Sun, 22 September 2019
"When we learn how to spot the narratives that get in the way of our happiness, we improve our chances of taking control of the stories that have for so long controlled us." —Paul Dolan, author of Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life
"There are countless stories about how we ought to live our lives . . . as such, many of these stories end up creating a kind of social dissonance whereby, perversely, they cause more harm than good. They become . . . narrative traps, which together form the myth of the perfect life."
1. Understand the difference between having wealth and being rich.
Wealth is defined as accumulated assets in the form of savings, investment and property and is more difficult to measure. Rich is often understood to be a numerical amount of cash earned in income. Looking at one's wealth is a better reflection of a person's purchasing power. In other words, simply because someone "looks rich", does not mean they are rich.
"Getting richer does not necessarily bring more happiness, partly becasue we upwardly adjust the people we compare ourselves to."
2. A happy life doesn't require you to have children
"Happy and fulfilled lives are often supported by, but certainly do not require children. There are good reasons not to have children, both at the micro and macro level. It is not helpful, therefore, to push the 'have your own kids' narrative on everyone. Finding a way to celebrate rather than undermine people's decisions to remain childfree by loosening our hold on the social narrative can have a positive societal impact."
3. Stop comparing yourself to others and putting yourself in a position to be tempted to compare.
Nolan suggests, if you are going to make comparisons, to make a comparison to any one of the other 7 billion people on our planet. Most likely you are doing very well financially. Not only will this provide perspective but also humility.
4. Let go of the pursuit for more money
Once you have a enough money to live a life in which you are not struggling for the basic necessities, Nolan suggests taking the path to "just enough". Why? When we become aware of what we truly need, we are demonstrating we are cognizant of the social comparisons and status markers that may have pushed us to pursue more in the past. Understanding why we are pursuing what we are pursuing, to truly get to the core of the urge, is to make sure we are indeed thinking for ourselevs and not being unconsciously led around by the nose due to the narrative traps we are unaware surround us constantly.
Once you stop pursuing more money, "you can stop constantly worrying". And what a gift to give yourself as your everydays will elevate immediately.
5. Reexamine what your success looks like, and let go of the pursuit for status
Conscious living is at the heart of what we're talking about today, and becoming clear about what we are pursuiting and what is pushing us to achieve it is crucial to live a more contented life.
If at the core of why you are pursuing a particular career is because of the status it will bring, applause you imagine will happen, then you are being led around by a narrative trap; however, if you are instead pursuing a field of study that ignites you, allows you to come to life and aligns with talents that naturally are easy to share, then you are on the right path for the success that will be unique to you.
6. Pursue a career in which many skills are utilized and your contributions are valued
Dolan found that those individuals who work on a job that uses a variety of skills are happier. As well, if your work is valued, that too cultivates a work environment of enjoyment. Not only is a job that asks our minds and sometimes bodies to work different skill sets and tasks healthy regular exercise for our brains and beings, but it leads to a feeling of productivity at the end of the day which is very satisfying. Add the knowledge that what we are doing is contributing something of value that we are proud of that the pair is the perfect natural medicine for a sound and peaceful night of rest.
7. Women and girls and education
Nolan found that receiving a basic education for girls had a significant effect on the overall happiness of their lives. In other words, making sure all people, but especially girls enables them to have agency over their own lives. Largely because the world is dominated by patriarchies, educating women to understand the world they live in and how to advocate for their own rights as well as navigate in the world that may not, depending upon where they live, want them to think for themselves, is crucial for the individual's happiness.
8. Understand the difference between passionate and companionate love
"Given the way that love is portrayed in literature, film and the media, the prevailing narrative clearly places a high premium on its passionate aspect, most often in manipulatively uplifing ways."
As shared previously on TSLL, being married is not the causation of happiness, but rather, if the happiness lasts beyond the short-term (as it does bring a feeling of euphoria to have met society's standard or expectation), it is due to two happy people finding each other. In other words, they knew how to be happy on their own and the happiness together, being happy in their choice to come together, likely increased their feelings of contentment. Nolan points these findings out as well.
When it comes to falling for the trap of passionate love and trying to mold it into happily ever after, I have fallen into that narrative trap as well. The narrative of intense chemistry swirls around us constantly in the media, and it is up to us to be aware of what it is and what would be best for a long-lasting, healthy, loving relationship.
9. Be married, be single, it does not matter when it comes to happiness
More and more studies are revealing that those who are married and happy are no more happy than any other group - single, widowed, divorced.
The social narrative of promoting marriage as the goal is prevalent in our society and has been for decades in our modern lives (in previous centuries, due to lack of equality laws, it was often a necessity). When we can recognize the narrative trap, and be clear about what is speaking to us for how we wish to live our lives, we set ourselves free to live our best lives - whether that is with or without someone.
Nolan books continues on to explore many other topics such as health, volition, monogamy and altruism. I encourage you to read it as it provides an exercise for the brain regarding the narrative traps we may have stepped into and did not realize it.
To make a blanket statement and say that all social narratives are bad is not wise, but all should be explored, and likely, at least for me, you may find that most should be challenged. That is the difficult part as you are going against the grain of what society expects. Dolan reminds that any narrative that is predominant "always serves the interests of those in power, the groups they serve best will depend on the context". What he is suggesting we keep in mind whenever we talk about or consider and examine any narrative is to closely look at the narrative to understand all of the nuances and not make sweeping assumptions or statements.
Fundamentally, when we let go of what no longer serves us, we set ourselves free, and much like fall and the as the quote below reminds, it is a lovely revealing of what we have the opportunity to experience as we go about living a life that will bring us far more contentment than we ever thought possible.
"Trees are about ready to show us how lovely it is to let things go." —Emily Ley, A Simplified Life
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Play with the pumpkins
Sun, 15 September 2019
"A home should reveal the personalities of its inhabitants. At its best it should be a portrait of who you are . . . Look at your house as an artist would and have fun creating vignettes as a painter would a still life." —Kristin Perers, author of A Home for All Seasons
Fall will arrive next week on the 23rd and spring for the southern hemispheren on the same date. The changing of the seasons, as I recently shared in an interview on the Synced Life podcast, is a consistent and dependable way to be present in our everyday lives.
By choosing to be present during each season we are acknowledging that its presence in our lives is evanescent, fleeting and in three months' time will transition into something different. Waiting nine more months is necessary to experience the gifts of each season. Simply knowing the reality, we have all the more motivation to revel in the gifts of each season.
Last month TSLL reader Tracy emailed me and introduced me to Kristin Perers' book, A Home for All Seasons which was released quite a few years ago. But as one might imagine, since we have the same seasons each year, it is a classic of a book to refer to every three months - if nothing else, to serve a reminder for ample inspiration.
Perers suggests that when we decorate with the seasons, revolving with them, we make our home feel much more alive and dynamic, but at the same time, reflective of the home's inhabitants. And in so doing, we improve the quality of our days as our moods due to our emotions are elevated with each day we spend in our sanctuary.
Below are a handful of ways to decorate and adorn seasonally as inspired by Perers' book.
1.Let the seasonal blooms make their statement
Whether you pick up your blooms at the farmers' market or from your yard and garden, appreciating the daffodils in early spring, the peonies in late spring, mums in fall and dahlias in late summer, remind us to savor until the blooms are no more.
2. Textiles - slipcovers, curtains, table linens, bed linens, pillows
Depending upon what you have in your home that is upholstered, if you have slipcovers, changing the type of fabric if not the color as well is a way to eagerly begin a new season as well as care properly for the linens you have.
3. Determine the focal points of each community room (living room, dining, kitchen, etc.), and change or decorate it differently for the seasons.
For example, if your fireplace is the focal point, adorn the mantle with seasonal details. If your dining table is the focal point, either with table linens or blooms, choose what you place on top of it to align with the seasons.
4. Create space to contemplate the beauty of nature
I love this suggestion that Perers makes, and while she suggestions physically bringing things in from outside and placing them about the home to prompt us to ponder nature's beauty, I think as well it would be delightful to create somewhere in the home where you can look outside and be cognizant of what season it is. For example, my parents have a sun room in their country home, and with each season my mom will rearrange the furniture: spring - space is made for young seedlings in preparation for planting in the coming months; in summer, ample seating is the preference as it serves as a wonderful place to soak up the sun when stepping outside due to work projects inside is not possible; autumn and the arrangements and bouquets change; and in the winter, the holiday tree is adorned for the festive, wintery season. All the while, we can see outside to observe and celebrate the beauty of the outdoors.
5. Give the bedroom special attention
While making sure to attend to all four of the previous items above for our bedrooms — different blankets, duvet covers and pillow covers for the bed; seasonal blooms for the side table, etc. — always keep in mind the power of a space we inhabit, especially in such an intimate fashion as our bedrooms. Here are a few ways to welcome the changing of the seasons in our most intimate room of our sanctuary:
~Discover and learn more about Kristin Perers' book A Home for All Seasons
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #261
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 8 September 2019
Over the next couple of months I look forward to sharing many different decor ideas. I have titled today's episode/post as part une because there will be more to come. I am not sure how many at this point, but with many wonderful decor books being released this fall, I am enjoying perusing through them all, and want to share what I have discovered.
The first book that inspired today's episode is Cathy Kincaid's The Well Adorned Home. There may be a second post/episode inspired by her book as she shares an abundance of inspiration, but these are the first ten takeaways that captured my attention.
Advice from Cathy Kincaid:
Let's take a look at 10 decor ideas discovered in Cathy Kincaid's new book. I have included a handful of images from the pages, and I have a feeling there will be another episode including even more of her expertise.
Be sure to tune into the podcast episode for more conversation on each of the following ten ideas for simple, yet significant decor ideas to add luxurious touches to the home.
1.Add classic moldings to the room to raise the ceiling (so to speak) and incorporate a regal touch
2.Expand a small space by using one pattern throughout
"Most people think that pattern will overwhelm a room. That can happen if a pattern is used piecemeal, but the opposite is true when there's continuity." — Cathy Kincaid
3. The Power of pairs
Especially in small spaces, to avoid the cluttered look that can happen with too much eclectic charm, include pairs of chairs, nightstands, etc.
4. Balance pattern and solids
If the walls have a statement patterned wallpaper, choose solid upholstered furniture and visa versa.
5. Choose comfortable dining room chairs (i.e. upholstered ;)) to encourage your dinner party guests to linger.
6. Select bespoke lampshades to add a signature touch.
7. Include a luggage rack in your guest room
Often our guests room is smaller than other rooms, or the closet is already being utilized. Adding a standing, foldable luggage rack conveys a warm welcome in a functional way.
8. Include some open shelves in the kitchen to provide ease of access for frequently used dishes, oils and spices.
9. Convert a beloved table into a kitchen island or work space by adding either a cutting board top or marble top to the surface.
10. Layer rugs on top of one another to make the room feel larger
Place a neutral rug on the bottom, which will be the largest, and then a print or pattern that is smaller on top.
As I go about examining and considering how to add my own signature to my new home, as well as follow Cathy Kincaid's advice to make sure it creates a cozy home that fits with my lifestyle, I look forward to sharing what I discover. Look for part deux to be shared in the coming weeks as I have many books I am going through at the moment.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Great British Baking Show, Season 10 (Netflix!)
Sun, 1 September 2019
In today's premiere of Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, personal stylist Tiffani from Shop NYC joins me to talk about the fall season fashions worth investing in, her work with clients, bridal trends, her new and updated Shop NYC digital guide and three books she highly recommends reading.
Links to designers, brands and books discussed during the episode:
Learn more about Tiffani and her stylist and concierge services as well as purchase her SHOP NYC guide 2019/2020 on her website: shopnycinfo.co
~SHOP TSLL's Fall 2019 Shopping Guide (released yesterday!)
Sun, 18 August 2019
Season 5 of the podcast has wrapped up, and I cannot quite believe The Simple Sophisticate has been producing episodes for five years (debuting in September 2014). But it indeed has, and I am very grateful for listeners and their continued interest, positive reviews and sharing what you love with friends and family.
Today, the full schedule of Season 6 is available (see above). As you can see, it is very similar to Season five's schedule with at least three new episodes for every month through March. While there may be a few more new episodes shared than scheduled, what you see above are the dates on which new episodes are guaranteed to be shared.
If you are new to the podcast, let me explain why I am taking the weeks off in the particular months you see above:
Looking forward to the Season 6 kicking off with a new episode on Monday September 2nd! Thank you for tuning in and have a wonderful week.
Wed, 14 August 2019
Each time I have finished reading a beauty book that offers advice I welcome into my regular routine, I think there will be no need to read another book. But the truth is, as we know, as we grow older, so too does are skin; consequently, our need to understand how to best take care of the skin at the age we are become necessary.
Since the publication of Ageless Beauty: The French Way by Clémence von Mueffling, TSLL readers continued to recommend it, and it wasn't until this summer that I purchased it and read it in one afternoon and evening. I highly recommend it if you are looking for specific beauty product recommendations for your skin at every stage of aging - jeunesse (20-35) to maturité (55-older).
Sharing not only specific beauty routine ideas but also offering detailed explanations so that readers can understand why they are doing what they are doing to justify the investment, the book will be a resource I return to in the future as well when I begin to step from plénitude, as she describes 35-55.
But beauty when it comes to products for skincare and makeup are not all that is covered. She writes about food, exercise and carriage, as well as hair and perfume.
Today, what I'd like to share with you are 22 beauty secrets that caught my attention and that I either have found to be high advantageous or are new ideas I am now incorporating into my routine. Let's get started.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as much more detail is shared than what is shared below.
1.Regularly and properly hydrate your skin
A skin's quality determines the aesthetic beauty of one's exterior appearance. "Well-hydrated skin that is dewy and glowing optimally reflects light in a flattering way that makes it look almost like silk."
2. Attention to one's skin must be a regular routine to see the difference you are seeking
3. Attend to proper posture
4. Adopt a cleansing routine that properly cleans and cares for your skin
Mueffling advocates for washing your face twice (the first time to rid your face of impurities, pollution and makeup - preferrably with a creamy product; the second, to clean the topmost layer which "optimizes the skin's natural protection and regeneration which primarily takes place while you're sleeping"). And while I have only been washing my face once each time I wash my face - in the morning and evening, I have now begun to wash my face twice in the evening as she has suggested.
However, as she reminds, the goal is not squeaky, clean skin as that would be counter to what the desired goal is. Rather, it is about cleansing and caring for our skin so that the serums, oils and moisturizes we then apply will be able to properly penetrate enabling the investment we have made in these products to work as they are intended.
Depending upon your skin type, she delineates the different types of cleansers to consider in chapter 2: milk cleanser, foaming cleanser, cleansing gel, cleansing oil, micellar water and toner.
~NOTE 8/16/2019: In the audio version, I incorrectly pronounced "micellar". The "c" should be pronounced softly, like an "s" in "cell", not a hard c as in "crunch". Thank you for the gentle constructive feedback from listeners.
~read about micellar water and why I added this beauty essential to my cleansing routine a couple of years ago and continue to love it.
5. Apply a toner after cleansing with a cotton ball.
What is the purpose of a toner? As she shares, toners have received a bad rap for being "unnecessarily or overly harsh". Case in point, for the past 10 years, I haven't used one, but did during my 20s. She explains that toners when made properly as the more modern, natural toners are that are available, "use plant essences to deliver targeted ingredients deep into the skin". The reason for using a toner after cleansing and before you apply your serums and moisturizers is to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively.
~I recently began using Clarins Camomile toner per her recommendation and find it be soothing, as well as affordable.
6. Make sure your skin is pat dry after cleansing and toning and before applying any serums or moisturizers
7. Start early and be consistent
8. Find a quality hydrating moisturizer as it is essential to your skincare routine
I finally found a moisturizer that works well, especially in the arid climate that I live in - La Mer. However, she recommends many moisturizers at varying price points, some below and some above what La Mer is priced.
9. Apply any oils or serums on BEFORE applying your moisturizers
I have read conflicting commentary on which should come first, but I am trusting Clémence on this one. Whether you apply a serum or an oil after your toner, apply it after your toner and before your moisturizers (face and eyes). Why? For the same reason the toner and the second cleansing is used to ensure that the moisturizers can properly penetrate and do their intended job.
10. Consider welcoming a humidifier into your home
Living in an arid climate, for some reason it took me four years to follow this sage recommendation. However, if you live in a tropical or humid climate, there is no need as the moisture that the humidifier provides is already done naturally in the environment in which you live.
Why a humidifier? Remember, the goal is to regularly and adequately hydrate your skin, and especially during your sleep, by keeping your skin hydrated you enable the products to not have to be asked to do more than they are capable of, but your body retains more moisture offering that healthy glow you are looking for.
~1st recommendation (what I use in my home) Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier
~2nd recommendation Pure Enrichment Mistair humidifier
11. Apply a spritz of thermal spring water
After finishing your evening beauty cleansing and moisturizing routine, spritz a bit of thermal spring water on your face. As well, after cleansing in the morning, apply for a a bit more hydrating and extra dewy glow. Blot off gently after letting it sit on your skin for about one minute.
~I am not using after her recommendation Avène's Thermal Spring Water, and based on the size of the bottle, I will have it for some time.
12. Find and use a hydrating and healing lip balm
It has taken me a long time to find a lip balm that does just these two things, and it was found after reading this book. Bioderma's lip balm stick will cost you $4.90 at the most and is soothing and exactly what I was looking for. Apply throughout the day and especially just before going to bed.
13. High SPFs are a good idea, let me explain AND consider reducing your time in the sun even when you are wearing sunscreen
Perhaps you have heard it as well when you share with others that you are wearing SPF 50 or higher, "beyond [insert number], the SPF doesn't matter". First all, that is incorrect, and second of all, it's absolutely incorrect! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest. Mueffling explains that SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin and can be used to approximately how many minutes you can remain in the sun without burning. So yes, wearing SPF 60 as I do, especially on your face, it will save you money and time.
But let's back-up what is the difference between UVA (which sunscreens do not protect against) and UVB (which sunscreens do protect against). Understanding the difference has motivated me to stay out of the sun as much as possible during the highest and most direct sun exposure times of the day. UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) are the most harmful because they can cause "the most injury to our cells' they are able to reach inside cells and damage the genetic code, impacting the cells' ability to produce good-quality collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the other proteins needed for proper functioning". UVB rays (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation and the superficial damage that occurs immediately after sun exposure) can be protected against with sunscreen (when applied regularly).
So, consider limiting your sun exposure and consider increasing the SPF.
14. Help your skin out while you are traveling, especially on the plane, and refrain from drinking alcohol while in flight
15. Avoid spritzing your face while traveling (plane) as it actually will dry your skin out even more
16. Moisturize your hands regularly
Hand creams to try:
17. Add a facial massage to your weekly beauty routine
Something that you can do at home, she provides three basic techniques for massaging your face with a moisturizer you already use. As our facial muscles need to not be contracted all of the time, so when we give them a massage we are asking them to relax. A facial massage will help your facial muscles retain elasticity and remain firm.
18. Visit a facialist regularly
Depending upon your age, von Mueffling recommends jeunesse receive a professional facial every season (every three months), plénitude every two months and maturité every month.
By visiting a reputable esthetician you can keep your skin in its best shape, combat problems that may arise quickly and accurately without doing more damage and improve the quality of your everyday skincare routine.
19. Eat skin-friendly foods
Sharing a long list of best foods to eat, at the core of such a food regimen is eating food that is sufficient in healthy fats, low in caffeine and very spicy foods, regularly include citrus and offering diversity and brilliant colors.
20. Your Décolleté Needs Extra Care and Attention
From cleansing to moisturizing, remember to not only tend to your face and neck but the area between and just above your breasts.
21. Exercise Regularly and Well
22. Prioritize Quality Sleep
~Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from three generations of French beauty editors by Clémence von Mueffling
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019)
TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th
MONDAY August 12th
TUESDAY August 13th
WEDNESDAY August 14th
Sun, 11 August 2019
If you take an American man and place him in Paris, asking him to fit in, it will take a good sense of humor and a sincere love of France, but this man will be calling Paris his home, his sincere home, in due time.
Such a man, or should we say, monsieur, is author and writer John von Sothen.
I had the opportunity to meet up with John in the arrondisement he has called home for nearly 20 years - the 10th - and join him for what I like to describe as a "walk and talk". For more than two hours (which felt like minutes as I had the good fortune of being on a one-on-one guided tour of a city I too love, but have so much to learn), he showed me his everyday life from the fish monger where he picks up his poisson, the boulangerie where he walks down to pick up his faily's baquette (or two) in the morning and the restaurant where the neighborhood parents meet up after dropping their children off at school in the morning.
His new book, released this past May - Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French - shares the reality of being an expat from America living in Paris all the while being newly married, newly a parent and new to everyday living in France. Needless to say, with a dose of humor, an insatiable curiosity and deep affection for France, and being raised to "contribute" as his mother would also encourage him to do at dinner parties his parents would host in Georgetown in his youth, he has found France to be his home in more ways than he ever intended, but sincerely appreciates.
In today's episode, I have divided it into three parts (all included in this one episode). As our conversation begins, we are seated outdoors on a terrasse in the 18th arrondisements bordering the 10th.
I hope that you will appreciate the real-time acoustics of the city of Paris' background music as you will hear it all - French conversation, the traffic, and a city that is alive. With my trusty, but small hand-held recorded we chatted about everything, much of what I learned by reading his book and much more.
There are a few instances in which the wind is heard, and while I have edited out most parts of our conversation in which the wind was present and obstructive, the instances in which I have not is intentional as what we are talking about is worth hearing, and I did not have the heart to cut it out. Thank you for your patience in these rare moments because the rest is a dance of insights about Parisian and French living from the inside that we don't often learn or hear about.
From talking about the famed French vacances that foreign onlookers love to dream about, what being an aristocrat really means in France (psst - his wife is an aristocrat and from an aristocratic family, so he has the inside scoop), the truth about raising children in the city of Paris, how his mother influenced his love and interest in France, why he was raised unintentionally to be someone who could step into a new culture and not be intimidated, what escaping to the country in France is like for someone who loves the city life, the film Amelie, American politics as perceived by the Parisians, and his now quickly-becoming-famous rescue pup made it into a French film.~John von Sothen's family dog Bogart at home when I met in him July in Paris (left); the French film Yves in which Bogart stars. The film premiered on July 26th of this year.~
Now, a quick note about that last point. Of course, I was drawn to our entire conversation and intrigued about the realities, but when we started talking about his family's dog Bogart, I couldn't help but be intrigued. And perhaps John noticed this because he gave me the opportunity to meet his dog, and so, below I captured a picture of him after I had the chance to say hello. He is the sweetest pup, truly a kind soul and no wonder he is a star on screen because he is a star period. (view the trailer for the film - Yves - here - Bogart appears in the first seen sleeping on the sofa)
I do hope you enjoy our conversation. John von Sothen's book is available now, and you can find him writing for Esquire, French Vanity Fair, GQ, and AirMail, as well as other French and American publications (and even sometimes on French television as his book describes in hilarious detail).
~Learn more about John von Sothen and read more of his writing at johnvonsothen.com
~Purchase a copy of Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French (May 2019)
~John entertained graciously my attempts at a photo together, but I wanted to included especially the photo on the lower right as in the background is a piece of art created by his mother of which wsa talked about at the beginning of today's episode.~
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Find all of the French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th
~Sponsors of today's episode:
Sun, 4 August 2019
159: 18 Ways to Define Your Classic Style in Life and Within Your Closet (top episode from Season 4)
Cultivating our signature style takes time because it involves understanding ourselves and bringing our truest selves forth. In other words, our signature style is more than what we see on the surface.
When we discover what our signature style is, it will become a classic for us uniquely because it is a timeless revelation that will not subside with time. It may ebb and flow to adjust with the offerings of sartorial collections of the zeitgeist, but at the core, who you are, remains the same. What you value - characteristics of importance - i.e. integrity and warmth; what brings forth your most beautiful and best self - a particular silhouette and a particular fit so you feel most comfortable as well as stunning; each of these and more are small, but significant parts of your classic, and thus signature style.
In today's episode of the podcast, a readers' favorite from last season, discover 18 ways to define your very own classic style. With each point, there will be great discussion and examples, so be sure to tune in to the audio version.
~View the show notes for episode #159 here
~Images 2 & 3 - previous posts shared on IG of Shannon's style over the years
Sun, 28 July 2019
While it may appear that everyone outside of ourselves is living lives full of amazing, surreal moments from distant lands or dining out at amazing restaurants, even wearing the perfect item of clothing or experiencing bucket list events with every scroll on our social media apps, the reality is that we too are living an amazing life each and everyday even if it doesn't make our social media page to share with the world.
Whether looking about as we take our morning walk with our pups as I did yesterday morning (shared in the image above), waking up in a home that provides the feeling of safety and warmth, conversing with loved ones as we share how our days have unfolded or any number of seemingly quotidian details, all of them are something to celebrate and savor.
In today's episode of the podcast, one of the top five episodes of season two in early 2016, you will hear shared and discussed 15 ways to elevate the everyday. In spring 2016 I had been living in Bend for about nine months, and I hadn't left the area since arriving in July 2015. The everyday of my life in Bend to me was electric. I can vividly remember pinching myself nearly every week at the reality I had the opportunity to experience, and while in between now and then, I finally did venture outside of Deschutes County to see my family, travel abroad as well as experience a few moments of frustration, I do my best on a regular basis to remember how fortunate I am, and get excited about the everyday things that make life truly extraordinary.
Speaking of those hot air balloons, today's Monday's Motivational post was inspired by them. Have a look at the post here - A Life Lesson from a Hot Air Balloon.
I hope you enjoy this episode, and thank you for stopping by.
~View the full show notes of the original episode and post here
Images: captured by TSLL in Bend, Oregon, and shared on IG. If you look closely between the cattails you can see two hot air balloons.
Sun, 21 July 2019
I find that the summer months are a wonderful time for assessment and reassessing what works well in my daily routines and why.
Similar to the French's La Rentrée which occurs in September after residents have returned from their holidays and school and life and everyday routines return to their regular pace, so too do many of us find ourselves determined to make everything we do run a bit more smoothly. So I will admit, I wasn't surprised when this episode, which was shared in the first season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, was a listeners' favorite.
With some aspects of our daily routines, there are supplies we need to always have on hand to make our everydays run seamlessly, and that is primarily what a Modern Woman's Lifestyle Grocery List is all about. And if you're like me, I take a look at this list every year and update it for my life as it may have changed or improved and different details of each or some of the items may need to be updated, substituted or replaced. I do hope you enjoy and thank you for stopping by and tuning in.
~View the original show notes for episode #28 here.
Sun, 14 July 2019
Summer season offers a wonderful opportunity reboot our eating habits, remind us of the ease and deliciousness when we eat in season and highlight how eating can be pleasure-filled minus the any guilt.
In today's episode of the podcast, this archived episode was in the top five episodes of the first season. Originally airing in the fall of 2014, I hope you enjoy discover the 10 Simple Ways to enjoy food and enjoy the body that takes you through each and every day.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 7 July 2019
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun." - from Julia Child's memoir My Life in France
During the month of July, The Simple Sophisticate podcast will be airing top episodes from the archives. Why, you might be wondering, as this is the first summer I've taken July off? Don't worry, I am hard at work in the kitchen, exploring new ideas for recipes and producing the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Premiering on Saturday September 7th, be sure to tune in the cooking show when it returns this fall.
In the meantime, today's listeners' favorite episode from the archives shared six life lessons from Julia Child. The original episode aired in 2017, and as I have just returned from France, I thought paying homage yet again to the woman who continues to inspire me and so many listeners and readers would be a good idea.
To view the original and updated Show Notes for the episode, click here.
Thank you for tuning in, and be sure to stop by the blog each Monday when there is not a new episode of the podcast as there will always be a new Monday Motivational post to kick off the work week.
~MORE Julia Child Posts/Episodes YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~TSLL's image captured during time spent in Rouen, France, at La Couronne, the restaurant that she credits for beginning her love for French food. View the entire post on my experience here.
Sun, 23 June 2019
"San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world — one of the really urbane communities in the United States — one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world."—Duke Ellington
In 2002 I began my career in teaching - my first job was teaching 9th grade English in a small town at the bottom of South Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. And on occasion, maybe two or three, I believe it was two, times I made the four hour drive to San Francisco for long weekends. I found a small boutique hotel near Union Square, walked and drove the hills (becoming more proficient with a clutch than ever before) giving my calves an exquisite workout, enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Empress Hotel with my mentor who showed a bit more of the city to me on a long holiday weekend, as well as drinks at the Top of the Mark, but each of my visits was well before Google Maps and the entire tech sector engulfed Silicon Valley and the city by the Bay, so I wasn't sure really where to go and just visited as far as my feet and my comfort would take me.
Fast forward sixteen years, and I finally had the opportunity to return to San Francisco.
Since before moving to Bend, it has been on my list of places to visit. After all, it is in many ways the West Coast's New York City. Understandably, each city is uniquely its own, but having visited Los Angeles, Seattle and many times Portland, Oregon, San Francisco isn't quite like any other west coast urban destination. In fact, I have to agree with Cecil Beaton,"San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities". Now, New Orleans certainly is a destination unique infused with French and Spanish cuisine and history, but San Francisco involves more ease and community than any other major urban city I have visited, sports the most delectable food options, offers transportation that is varied and easier than any other American city I have traveled, as well as a temperate climate that is never too extreme in any season. Again this is my opinion, but perhaps Twiggy is right, "I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other".
But I am getting ahead of myself gushing about San Francisco. I'd like to share with you all that we experienced in a mere 72 hours this past week, offer up some recommendations, and perhaps encourage you to either visit or return to the Paris of the West (an old term used primarily in the late nineteenth early 20th century largely because of the three waves of French immigrants arriving in San Francisco beginning in 1849 with the Gold Rush, in 1852-53 when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III offering a national lottery of trips to California to rid the country of his intellectual opponents, and a third wave of many women and children as in San Francisco's early days, the city was comprised of 90% men. In short order, in 1852, six thousand of the city's 36,000 residents were French). No wonder I love this city so much. :)
I've organized today's episode/post into the three fundamental parts for any trip to any country/city to be most successful. Thinking of it as the tripod foundation of traveling with ease: knowing how to get around to wherever you want to go (transportation), knowing you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep at night, and knowing you will be fed to satisfy your appetite. Where to eat, sleep and get about.
Once these three decisions are made, reserved and settled, I am able to loosen up on the itinerary and also relax and look forward to my trip.
Let's begin the 72-hour visit to San Francisco. The good news is you don't have to make your plans too far in advance to still have a wonderful experience. Case in point, for our trip last week, the trip was decided upon in April. Plane tickets and hotel arrangements were made, and then one month prior to the trip, dinner reservations were made as well. The only piece of the three part puzzle was to tend to the on-the-ground transportation, which I had researched, and will talk about more below.
~Fisherman's Wharf - classic fishermen’s boats docked in the bay.~
When to visit:
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
Depending upon the weather you hope to experience, as one of our Uber drivers who has lived in the city for decades shared with us, don't come in June, July and August and expect traditional summer temperatures. Nope. While there is the rare extremely warm day as there was a couple of weeks ago, the average high in the summer is low 70s - expect the fog to roll in and out throughout the day and if you're by the bay, the wind will rip through in the afternoon.
If you are looking for the idyllic weather, our driver, after sharing Twain's quote above, suggested coming in September and October. I quickly took note. The rain will abate in April and not truly return until November. Again, taking the advice of the driver, so readers who live in the Bay Area or who have lived in the area, please do confirm or correct.
Also, we traveled during the work week. The opportunity to arrive on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday was perfect for the pace of everyday life. Nothing was too extremely tourist-laden (there was still an abundance), the evenings were very quiet on the street as we had a street-side window, and traffic at the airport and getting about was as would be expected in any work day scenario - rush-hour, etc.
Whenever you visit, bring layers. One day we both were kissed by the sunshine more than we expected, but in the evening we needed a jacket. My mother packed her light-weight cashmere scarf, which was perfect. I saw many people with scarves. What did I forget, of all things? A scarf. I won't forget again. It is a city in which to wear a scarf.
How to Get Around Once You Arrive
~waiting for the airport shuttle to take us to the BART airport stop~
Where to Stay
While my list won't be long in this section, what I can share with you is where we did stay during our trip and why I highly recommend it. I know it will not fit everyone's budget nor be what everyone would prefer, but if you are looking for the following, you will be very happy with The Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf:
~Fisherman's Wharf seen directly out our hotel room window.~
~wallpaper in the bathroom~
Where to Eat
As one Uber driver who has lived in the city for 22 years told us, San Francisco has always had a strong food culture. Boasting 5000 restaurants, whatever type of cuisine you prefer, you will be able to find it. While he couldn't guarantee it would be delicious fare at every destination, he did note that you can find many wonderful places throughout the city and Bay Area. So let me share with you four places I HIGHLY recommend.
~the scrambled egg plate and avocado toast~
~the dining room for Boullettes Larder (open to the public for breakfast and lunch; private group dinners in the evening)~
~Bouli Bar (open for lunch and dinners for the public)~
~Pistachio Cake with strawberry ice cream~
~the entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley~
~the menus - guests can keep them~
~dessert: Savarin cake with fresh summer berries and candied pistachios~
Now it's time to tailor it what you love
Each one of us who visits San Francisco will come to the city for different and special reason. As I shared in last Friday's weekly newsletter with subscribers, my visit was all about the food in preparation for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen's upcoming second season. And the city did not disappoint. However, there were a few other places we took the time to see and experience, and I'd like to share them below in case you too might be curious to check them out.
~Ghirardelli's Square in the background, park in the foreground~
With the 72 hour trip nearing an end, we decided to hop in an Uber to take us to the airport as we didn't want to lug our luggage onto BART amongst the crowds, although, it wouldn't have been impossible to do, we were just tired. In a swift 30 minute time period, leaving from our hotel, we were at the airport ready to return to Bend.
While I knew we had soaked up every minute of our trip seeing and exploring and eating, we also were able to take a nap each day which for me was absolutely necessary. But even with the naps, I slept deeply and quite more at length this past weekend than I have in awhile. What a pleasure this trip was, and I am thankful it is only a 90 minute flight away. Needless to say, with even more recommendations from readers, and places I look forward to visiting again, I look forward to returning.
"Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible." —Walter Kronkite
Be sure to stop by the blog later in the week for a detailed post on Chez Panisse.
~None of this trip was sponsored and all was entirely planned according to my own curiosities and predilections. However, there are some affiliate links.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Traveling Alone Well, episode #220
~French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux, episode #216
~Written and Co-Produced by Mindy Kaling, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Reid Scott (VEEP)
~Support women in Hollywood to promote multi-dimensional, diversity in age, ethnicity, life-experience and the varied representation of women that inspires women and young girls to be the hero of their own lives and others, not the playmate in someone else's story. Learn more about the statistics of women in Hollywood. While the numbers are gradually improving, they is progress to be made, and when we go see films that support what we truly applaud and wish to see more of, producers and film executives follow where the money is.
~All images via TSLL, any image with Shannon in them were taken by my mother (thank you Mom!)
Sun, 16 June 2019
We talk quite often about the importance of routine, and how by having a routine, we actually set ourselves free, especially our minds. And it is in that vein that Mason Curry shares his two books Daily Rituals. His second is focused entirely on Women at Work, sharing the routines and preferences of creative women who lived and created over the past four centuries.
I thoroughly enjoyed his second book, even more than the first which I also found great inspiration. It was refreshing to see so many women living their lives in a variety of different ways, but all in which they discovered worked well for them and the craft they most loved.
Not all of the ideas resonated with me, but it was wonderful to get into the minds for a moment of these women and how they approached their days. I highlighted vigorously from beginning to end, and would like to share 34 daily routines to consider to enable your creative ideas to flow freely and without withdrawal.
Some will speak to you, some will not, but each one is inspired by a woman's routine which is shared in the book: Daily Rituals: Woman at Work - 143 artists on how they paint, write, perform, direct, choreograph, design, sclpt, compose, dance, etc.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of the podcast where much more discussion takes place on each point.
1.Begin with a hot glass of lemon water
Designer Elsa Schiaparelli woke up at 8 am, sipped lemon-juice-and-water and a cup of tea for breakfast as she read the papers, handled private correspondence, made telephone calls and gave the menus of the day to the cook.
2. Wake up early if that is when your creativity is most fruitful
—Lillian Hellman would wake up at 6am.
—Marie Bashkirtseff would wake up at 6am
—Maggie Hambling wakes up at 5am each morning
"I get up between three or four o'clock in the morning, because that's my best writing time." —Octavia Butler
3. If spending less time with people fuels your creativity, embrace it fully
"I enjoy people best if I can be alone much of the time. I used to worry about it because my family worried about it. And I finally realized: This is the way I am. That's that." —Octavia Butler in 1998
4. If traditional "holidays" don't work for you, create your own, or dive into what you love.
Coco Chanel worked six days a week, and dreaded Sundays and holidays. As she told one confidant, "That word, 'vacation,' makes me sweat."
5. Greet the day in a habitual way that sets the tone for a great day
6. Live your ideas, don't talk about them
"People would sit around and talk about things constantly. I never really went in for that. If you talk something out, you will never do it. You can spend every evening talking with your friends and colleagues about your dreams, but they will remain just that —dreams." —choreographer Martha Graham
7. Keep a small journal next to your bed to capture ideas
"I always have notebook and pencil on the table at my bedside. I may wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to put down." —American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
8. If you work at home, carve out a part of the day to get out of the house and just absorb inspiration or let go of the day completely
"In the nocturnal evening, I get the hell out to some movie or damn play and I come back and sleep like a rock." —Frida Kahlo
9. Figure out the ingredients that are needed to let the ideas find you
To develop a new work of choreography, Agnes de Mille needed 'a pot of tea, walking space, privacy and an idea'.
10. Don't feel obligated to keep the same schedule when you are in the middle of creating your art or craft
Margaret Bourke-White required long periods of solitude to write, with as few interruptions as possible." In an interview with a Life photographer Nina Leen, Leen remembers after asking her if she would have lunch with her, "She told me she was writing a book and there was no hope of a lunch for several years.
11. Don't feel bad for loving your work and working on what you love beyond the traditional work hours.
"Everything seems petty and uninteresting, everything except my work . . . ". Russian-born painter and sculptor Marie Bashkirtseff
12. Do something during the day that is relaxing and keeps you present
'I relax before lunch by arranging flowers . . . When these are all beautifully arranged in bowls and vases, it's usually lunch time." —English actress Gertrude Lawrence
13. Have a studio or space of your own to create
"The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere." —Agnes Martin
14. If you love solitude, embrace it
"But it is, as Yeats said, a 'solitary sedentary trade.' And I did a lot of gardening and cooked my own food, and listened to music, and of course I would read. I was really very happy. I can live a solitary life for month at a time, and it does me good." —poet Katherine Anne Porter
15. Trust your intuition as to what works best for you
"It's not right if it doesn't feel right." —English painter Bridget Riley
16. Find regular time to just read what you love
Rachel Whiteread [English sculptor] would "at some point stop for lunch, and she'd often spend an hour of the day reading sitting in a comfortable chair away from her desk.
17. Establish a flexible routine to work with what you need
Morning routine: "Zittel feeds her chickens, waters plants, and performs other outdoor chores before meditating, taking a shower, making breakfast and getting dressed. In the winter, Zittel's morning schedule reverses: She meditates, showers and eats breakfast first; then, once the sun has raised the outdoor temperature, she heads out on her hike and does chores. 'It's really all about establishing a flexible routine."Andrea Zittel, an American artist, in 2017
18. Don't quit trying to live the life you wish to live
"It never occurred to me that I couldn't live the life I wanted to lead. It never occurred to me that I could be stopped . . . I had this very simple view: that the reason people who start out with ideals or aspirations don't do what they dream of doing when they're young is because they quit. I thought, well, I won't quit." —Susan Sontag
19. Try a crossword puzzle like Joan Mitchell
20. Determine what view in your studio/sanctuary/work space is most productive for inspiration
"Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue." —Kate Chopin, American writer
21. End the day with a signal to your mind to relax
"During the performance I drink water with breadcrumbs, which is most refeshing. After the ballet I have a bath as soon as possible. Then I go out to dinner, as by that time I have an unmerciful hunger. When I get home I drink tea." —Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova
22. Let baths be your creative muse
"Baths also played a part in her creative process - a post-breakfast bath enjoyed regularly by Virginia Woolf.
23. Let lunch be a true mid-day break
At 1:00 p.m., Hambling has lunch, takes her Tibetan terrier, Lux, for a walk, and switches on the television to satisfy her tennis addiction.
24. Write when inspiration hits - even if it is in bed in the morning so as not lose the ideas.
25. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
"Fresh air and cold water are my stimulants." —Harriet Martineau - the first female sociologist
26. Enjoy someone's company for tea, lunch or a walk regularly
Emily Post would regularly welcome a guest or two for tea in the afternoon.
27. It's okay for your personal time to be less than what others feel is acceptable
"It seems to me you have to have your personal life organized so that it takes as little of your time as possible. Otherwise you can't make your art." –Eleanor Antin
28. Don't expect the routine to come naturally, create one and stick with it as it enables you to flourish
29. Cook and walk
"The only other essential component of her day is a twice-daily walk with her dog, during which she avoids thinking about her writing project. In the evening, she makes herself a simple dinner and goes to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.." —Isabel Allende
30. Create space for your ideas to be seen
"Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient." — Hilary Mantel
"I think the way to become inspired is to empty your mind and let things come into your mind." —Joan Jonas
31. Do you and don't apologize
"I live here as in Paris. I rise every day at 5 o'clock; I drink my two large glasses of hot water; I take my coffee; I write when I am alone, which is rare; I do my hair in company; I dine every day with the king, chez lui, or with him and les seigneurs. I make calls after dinner; I go to the theater; I return to my place at ten o'clock; I drink my hot water , and I go to bed." —Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, a major salonniéres of the French Englightenment
32. Turn on music paired with your favorite drink to start the day
"I wake about nine, turn on the symphony and have juice, fruit and a pot of black coffee . . . " —Grace Hartigan, American painter
33. Leave evenings open for your social engagements
"In the evening, she would see a friend for dinner or attend another social engagement. But the real key to this perfect writing day, she said, was to know that the following day would be exactly the same." —Eudora Welty
34. Be patient until you find what works, then cherish it
"Trial and error, and then when you've found your needs, what feeds you, what is your instinctive rhythm and routine, then cherish it." —novelist Doris Lessing
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, a Patricia Wells recipe, click here for the recipe
~Check out TSLL's IG account, see the Highlights and Part 3 of my FR Trip '18 - mid-roll to see the presentation of the dish in Provence.
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, enjoyed in Provence with Patricia Wells and the other cooking class students during the summer of 2018~
~the same dish served this past weekend as the second course during a dinner party at my home. Cool and crisp cucumber and yogurt soup.~
Sun, 9 June 2019
"Across the world, despite all prejudices and beliefs against it, singlehood is the growing trend." —Elyakim Kislev , author of Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living
It is highly beneficial to understand the construction of our beliefs regarding singledom, so that after discarding the myths and acknowledging the realities, we can "freely choose whatever lifestyle fits [us] best".
With the life expectancy in most developed countries rising to just under 80 years, it is a statistical probability that all of us will be living single or solo at some point in our lives whether by choice or circumstances, and consequently, knowing how to enjoy being single is a skill that would be most beneficial to acquire.
Depending upon our innate temperaments, which is different than our personalities, each of us is more predisposed to be comfortable or prefer more or less social engagement. And depending upon what we most enjoy doing in our careers and in our free time, we will be more or less inclined to seek out companionship for long or short durations.
Elyakim Kislev's new book, which was released in February, includes extensive research and an abundance of studies that demonstrate the reality of our modern world that no matter what you prefer, will enable each of us to live more consciously and thus more fully, as well as support others in our lives who choose to live in a manner we may not prefer or choose.
The first powerful finding that spoke to me was the acknowledgement of an unspoken truth regarding marriage (these studies involves a large majority of the industrialized world, not just the United States) - why do people step more easily into marriage even with modernizations of the world we live in today.
Studies have actually proven that the 51% of individuals entering into marriage acknowledge that it is "a fear of aging alone or dying without anyone at our bedside that drives us into marriage".
"Marriage may not be such a good way to escape loneliness in old age. Not only do married people feel lonely in surprisingly high numbers, but also long-term singles are often better equipped to deal with loneliness later in life".
Yes, that does then mean 49% of people did not report this as a reason, but that alone should give us pause, especially when we know that the divorce rate is nearly as proportionate and the percentage of a second divorce is higher still. While each couple's situation is uniquely alone, to not address this fear is to place an undeserved burden on individual we are marrying. In fact, studies have proven, when we do address this fear, as those who have never married do, earlier in our lives, the individual is more likely to make the best decision for themselves and thus improve their overall happiness no matter what the decision may be.
Many TSLL readers/listeners know I am single and have been for the majority of my life. Don't worry, this is not a post/episode advocating for being single if you are either already in a happy marriage, happy relationship or wish to be coupled. Rather today's posting will hopefully broaden our understanding of the realities of societal norms, motivations, pressures, expectations, unconscious biases and realities so that whatever your life's journey is and will be, it is one made with a clear mind that has discarded the myths and is then able to make the best decisions for you and the life you wish to lead. True contentment, in other words, is the goal of today's posting.
26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom
~Each of these points are discussed in detail in the audio version of this podcast episode. I encourage you to tune in for further clarification of each point or pick up the book Happy Singlehood from which each of these points were inspired.
1.Assess honestly your self-perception of how you define loneliness and where that definition was constucted.
2. Build and continually nurture a strong social well-being
Having a strong social well-being helps eradicate or reduce social loneliness and emotional loneliness as you will have people in your life in which you feel close to and may turn to (emotional), as well as have both intimate and peripheral acquaintances that give you a sense of belonging (social).
~Listen to Episode #92 - Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being - for further discussion on the construction.
3. Conduct a life review: Self-reflect and find peace with your journey thus far
"Happy older singles [have] the ability to look back and gain control over the circumstances that led to being single".
4. Celebrate and exercise the ability to make your own decisions
5. Revel in your solitude - produce your own "show" so to speak
6. Take responsibility for your own contentment
~View a long list of archived posts and episodes on cultivating true contentment or pick up my 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life
7. Distinguish between the myths regarding marriage and singlehood and reality
Myth versus reality:
"Young people fear being physically vulnerable in old age more than elders [actually] do".
"Fifty-seven percent of the eighteen-to-sixty-four-year old population anticipate memory loss in old age, while only 25 percent of those aged sixty-five and above actually experience it. Furthermore, while 42 percent expect serious illness in old age, only 21 percent of those aged sixty-five and above experience the same."
"While an expectation of loneliness arises among 29 percent of young people, only 17 percent experience loneliness in old age."
8. Foresee and prepare for potential emergencies
In other words, financial planning - engage with it early, often and regularly, craft a living will, construct your own "family" - .
9. Engage with your community for resources, connection and engagement
10. Learn how to socially engage as a singleton in a manner that makes you feel safe and fulfilled
11. Refrain from seeing marriage as a form of "self-validation".
In other words, seek validation from within, as society's values are limiting, dynamic and generalized.
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: First, Seek Self-Approval
12. Use your time being single as a time for self-growth and development - find the road to your truest self
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?
13. Maintain and strengthen your overall health - physical and mental
~An episode you might enjoy on this topic: The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212
14. If you are a pet person, welcome a pet into your life.
15. Confront the fears that are causing you to assume marriage is the answer to assuage them before you get married for the wrong reasons.
16. Simply be aware of the social stigmas, discrimination and pressures placed on singles.
Doing so will enable you to confront and effectively deal with situations when they arise in a productive way to potentially bring more awareness to the realities and discrimination that exists.
17. Have a positive self-image and self-perception of your life as someone who is single
Present yourself to the world, whether at work or in your personal life as the confident and happy person that you are - some who happens to be single - knowing that is not all that defines you. Gradually, images change when we put a face to the reality.
18. Build your self-confidence
Find work and hobbies in which you feel valued and accomplished - this could be in your career, in your hobbies or in your social network. Be willing to try new things, and as you see that you can learn, change, improve and grow, you begin to realize you hold more power to cultivate the life you love than you may have realized - thus your confidence grows.
~An episode you might enjoy on the topic: Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5
19. Consciously avoid the social pressure and discrimination
In other words, your attention gives validation. And if you choose not speak up, what is said or done is deemed as acceptable. Whether it is the conversations you listen to or engage in, the people you spend time with, the films you pay to see, the music you listen to, etc., your time, money and attention are powerful - give it consciously.
20. Speak up and confront discrimination when it occurs
Often people aren't even aware of their bias regarding marriage being the "best" option. Construct a parallel question to those who ask "Why are you still single?" or "I'm still keeping an eye out for you." There are some great ones in the book. Make sure to keep the comment or question equal to what was received so that the speaker can see the error of their words and assumptions.
21. Seek a career or a calling that gives you purpose, in which you feel you are contributing something of value to the world.
22. Find a balance with work and leisure
23. Let your curiosities guide you to seek out educational opportunities for growth
24. Strengthen your three pillars of good health - physical, mental and financial
25. Acknowledge and cultivate manageable household responsibilites
26. Recognize that choosing and embracing being single is not out of weakness or selfishness, but of strength and awareness to connect often more consciously.
"As singles, we know more than anybody else that true independence is actually interdependence."
We liberate ourselves when we recognize there are many different ways to live well in our modern world. And even for those who do not fully or will never accept that there is more than one traditional way to live contentedly and contribute to society positively, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to be self-actualized, when we model the reality rather than the myth, we encourage others to explore and reach their full potential as well. A more content world is a peaceful world.
If anyone is so fortunate to find a partner to enjoy life with should they wish to and be able to reach their fullest potential without feeling they are limited, confined or lonely in something they "should" be doing, what a magnificent awesome union. Losing such a person, no matter what our age would be heartbreaking, but we can only control and strengthen ourselves, and when we strengthen the muscle of self-reflection, acknowlegement of fears rather than a suppression, we set ourselves free to live well throughout the entirity of our life's journey.
The responsibility each of us has is to not place upon someone else's shoulders that which we are capable of doing ourselves. When we take on this responsibility of cultivating our own happiness and contentment, we will see more clearly what path we truly wish to travel, we will strengthen all of our relationships as we recognize we are interconnected in large and small ways, and we will give ourselves a deep breath of relief and excitement for the next step in our journey forward.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Truths & Myths of the Independent, Single Woman, episode #94
~Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry
Sun, 2 June 2019
"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
Sixteen years French chef Robert Arbor released a book that offers a personal glimpse into his everyday routines which adhere to the French's simple approach to living well. With time split between living in Connecticutt and living in a country home in Flaujac-Poujol, France, with his wife and two sons, he shares how the secrets of the French are really quite simple when it comes to elevating the everyday.
Yes, it took me far too long to pick up this book, but as soon as I did, his words were music to my ears as he too celebrates and revels in the everyday routines, cultivate seemingly simple rituals that are savored and deeply appreciated. A way of life that is inspired by his own upbringing in Fontainebleau, France, just outside of Paris.
Many readers recommended Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and many readers have shared they return to read this book often to reminders of how to slow down and savor the lives they have worked so hard to have the opportunity to live. Joie de Vivre is a gem of a resource for reminding ourselves of the beauty of life - understanding that our lives are made up everydays is all we need to do to recognize and embrace a truly contented life.
While I will certainly be picking up the book many times more in the future, having highlighted and annotated heavily throughout, I wanted to share 36 ideas Arbor shares in the book as an introduction to how grand the everyday can be, and how it truly is quite simple.
~Be sure to tune in and listen to the podcast episode and more discussion on each point is shared.
1.Breakfast - enjoy alone and make it nice or with a very close friend, someone you like - make it your personal time of the day.
2. Savor the buttery goodness of a croissant on weekend or for special occasions
~TSLL's homemade croissant recipe~
3. Cloth napkins for everyday dining
4. Cultivate a routine you enjoy around your breakfast and morning "to give a quick thought to each day's potential".
5. Cultivate your own potager (vegetable garden) to "grow a few things to eat fresh". And only grow what you love to eat and share.
6. Disperse flowers throughout your potager, let go of perfection and separation.
7. Place your fresh, delicate vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, courgettes, most fruit) in a compote on the kitchen counter to be reminded to use them immediately (or very soon).
"A big part of comprehending joie de vivre is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations. Joyful anticipation of life's everyday events is part of bringing joie de vivre into your home in a lasting way."
8. Grow your own garden of herbs
9. Make food shopping enjoyable - visit a special shop, a farm stand or make it a social engagement.
10. Enjoy good, seasonal food and revel in it.
11. Welcome cheese into your eating regimen
12. Regularly frequent le marché in your area when available
"Great food and ingredients can be found anywhere. One just has to make more of an effort and decide on a lifestyle choice about the quality of the food."
13. Make the kitchen the center of the house, but it need not be state-of-the-art.
14. No need to spend a lot of money to have a pleasant workable kitchen - regular height chairs, let go of the high stools, so you can relax and enjoy conversation - sitting back, etc. Only purchase the equipment you will actually use and buy quality items that will last. Here are a few ideas: 3-4 pots with lids, a cast iron skillet (keep it seasoned), a teakettle on the stove for boiling water, a Dutch oven or cocotte, but again, only tools you will need for the food you and your household enjoy eating.
15. Have the basic cooking utensils stocked in your kitchen so no matter what the season, you can make what you enjoy: 3 sharpened knives (paring, chef's and serrated), 2 cutting boards, earthenware jugs full of different wooden spoons and spatulas, a stainless-steel spoon and 8-oz ladle, perforated stainless steel spoon, tongs, a whisk, 3 graduated mixing bowls, a fine mesh strainer, hot mitts, a hand-cranked can opener, cork screw, cotton kitchen towels, and a scale, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin if you are a baker.
~A Cook's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
~A Baker's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
17. Tidy your kitchen as you go to make the space a place you enjoy stepping into each time.
18. Lengthen and deepen (full and satiating) your midday meal as much as possible.
"This is a time for stepping away from your work — even if you are eating with your coworkers—and talking and thinking about something else . . . Whatever the company, the conversation is always pleasant and positive. And that, naturally, adds to the pleasure and anticipation of lunch. It is a real break from the rest of the day. Le déjeuner is not about using time, it is about taking time."
19. Enjoy a picnic and make it comfortable
"I do love a picnic in the French style, which, of course, means comfort, comfort and more comfort. First of all, a French person is simply not going to eat on the ground. Although we might lounge around on a blanket later, it is much butter to eat sitting up."
20. Reserve Sunday to enjoy a big Sunday lunch, focusing on pleasure rather than obligation.
21. And grab that nap after the lengthy lunch to add regular moments of rejuventation .
"Remind yourself that sometimes the best ideas and solutions rise to the surface when you're not thinking so hard."
22. Grab an afternoon break regularly with la pause gourmande to give yourself a treat - "a treat with a purpose" and offer the perfect solution to the "afternoon blahs".
23. Enjoy dinner in the dining room regularly and offer the opportunity for everyone to contribute (whether by setting the table, etc.) somehow.
24. Unwind after dinner with a little dessert treat (nothing too grand), and partaking in something you enjoy on your own or with others so that you can go to bed happy and content.
25. Share dinner with friends with a casual dinner party - only invite people you truly like and don't "overstretch yourself".
~10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from My last Dinner Party, episode #235
26. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, which means you need to be able to be relaxed and enjoy the evening as well. The goal: good food, good conversation and good fun.
27. Begin with apéritifs - small nibbles and drinks.
28. Have very small groups of flowers on the table to create a welcome, but not cumbersome table to sit around and enjoy the meal.
29. Add candles to the dinner table either in glass hurricanes, or small tea lights spread around the tabletop.
30. Add a low volume lyric-less music to the background, as the conversation amongst friends is the best music.
31. Enjoy cheese and a vinaigrette dressed salad course after the main course prior to dessert.
32. Add water to the meal to be enjoyed while enjoying glasses of wine with each course.
33. Dessert need not be homemade when you have a favorite local patisserie.
34. Savor the winding down at the end of the day and do not skip this important part of each day. Cultivate a pleasant ritual, perhaps a different one for each season.
35. Make lavender-scented linen water to add an inviting scent to your bed linens.
36. Enjoy a good night's sleep
"Americans are fascinated with how the French manage to live so well, and so contentedly, in their ordinary, day-to-day life. It's not just about cooking, decorating, or entertaining — it's about enjoying all the small details of domestic life." —Robert Arbor
May your everydays be full of simple pleasures and moments of joy as well as you remember how extraordinary your life already is at this very moment.
~Order Robert Arbor's book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS from THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life, episode #23
~View all French-Inspired podcast episodes here
~Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent)
Sun, 26 May 2019
Today's episode is a top post from season one. And as it addresses the topic of authenticity, it pairs rather well with today's new Monday Motivational post - A Simple Way to Find Lasting Respect & Inner Peace.
Also mentioned at the beginning of today's episode:
~Visit all of The Simple Sophisticate podcast episodes here.
~View the entire schedule for Season 5 of the podcast (also, see below).
Sun, 19 May 2019
252: The Characteristics of Being a Late Bloomer, and How Embracing This Gift Could Change the World for Everyone
"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:
~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
~Do you enjoy reading TSLL blog and visit regularly, but would prefer to read the blog without ads? I have some good news for you. For a limited time, during British Week, the price for a monthly or yearly ad-free subscription has been reduced. Simply use the following promo codes below when you subscribe (or learn how to subscribe) here. The discount runs through Sunday May 26, 2019.
Sun, 12 May 2019
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.
Sun, 24 March 2019
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
Sun, 17 March 2019
"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.
—Queer Eye, Season 3 premiere, Netflix
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #251
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 10 March 2019
"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:
~How to Create Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219
~learn about each episode here
~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.
Sun, 3 March 2019
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; itâ€™s a matter of finding it within ourselves.Â 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.
"Itâ€™s no surprise that confidence is the foundation thatÂ makes it okay to be vulnerable. Itâ€™s the layer of self-trust that allows you to take a few bricks out of that wall and know youâ€™ll be okay, to really show up and to show others who you are. Real, natural confidence is trust rather than second-guessing. Itâ€™s congruity rather than compartmentalization. Itâ€™s ease rather than resistance." â€”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.
â€”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.
Sun, 17 February 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #248
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 10 February 2019
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.
~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
Sun, 3 February 2019
"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.
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.
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.
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
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.
~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.
Monty Don's Italian Gardens trailer
Monty Don's French Gardens, clip
Sun, 27 January 2019
"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:
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.
~Felicity Jones stars as Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Armie Hammer stars as her husband Marty Ginsburg
Sun, 20 January 2019
"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.
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:
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.
~Concept and Project Planners (many more colors), they sell the signature paperclips as well.
Sun, 13 January 2019
Sun, 6 January 2019
242: Understanding What True Self-Care Is: Hint - It Will Be Unique to Each Person and It Is A Skill That Can Exponentially Improve the Quality of Your Daily Life
Mon, 31 December 2018