The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

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

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

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

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

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

15 Characteristics of a Late Bloomer

1.Curiosity is the late bloomer's fuel

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

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

2. We are predisposed to be compassionate

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

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

3.Better leadership skills are developed

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

4. Resilience is developed and strengthened

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

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

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

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

6. Extensive insight

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

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

7. Navigation of life's ambiguity becomes easier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12. Letting go of comparisons

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

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

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

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

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

When we do this there are many invaluable benefits:

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

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

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

3. We strengthen our self-efficacy

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

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

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

5. Improved positive self-talk

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

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

6. Stronger, healthier relationships

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

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

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

8. The courage to repot when necessary

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

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

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

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

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

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

Petit Plaisir

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

~read my review and reason for recommendation here.

TSLL BRITISH WEEK 2019 Posts:

Sunday May 19th

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Direct download: 252LateBloomers.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Read the full show notes of Episode #97 here

I do hope you enjoy.

Direct download: 97ArchivedFinal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:12pm PDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Direct download: 32FranceCapsule.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 10:00pm PDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specific examples of living a life inspired by the JOMO:

A modern woman or man embracing JOMO understands . . .

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

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

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

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

. . . meeting, engaging and conversing with people - men or women - during our everyday lives can be a bright moment. Simply being friendly and sincerely engaged in the exchange is a reflection of who we are as a person and not of a wanting something more than the current moment which offers friendly human connection and kindness.

. . . the potential the future holds upon recognizing and refusing to be limited by the confines of societal expectations and savors the present moment in which they find themselves as they, by simply living a life of joy, can model and inspire others to feel comfortable to do the same.

Enjoying the journey moving forward

A modern woman need not be defined by their romantic relationship status or parental status (neither should a modern man, but fewer stigmas are attached to men as opposed to women in our current culture). Welcoming love into our lives, good, real love, is available in so many forms and for each of us will follow its own timeline. It begins with a love for the life we find ourselves in at this very moment — not wishing for something more or fearing we are missing out if certain events or outside opportunities don't present themselves "on time".

Love, and thus a discovery of joy, is available via a multitude of avenues and communities. Explore, embrace and nurture where the love is in the journey you are on at this moment because it is uniquely yours and most certainly worth celebrating.

Petit Plaisir

Queer Eye, Season 3 premiere, Netflix

https://youtu.be/8SZbVV6eVFk

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #251

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

Direct download: 251JOMO.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 10:00pm PDT

"Never decorate all at once. 'When you do it all at once, you make mistakes,' explains Fredéric Amico. Take your time trying out different pieces, and never settle." —Architectural Digest's Clever (new online destination for decor ideas, quoting French actor and artist Fredéric Amico (view his Paris loft here)

Our wardrobe, our mind, our relationships all ebb and flow, grow, migrate, wander and progress as much as we choose to let them, and our sancturaries need not be any different.

Reflect upon your childhood bedroom and the first time your parents gave you permission to decorate it as you pleased - paint color, linens and all (or maybe you took the initiative all on your own). Then graduate to your first home away from home - perhaps your dorm, perhaps an apartment. Then remember the next home and the next as your life began to unfold.

I can remember vividly during my junior year in high school wielding a paintbrush, ushering in a double bed, selecting the wallpaper for the accent wall and reveling in my very own "grown-up" sanctuary. Then college arrived, and it was with my first apartment sophomore year that furniture was needed, and much was cheap and yard sale must-have finds, but there were treasures that I brought with me from my childhood home - that black rod-iron bed, dishware found at an unexpected estate sale, pictures that held dear meaning. And then the first "adult" apartment during graduate school, living on my own - daring to paint an entire wall red and framing everything in gold. It reflected my choice at the time, and having a choice and a home that was all my own, felt liberating. Never before have I painted a wall red - it took three, at least, coats to make it as I had hoped. But I don't regret it for a moment.

Since then, the homes I have rented or owned have been unique unto themselves, but one detail always remains constant, the woman living within the four walls - me.

Even so, each home of which my paycheck has paid the monthly mortgage or rent, has gradually evolved to reflect more of what has shaped me and influenced me and inspired me to become the person I am today. And as much as we, okay, maybe this was just me, moreso especially in my earlier years of homeownership, may want our homes to come together immediately to reflect the aesthetic we desire and see in our mind's eye, our most authentic sanctuary will be a reflection of patience, of thoughtfulness and of careful selection.

Not all of us have the luxury of being able to live in a home we love for decades, and others might state that it is a luxury to be able to move frequently based on curiosity and opportunities, but either way, we can take what means the most with us to our next home. So that no matter where we go, our journey can be reflected within the four walls of our sanctuary.

Today I'd like to share with you ways that you can begin to decorate your sanctuary to not only reflect your journey which will offer comfort and confidence each time you cross the threshold, but also be welcoming to most importantly the inhabitants, but guests who are invited to visit as well.

In last Wednesday's post, I shared eight small, but unique ways to add your signature to your sanctuary, many of which, as you will discover, reflect my journey thus far over the past 40 years. And today I'd like to share less of the specific things to include and more the concepts to consider when deciding what should hang on your walls, fill your rooms and welcome you home.

1.Does it warm your heart and lift your spirits?

Ask yourself this question when deciding what pictures, paintings, souvenirs, etc. any item that doesn't perform a function, but rather only adorns a wall, tabletop or shelf, to display.

Being reminded of what you are capable of, being reminded of the love that was felt and expressed, being reminded of a dream that came true, all of these reminders are helpful and healthy to have in your home especially on those days and during those moments we need comfort and confidence.

2. What function does it provide?

Being clear about the function that an item provides - literally or figuratively (i.e. a candleholder, a vase, a settee, a bench (literal); painting, particular coffee table books, throw pillows (figurative) — clarifies in your mind why you are considering it for your home. If the reason is because it is the color of the year, or my favorite influencer has one, unless your signature for decor is trendy, perhaps find a deeper purpose for welcoming it into your home. But if instead, the reason is to provide warmth, to lift my spirits, to hold my favorite bunch of flowers and fit perfectly on that particular tabletop, then by all means, welcome it into your home.

"Have nothing in your home that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."—William Morris

With points #1 & #2, it may appear that I am simply further describing what William Morris has taught decorators for years, and if your interpretation of the quote is similar to mine, then you are in good company, but for me, it goes deeper. What does beautiful mean?

Beautiful must go deeper, beauty can only be present if it fits the two criteria above in a more visceral part of our well-being. There are many items that are beautiful - from traditional to modern designs, art that speaks volumes from contemporary to acclaimed icons, but if it doesn't mean something to you, if it doesn't have a story as to why it spoke to you, then let someone else welcome it into their home.

I am continually editing my home, just as I am my closet, and with more evaluation, comes more removal of items that were bought at the spur of the moment, out of preceived need. Gradually, those items, if they don't possess both of the criteria above, are replaced by items that do, and the home's decor begins to feel more symphonic.

Speaking of symphonies, there is more criteria to consider when bringing it all together in your home.

3. Cost per true value

Similar to cost per wear, but slightly different, cost per true value is how much it costs to acquire the item while taking into account the value it will add to the overall quality of life over the amount of years you expect to own the item.

In other words, the antique dining table that costs $1000 and would fit perfectly in your dining room. No more need for separate tables, more dinner parties, more opportunity to share your passion for cooking and your partner's passion for convivial conversation about the guests' favorite topics. Many would way this is priceless and others would say you can do the same thing around two nondescript tables pulled together, but this is where the decision will be different for each person: What do you want to invest in? What is it that brings you and those you love great enjoyment and peace of mind?

Some of the items we bring into our homes will be treasure finds for pennies of what they are actually worth, or maybe not worth anything at all to anyone else, but priceless in our eyes. Whatever you choose to invest in monetarily, simply remember to ask the "cost per true value" question and answer it for yourself. No one else's opinion (unless they are paying for it or a partner in the household) should matter.

4. Consider the decor that spoke to you on your travels

So many of TSLL readers/listeners of the podcast are travelers to all sorts of amazing places, large and small, far and near on the globe. Often it isn't until we see, and then sometimes live with temporarily through staying in vacation rentals, a particular decor idea that we realize how excellent of an idea it is or how much it makes us feel at home even when we are far way.

As I shared in my post last Wednesday, one decor idea I would have never known about or considered was to use linen tablecloths as curtains. Perfect! And with my love of linen as it reminds me of France and my travels to the south and north of the country, the curtains I now have in my home not only serve a much needed function, but they also bring back fond memories.

5. Does it tell a story that you want to welcome into your home?

I have an antique English draw-leaf table that was the first dining room table I ever owned (you can see a bit of it in the above image on the far right). I purchased it in college after saving up $400 for it and have had it with me ever since (here is a similar one from One King's Lane). No matter what size my home, I have always made a spot for it. Currently, it holds my record player which suits it perfectly as it brings the music and the news into my home.

As well, a chair from an individual who you knew or have known and simply remembering who they are makes you smile when you look at the piece furniture even if there are a few tears in the upholstery is a keeper.

Not everything in our homes will have long stories that will make your heart smile, but gradually, once we have what we need to live sufficiently, we can be thoughtful and careful about what we wish to bring into our sanctuaries. Often it actually becomes easier because we know precisely what is not only needed but also what would be cherished.

6. Include custom art or upholstered items with beloved fabrics from your travels or the past

Whether you are a painter or someone has painted or illustrated something for you, framing it gives you an original piece of art. Playful or serious, seasoned artists or first-timers, the art we display can share a glimpse of your story to those you invite into your home as well as remind you of what you care most about.

As well, choosing to upholster old furniture, or cover pillow or make blankets with fabrics found like traveling or found like going through your family's attic are unique and signature ways of adding a decor idea that can't be purchased in a retail store.

Transforming a house or an apartment into a home is a creative journey and revelation of our truest selves in many ways if we want it to be. Recognizing the power of communication and comfort and confidence that can transpire simply with the decor choices we make is a tool we can put in our toolbox to improve the quality of our lives. It is a process that requires patience, but one day when you least expect it or aren't looking for it or trying to achieve it, you will find yourself sitting in that one particular spot in your home, passing the time doing something you love either on your own or with someone you love and you will feel the most at home you have ever felt. Such a feeling is not because your home is complete (it never will be), it is because you have curated a space that enables you to relax, recharge, share yourself without saying too much or saying just the right amount in each room of the home and knowing you did what you could with what you had.

It is my hope that you experience such moments often no matter where you are along your journey. Because, if my experience has taught me anything in each of the homes I have inhabited, it is possible and it only gets better with each step forward along the journey.

~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

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

~How to Create Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219

Petit Plaisir:

~Mary Berry's Country House Secrets, four episodes on BritBox

~learn about each episode here

https://youtu.be/Zvgvxal-udg

~Image: an everyday moment captured in my living room, complete with a dog toy left on the floor - learn more about the photo in this post.

Direct download: 250BeckoningSanctuary.mp3
Category:decor -- posted at: 10:00pm PDT

Oprah: What is a lesson that took you the longest to learn that you kept repeating and it kept showing up wearing a different something, but was the same lesson?

Julia Roberts: I think we as people, or as women, or me just myself who I am in this world that I make myself less for someone else to feel more of whatever that "thing" was.

When I heard Julia Roberts share with Oprah on her podcast Super Soul Conversations this past October the lesson that took her the longest to learn, it struck a chord. Actually, having seen the above Instagram post on Oprah's feed prior to the interview which prompted me to download the episode (airing on October 23 & 24 - it's a two-part conversation), I finally felt I had found a word for what I had been doing for quite some time in my life but couldn't understand what it was and why it was causing me so much frustration.

Shrinking, unconsciously becoming less of who we are so that others feel more comfortable, either to avoid confrontation that is unwarranted, but still we choose to prevent it from occurring by not being our full and awesome selves, or by not partaking in a life path because we don't want to upset others or deal with the push back, can become a habit and mistakenly become accepted as who we actually are.

The habit of shrinking is something I became accustomed to for a long time - with my family, with my friends, in relationships - but thankfully, I find myself in the past 5-8 years refusing to do so, and the blessings of this conscious choice have been beautiful - primarily, a sense of peace and tranquility within myself which is especially felt when I am in own and only company. And more importantly, I have begun to find people who accept me for who I truly am, and have been more keen to gravitate to others who as well are being themselves and do not ask or expect or want me to shrink.

A common reaction to onlookers or individuals who have interacted with those of us who have become conditioned to self-select to become less is that we are 'too much of ourselves'. In other words, arrogant. They skip over the observation of one simply being confident and jump to, she/he is too confident. Too full of themselves. But what they are really communicating is "I am not comfortable with you not being who I want you to be or what I am used to you being". And often, it is women who when they choose to let go of being less, receive the comment from others of being 'too confident'. I rarely hear this about men who are confident, and even those men who are well into the arrogant tier of confidence. Nope, primarily women. And this is what is known as social conditioning.

Even more unfortunate, it is often women, but men too, if they haven't been conditioned or around women or any individual who is not adhering to what they believe to be 'their societal role' , they will push back. The irony is, if they are women pushing back against women, they are pushing themselves down as well.

What does 'refusing to make yourself less' look like? Certainly, women can step into the realm of arrogance and go beyond simply being confident just as men can, but too often we fear this misstep and thus never even dabble or try to exude our confidence of being exactly who we are. And being exactly who we are is what the world needs.

How to Be Your Full Self, Not Less, Not More

1.Understand what true self-confidence is

To possess and exude confidence is to establish a "firm trust" with someone else as defined in the dictionary. In episode 5 of the podcast, we detail how to gain confidence and why it is invaluable, an episode inspired by the book The Confidence Code .

And it is imperative, that in order to not convey arrogance, but rather confidence, you refuse to fake it. In other words, let go of the life advice maxim that seems to be quite ubiquitous - "fake it until you make it". If you fake it, you overstep, you don't have the credibility and people will not trust you. The goal is to gain authentically other people's trust, which means, you need to be you and do what you love and what comes naturally, where you find your flow and where you acknowledge others' strengths and successes, where you recognize new ideas and thus adjust your ideas. Being adamant is not being confident, especially so, if your stance on any issue needs to be adjusted as new knowledge is put forth.

In other words, excluding true confidence comes from showing, not telling. Simply put, our actions, how we carry ourselves, how we handle difficult situations, how we prepare for our projects/conferences/speeches/etc., how we respond to questions when asked, when we engage in conversations - what it is that we share and how we speak - our tone, listening skills, responses, etc., how we go about our lives when nobody is necessarily watching, etc.

Confidence is gained from continual growth, a bit of vulnerability to put yourself out there and show your strengths, but also a recognition that it is in your actions,, that build upon themselves to build trust with others and to demonstrate to yourself that yes, what you have to offer is valuable, but first you must acknowledge this truth to yourself.

2. Let go of the need of wanting everyone to like or approve of what you do/say

Become more comfortable walking away and not taking it personally when someone doesn't "approve" of your behavior, ideas, lifestyle, etc. First, this is where having confidence will help strengthen your resolve to not be so shaken when someone speaks ill of you or your work. Second, this doesn't mean constructive feedback shouldn't be considered. After all, in order to grow, so long as the source who is relaying the feedback is trusted, credible and wishes only to help, not tear down what you have put out into the world, consider their feedback.

On the other hand, whether it is with relationships, career pursuits, lifestyle choices, or political ideologies, while we may intrinsically want others to like us, agree with us, go along with our ideas, accept us, date us, marry us, hire us, vote for us, etc., we want them to like our full self, not a version of what we think they would accept. Because in time, we will no longer be able to stay confined inside the box we have initially put ourselves in and the other has accepted that we stay. Our breaking out will come in all different forms - getting angry, ending a relationship, etc. - but rest assured, it will come eventually.

3. Find the courage to be vulnerable

The most frightening part of being our fullest selves is knowing that there is a possibility we will be dismissed, rejected, ignored, laughed at, simply not accepted for who we are. But the comfort, the safety net so to speak, is the self-confidence we have built up and take with us everywhere we go.

If you understand your self-worth, which has been with you since the day you were born and will be with you your entire life, you know that you have immense value that the world is fortunate to have. In 2011, I wrote a post sharing 10 Ways to Strengthen Self-Worth and one vital point shared was that "we all have self-worth; it’s a matter of finding it within ourselves.  Once we accept and acknowledge, and know, that we are worthy, the amazing journey of finding our purpose, of discovering our passions and living our most fulfilling life can really begin."

Once you acknowledge how awesome you are all on your own, those rejections, those negative responses that none of us are seeking, will more easily become a part of the past and roll off your back. But first you must establish your self-confidence.

"It’s no surprise that confidence is the foundation that makes it okay to be vulnerable. It’s the layer of self-trust that allows you to take a few bricks out of that wall and know you’ll be okay, to really show up and to show others who you are. Real, natural confidence is trust rather than second-guessing. It’s congruity rather than compartmentalization. It’s ease rather than resistance." —Steve Errey, a confidence coach

If you are someone as well who has felt they have had to shrink themselves in order to live life, then you know how uncomfortable and confining it can be to live such a life. Such experience is not wasted because now that we know how to become our full selves we can make sure we don't expect others to shrink or become less around us. With empathy we can make sure this harm to others doesn't continue - to women or men. But we must stand strong in our full selves and become comfortable with walking way, communicatively clearly, but with clarity and calm certainty and recognizing that these are both skills - the shrinking to be less and the expanding to be our full selves - and so while it took time to learn how to shrink, it will take time to learn how to be fully who we truly are out in the world.

For me, there are three aspects that are the most difficult part of being fully who I am: not holding on to the past of how I have been treated by the same people I am trying to be fully myself with and bringing unhelpful rash and reactionary emotions with me (while I have walked away from those I could, sometimes we don't have a choice as we either work for or with them or are related to them and see them at holiday occasions whether by our own invitation or not); letting go of the guilt that had been instilled by society for being stronger than it wanted me to be - whether that guilt was exhibited by having a voice, an idea or letting someone go; and lastly, believing in what I wanted to bring to the world more and considering the certain critics that will inevitably arise less.

As you can see, it takes time, and awareness of what is most difficult for each of us, but we each can attain the place of being fully who we are each day and moment of our lives no matter who we are with. And in knowing this, we can support and nurture others who are daring to take this brave step to be themselves and encourage them, not laugh or limit or dismiss, so that we all rise to our best selves. However, it starts with supporting yourself and giving yourself permission to be exactly who you are. Just be you. And in your being, you will dazzle, amaze and find the people who delight in exactly who you are. Trust your journey.

Petit Plaisir

—Agatha and the Truth of Murder, on Netflix

starring Irish actress Ruth Bradley as Agatha Christie at the age of 36 as her marriage to Archibald Christie was coming to an end.

Set in December 1926, during the 11 day period in which the novelist went missing. The movie is a fictionalized version of what might have happened.

https://youtu.be/2apnlrZmv28

Direct download: 249LessMore.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

Over the years I have recommended, reviewed and shared a long list of French films or films set in France either as Petit Plaisirs in previous podcast episodes, in the weekly This & That under the Francophile Finds category or during the annual TSLL French Week the past three years in August.

And as someone who appreciates simplicity and organization, I realized I didn't have one destination where readers/listeners could find my favorites. So today, that is exactly what I have done.

Understandably, there is a multitude of French films from decades passed that many people would place on their top list, but I wanted to share films I have loved that premiered in the past ten years.

As you will see, most are French films with English subtitles, but there are a few that are American films set in France, and one, I couldn't not help myself, that isn't French at all. It is Italian, but I learned about it while watching a French film in New York City's must-visit-foreign-films movie theater The Paris Theater (which is located adjacent to Bergdorf Goodman on the south end of Central Park). All of them are thoughtful, some more comical than others, but each will leave you in a contented mood having finished the film (and some will leave you with a voracious appetite - most for food, some for wine and others for . . . well . . . let's get to my list of the 12 French films I love).

1. Un Peu Beaucoup Aveuglement (Blind Date)

Released in France in 2015, this romantic comedy juxtaposes two tenants who need starkly different things in their lives in order to achieve the goals they have set. With merely a wall that separates them, the battle ensues and the humor begins.

First shared in episode #130's Petit Plaisir, you can listen to my full review there, and here is the trailer.

https://youtu.be/6F2gaqo3QS4

2. Barbecue

In 2015 I was looking for a light-hearted film, yet something to catch my eye’s attention as well as pique my curiosity. Released in 2014, Barbecue is a French film situated the majority of the time in the countryside of south France, but also in the city of Lyon. Amongst a group of long-time friends, one suffers a heart attack only to have it prompt him to question his entire life’s approach to living well. Enjoy the laughter, the camaraderie, the tears, the frustration and the ultimate happy ending. Available on Netflix, be sure to put it on your watch list.

https://youtu.be/6R4ekgJdj28

3. I Am Not An Easy Man

Last year I had the opportunity to watch a new film which debuted on Netflix a few weeks ago, I Am Not An Easy Man. Not only will Francophiles appreciate this modern film as it is set in Paris and is written in French, but with the recent swelling of awareness surrounding the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp, the lead role stars a male chauvinist’s whose life is flipped upside down when after a concussion he wakes up in a matriarchal world in which men are inferior to women.

The satirical plot will perhaps have you laughing at times until you take a moment, pause, and then recognize how conditioned society has become to accept certain behaviors, roles and expectations of each gender. Watch it, absorb the message and then live more consciously. I know I was taking serious note of the message. The last scene alone was all too real of a wake-up call of where society is and the progress that still needs to be made. 

https://youtu.be/2bFHdkzqSZA

4. Last Love

In 2013, Mr. Morgan's Last Love, aka Last Love, starring Michael Caine as a bereaved widower living in Paris, debuted. Co-starring alongside French actress Clemence Poesy, a jovial dance instructor, this film was a Petit Plaisir in episode #60's. While critics did not like the film, I found it unexpectedly lovely. The friendship between the two, the unexpected introduction to people Clemence's character may not have met, there is great love shared throughout the film from the love the retired professor shared with his wife, to the current relationships being built to the future love Poesy's character will embark upon.

The film is based on Françoise Dorner's French novel La Douceur Assassine, and while the main character in the novel is French, the screenplay was written with Caine in mind for the part. The title reflects the widower's contemplation with ending his life, and it is the young dance instructor that he meets that begins to change his mind.

https://youtu.be/rShhldUL-ow

5. Sex, Love & Therapy (2014) aka Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas (Do You Want It Or Not?)

Let's lighten it up a bit, and Sex, Love & Therapy are certain to do just that. Sophie Marceau and Patric Bruel star in this French romantic comedy about a marriage counselor (Bruel) who is trying to get over his love for sex, but his new assistant (Marceau) is not making it easy.

https://youtu.be/yvAuX01_Fyk

6. Back to Burgundy

When I read the review of director Cédric Klapisch’s new French film in The Wall Street Journal, I immediately put it on my watch list, and since then I have had the opportunity to view the film and enjoyed it immensely.

Centered around a family vineyard and the dilemma of what to do when the patriarch passes, the three children come together, squabble, remember and then decide on the best path. The cinematography will transport you to the rolling hills of Burgundy and you will be spoiled with footage watching each season in the vineyard. It is a pure treat and a wonderful examination of siblings who dearly love each other, but are faced with a tough dilemma. Don't worry, the ending, I have a feeling will satisfy.

https://youtu.be/v2hcDb7gJ4I

7. Paris Can Wait

An American film, starring Diane Lane, Paris Can Wait was released in 2017 and was the Petit Plaisir episode #160. Written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola. Yes, that Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather series, The Outsiders, etc.) for 54 years. Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival, Paris Can Wait is Eleanor’s first narrative feature film, but you wouldn’t have known. Now, not all the critics are loving it: The Boston Globe felt it was strained and relied too heavily on clichés, even those who thought they would love it came away unsure due to the ambiguous ending, but it is precisely the different approach to making the film that makes it lovely.

Coppola has shared that the film’s plot was inspired by her own life (be sure to read the San Francisco Chronicle‘s interview with her here), but not every piece and parcel of the story (there was no male companion). Along with the struggle Diane Lane’s character (Anne) wrestles with is what Coppola herself did as well, the “‘inner conflict, the push and pull’ she’s felt her whole adult life about pursuing her own creative ambitions while raising three children and supporting her husband’s career”.  As well, both women (the character and Coppola) have suffered the loss of a child which is briefly, but touchingly included in the film.

Some readers have shared with me, they didn’t enjoy the insinuation of infidelity, but I think that may be taking it further than Coppola intended as nothing occurred, merely adoration and a woman (Anne) who was keenly aware and  steadfast. What Anne’s journey does do for her is awaken her to her strengths, to her passions, to the realization yes of her imperfect, but still very adoring husband. And by not giving viewers the concrete ending, leaving us wondering, Coppola does something I must applaud her for: She doesn’t tell us how to think.

As someone who has been immersed in Hollywood due to her husband, then daughter and son’s successful involvement with silver screen productions, she doesn’t fall prey to the formula. Maybe she does have a sequel in mind, but I hope not only because this film, as she has stated, took six years to raise funds as it wasn’t full of “aliens, nobody dies, there are no guns and no car crashes. There was nothing that an investor wants to invest in. No sex, no violence”.  Rather it was a piece of her life she wanted to share and explore, and in so doing, she allows the viewers to ponder what we don’t often see in movies: a leading female role who is complete all by herself so long as she embraces her passions, lets herself feel what she feels, appreciates her allure which may be initially noticed due to her beauty but is profoundly powerful and substantive due to her intellect and character.

And whether or not she remains with her husband (who isn’t perfect) or explores her attraction to Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard (who also isn’t perfect or ideal either) shouldn’t be needed for a happy ending. What the happy ending is is liberation for Anne who hears the reminder from Jacques to share her talents with her husband (and perhaps the world if she so chooses), and to savor the pleasures of everyday moments and food without rushing to Paris.

~Diane Lane's Wardrobe (and Camera!) in Paris Can Wait

~Escape to France: TSLL's New French-Inspired Playlist

https://youtu.be/yXYuIzC7qcg

8. My Old Lady

The third and last American film, based in Paris, My Old Lady is film involving love, unexpected treasures and a renewal of life. Kevin Kline stars in the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz. Upon arriving from New York, Kline’s character is set to liquidate his estranged father’s Parisian property, but discovers a refined old lady as the tenant. While waiting to determine how he can acquire his asset, he comes to learn that the old lady (played by Maggie Smith), was his father’s lover for 50 years, as well as meeting and becoming smitten with the old lady’s daughter played by Kristin Scott Thomas.

https://youtu.be/DrLB9IfN_lc

9. Queen to Play

Queen to Play is the most recent French film to be shared as a Petit Plaisir, and you may remember it was reviewed in episode #242. Kevin Kline also stars in this film, and while a much smaller role, it is his first role in a French film. Released in 2011, Sandrine Bonnaire stars as Héléne, a wife and mother who is a housemaid not only at a luxury hotel in Corsica, but also for Kevin Kline's character's home in the country.

Héléne becomes curious about the game of chess after watching a couple flirtatiously play a game in the hotel where she works. In hopes of bringing sparks to her own marriage, she discovers she has quite the talent for the game with the help of Kline giving her practice sessions.

https://youtu.be/4RcBGcMJY7Y

10.A Five Star Life

“Did it meet your expectations even if you have felt at times uncomfortable or lonely? You’re still in time to choose, in the future, a more comfortable and protected solution – maybe more suitable to the needs of a family. It is well, to keep in mind, however, the happiness and well-being and strictly personal concepts. For some people, the sense of freedom and adventure is an essential part of the experience. Trust your instinct. This is your journey. The route to take is up to you. Have a safe journey.” –A Five Star Life

Upon watching the foreign film A Five Star Life, the ending will be an untraditional jolt to an American audience as it will deign to allow the heroine to journey into the credits in absolute contentment with her own company. The quote above is stated by Irene just as this last scene unfolds, and as I was collecting all of my sources for today’s post, I couldn’t help but realize with certainty that Irene is indeed the epitomization of self-actualization.

Why? You may ask. Does one have to journey through life alone in order to be self-actualized? Absolutely not. But what Irene exhibits is the knowledge of herself and the world around her. She is not limited by what society purports to define as a “happy life”, but rather investigates and discovers what happiness is indeed for her while accepting that others may, and many do, have a different definition.

While the language is Italian (with English subtitles), based on the trailer and the story line, and the premise that “real luxury is the pleasure of real life. Lived to the fullest, full of imperfections”. It aligns quite nicely with living simply luxuriously, non?

https://youtu.be/7Pd_3FeLjsk

11. Le Chef

Now I am going to make your mouth water and your appetite perk up with the last two films of recommendation.

Haute-cuisine and France, a beautiful pairing indeed, come together for a light-hearted comedy starring Jean Reno and Michaël Youn in Le Chef. Written and directed by Daniel Cohen, a young self-taught chef played by Youn is far from lucky in his pursuit of professional success and happens on a star chef (Reno) who is in danger of losing his reputation and his restaurant. The two come together to help themselves, but end up helping each other along the way. 

https://youtu.be/cf2Nk3Ld8Og

12. Les Saveurs du Palais

The story is based on the real-life case of Danièle Delpeuch, a lesser-known provincial chef and restaurant-owner who in the late 1980s was summoned by President François Mitterrand to be his personal cook at his official residence, the Elysée Palace. Catherine Frot stars as Hortense, the chef chosen by the French president and  Jean d'Ormesson plays Mitterrand. An interesting point to share is that Jean d'Ormesson, not an actor, will be instantly recognized by French audiences as he was a writer and journalist and during Mitterrand's career, was one of his toughest adversaries.

Back to the film, based on Mitterrand's choice for his chef - The President prefers the traditional cuisine from his childhood and finds Hortense to be the chef he is looking for to the chagrin of the rest of the cooking staff.

Come with a full stomach otherwise your tastebuds will be tempted throughout. Or perhaps come with an appetite and make sure you have reservations at a delectable French restaurant afterwards.

https://youtu.be/YB1slI4fOUc

Oh, my. I do hope you have discovered a film that tickles your curiosity, or perhaps one that you would like to watch again.

There is something about watching a film that enables you to slip away virtually to another part of the world that truly offers a respite from whatever is going on in your life. And then when we add the necessary requisite of paying attention to the subtitles, our full attention is captured.

Before long, if you are like me, you will begin to hear the language more than you knew you could and not look at the subtitles as often.

Wishing you happy viewing and bonne journée!

~Listen to all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes

~The Simple Sophisticate will return with a new episode on Monday March 4th. You can view the entire 5th season schedule below. In the meantime, next Monday, stop by for an Inspiration/Motivation post to kick off the week.




~CORRECTION: In the taped podcast, I errantly stated The Paris Theater in NYC was adjacent to Saks. It is actually adjacent to Bergdorf Goodman. (Evidentially, it has been too long since I have visited the Big Apple, and I need to return sooner rather than later. 😊

~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~TSLL's French Cafe Jazz Playlist

~Top 10 French-Inspired Posts in 2018

~All You Need to Know About the Markets in Provence

~Round-Up of TSLL's 2018 French Week

Petit Plaisir

WP + Standard

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #248

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

Direct download: 248FrenchFilms.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 8:02pm PDT

In today's episode I had the opportunity to chat with Portland, Oregon, based stylist Scarlet Chamberlin who has styled women and men as their lives begin to evolve along their journeys.

Having styled clients for the red carpet - the Academy Awards and Golden Globes - she works with everyday individuals seeking a style that aligns with where they are and where they want to go in their lives.

In today's episode we talk about how her career began in styling (she began in 2010), what services she offers to clients (see the list below), how Scarlet will help unearth your precise style, as well as insights about the styling process and how it plays a far more profound role in our lives.

Scarlet's passion will be made evident when you tune in, and as many readers and listeners have reached out to me in search of a stylist, whether in person or online, the good news is she does both, and I could not recommend her more highly. You will be in very good hands. Have a look below at more links and information shared during our conversation and be sure to view Scarlet's website for more detailed information.

~Below: Have a look at the video discussed during the episode of style Scarlet captured during her travels in Paris this past summer. Just listening to the music will make you want to hop on a plane to the City of Light and don your stylish best wares.

https://youtu.be/nS3hs3vXymM

~stylist Scarlet Chamberlin~

~Scarlet Chamberlin Styling Co., Studio in Portland, Oregon~

~Scarlet with Gunnar (golden doodle) and her husband~

~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate

Direct download: 247FINAL.mp3
Category:style -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

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

At the heart of choosing and the actively living a simply luxurious life, is to live a life tailored to each of us. It will be unique, it will be thoughtfully constructed and a dynamic being, as our lives continually grow, evolve and expand due to our curious natures.

As I share in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Selves, I have been tailoring my life unconsciously since I was a young girl, and now consciously as an adult for the past two decades. Tailoring takes energy, intention and a desire to understand and then the courage to apply what we learn to our lives. It can be difficult at times, but ultimately, it is greatly rewarding as we are living in accordance to our true nature and discovering all the potential we have within us.

Editing our lives - removing what does not align with our priorities and dreams, and making room for what enlivens us and brings us joy is a highly beneficial process.

Imagine that dress that looks exquisite on the model or the hanger, and you know the color is precisely what will make your skin and smile glow if only you could shorten (or lengthen as it usually is in my case) the hem, taper the waist, but broaden the width of the shoulders and make the neckline fit just so.

The dress in this instance is your life - you love living life, you are consciously aware of how awesome it is and the opportunities that could potentially come forth if only you had the time and energy to see them and then capitalize upon them.

The tailor that will make the necessary changes to make the dress fit perfectly for you uniquely is you (with the help of experts in their field - i.e. books, writers, etc.). And yes, the tailoring will take time, but with careful awareness, the little changes begin to make a significant positive difference in how your daily and overall life begin to feel as you live the changes you have made.

This is to tailor your life to fit you. And it is absolutely worth the time it will take. In fact, I have a feeling if you are a reader/listener of this blog/podcast, you had already been a tailor of your life for some time. But as the quote below reminds, a well-designed life isn't something you tend to once and complete. Nope. Much like our favorite dress, we may need to adjust it over the years in all sorts of ways, but the dress (i.e. our life) is capable of adapting if we have made good decisions along the way.

After all, our skin tone, eye color, hair color (okay, this can change if we want it too), height, shoe size and temperament do not change. We simply become better at understanding how to complement and enhance and thus, bring forth to the world who we truly are. And that is why we need to be a tailor of our lives, which is an ongoing job.

"A well-designed life isn't a noun — it's a verb . . . your life is not a thing, it's an experience; the fun comes from designing and enjoying the experience."

1. Follow What Brings You Joy

"Follow the joy; follow what engages and excites you, what brings you life."

2. Create an Activity Log for 2-4 months

Log your energy and engagement levels for each activity, noting the specifics of said activity, the environment you find yourself (physical, emotional, social, etc.), what type of interactions you have with other people, other things - machines, etc., what objects were part of the experience - technology, analog, sporting equipment, instruments, etc. and who else was with you as you engaged in the activity?

3. Plan small rewards after completing "energy-negative" tasks

4. Let go of Agonizing over what the "best choice" is

"You can't make 'the best choice' because you can't know what the best choice was until all the consequences have played out. You can work on making the best choice you can, given what's knowable at the moment."

When I read this part of the book, I acknowledged that I can agonize from time to time, especially when it involves decisions of great risk or great change, but when I read the quote above, I was put at ease. When we replay over and over again in our minds the "what if's", we are agonizing and thus expending energy that would be better placed moving forward and letting go. Moving forward and letting go, trusting that we made the best choice with the information we had at the time will enable more 'best choices' to be made in the future.

5. Practice self-discipline

The art of letting go of agonizing and being able to move on takes self-discipline as it will be a habit you will have to break if you have been a seasoned 'agonizer'. However, eventually the skill of letting go once the decision has been made and moving forward takes place will become habit as well. To frame it different, choose happiness. Better still, choose contentment. If agonizing does not bring you either of these feelings, then let it go.

"Happiness is letting go of what you don't need."

Now that you know in what ways your life would be best tailored to you, below are a few concrete areas to consider so that your everyday life - the want-tos AND the have-tos - can work best for the life you want to live.

1.Automate what you can

Last year, I shared 12 ways to automate your life. Be sure to check out the post to discover specifics everyday or routine tasks that can be tended to once and not repeatedly. Some of the ideas include finances, savings, bill paying, regular beauty items, etc.

2. House cleaning

Whether you have the luxury of hiring someone to do the deep cleaning regularly or you are the cleaner of the house, find a system that is efficient both in energy and time. I have done both, and currently, feel fortunate to be able to have someone clean my house once a month while I maintain it with weekly pick-up cleaning sessions in between. However, this hasn't always been an option, so I have followed a weekly and then seasonal cleaning schedule that enabled me to not have too large of tasks if I had put them off, but also make sure the big items (windows, refrigerator) were cleaned on a regular basis.

~Here is a detailed post (you can also find an expanded version in my 1st book) of cleaning tasks to organize and ideas for simplifying - Cleaning Your Sanctuary — Tackle and Simplify

3. Reading material

Thoughtfully edit out and welcome what you enjoy, what keeps you informed, but without the excess. I recently discovered that simply by asking for a particular partial delivery (weekends only), which was more to my reading schedule and interest, I could not only save money, but reduce the amount of newspapers I was having to recycle.

Currently, I have reduced the number of magazines I subscribe to (here is a list of all of the magazines I have subscribed to at one time or another, but I do not subscribe to all of these now), and I also subscribe to three newspapers: The New York Times (Sundays), The Wall Street Journal (weekend) and The Washington Post (digital).

4. The Market Shopping

From making sure your canvas totes are already at the ready, as well as cotton mesh bags for produce so that no more plastic needs to come home with you, creating a place for these items will reduce extra bags that you will need to recycle and help the planet as well which will make you feel good for doing a small part to help.

~9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health and Help Out the Planet

5. Bring in the Small Luxuries

What brings you joy? What delights you during your day in your home or in your daily life at work or going about your regular business? We have spoken abundantly about small luxuries on the blog/podcast, so this idea will come as no surprise, but this is where you tailor the small luxuries that will elevate your everyday - whether it is always having fresh flowers in the house, to having beautiful French candles to help you wind down at the end of each day, welcome small luxuries into your life. Discover 27 ideas for bringing simple luxuries into your life in this 2013 post.

~Why Not . . . Indulge in Simple Luxuries?

6. How to Best Stay Informed without Becoming Overwhelmed and Anxiety-Ridden

In 2017, episode #187, I shared a list of 9 ways to Create a Healthy Approach to Staying Abreast of the News, and ever the advocate for staying informed, I also have experienced first-hand that there is also a breaking point for all of us when it negatively effects our lives. This is where tailoring is crucial for our mental and emotional health, which does contribute to our physical and then overall health.

One significant change I have made over the past year is HOW I receive the news. Instead of watching it (the only news programming I view is NBR - Nightly Business Report - which focuses on solely economic news), I read or listen to the news. By doing this I am choosing when I listen, and or read, and I read my daily news brief each morning, sometimes a few articles that interest me and then save my Sunday reading for reading the entire papers (the sections that most interest me). This has helped me make the shift to be less reactive and more responsive thoughtfully and when I see necessary.

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

7. The environments in which you live and work

Whether it is our home where we have much more control to design our environments or our workplaces, where we may not have as much, but we can still pay attention to what we do, doing so for each is one of the most significant tailoring jobs we can take on to improve the quality of our lives.

~Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary? 7 Ways to Get Started

~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #108

~For Introverts in the Workplace: 8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, #6 speaks to cultivating a sanctuary at work

~The Importance of Cultivating a Sanctuary, episode #46

8. Your Signature Style

Style, whether it is our clothing, our homes, how we speak or how we go about living our lives, is a form of communicating with the world our life experience, our values and our dreams. To not at least be aware of this power, is to ignore a powerful way we can engage with our lives more fully and elevate them with our choices when they align with our true selves.

I have an entire Archived Section of posts dedicated to finding your signature style, but this episode/post will help you get started , episode #15.-

9. How we eat

Do you make food a source of pleasure as well as nourishment? Do you celebrate with food small and large moments of your life with those you love?

Food and how we approach engaging with food, how we speak about food, is an everyday part of our lives. If we curse food, that is negative energy we are bringing into our lives. If we berate ourselves for eating certain foods, that is a choice we are making before and after that negatively affects our lives, but we can tailor this part of our lives as well.

As we become knowledgeable about food, recognizing that we do not need to deprive ourselves, the food we eat, how we prepare it and how we approach creating the meals we enjoy with ourselves and others, can become a wonderful source of joy. Check out TSLL's archives on Health which is all about Elevating the Everyday Meal with Seasonal Fare (and also check out TSLL's new venture into the cooking show genre with The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - 8 episodes are now available).

10. The Big Life Decisions

In 2014 and again in more detail in my new book (2nd book), I share the "how" of Tailored Simplicity: How to design a life that is in alignment with your priorities, values, passions and talents.

So much of what is shared on TSLL is about designing your best life and tailoring to the unique person you are. Hopefully the above list will jumpstart you in the direction of paying attention to the little details that when tended to thoughtfully will make an impressive positive difference.

Most importantly, our lives our ours to curate. Often, we don't realize how powerful changes in our default thinking, in our default way of living can change the quality of our lives. The key is to live consciously, make the best decision we can at the moment and continue to enjoy the living part, which is the only part that truly matters. Even with the have-tos that will bring us to the destination we seek, there is goodness to be savored, appreciated and enjoyed. Living thoughtfully, letting go of what is done and making the most of what is and potentially can be has the power to make your life an awesome experience each and every day.

~TSLL's 2nd book is specially written to help readers tailor their lives to their most authentic selves. Discover how to cultivate and strengthen the many tools that will elevate success in your everyday life, career, relationships and much more.

~Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self (2018)

Petit Plaisir:

~Monty Don's French and Italian Gardens, Netflix

~French Gardens (3 part series), 2013

~Italian Gardens (4 part series), 2011

~Discover Monty Don's gardening books here

~Visit Monty Don's website for he posts monthly tips for gardening.

~Follow Monty Don (and his golden retrievers) on Instagram

Monty Don's Italian Gardens trailer

https://youtu.be/EfrijhsuuR0

Monty Don's French Gardens, clip

https://vimeo.com/117668673

Direct download: 246TailorLife.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

"Resilence is more than bouncing back from adversity. People who are resilient keep pursuing their goals in the face of challenges. Consequently, learning how to regulate your brain's motivational machinery is a key aspect of resilence." —Rick Hanson, Ph. D, author of Resilient: How to Grown an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness

Living well and successfully reaching our fullest potential in part resides in understanding what is and is not in our control. Once we understand what we have control over, for example, and for today's post/episode's purposes, the mind, then we need to be willing to take the time to learn how it functions and how we can use its talents to enhance the overall quality of our lives.

Dr. Rick Hanson shares in the introduction of his book Resilience that "the brain is continually remodeling itself as you learn from your experiences. When you repeatedly stimulate a 'circuit' in your brain, you strengthen it." After reading his book, which is organized by the needs we have as human beings - safety, satisfaction and connection - readers discover the skills, and then the tools to build those skills to build our resilience. "True resilience fosters well-being, an underlying sense of happiness, love and peace."

And in order to foster the sense of each of them and hardwire them into our being, we need to experience them, seek them out and consciously savor them so as to remember how to live each day consciously as we build a life we love living each day.

Hanson asserts and I have to certainly agree, when we practice and improve our resilience in good times or seemingly benign moments in our everyday lives, we "will feel less anxiety and irritation, less disappointment and frustration and less loneliness, hurt and resentment. And when the waves of life come at you, you'll meet them with more peace, contentment and love in the core of your being."

So let's start by looking at our everyday lives and discovering how we can strengthen the muscle, the skill, that is resilience.

1.Take care of your own well-being first

"Being good to yourself is good for others. When people increase their own well-being, they usually become more patient, cooperative, and caring in their relationships."

We can only give our best selves when we care for ourselves well. When our needs are met, we can help others who are in need of generosity, understanding and patience. Read/Listen to episode #242 for 31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care.

2. Notice and savor enjoyable moments

Creating the habit of being self-compassionate is a learned skill. And with any skill, it takes conscious effort and repetition to habituate the skill into our default systems. Hanson advises, "Once you're having [an enjoyable] experience, feel it as fully as possible and take a little time —a breath or two or ten — to stay with it. The more often you do this, the more you will tend to hardwire psychological resources for yourself." Once you have strengthened this skill, you will be better able to utilize it during difficult as well as joyous times.

~Learn more about self-compassion and how to cultivate it in episode #122

3. Welcome Enjoyable Moments into Each Day

Conscious living is thoughtful living to pay close attention to how our days are constructed. Now this doesn't mean we have to plan every minute of the day and it doesn't mean everything must be nose-to-the-grindstone work or striving for nothing but perfection. What Hanson encourages is to understand and find what is enjoyable about the tasks you both want to do and have to do.

Completing a project at work for example, while the entire task may not be enjoyable, ask yourself, what is and focus on that. In so doing, you are more engaged, more attentive and more likely to give your best and have a more positive outcome.

On the flipside, for those activities you enjoy, make sure you partake in them regularly and savor the enjoyment you derive from doing so. Each time you focus on the reward, the enjoyable part, the brain releases dopamine, norepinephrine and natural opioids which then prioritizes in your mind what actions it wants to continue to pursue unconsciously. So essentially, you are beginning to hardwire your brain for wanting to do things that you consciously know will add quality to your life whether the enjoyment comes from have-to tasks or want-to tasks.

4. Repeat the superpowers you want to be part of your brain's hardwiring

"The more [neurons] fire together, the more they wire together. In essence, you develop psychological resources by having sustained and repeated experiences of them that are turned into durable changes in your brain."

Hanson shares that our character strengths, mood, skillful ways, outlook, good habits, etc. are predominantly learned as only one-third are innate in our DNA. The remaining two-thirds are acquired through learning.

This is good news, but it also means we have a massive responsibility in recognizing that we are who we either consciously or unconsciously choose to become. As Hanson coins, "who we learn to be".

5. Encourage Beneficial Experiences

"See the jewels around you."

The brain's negativity bias is programmed to protect us, and so it will bring to the forefront, if we aren't the master of our mind, all the negative in our days. However, when we understand why the brain is doing this, we can counteract it by seeking out, observing, savoring and incorporate more positive little moments into our day.

From savoring your breakfast or that cold glass of water, observing the beauty of the day, or the happy step of your pup as you head out for your walk, when we pay attention to the good experiences, we are nurturing our well-being. Why? Because if we are regularly letting the negative take the stage of our attention, there is "wear and tear on your body and mind".

6. Understand the essence of learning

What we learn, we become, and since two-thirds of who we become is learned, knowing how to learn is essential, so we can do it well and learn what will improve the quality of our everyday and overall lives. Hanson's acrynom for learning is HEAL (H - Have a beneficial experience; E - Enrich it, A - Absorb it; and finally, L — Link it to replace or soothe painful material). The first three steps are the essence of learning.

With that said, we need to live consciously. We need to choose experiences that are beneficial or have the potential to be beneficial. To enrich each of these beneficial experiences, we need to be fully present, taking everything in, slowing down, looking for something we had not seen if we are experiencing something beyond the first time, and then become clear as to why the experience is valuable to you. (a more detailed list regarding how to enrich experiences is hared on page 58 of Hanson's book).

Once we have enriched it, we need to savor the experience, or absorb it. To be clear, and Hanson points this out and I think this is vitally important to not misunderstand: Absorbing doesn't mean hanging on, clinging and not letting go. In fact, you are letting it go because you were never holding on to it, just noticing it, being present with the experience and appreciating it. Absorbing has to do with letting yourself feel good, letting yourself bask in the warmth of what has been part of your experience and in your own way, letting it become a part of you. Experiences can stay with us forever. Make sure the experiences that stick are wants that truly jewels.

7. "Let the Flowers Pull the Weeds"

I love this analogy, and the neurology behind the concept demonstrates how we can rewire our mind to reframe or eliminate negative thoughts and unhelpful attitudes about life and replace them with beneficial ones. Hanson points out that practicing mindfulness will be a helpful tool to be able to grow flowers whilst bringing as well to your attention the weed you want to replace. Because when you are able to hold two thoughts simultaneously, it is then that the good can begin to replace the negative, as you are able to recognize that good that is true and begin to chip away at was no longer serving you.

8. Be Mindful of The Self-Critic and Strengthen the Inner Nurturer

"There are two different attitudes or 'voices' inside us all, one that is nurturing and another that is critical, one that lifts up and one that weighs down. This is perfectly normal. The inner nurturer brings self-compassion and encouragement. The inner critic helps you recognize where you've gone wrong and what you need to do to set things right . . . for most people, the inner critic goes way overboard . . . it's big and powerful, while the inner nurturer is small and ineffective, which wears down mood, self-worth and resilience."

The inner critic needs to be kept in check, and this can be hard to do when moments in life, people in our lives become frustrating or hard to work with. We can be excessively harsh on ourselves which is why in such moments, we especially need to have a strong inner nurturer. A simple truth to keep in mind is that overtime those of us who allow our inner critic to run rampant are actually less productive in what we are critical about, and ultimately, that bleeds into our overall quality of life the elevation of living well we are able to reach.

9. Practice "liking" more and "wanting" less

"The root of [wanting] means 'lack'. It's natural to like things that are pleasurable, such as a sweet dessert with friends. But issues arise as we move from liking to wanting, from enjoying a meal together to insisting on the last piece of pie."

When we let our "auto-wanting" take control, we are pulled from the present, we are infusing our minds with the belief that we are not enough or what we already have is not enough. This is draining physically and potentially financially. Instead, practice appreciating - window shopping, so to speak. Whenever you feel "any sense of pressure, compulsion or 'must-ness'", take a breath, recenter yourself and remind yourself that the advertisers are doing their job, but you can still appreciate the beauty, goodness, awesomeness, etc. without funding their cause.

This is where the skill of being content will help tremendously. As was shared last week, in episode #244, contentment can be felt everyday, all day, as contentment is not dependent upon external sources. And when we are able to be content, it becomes easier to 'like' versus 'want'.

10. Healthy Intimacy Begins with Healthy Personal Autonomy

"Paradoxically, in order to get the most out of 'we', you need to stay centered in 'me'."

Intimacy as it appears in our lives can be cultivated with mere acquaintences as well as a romantic partner of 50 years. As defined in the book, intimacy is "to make familiar or known". And the knowledge of self and security within oneself is the foundation. Because when you are confident that you are able to take care of yourself, you can step forward to be engaged with others, knowing your limits, knowing your boundaries. And if necessary, knowing that if the limits or boundaries are not respected, you can step back and take care of yourself well.

With the relationshps you begin to build or relationships you are currently in, assess if you are able to do the following things:

  • fully express your thoughts and feelings
  • ask for what you want
  • trust your judgment if others disagree with you
  • stand up to others

If you are unable or were unable in past relationships that no longer are a part of your life, you may recognize you do not have full personal autonomy in that particular relationship. These may be relationships you either now recognize need to be stepped away from as you now can pinpoint why they don't feel right, or, if it is only one of the items on the list, you have a specific focus you can bring up to try to improve the relationship.

"Much as autonomy enables intimacy, intimacy supports autonomy. Close and nurturing relationships help a person feel safe and worthy as an individual, which promotes a confident independent. In a positive cycle, autonomy and intimacy feed each other. Together, they make you more resilient."

Moving forward, keep these abilities in mind as you should be able to exercise all four in a healthy relationship as too should the other person with you in the relationship, thus embodying the paradox shared in the above quote.

We often hear the word "resilence" uttered during times of strife or hardship, but the truth is, as Dr. Rick Hanson points out, strengthening the tool or skill of resilience can elevate the quality of our everyday lives in all of the good moments that we have as well.

As is often discussed here on TSLL and on the podcast, our mind is an amazing mechanism, and to understand how it works, have patience with the rewiring process if we are choosing to do so, can yield awesome outcomes for our life, enriching the journey and lead us where we truly want to go.

Petit Plaisir

On the Basis of Sex

~Felicity Jones stars as Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Armie Hammer stars as her husband Marty Ginsburg

  • screenwriter Daniel Stiepleman is Ginsburg's nephew wrote the script which was then approved by Ginsburg's daughter, Jane, a prominent figure in the legal world and in the film as well - she is currently a professor of law at Columbia University
  • Ginsburg was one of just nine women in the Class of 1956
  • The question posed to the 9 women at their welcome dinner by the dean, played by Sam Waterston was verbatim what was said.
  • When Marty was diagnosised with testicular cancer during his third year of law school, Ruth did collect notes from his friends and typed up his essays as he dictated them—a process that often began near midnight. When he finished around 2 a.m., she would turn to her own coursework.
  • Regarding the case - Moritz v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue - While the legal side of Moritz’s case is accurate, Ruth didn’t fly to Denver to meet with him. It was Marty who made first contact, and he didn’t do so face to face. According to Ginsburg herself, “We met Charles E. Moritz for the first time in the fall of 1971, the night before the argument. He took us to dinner in Denver. He had to hire a babysitter for his mother.”
  • Source for more details regarding the film and history from Slate.com

https://youtu.be/28dHbIR_NB4

https://youtu.be/tYH9KJ_T6XM

Direct download: 245Resilience.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

"Finding an ease with what you are thinking, feeling, the world as it is, not necessarily accepting it, but not resisting it. This is contentment." —Andy Puddicombe

The truth about contentment is that it is different than being happy. We cannot know what it feels like to be happy if we have not been sad, so therefore we cannot feel both simultaneously. The argument may be made that, feeling sad and happy at the same time is possible; that is the definition of a moment being bittersweet. But if you examine such an argument closely, that is why we give it another name - bittersweet - rather than happy or sad.

Contentment resides within each of us. It is not something that comes to us from an external source - someone loving us, success in our hobbies or careers, celebrating an awesome moment in the world around us. Sadness arrives conversely, when we have to say goodbye to someone who has brought much happiness into our lives, when we stumble or hit a road block in our careers or something tragic happens in the world.

But through each of these instances both happiness and sadness, we can be content. Indeed, it is true. We can be content during happy times (which may seem easy to do) and during sad times (which may seem impossible and contrary), but it is true in both instances to be content.

How?

Contentment is a state of understanding yourself. It is an awareness of your strengths, your capabilities, your understanding of how to navigate well in the world no matter what the circumstances. In other words, contentment is a skill that can be strengthened because you hold the keys, the muscles, to either strengthen or let atrophy.

At this point, you may be asking, how do I cultivate and build the strength of contentment. The good news is, it is has been a central topic of TSLL for years, and in fact is thoroughly examined in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self. In the meantime, you can read and listen to posts and episodes from the archives that go into great detail about how contentment can be attained.

Most wonderfully, when contentment is achieved, our happy moments become grander and our sad moments more bearable. As well, upon understanding and welcoming true contentment into our lives we let go of false means of contentment that are really energy or resource zappers and teasers such as the desire for more and the feeling of lack (which is disquised as "want").

True contentment finds us in the now, not gazing at the future.

True contentment is a state of mindfulness. Meditation can play a helpful role in training the muscle that is our mind to be present, to not be overrun by our thoughts, and help us to engage fully in the moment without asking for more and simply savoring the now.

Truthfully, contentment is possible wherever and with whomever we are with, but initially it is not easy to build in particular moments until we grasp its gifts. Below are two instances when reaching a state of contentment can be difficult initially:

  • When we are by ourselves if we have never truly done so, and have depended upon others to create the excitement and pleasure of life.
  • When we are with others who are always looking for more or not appreciative of simply the moment, unable to see whatever goodness is available. (And there is always something good in every moment. Simply being alive to maneuver through a bad moment to the other side is something to celebrate.)

Contentment begins the moment we wake up, when we realize the little beautiful gifts around us - whether it is the peace and quiet of a safe home, the loved ones sleeping calmly or having our home to ourselves, seeing the soft snow fall to the ground, blanketing the yard and neighbood with a paintbrush of beauty, seeing the first light climb above the horizon, hearing the birds begin their business of hellos. But still, the events outside of us, each of the moments listed above, are not what bring you contentment.

What brings us contentment is being able to find, recognize and appreciate them. Because in that same moment, we can easily be noticing that we have woke up too early and wish desperately we could fall back asleep, observe the house that we wish we had cleaned up a bit more, bemoan the fact that our home is full and there is too much to do for others and not enough time to do for ourselves or bemoan the fact that we are waking up alone, or remembering that it is a day of the week that is full of tasks we are not thrilled to tend to, or wishing it wasn't snowing because we will have to drive in it, or lamenting that the sun up because we want a bit more sleep.

You see, it is all about our engagement with the world. Contentment comes from our choice of choosing to recognize the power we have each day to engage in such a way that will open the doors of opportunity to a positive energy.

Contentment doesn't guarantee seemingly much, but upon closer examination, it guarantees a much more fulfilling life that can be savored every single day of our lives. It makes sure that so long as we are in the situation, we will find the goodness, we will find the opportunity, we will make the day better simply by the attitude we bring to it. That energy has a direct effect on our overall well being, and if we are sharing the moment with others, it will have a positive effect on them as well whether they understand it initially or not.

Now, let's go back to those two above mentioned moments that initially are difficult in which to find contement: being by ourselves and being with others who haven't yet welcomed contentment into their lives.

Once you know who you are, you begin to savor days and moments to yourself because being alone doesn't mean you fear what you will find in your own company. In fact, you revel in it.

Spending time with people becomes a joy because you begin to realize the power of the type of people you surround yourself with. You are thoughtful about who you spend your time with, communicate clear boundaries and when you do not have a choice over who you spend your time with you steady yourself to limit the interactions. Listen to episode #92 in which I share The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being and how to do each of these things when it comes to spending time with others.

The gift of contentment is priceless and it is also free. You don't have to buy one more thing (in fact, you may want to let go of some things), you simply need to understand how to focus on understanding how to cultivate contentment and let go of the pursuit of happiness.

Petit Plaisir

~Poketo

~Concept and Project Planners (many more colors), they sell the signature paperclips as well.

Direct download: 244Contentment.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

Direct download: 244Mornings.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

Direct download: 242Selfcare.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

Direct download: 241Take2.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

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