Mon, 4 December 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #186
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | 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:
~Examining the Benefits of Self-Awareness (episode #137)
~24 Ways to Live Beyond Labels (episode #153)
~Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas (Dave Koz & David Benoit & Rick Braun & Peter White)
~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:
Mon, 4 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #173
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | 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 statementThe 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:
~Why Not . . . Discover Your Purpose? (3 part series)
~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
Mon, 28 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #172
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | 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 FaireWith 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 qualityAs 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 bodyAs 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 othersAs 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 wellYour 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 journeyWhy 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 todayNo 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 ByromMost 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:
Chamomile FlowersRecently 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
Mon, 21 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #171
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadioIntroverts 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, DearOther 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
Sat, 12 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #169
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadioThe 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:
TSLL 2017 French Week continues through August 12th. Amusez-vous bien!Don’t Miss What Has Been Posted So Far:
Mon, 17 April 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #151
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | 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)
~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
~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
Mon, 27 February 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #144
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | 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:
~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life (podcast #23)
Mon, 20 February 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #143
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships - not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem." —Deepak Chopra
Feeling happy is one thing. Knowing why you feel happy is another. In fact, understanding precisely why and what caused you to reach a state of happiness is the sign of a person who is self-aware. And when we become self-aware, we become better able to cultivate more of what enlivens us and eliminate or effectively navigate what does not. Let me share an example of both. During the Snowmagedeon of 2017 here in Bend, Oregon, tending to removal of the snow on your roof whether a homeowner or a tenant became a regular activity for a couple of weeks. It was not rare to see more than a few people on their roofs at the same time as you drove through your neighborhood. However, I was only able to eliminate the edges of my home from snow which kept me in a more than regular state of uncertainty. It not only effected my sleep, but my days as well, as I was regularly gazing at my ceiling, something I hadn't done in earnest to note changes until now. I felt anxiety because I didn't know. I didn't know the house (I am a renter), and felt I didn't have control. On the flip side, I recently spent the holidays at the Oregon coast, and it was the not owning and not having to tend to the cabin I had rented that provided much relaxation, peace and comfort. The lack of have-tos, should-dos and must-dos allowed my mind to relax and my body to find calm. Knowing why you are feeling the way you are in any given situation requires each of us to pay attention. While we are most certainly aware and probably by default pay attention to all the external events in our lives, sometimes we neglect to observe ourselves. And not only observe, but then inquire as to why we see what we see, why we feel what we feel. To be more precise, having self-awareness is: Being able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. When we choose this approach, we choose to welcome a life of quality, a life of fulfillment, a life of contentment. Earlier this year, Emotional Intelligence was discussed in depth on the blog and podcast. And one of the four components of cultivating EQ was having self-awareness. But what exactly is self-awareness? Sounds simple, but upon closer examinations it is a skill that will take our undivided attention, time and then patience as we put what we learn into practice.
But first, let's look at what it isn't:
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 here, here 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
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.
~L'art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less by Dominique Loreau
Tue, 27 December 2016
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #136
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"It's never too late to learn anything for which you have a potential . . . and the limitless potential of love within each person [is] eager to be recognized, waiting to be developed, yearning to grow . . . If you want to learn to love, then you must start the process of finding out what it is, what qualities make up a loving person and how these are developed. Each person has the potential for love. But potential is never realized without work. This does not mean pain. Love, especially, is learned best in wonder, in joy, in peace, in living." —Leo Buscaglia, in Love: What Life is All About
Nurture or nature. Acquired or known. A natural or skilled. There are some capabilities we each have that come more naturally to us: the ability to sing like a songbird or swim like a fish. This is not to say that practice and expert coaching won't help, but in each of these instances, there is an innate ability that advances the individuals that apply themselves to such great lengths others may not reach. On the flip-side, there are skills that anyone can learn if they choose to, and here is the good news. One of these skills is how to love. We are not born knowing how to love well. We learn by observing those who raise us, observing the world we are born into and by what we read, view and absorb. The catch is not all of us are watching how to love well. Some of us will have a distorted view, some of us will be limited by what we see while others will observe healthy, kind, thoughtful ways of loving. While there are many wonderful ways to express love, there are essential components, and that is what we'll be discussing today. And if as an adult you have come to discover the models you observed were not healthy, you can absolutely change and become a student again learning how to love well, and thereby enriching your life moving forward. Life, a well-lived and savored life, is a life asking of each of us to acquire skills to be successful. As I mentioned yesterday in the first post of 2017, often those of us who make mistakes along the way as we travel through life are not trying to make mistakes or incapable of improving. Instead, we are doing what we were taught, what we know. We are less skilled. But we can absolutely improve. Take a look at 26 ways you can learn to love well: ~A more detailed discussion is shared on today's episode of the podcast, so be sure to download and take a listen for further explanation on each point.
1.Experiment with your own life
"Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life." —Herbert Otto
2. Forever be a student
One cannot give what they do not possess. To give love you must possess love. One cannot know what they do not study. To study love you must live in love. One cannot appreciate what they do not recognize. To recognize love you must be receptive to love. One cannot have doubt about that which they wish to trust. To trust love you must be convinced of love. One cannot admit what they do not yield to. To yield to love you must be vulnerable to love. One cannot live what they do not dedicate themselves to. To dedicate yourself to love you must be forever growing in love. —Leo F. Bascaglia
3. Cultivate your own contentment
"When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love."
4. Find, unearth, your true self
"Be able to love, heal and accept yourself, so you can then offer these gifts to others."
Many times we seek out love in order to alleviate our own suffering, and the suffering is due to a conscious or unconscious refusal to take the time to get to know ourselves.
5. Be mindful
Coming to understand how to create moments of joy for yourself enables you to give that joy, thus the love, to others.
6. Be kind
7. Practice love
One must live love. Take action.
8. Stop objectifying love
Love is not a thing to possess. You already have it, love, within you, now you just need to tap into it, foster it, practice it and then live in love.
9. Build within yourself trust, self-respect and confidence
10. Become a good listener
Learn your partner's "love language".
"To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them" and that begins with listening well. —Thich Nhat Hanh
11. Stop labeling
Stop making assumptions, stop jumping to conclusions. Let go of stereotypes about cultures, groups, etc.
12. Let go of being perfect, and just be human
"A base for love and the potential for growth in love is also present in each man. Love is then a process of 'building upon' what is already there. Love is never complete in any person. There is always room for growth."
"If you know, accept and appreciate yourself and your uniqueness, you will permit others to do so. If you value and appreciate the discovery of yourself, you will encourage others to engage in self-discovery."
13. Be vulnerable
"Man may know that only by being vulnerable can he truly offer and accept love." —Leo Buscaglia
14. Open your palm
"And then, the lover, to learn and to change and to become, also needs freedom. Thoreau said a wonderful thing: 'Birds never sing in caves.' And neither do people. You've got to be free in order to learn." —Leo Buscaglia
15. Let go of expectations, but have clear boundaries
16. Cease placing conditions
"Others can and will only give what they are able, not what you desire they give. When you cease placing conditions on your love you have taken a giant step toward learning to love."
17. Be patient
"The human seeking love will find that love is patient. The lover knows that each person can enhance [their] knowledge of love and bring them closer to themselves . . . each person will grow at their own rate, in their own manner, at their own time, by way of their unique self. Therefore, it's helpless to berate, judge, predict, demand or assume. Love must be patient. Love waits. This doesn't mean that love sits passively forever, if necessary, for the person to grow. Love is active, not passive. It is continually engaged in the process of opening new doors and windows so that fresh ideas and questions can be admitted."
18. Learn how to communicate well
19. Become an expert of understanding your own emotions
20. Meet your emotional as well as your physical needs
"A human's basic psychological needs are these. She requires to be seen, recognized, appreciated, heard, fondled, sexually satisfied. She must be allowed the freedom to choose her own way, to grow at her own rate and to make her own mistakes, to learn. She needs to accept himself and other human beings and be accepted by them. She desires to e an 'I' as well as a 'we.' She strives to grow into the unique individual that she is."
21. Be present
"Love lives in the moment."
22. Believe the world is good because it is
23. Help others reach their full potential
"As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, As soon as I, in a love relationship, do not lead the other person to themselves, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, it is not true love."
24. Create an everyday life to savor
"Another responsibility of love is to create joy. Joy is always an integral part of loving. There is joy in every act of live, no matter how menial or repetitive . . . you can make the day a chore; dull, nerve-wracking, frustrating, a waste of time. Or the same day can be taken on with energy, enthusiasm and a determination to make it one of the best days of your life, for yourself and those about you."
25. Stand in your strength
"It is the weak who are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong." —Leo Rosten
26. Become love
"For to be a lover will require that you continually have the subtlety of the very wise, the flexibility of the child, the sensitivity of the artist, the understanding of the philosopher, the acceptance of the saint, the tolerance of the dedicated, the knowledge of the scholar, and the fortitude of the certain."
Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, the allegory of true love" https://youtu.be/MCmZ2jrQooE ~Books mentioned in the episode: ~Love: What Life Is All About by Leo F. Buscaglia ~How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
~Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
Mon, 19 December 2016
“It is within the boundaries of reflection we are able to become aware of insights that can lead us to understanding.” ― Kat Lahr
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #135
On the first of January with each new year, twelve months stretch before us full of potential to progress and evolve and to observe the magic that we could never predict. The year 2016 has offered life lessons in abundance. Having filled three journals over its duration, as I was trying to decide what today's topic would be, I had a long list of ideas I wanted to share, but seeing that it is the end of the year, I thought let's take a look at the year that was and the aha moments it provided, all of which are life lessons that could help provide the magic for 2017 should they be applied. 1. Sometimes what we need is the one thing we think we cannot possibly do In previous years I have shared the benefits of meditating, and most recently, written a handful of posts which included meditation as a practice worth incorporating into our daily routines. I know some, even my previous self, dismiss meditation, each for our own reasons. Mine in my twenties was that I couldn't possibly be still with my thoughts - it was, to be frank, frightening. But as I contemplated this real fear as to why I wasn't investing in the practice of meditation, I realized it was the most important reason to begin meditating so that I no longer had to be fearful of my mind, or frightened to experience emotions or ideas that I wasn't comfortable with. While I am by no means a guru or even a semi-proficient meditator, I do find I look forward to meditating (of which I try to do each day, but sometimes a few days each week are unable to find the time - something I am still working on). I also find that rogue thoughts (that still pop up from time to time) no longer scare me. I have come to understand how to use the tools of observing and then letting go all thoughts, as well as being more present rather than arrested by worries about the future or anguish about the past. I had initially begun using Headspace a couple of years ago and then abandoned it citing no need for someone to tell me how to sit still with my thoughts. However, after I stopped using the app, I also stopped meditating regularly. So with the inspiration from a friend who uses it regularly, I re-downloaded it onto my phone (the first series is free and you can just loop the series again and again if you don't want to upgrade), and have been meditating with the app for the past two months (this summer I meditated each day for 5 minutes, and now with the app I am up to 10 minutes - small, but significant growth). There are other helpful meditation apps based on what you want, and one of my go-to podcasts, The Positive Psychology podcast shares three of them in episode #72 with a detailed explanation of what each offer (one is Headspace). 2. Practice physical exercise that you love and that loves your body and mind Stepping back into a former method of exercise this past summer was one of the best decisions I made. For me it was yoga, and while I stepped away for about a year and tried Pilates as a replacement, I soon realized it was yoga that had not only helped my physical body, but my mind as well. Most important was having instructors that were inspiring, encouraging and warm. Since August, I have been taking a vinyasa yoga class one day a week from one of two different instructors depending upon my schedule. Not only have I seen a return of flexibility, but of calm and a quiet confidence that while not entirely due to the return of yoga, certainly was encouraged with my weekly practice. 3. True friendship is a slow blossoming fruit As someone in her thirties having relocated to an entirely different town, the establishment of friends has been quite intriguing. On one hand, I find people are quite clear about what they can and cannot do as they have priorities, responsibilities, some have families, others busy careers as they hold top positions as they rise in the ranks, but due to these same reasons, finding the time to build deep friendships is hard. Some people already have their tried and true relationships, not necessarily wanting to exclude you, but not having the time to dedicate to an unknown entity as their time is limited as is their energy. In other instances, due to people as they reach their thirties and forties coming to understand what they want, who they are and how they enjoy spending their time, connections with others who do not share a similar interest dash the potential of a friendship almost immediately. In 2012, The New York Times shared an article on just this topic, forging friendship after turning 30. However, what I have also discovered about friendships in our adult years is that it is a lesson in quality over quantity and patience over expediency. Let me explain. Initially meeting people can begin by attending events of genuine interest and striking up conversations with those who have a similar passion. But even if you do have a similar interest, or a common connection, the determination of someone as a friend (and there are a variety of different types of friends that enhance our lives, and not all will be a person you reveal your most intimate self to) takes time. Spending time with others whom you have just met in many ways is like dating in that you need to give yourself time for the qualifying process. I don't mean you are judging or comparing, but in many ways you are determining what you can share (remember the ping pong analogy?), observing how the neophyte relationship makes you feel while you're with them and after you've spent time with them. It has been my experience that it is not the initial meet-and-greet that will reveal if someone should be welcomed into your life, but rather a duration of experiences and in time, any masks or façades that were presented will be worn down, if they even existed, and you will be better able to determine where or if that new friendship will play a role in your life moving forward. 4. Embrace a healthy tension when it comes to your life fulfillment A regular Youtube series I watch for inspiration and boosts of confidence and direction with the ever-changing tech entrepreneur path I feel fortunate to be on is Marie Forleo. And it was this episode that provided a significant aha moment after more than a year of contemplating a few big questions in my life. The topic was lasting fulfillment and she reveals that while we need to feel accomplished and successful in some of what we seek along the journey of fulfillment, we need not have accomplished everything. In fact, it is the tension that helps provide the fulfillment as we come to understand that we have the power within ourselves to cultivate the fulfillment we seek. It doesn't need to be external, in fact, it cannot be. Everything we need and are seeking already resides within each of us, we just need to discover how to tap into it. And with the help of experts in the fields we are passionate about, we can do just that. 5. It's okay to feel uncomfortable My first experience with the French meet-up group here in Bend required of me to overcome great trepidation. My first real date after truly being open to the idea of a relationship again was nerve-shakingly absurd beyond what even I thought I was capable of. But guess what, all went well. Not well in the fairy tale sense: I still do not speak fluent French or even hold a conversation beyond the basic hello, how are you, nor am I madly in love with another, but in the sense that I was reminded that my nerves were for naught. I had worked myself up for nothing, but because I was unsure of how it would go, the events that would unfold were out of my hands, it threw me. Maybe it was partially because I had undergone so much change in the previous year with the new move, the new job, selling my house after having dedicated so much of myself into it, but it was also because it was out of my comfort zone. And as I wrote about a handful of years ago, we are all just one small adjustment away from contentment. Jennifer Aniston's quote regularly dancing in my mind when I contemplate the idea of allowing myself to feel uncomfortable during the pursuit of something I desire, “Everything you want in the world is just outside your comfort zone. Everything you could possibly want.” 6. The mind is malleable One valuable lesson I have discovered is that my mind, unbeknownst to me until now, was not being utilized in a manner that was conducive to the life I have been seeking. Not entirely, at least. And the beautiful reminder, after seeking out experts to help me understand more fully and completely was that I had the power to change the mental stories I had allowed to run on repeat for years and years and years due to conditioning, modeling and an unhelpful perspective. The mind can either be our most valuable tool or our most destructive adversary. And if we don't understand why our mind falls into ruts that are not helpful, choosing to investigate and then heal and redirect them is one of the best life investments we can make. 7. Old bad habits can be overcome Speaking of falling into ruts. The ruts will always be there, but we can overcome them. Perhaps bad eating habits, maybe negative default comments or thoughts that pop up or are uttered without even thinking about it, whatever your unhelpful ruts are, we can reroute our behavior, but it must be conscious, and we must repeat the new habits again and again until they become engrained. In repeated posts, habits (how to cultivate, which ones are worth our time and investment for a better everyday life, etc.) have been discussed in-depth on the blog. Part of being successful with the shift in your habits is understanding that it is possible to overcome bad habits, but because those bad habits have such deep ruts, we need to be conscious that we don't fall back into them when trigger-events take place. Simply being cognizant of this truth will help you avoid them. 8. There is a limit to planning our lives As someone who is a planner and actually loves to spend an evening, morning or afternoon planning the next month, week or year, this life lesson had to repeatedly reveal itself before I accepted it as a truth. Now, not to worry, I am not going to encourage you to let go of planning. Absolutely not. In fact,when it comes to our financial stability, our careers, and our health, planning is an asset and the foundation of living well. However, when it comes to our personal lives, and even the journey our careers take us on, we have to learn to do our best and then let go of the result. And due to a handful of experiences that took place this past year, I have come to realize that we may read books about how things should work out if we do this or that, but in the end all we can do is be ourselves, do our best and then step forward when opportunities present themselves. I have found the key is to have a life, an everyday life of our own cultivation dependent upon no one else but ourselves, that we truly love living. Because if we love the life we have built for ourselves, we are better able to simply let go of the result when it involves other people. (Discover a handful of posts have been written about letting go.) 9. Bigger isn't always better Over the past 18 months I have lived in a significantly smaller house that I had prior to my move, and I honestly have never missed one square foot that I no longer have. I haven't truly thought about it except to contemplate the goal of owning again instead of renting, but even then I am dogged in my pursuit of a small house (which is actually hard to find in Bend). The life I now have the opportunity to live is more alive, engaging and fulfilling than any other time in my life in part due to the fewer responsibilities I have to tend to if I lived in a larger space. Again, what I find to be revealed as true again and again is that it is the quality of life that resides within the home and within the life of the individual, not the size of the house, that determines one's true contentment. A clean home? Yes. A home that is curated to the comforts and needs of the residents? Absolutely. But just as important as a roof over one's head that is warm, clean and inviting is understanding how to live fully and letting go of the unnecessary, the burdens, the false "have-to" beliefs and "must-have"s. Quality over quantity again and again and again. 10. Contentment resides within each of us Each morning, I wake up and I pinch myself. No, everything in my life is not perfect. I still have doubts, fears and wonderings about the future, as we all do, but I don't let them percolate and muddle the truth that the life we can each create, the life I am creating and doing my best to share with you as I make the journey, is something worth savoring each day. As was mentioned in #8, it is far easier to let go when we enjoy the life we've curated for ourselves. When we've tended to all that we do have control over. When we've realized that much of the angst we have about life is self-created and we are causing more problems and worry than is warranted. When we understand the true power we have within ourselves, we open a world of opportunity to live a more fulfilling and contented life. It does take courage to apply some, if not all in some capacity, the life lessons shared today. And as we need to remember, courage is not eliminating fear, it is simply overcoming it. Fear will always want to step in and pull us back into the world of worry, doubt and anxiety, but we have the choice to not give it its power. We have the choice to step up to the plate, put in the hard work and dance with life, because as we also know, some years we learn a weighty amount, other years we have the opportunity to put it into practice and still other years are gifts to simply savor. It turns out 2016 involved a little bit of all three. So is life, unfolding its magic so long as we participate. ~The Simple Sophisticate is taking its yearly one week vacation beginning the week of 26th. The next new episode will be available on Monday January 2nd. In the meantime, peruse the previous 134 episodes or stop by the blog next week for a year in review where I will share the top five episodes of 2016. ~Stop by next Monday to discover the TOP 5 Episodes from 2016. ~Peruse all of the past 134 episodes here. EXTRA, EXTRA!
~Discover my list of the Top 10 Podcasts I listened to in 2016 here.
~love in lowercase: a novel by Francesc Miralles An international best-seller translated from its original language of Spanish, Love in Lowercase tells the story of 37-year-old Samuel, a professor of linguistics living in Barcelona who while certain the new year will be more of the same hum-drum quickly sees the start of January begin with an array of opportunities all beginning with the arrival of a cat who makes himself right at home in Samuel's apartment. In less than a week, this delightful novel was read and enjoyed, and with its short, topical chapters, readers who appreciate the liberal arts will find an appreciation of the thoughtful character who is more open to grasping onto opportunities when they present themselves than he ever was in the past, and that makes all of the difference.
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