how you live your everyday, and when you do, you will elevate it to experience extraordinary moments each and everyday.   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The Basics of Success

~Where True Success Resides, episode #70

~Why Not . . . Move Forward Successfully?

~7 Myths About Success

  ~SUBSCRIBE to TSLL’s Weekly Newsletter ~Listen to TSLL's "Escape to France . . . " playlist  

Petit Plaisir

~When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink

Sponsor of this week’s episode: Lifesum

~Visit the Top Ranked Health & Fitness app and receive 30% off the Premium Membership. ~Visit lifesum.com/simple

 

Download the Episode

Direct download: 194HappinessSuccess.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #193
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be." —Shonda Rhimes

In order to feel good in one's skin (or to feel well in one's skin as the French state it, bien dans sa peau), we first must know what skin we are inhabiting. However, it is not about what we see on the surface, but rather what talents, curiosities and passions are within us waiting to be discovered. I clarify this distinction because the other day someone made the common statement about finding ease within oneself, and they described it as "becoming comfortable in one's skin". I immediately responded and shared that at least for me, it doesn't feel so much as a "trying to make something feel better", but rather an exploration of what and who I truly have the potential to become, what I truly value, what I innately am capable of, etc. And so it has instead been a journey of discovering "what my skin was" so to speak. The journey of discovery for each of us will have different lengths, different shedding of exterior skins placed upon us and even skins we placed upon ourselves as we believed we weren't enough just as we are. When I came across Shonda Rhimes' quote, it spoke to me immediately. Here is a woman who has built her own production company inspired by her passion to write, to tell stories. Who, as a self-described introvert, shares in her book Year of Yes how she transformed her life by stepping into it and enabling herself to be her own person. In her commencement address to the graduates of Dartmouth in 2014 she shared a speech titled "Dreams are for Losers", and she nailed it. She shares many anecdotes but her revelation about initially dreaming of being a Nobel Prize winning author ... Toni Morrison ... to be more precise, is a point that caught my attention. As she points out, Toni Morrison already had that job, and Shonda had to be who she was and was meant to be. Funny enough, Rhimes eventually had the opportunity to have dinner with Morrison. And do you know what Morrison wanted to talk to Rhimes about? Grey's Anatomy. Case in point, your journey is unique, so just keep striving forward and stop dreaming. Just do. The bigger question is how. How do we each become who we were meant to be?

1. Step away from your life

Often it can be difficult to give a true and helpful life assessment while we're in the middle of living it. Sonif it is possible, step away from the daily routine, step away even from the town you live in for a short duration - a weekend, but better yet a week, and if at all possible a good month (hello, a grand vacation!). I do often find that I am able to assess my life more fairly when I go on vacation. I come back with a clear perspective of what is a priority and what is not, the worries that I can let go of and what changes I need to make, as well as the relationships that matter and the ones that just don't. When we step away, we also step away from the people we hear on a regular basis telling us what they think and perhaps what we should think, and therefore, we begin to think on our own. Better yet, if you are in a foreign country and the language is not your own, you can't be influenced by what anyone is saying because you do not know what they are saying. In all sincerity, in order to clear the outside influences, even your own assumed preferences, step away and outside of your daily life and just be with yourself. Journaling out your thoughts is also something I have found that helps me make sense of what I am feeling. Not that I will find an answer, but I will have to think through what is going through my mind because I have to write it on the page.

2. Allow yourself to feel the fear and do not run from it

I can remember vividly when I went to France for the first time as a 20-year-old college junior. I was to be there for a month. It would be the first time in a foreign country in which I didn't know the language well (if at all), and my first time traveling by myself beyond just a day or weekend trip. I was ecstatic. I had been dreaming about this experience for months. Upon my arrival, once the jet lag wore off, I experienced emotions I had never experienced, and it was uncomfortable to say the least. Little did I know was that I was growing, I was stretching. And part of the reason it brought tears to my eyes during my calls home (of which were few as it was a different day and age) was because it was seemingly painful. Well, it seemed painful in the moment, but it was simply new and simply put, full of unknowns. I have shared before that sometime during that trip, even though I was extremely delighted to come home, upon reflection, I realize I was broken open. And I am so thankful I was.

3. Shed the layers

As I was watching an interview with Sharon Stone recently on CBS Sunday Morning, she shared an observation that hit home for me: Women of a certain generation (alluding to her own - the Baby Boomer and before her) were raised to be accommodating. And finally I understood why I was so perplexed by my parents' relationship and how their approach never felt right for me. While my mom and dad are the only two people who can say and know whether they are happy or not, for me, a young girl who was raised to do her best in sports and extracurriculars as well as school, there was a reason relationships didn't last long for me because the accommodating (which was the only model I had witnessed in my childhood) limited what I knew I was capable of as an individual, let alone in a relationship. Yes, it took me over 30 years to understand that this layer was one I needed to shed, but it's gone finally, and I can breathe much deeper now as I am aware of what values a partnership needs to embody for me to step into a commitment. Now this is just one example of a layer that needs to be shed, but there are many more. Upon closer examination we can identify them, but they are easy to miss if we just go about our lives as we are expected. As a woman here are a few more that have come to my attention: that I must be covetous, desired and sexually appealing, that I am supposed to have children because women supposedly are innately nurturing (please read this study by the American Psychology Association on the realities of how society conditions both men and women) and that career paths are better suited for certain genders. All of these and so many more are myths and layers that need to be shed so that your true and brightest light can shine, offering the world what only you can innately give. (Much more is shared in the podcast on this point. I would encourage you to listen if this issue caught your attention.)

4. Follow your curiosity

In many ways, our curiosity is our Linus blanket. In other words our security, our foundation that we can trust when it comes to knowing where to take our lives. As I shared last year in a post about our unique journeys and knowing how to navigate them successfully,

“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

We cannot know what hasn't been written. We write our journey to become who we are truly capable of becoming by trusting our inner compass, by trusting our curiosity. So follow the simple, yet significant wonders of your heart. Be brave enough to step out and try something grand that no one else you know as attempted. For when you do, you gain information about where to go next, and that is part of the journey toward yourself.

5. Read, experience, observe

I recently read an article encouraging more reading as an everyday habit. Speaking about Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, one quote that was shared was stated by Charlie Munger - self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero” and he has a point. With regards to being wise in life, but also being wise about who we can become, we need to keep learning through the books we read, the theater we enjoy, the travels we take. Information surrounds us offering guideposts as to where to go next and what we are capable of achieving. We just have to be brave enough to say there is so much more to learn in life and each of us is only getting started.

6. Attain the skills necessary

Susan Hermann Loomis shared in episode #192 the reason she went to cooking school in France was that she wanted to learn from the best. If she was going to do something, she was going to do it right and well, thus France or Japan came to mind, and France was her choice.

7. Follow Shonda Rhimes' advice: Just keep moving forward

With each step forward, as we follow our curiosities, as we do what we have to do, as we let go of what no longer is serving us, we bring ourselves ever closer to where we are meant to be. Let go of the desire to have absolute control of your life and you will unlock the greatest gift of discovery: who you were truly meant to be. The world swirls around us, seemingly at breakneck speeds it can seem, but we are the constant in the whirlwind. When we ground ourselves in our truth and understanding of who we are and what we can offer to the world, we may bend every so slightly, but we will be strong enough to reach our destination even if we don't know where we are heading as we put one foot in front of the other. I too am stepping what feels like somewhat blindly forward. However, I am following what provokes my curiosity, I am following the creative ideas that pop up when I least expect it or can't explain to the outside world as to why they arrived. And with each step, with each book, with each experience, the exterior layers that are not me are being left behind and the journey is all the more enjoyable and my confidence gradually strengthens that I am traveling the right path. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Give Yourself Permission to Be Awkward, episode #185

~The Importance of Finding Contentment, episode #181

~How to Let Go of Self-Imposed Limitations, episode #186

Petit Plaisir

~Remodelista, The Organized Home: Simple, Stylish Storage Ideas for All Over the House by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick

~Remodelista blog post worth reading . . . The Organized Pantry: 8 Rules for Decanting Dried Goods ~See how I put some of the ideas shared in the book to work in my kitchen: 9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health & Help Out the Planet

Sponsor of this week’s episode: Lifesum

~Visit the Top Ranked Health & Fitness app and receive 30% off the Premium Membership. ~Visit lifesum.com/simple Download the Episode

Direct download: 193BecomeYou.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #192
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

On today's episode of The Simple Sophisticate, author, award-winning journalist, expat living in France and proprietor of the acclaimed cooking school located in France, Susan Hermann Loomis joins me to talk about so many of TSLL readers' passions: France, food, and living well (and I cannot forget Julia Child as well). Discover how she came to live in France, her approach to food and cooking, discover what students learn when they enroll in her cooking school and its far more than just learning how to cook extraordinary well, and hear what it was like to sit down in Julia Child's kitchen in Cambridge and have dinner with her. All of this and much more. Be sure to download and have a listen. And look for Susan's new book French Grill: 150 Refined & Rustic Recipes will be released June 12th this summer. ~Check out her blog On Rue Tatin ~Discover and Enroll in Cooking Classes ~Rent Susan's home in Louviers, France, as your vacation rental - learn more here ~Follow Susan on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram Susan's cookbooks and memoirs:

~In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France (2015)

~On Rue Tatin: Living and Cooking in a French Town (2001)

~Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin (2005)

~French Farm House Cookbook (1996)

~View all of her books here (there are many more!)  

Petit Plaisir:

~Susan shared two Petit Plaisirs during our conversation, one is below and the other you will want to tune in for. It is something I enjoy wholeheartedly myself.   ~Check out more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here and peruse similar episodes below: ~189: Jamie Cat Callan's Parisian Charm School - Love, Life & Savoring It All ~182: David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home ~168: French Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni ~169: Understanding the French Culture: My Interview with Géraldine Lepere of Comme une Française ~175: 14 Ways to Eat Like the French — Savor Good Food, Don’t Fear It   ~SUBSCRIBE to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter  

Sponsor of this week's episode: Lifesum

~Visit the Top Ranked Health & Fitness app and receive 30% off the Premium Membership. ~Visit lifesum.com/simple Download the Episode

Direct download: 192SusanHermannLoomis.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 9:00pm PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #191
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

Quality Leather Totes

Hi Shannon - I was going through your capsule wardrobe pieces and I saw the mark and graham brooklyn tote and the cuyana tote listed.  I have been looking for a cognac purse and have seen both of these before (in addition to madewell and everlane).  Do you have any experience with either brand and/or tote?
Thanks so much!
—Jennifer
~The Vintage Tote Bag, by WP + Standards, $195 (monogram available), ships for free in the U.S. if order is over $75
~Leather Passport Wallet, by WP + Standards, $95 (monogram available)
~Able, Mamuye Leather Tote (more colors available), learn more about the company founded on the mission of being "a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary circumstances. We manufacture directly in the communities we wish to impact, both locally and globally, creating jobs and ending the cycle of charity dependency" here. $178
~Mark & Graham's East/West Leather Tote (red, black and navy available as well) $199
~Mark & Graham Brooklyn Tote, new colors, $225
~Everlane Day Market Tote, (four colors available), $165
SHOP THE OPTIONS:
[show_shopthepost_widget id="2988960"]

How to Know Which Quality Clothing Items to Invest In

I am currently binge listening to the podcasts for the umpteenth time and you speak to quality over quantity frequently, with which I completely agree. However, how is one to determine what brands/items are quality without having to spend a fortune playing trial and error... Thanks so much in advance! Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to every post and podcast! —Jennifer

Follow these tips:

  1. Check the label
    1. While not in every scenario is paying more money equivalent to a quality item, often it is. However, do your due diligence, and following the below four steps as well to ease your mind if you are new to a particular designer.
  2. Try it on, feel the fabric, check seams, and see how it has been made.
    1. Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen and wool will last longer than synthetic fabrics; however, even natural products can be diluted - check the fiber quality and density - feel it. The more fiber, the longer it will last.
    2. Look at the buttons and buttonholes: is the stitching tight? This is a good thing. If there are loose threads, this is a bad sign.
    3. Clothing with lining is normally a very good sign, just make sure to check the seams.
    4. Interfacing in collars and cuffs is a good sign as well as it creates the intended structure, but also takes more time and money to construct.
  3. Look to experts in the field you trust - stylists, designers, bloggers, fashion columnists, critics
  4. Have patience. You may have to try on more than a few different brands to find one that not only is top quality but works well on your body type and is to your taste.
  5. Don't be afraid to return the item if it just doesn't feel right for you.

~How to Find Your Signature Style ~The Perfect Trench is Personal

Simple Seasonal Eating for a Busy Schedule

Hi Shannon!
 
I have to be at work by 7:30 am every day and don't get home until 5:30 pm or later.  So there's not much energy left to get up early to cook breakfast or spend a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking dinner.  I don't mind spending maybe an hour cooking dinner and cooking enough so I could eat it for lunch or supper another time during the week.
 
I love the idea of eating with the seasons like you've mentioned.  Can you recommend any books, cookbooks, etc. that might have sample menus and simple recipes so you can eat whatever is in season at the moment but use easily found ingredients and the recipes don't require you to be a trained chef spending most of the day in the kitchen?   I've tried to come up with my own menus but haven't had much success and found it exhausting.  Any recommendations you can give me is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for all you do!
Marty
  • Capsule Menu Details and Seasonal Menus
  • The latest seasonal menu, Winter - download for free here.
  • Simple go-to weeknight dinners for a busy schedule:
    • Goal: A protein, a low-starch vegetable (prepared in a simple manner roasted, steamed, etc.), and a side of whole grains (brown rice, forbidden rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, etc.)
      • EX: a single salmon fillet pan-fried seasoned with salt and pepper, roasted broccoli with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and black rice (forbidden rice).
      • EX: Lunch or simple and done dinners: Salad greens (baby spinach or arugula), topped with homemade vinaigrette, tossed with a grilled protein - fish, chicken, lean beef, etc., added roasted sliced almonds, walnuts or pine nuts, and a tablespoon of freshly grated cheese.
  • How to Feed Your Body Well
  • How to Enjoy Eating Every Day and Love the Results, episode #165 - seasonal cookbooks are listed on point #10
  • My homemade vinaigrette recipe:
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • View all of TSLL Recipes here

What to Pack for a Trip to Paris in the Spring

Hi Shannon-
I am going to Paris this spring for a few weeks and I don’t want to sacrifice style for comfort and good sense. What would you recommend wearing to walk and walk and enjoy the trip without looking like a tourist and keeping my sense of style intact?  What shoes to wear!? Handbag? Jewelry?
Any thoughts would be so much appreciated.
Cordially,
Jen from So. California

SHOP THE OPTIONS BELOW: [show_shopthepost_widget id="2988959"]   ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

~Ask Shannon Episode of 2017, episode #163

~How to Cultivate Your Style All Year Long, episode #149

~International Travel Prep List, episode #183

Petit Plaisir:

~The New York Times Mini Daily Puzzle
  • free
  • takes fewer than 5 minutes
  • exercise for the brain
  • timed to challenge yourself
  • current and historical references

Download the Episode

Direct download: 191AskShannon2018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #190
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

It was the nineties. And Cindy Crawford had a fitness video, yes this one. It was 20 minutes of simple strength exercises, and I memorized the exercises, completing them twice a week on my own. In no time, without the need of the video.  I was in my late pre-teens. Not having access to a gym, somewhere I knew strength was a good idea along with cardiovascular exercises. I will admit, the video was similar to a music video which helped, but it was a routine from my past that I continue to draw on today, and have not been a member of a gym for more than 14 years. Now, I have since updated many of the exercises after training with personal trainers, but the concept of not needing a gym membership, but rather simply knowing how to build your own strength routine that you can complete in your home is not only a money saver, but time saver. The key is to use proper form and stick to a program even if it is challenging, and it will be in the beginning. Initially, you may want to schedule a session or two with a personal trainer to make sure you have a strength routine that works well for your body and you are clear about what the proper form will be. During this consultation, you can ask questions about your overall health, the cardio vascular routine you adhere to and based on what your goals are, ask for ideas to maximize your fitness schedule. In fact, to calibrate my strength routine after years of doing it on my own, I have set up a few sessions with a local trainer to make sure I as physically fit as I can be for my health primarily, but to feel truly comfortable in my skin. I was reminded of my fitness routine from decades ago and how simple fitness can to be when Crawford was interviewed this past November for The Cut. In that interview she alludes to the fitness routine she was introduced to which was what was shared in the fitness videos:

I try to get 20 minutes of cardio at least three times a week. Then I do anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour of old school lunges, weights, squats, and bicep curls — it’s just stuff that I learned 30 years ago. Once a week, I try to go on a hike with a friend so I combine exercise and girlfriend time — it’s the best multitasking.

The fitness routine we create for ourselves should be enjoyable, consistent and paired with a well-balanced diet which includes moderation not deprivation. The reality is our weight has far more to do with what we eat than what we do for exercise as was reported in The New York Times in 2015, so why not create a fitness approach we look forward to? Below are a few ideas for staying fit while keeping it simple.

Let the Outdoors Be Your Gym

Not everyone lives in a town like Bend, Oregon, with trails just blocks from our front doors and massive dog parks to hike the forests with our furry children. So heeding this suggestion will be dependent upon where you call home, but even if you live in a bustling city, especially New York or any city with public transportation, walking will add up. And walking counts.

Find a Class You Enjoy and Go Regularly

The combination of aerobic, strength and flexibility is the tripod of good fitness, so whether you enjoy a circuit training class with a particular instructor, a pilates or yoga class for deep stretching as well as mental agility, find a day of the week and time that works best and get into a regular schedule of attending. Another motivator is to buy a pass for a month or a pass of 5-10 classes. Not only will you pay less as they are often reduced when sold in multiples, but you will not have the excuse of not having the money and knowing you've already paid will motivate you to not let your money go to waste.

Do What You Love

If you enjoy working out with others, join a group that cycles weekly and explores the many trails around the area. If you enjoy working out alone, grab your shoes and earbuds and star running or walking. During the summer months I love to paddleboard with Norman, and while it can be a leisurely pursuit, I try to make it a workout when we go upstream and then relax on the ride back down as we move with the current.

Walk with Intention

If you do like to walk for exercise, as I do, walk with purpose. In other words, strolling will not keep your heart rate up high enough to burn the calories you are hoping for. I drive some of my walking companions up a wall sometimes, but to me a walk is an opportunity to get a nice workout in, and if I haven't gotten my workout in, I am going to want to pick up the pace. Having walked two marathons, it is possible to derive an amazing aerobic fitness routine solely from walking, just walk with intention.

Consistency

At the core of any successful venture or change in habits and behavior is to make your fitness routine consistent. From engaging in an aerobic activity for 30-40 minutes 3-5 times a week, strength training twice a week for at least 20 minutes and taking time for your body to truly be stretched well once a week, schedule these appointments as you would a necessary doctor's appointment.

Water, all the time, Water

I am on a constant quest to drink more water. My efforts include making it my drink of choice when I am not sipping on tea, taking my 24 oz Hydroflask with me when I go to work, yoga class and travel and doing my best to drink the entire bottle before I return home. Part of why we reach for food we really don't need is because we are thirsty and the more we stay hydrated the more we will have an honest gauge of what our body is craving.

Let Curiosity Be Your Guide

When traveling, give yourself extra time to explore on foot, climb that famous trail or step off the metro or the tube one stop too early and walk the rest of the way to your destination. Again, you will be doing something you enjoy and are curious about and all the while getting in a few extra minutes of cardio. The bottom line to take away as many of us are making resolutions to improve our health is that what we eat is a priority that can derail our fitness efforts, so eat well, plan a regular well balanced fitness program and enjoy going about your everyday knowing that in time you will see the results you were looking for. ~Peruse the HEALTH posts in the Archives to find posts targeted on exactly what you are looking for (eating well, fitness, yoga, losing those last 10 pounds, etc.) ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?

~Love Food, Love Your Body - 10 Simple Tips (episode #8)

~Why Not . . . Lose Those Last 10 Pounds?

~Design an At-Home Strength Training Program That Works, (episode #201)

Petit Plaisir

~French Onion Soup - click here for the recipe

Direct download: 190FitnessSimple.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #189
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

"French women will tell you that when you know who you are, you are able to become more yourself, and then you naturally and easily become more confident. When you know who you are, you are more 'contained' because you are confident, and as a result, you become more mysterious." —Jamie Cat Callan from her new book Parisian Charm School

Author and Francophile Jamie Cat Callan joins me on the first episode of 2018. The author of Bonjour, Happiness, French Women Don't Sleep Alone and Ooh La la!: French Women's Secret to Feeling Beautiful Every Day, Jamie's new book offers a curriculum on cultivating a life of engaging with the world, not only with a lover or a partner, but with your neighbors, friends and the community that surrounds you. Full of detailed anecdotes inspired by the intimate conversations with French men and women as well as expats living in France, Jamie shares with readers how each of our love stories is unique, and the key is to discover the joy in the everyday. She joined me from her farm in the Hudson Valley where she calls home with her husband and shares her own love story during our conversation and how she trusted her path discovering it was exactly and more than she could have hoped for. The book Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and That Certain je ne sais Quoi will be released tomorrow, January 2nd. Visit Jamie's blog to discover her book tour schedule, and follow along on her journey via Instagram as she shares what delights her while living on a farm (view a few pics below) as well as images from her travels to France.

~Jamie's Instagram is full of images of her farm (the garlic braiding she mentioned is shown below), travels and her animals. Follow her @jamiecatcallan

  ~Enter the giveaway to win a Finex cast iron skillet. ~Read TSLL's first post of 2018 to kick off the new year. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~French Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni, episode #168

~Understanding the French Culture: My Interview with Géraldine Lepere of Comme une Française, episode #169

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

  Download the Episode

Direct download: 189JamieCatCallan.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 1:00am PST

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