The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style (general)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #196
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube

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

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

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

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

2. Rock the flat

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

3. Trends? No thank you.

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

4. Neutral color palette

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

5. Fewer clothes, better quality

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

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

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

7. A luxury investment handbag

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

8. Find a Versatile Trench

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

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

9. Trust stripes

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

10. Find your signature style and stick to it

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

The more simplicity we can bring into our lives the less complexity we have to navigate, but initially the process of knowing what to strip away takes time and careful attention. Curating our signature style occurs in precisely the same manner. Check out this post in which I break down precisely how to determine your signature and then I believe you will find the shopping experience becomes easier and more enjoyable and your style quotient will steadily rise. ~Tune in to French-Living inspired posts/episodes from the Archives: ~#4: 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile ~#23: The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life ~#32: The Francophile Style Guide: The 14 Essentials ~#96: Everyday Living in France – My Interview with Sharon Santoni ~#127: 20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne ~#144: 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday ~#151: 10 Style Tips to Embrace the French Woman’s Approach to Effortless Chic ~#155:6 Life Lessons for Living Well from Julia Child ~#167: My Good Life in France: Author Janine Marsh ~#168: Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni ~#169: Understanding the French Culture: My Interview with Géraldine Lepere of Comme une Française ~#182: David Leibovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

~9 Life Lessons from French Women about Women

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

Petit Plaisir

~Queer Eye, Season 1, Netflix
~NPR interview with creator David Collins ~Correction from the podcast episode: This series makes over both straight and gay men whereas the original series focused only on straight men. Episode #4 is especially moving. https://youtu.be/vTGqDqYP2k4

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

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

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

Quality Leather Totes

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

How to Know Which Quality Clothing Items to Invest In

I am currently binge listening to the podcasts for the umpteenth time and you speak to quality over quantity frequently, with which I completely agree. However, how is one to determine what brands/items are quality without having to spend a fortune playing trial and error... Thanks so much in advance! Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to every post and podcast! —Jennifer
Follow these tips:
  1. Check the label
    1. While not in every scenario is paying more money equivalent to a quality item, often it is. However, do your due diligence, and following the below four steps as well to ease your mind if you are new to a particular designer.
  2. Try it on, feel the fabric, check seams, and see how it has been made.
    1. Natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, linen and wool will last longer than synthetic fabrics; however, even natural products can be diluted - check the fiber quality and density - feel it. The more fiber, the longer it will last.
    2. Look at the buttons and buttonholes: is the stitching tight? This is a good thing. If there are loose threads, this is a bad sign.
    3. Clothing with lining is normally a very good sign, just make sure to check the seams.
    4. Interfacing in collars and cuffs is a good sign as well as it creates the intended structure, but also takes more time and money to construct.
  3. Look to experts in the field you trust - stylists, designers, bloggers, fashion columnists, critics
  4. Have patience. You may have to try on more than a few different brands to find one that not only is top quality but works well on your body type and is to your taste.
  5. Don't be afraid to return the item if it just doesn't feel right for you.
~How to Find Your Signature Style ~The Perfect Trench is Personal

Simple Seasonal Eating for a Busy Schedule

Hi Shannon!
I have to be at work by 7:30 am every day and don't get home until 5:30 pm or later.  So there's not much energy left to get up early to cook breakfast or spend a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking dinner.  I don't mind spending maybe an hour cooking dinner and cooking enough so I could eat it for lunch or supper another time during the week.
I love the idea of eating with the seasons like you've mentioned.  Can you recommend any books, cookbooks, etc. that might have sample menus and simple recipes so you can eat whatever is in season at the moment but use easily found ingredients and the recipes don't require you to be a trained chef spending most of the day in the kitchen?   I've tried to come up with my own menus but haven't had much success and found it exhausting.  Any recommendations you can give me is greatly appreciated.
Thanks for all you do!
Marty
  • Capsule Menu Details and Seasonal Menus
  • The latest seasonal menu, Winter - download for free here.
  • Simple go-to weeknight dinners for a busy schedule:
    • Goal: A protein, a low-starch vegetable (prepared in a simple manner roasted, steamed, etc.), and a side of whole grains (brown rice, forbidden rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, etc.)
      • EX: a single salmon fillet pan-fried seasoned with salt and pepper, roasted broccoli with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and black rice (forbidden rice).
      • EX: Lunch or simple and done dinners: Salad greens (baby spinach or arugula), topped with homemade vinaigrette, tossed with a grilled protein - fish, chicken, lean beef, etc., added roasted sliced almonds, walnuts or pine nuts, and a tablespoon of freshly grated cheese.
  • How to Feed Your Body Well
  • How to Enjoy Eating Every Day and Love the Results, episode #165 - seasonal cookbooks are listed on point #10
  • My homemade vinaigrette recipe:
    • 1 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • View all of TSLL Recipes here

What to Pack for a Trip to Paris in the Spring

Hi Shannon-
I am going to Paris this spring for a few weeks and I don’t want to sacrifice style for comfort and good sense. What would you recommend wearing to walk and walk and enjoy the trip without looking like a tourist and keeping my sense of style intact?  What shoes to wear!? Handbag? Jewelry?
Any thoughts would be so much appreciated.
Cordially,
Jen from So. California
SHOP THE OPTIONS BELOW: [show_shopthepost_widget id="2988959"]   ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

~Ask Shannon Episode of 2017, episode #163

~How to Cultivate Your Style All Year Long, episode #149

~International Travel Prep List, episode #183

Petit Plaisir:

~The New York Times Mini Daily Puzzle
  • free
  • takes fewer than 5 minutes
  • exercise for the brain
  • timed to challenge yourself
  • current and historical references
Direct download: 191AskShannon2018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #186

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

~Petit Plaisir

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

~Modvin Giveaway:

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

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

Sponsors for today's episode:

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

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #173
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 “To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” —Oprah Winfrey's mission statement

The first time I sat down to write my personal mission statement after reading Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it took some time. I was in my early twenties, and while I had what I thought was a very clear vision, when I had to put it on paper, concretely define my values, I realized this wasn't something I had done. Loosely I knew what I valued, but I had never examined why; however, upon tasking myself with the goal of completing a mission statement, I reread and reread what I wrote observing a succinct, pointed direction I was to travel. After about 10 years, I began to tweak and fine-tune even further what my personal mission statement, and when TSLL blog began in 2009, it wasn't long before I had a mission statement for it as well (see it below or here)
The Simply Luxurious Life is something I believe every one of us can attain if indeed we are seeking quality rather than quantity, sensibility rather than frivolity, personal style instead of trendy fashion and a truly fulfilling life instead of being led around by the nose, thereby creating a life of true contentment."
The benefit of having a personal as well as professional mission statement is a means to clarify your purpose for walking the path, traveling the journey, you are on. In last week's episode, in point #5, I shared a list of questions as a way to help ensure we know why we are doing what we are doing. When it comes to a mission statement, we are required to become aware of what we value and what we do not. Franklin-Covey has an online tool to help you clearly and quite specifically narrow down what you do and do not value. I encourage you to check it out as it will help you create a mission statement to guide you through your days, focus on what truly drives you through life and help you relinquish what is no longer serving you and ultimately society's way of leading you around by the nose. Another source of inspiration is Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. Described as a Happiness Manifesto, the concept is similar, yet slightly different with regards to a personal mission statement. However the goal is to lead you to your true contentment which is exactly what creating your mission statement will do. How? By keeping you on the right track, assisting in making decisions by eliminating options that do not align with what you value, creating a vision and providing an anchor when change around you inevitably happens. Crafting my own personal mission statement is something I have just recently redone as a new stage feels like it is beginning. As I reflect on where I want to go, knowing how I arrived at where I am is helpful as well. So where do we begin? Begin simply. 1. Clarity about what you welcome into your life: What do you value? What do you not value? 2. Self-knowledge: When do you feel at your best? your worst? What are your strengths? What causes you pain? 3. Work: What aspects/tasks/responsibilities do you love? dislike? 4. Behavior: What behavior are you drawn to and most admire and appreciate in others? What behavior are you most proud of in yourself? 5. Dreams for the future: What do you hope your legacy will be? What is the biggest, most frequent dream you have about your life that refuses to leave your mind? 6. Well-Being: What physical, mental, social and spiritual activities renew, refresh and return you to your best? Key components:
  • Be clear: more concrete, less abstract or general (view The Smithsonian's Mission Statement for examples of specificity)
  • Be succinct: fewer words are better (see Oprah's example above)
  • Add your personality: write with your voice (i.e. Ben & Jerry's mission statement: “Making the best possible ice cream, in the nicest possible way”)
  • Be inspired: write something that prompts you to take action each time you read it (Amanda Steinberg, founder of DailyWorth.com: “To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.”)
One of the most significant take-aways for me when I began with the structure provided by Franklin-Covey, but then tweaked it after reading Gretchen Rubin's design was to be okay with not achieving everything. Why? What I realized was that much of what I wanted to achieve was because I thought I had to. In other words, there were some goals I was focused on that I wasn't passionate about but perhaps would be applauded by the outside world. One suggestion Rubin makes is to focus on what you do well and strengthen your talents rather than dilute the finite energy you have as you spread yourself thin to learn every skill you have the opportunity to acquire. One of the directives in my mission statement is included in Rubin's statement as well and states, "Do more of what I can do uniquely and less of what others can do." Ultimately, that is the power of a mission statement: It focuses your attention on what you can do well and enables you to reach your fullest potential and experience true contentment as you realize what you are capable of achieving.  Find an afternoon at some point this week or weekend and partake in the process of creating your own mission statement. Initially it may be a struggle, but eventually, the clarity will arrive and you will be quickly writing down what you know to be true for you and you uniquely. Then write it out neatly after a few edits or days of contemplation and perhaps, if you're like me, laminate it and post it somewhere to be viewed regularly (mine is in my office pinned to my wall calendar). What you will have crafted is in written form your purpose. Should you forget, should life begin to whisk by too quickly, find a moment to catch your breath, read your mission statement and be reminded of what truly matters to you. In many ways our mission statement gives us permission to let go or to step in a direction that may not make sense to others at the time. But so long as you know why you are doing what you are doing, do what you need to do. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Why Not . . . Find Your Purpose?

~What Will Your Purpose Be?

~Why Not . . . Discover Your Purpose? (3 part series)

 

Petit Plaisir: 

~The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act by Alex Prud'homme

~Image shared originally on TSLL's Instagram~

Download the Episode SaveSave
Direct download: 173MissionStatement.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #172
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"For me, style is zee whole package: how you dress, talk, move and behave. It all goes together into that first-impression equation. It shouldn't be confused with chic; an extremely chic or well-dressed woman may have zero sense of style. Style is definitely more about who the person is inside. Confidence and individuality are two strong assets for developing your personal style. Can it be taught? To a certain extent, yes, but at the end of the day it has to do a lot with being bien dans sa peau, knowing thyself and having balance in one's life." —Mireille Guiliano, Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire

With a new season of clothing and a new season at work as we all return from rest and relaxation, some of us from travels, some of us simply from a lighter schedule or at least different one as we work with everyone else's change of schedules during the summer months. As is the case, the shift provides an opportunity to reassess, restructure, edit and start fresh or press restart. Mireille Guiliano is often a woman I look to for inspiration when it comes to living well and finding success in a career in equal proportion. In her book Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire, she speaks to the goal of attaining one's unique style and therefore presence as we go about our work days, meeting potential clients, customers or fellow colleagues. Inspired by the quote above, I created my own list of prepping for September as I too will be heading back into my teaching schedule and always am I re-examining how to refine my way of living to elevate the quality as summer ends and fall begins. So often summer provides an opportune time to reflect, recharge, reassess what is and isn't working and come to the end of August with ideas. Let's take a look at six ways to refine your Style:
1. Select and keep quality
As was discussed last Thursday with Helen Raptis on AM Northwest regarding curating a Capsule Wardrobe, when we welcome quality we save ourselves time and money in the long run as well as elevate our confidence as we have selected items that work best with our bodies and lifestyle. As well, selecting quality comes into play when we select our words, select the food we enjoy, select the people we welcome into our inner circle, select how we spend our free time. I will admit I need my television show GGTD on Bravo from time to time to unwind and just tune out, but I also have a news magazine to read, PBS saved as one of my favorite channels and a book offering knowledge I hadn't yet absorbed. Today, examine your life. Where is the quality and what is standing in its way? What feeds you in a way that lifts you up, reinvigorates you and cultivates enthusiasm to live and live well? Sometimes things, people, ways of thinking enter our mind over a period of time, months, etc. that as we contemplate them, do not serve us well. It's hard to notice at first because it's gradual, but over time, we can compare the before and after and recognize a decline in the quality of our energy, excitement, hope, health or anything that we wish to strengthen. Look where you feel depleted and ask why. Often the answer is to eliminate something that is no longer acting in a way that is elevating the quality of your life and unfortunately minimizing it.
2. Be honest about your body
As Mireille reminds in her book, nobody's body is perfect. Nobody's. But often we berate ourselves for not being what we hope we might look like. Find what you love about your physique. If you notice something you can improve that would enhance your health, create a plan and approach to make the changes you seek; otherwise and/or in the meantime, adorn your body so that you love what you wear and therefore you radiate a self-confidence that is inviting and engaging. Tweaking your capsule wardrobe closet will take time, but add one quality blouse that works with at least two other items you already have will give you two more outfits that make you look and feel your best. ~On Friday September 1st, TSLL Fall 2017 Shopping Guide will go live here on the blog.
3. Own your style and celebrate the uniqueness of others
As I shared in this post a few months ago, our signature style will continue to evolve. However, upon knowing and feeling confident in the style you have chosen for your body, lifestyle and personality, you can step into each morning with confidence and celebrate, rather than mimic or feel envious of others'. I admire Meghan Markle's style on USA's Suits. Her slim frame, just-below-the-knee pencil skirts and neatly tucked cashmere sweaters. And while I draw inspiration for ideas on what to pair with my signature style, I celebrate her physique and recognize I have a more muscular frame. The beauty of loving your own style is that you are more open and celebratory of others not only in what they wear, but what they do. We liberate ourselves from unnecessary loss of energy when we do not dwell on what we aren't but rather embrace what we are and what we know we can be as we look for inspiration.
4. Find time to be well
Your life requires healthy fuel in order for you to reach your optimal potential. Such healthy fuel comes in the form of a restful, deep night's sleep in a bed that beckons, cuddles and restores you; a mind that is given the tools to understand how to let go of what is not helpful; a day, each day, that is given time to breathe, moments to step away from expectations and catch your breathe, gather the proper perspective and return anew; exercise that excites, reduces stress and strengthens and cares for your body; ideas, art, information that broadens your mind and deepens your understanding of your role in it; and moments to engage with others in a way that is healthy, loving, playful and kind. As well, knowing what activities you can engage in that will reduce your stress when you find yourself overwhelmed is a tool to learn as there will be days when the unexpected happens.
5. Clarify your journey
Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you living the way you are living? What do you hope to cultivate in your everydays and in your future by going about your precious 24 hours the way you do? Are you spending your money in a way that supports your goals? Are you spending time working on projects that are meaningful to you and align with the person you know you are? Even if you already have your goals set, take a moment and check in. Sometimes simply by seeing how we are progressing, we can be jumpstarted as we see how close we are to our goals.
6. Believe in a better tomorrow, savor today
No matter how wonderful or perhaps frustrating life may be right now, tomorrow has the potential to be beautifully bright. The key is how we approach our everydays. Have we cleared out the clutter and the weight that is holding us down, draining our energy and preventing us from being energized? If so, toss it and welcome the quality. What is our attitude? Do we need a mindset reboot? If so, seek out experts and books to help give you tools to reframe how you gaze at life.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” —Dhammapada, by Thomas Byrom

Most importantly, is to recognize the beauty in the day you have right now. What is going well? Are you healthy? Are your loved ones healthy? As I type, Norman snores rhythmically and Oscar is snuggle by my side, the beautiful sky is calm with a hint of a breeze and there is food in the refrigerator. Maybe my heart is broken and maybe yours is too at this very moment, but there is so much to find goodness within if only we take time to look. Tomorrow will be better, but today can be quite sweet if we shift our perspective.   How we approach our days is the determining factor in the quality of our everydays. I consider those who have figured out how go about their days in such a way, style masters. It doesn't mean life won't throw them a curveball, it doesn't mean their clothing choices won't change as they move through the decades, but it does mean they adapt, stay centered, remain positive and resilient understanding the tools that are needed to be honed and strengthened always at the ready to be used to enhance the quality of their lives. My wish for you is that September begins on a most solid and sound footing. A beginning that offers hope, excitement and a beautiful fresh breath of goodness to savor and multiple as you appreciate what you have and radiate that goodness to those around you. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

~September Back-to-School/Work Checklist

~Why Not . . . Savor the Last Days of Summer?

 

Petit Plaisir:

Chamomile Flowers
Recently while stopping into my local Trader Joe's, I picked up a bundle of Chamomile flowers (see below - bottom left of the image). I was delighted as I hadn't seen such a flower in the store before and found the subtle scent ideal for the summer home decor. For fewer than five dollars, I picked it up and have been enjoying the bouquet in my house for over 10 days now. And the goodness of the Chamomile just gets better. As many of you know, I enjoy a cup of black tea at the end of the day, and if I haven't enjoyed dessert, a dark chocolate truffle. However, I know that not everyone can tolerate caffeinated tea before bed, so I wanted to suggest Chamomile tea and the recipe to make your own at home. With either dried (2 tablespoons) or fresh (4 tablespoons), make tea as you normally would. As you will read in the article linked below for the recipe, while not all health benefits have been scientifically proven or confirmed in recent decades, these health benefits include aid in reducing an upset stomach, anxiety, and even a way of promoting sleep. ~recipe for Chamomile Tea (fresh or dried flowers) ~TSLL Audio Book is Now Available ~View and Listen to more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here. Download the Episode
Direct download: 172Style.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #171
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Introverts are finding their voice, and one author and blogger who is helping to make this possible is Jenn Granneman. With her new book which was just released on August 1st, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World and her internationally enjoyed blog Introvert, Dear, she shares the science, conversations with multiple introverts as well the insights gained from sitting down with researchers in the study of the brain to share the secrets of introverts. Having her on the podcast was a treat as I, as well, self-identify as an introvert. And what was I appreciated was the focus to celebrate on what each of our gifts our, which is something she talks about as well. I do hope you'll tune in.
The Book: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman
Jenn's blog: Introvert, Dear
Other books mentioned on this episode: ~The Introvert's Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D. (Author)   ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, episode #68 ~Why Not . . . Enjoy Being an Introvert? SPONSOR of today’s episode: KIND bars ~To pick up a free sample box, go to KindSnacks.com/tss ~Join the Snack Club
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Direct download: 171JennGranneman4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #169
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
  The French language guide for anyone who is curious about the French culture, will be traveling to Paris anytime soon or perhaps moving there to call it home, will find a wealth of a resource at the website created by today's guest on the podcast: Géraldine Lepere. Her website, blog and YouTube channel Comme une Française will help you learn to speak French and feel French. Because we know, simply knowing how to communicate - which verb goes where?, which tense should be used? - while important, won't help you become immersed comfortably into the way of life in France entirely. During our conversation, Géraldine shares what the important aspects of the French culture are to the French, the issue with the concept of the "doggie bag" at restaurants, what her everyday looks like, tips and ideas for traveling in Paris as well as which cities she recommends you should visit outside of Paris and how to travel the rail and rent a car without a hitch as well as much more. Show Notes: ~Comme une Française blog ~Sign up for the free Every Day Crash Course to Double Your Frenchness in 10 Days Watch a new French language learning video each Tuesday. Check out Géraldine's YouTube channel: Comme une Française TV.  Check out a recent episode below.  ~book mentioned during our conversation, The French Way by Ross Steele Géraldine's Petit Plaisir:
Quatre Quarts cake:
  • similar to a Pound Cake
  • Check out Jacques Pepin's recipe here
https://youtu.be/mFbaos68RbY   ~Listen to more episodes from The Simple Sophisticate podcast here  

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

Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far: Download the Episode SaveSave
Direct download: 169GeraldineLepereAuphonic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #151

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Staples over trends

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

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

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

2. Invest, don't skimp

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

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

3. Subtle over shocking

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

4. Fewer but better

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

5. A skill rather than a sport

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

6. Keep it simple

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

7. Subtle, but sincere statement pieces 

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

8. Find what works and wear it regularly

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

9. Mix the high and low

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

10. Elevate yourself, don't hide

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

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

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

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

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

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

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

~Why Not . . . Organize Your Closet?

~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne (podcast episode

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

~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe boutique here

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

~21 Life Lessons Learned in South Korea

Petit Plaisir:

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

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

~Image: French model Ophelie Guillermand captured by Tatel Velasquez

 

Download the Episode

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

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #144

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

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

~8 Ways to Master the French Mystique

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

 

~Petit Plaisir

~The Good Fight on CBS All Access
https://youtu.be/JsZ2kejlHF8    

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Direct download: 144ContentmentFrench.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00am PST

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #143

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

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

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

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

Benefits of having self-awareness

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

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

How to develop self-awareness:

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

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

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

~Petit Plaisir

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

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