The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style (lifestyle)
~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~

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Direct download: 173MissionStatement.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~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.

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Direct download: 172Style.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #164
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

 

"With a healthy lifestyle, it's not at all unreasonable to expect ninety or one hundred exceptionally healthy years of life, years in which we will be of sound body, mind and spirit." —Dr. John D. Day, author of The Longevity Plan: 7 Life-Transforming Lessons from Ancient China

In Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, a man who lived from 1706-1790, in Part Two along with his well-known 13 virtues for a good life, he explains his approach to bringing order to his life (the 3rd virtue - "let all things have their place; let each part of your business have its time") with his daily routine written out by the hour. At the young age of twenty, Franklin was clear about a schedule that would enable him to eventually do all that we know he was able to achieve and accomplish, which was quite impressive. Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule:

  • The Morning {5-8}
    • Question: What good shall I do this day?
      • Tasks: Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive day's business, and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study, and breakfast.
  • {8-noon}
    • Task: Work
  • {Noon}
    • Tasks: Read, or overlook my accounts, and dine
  • {2-6}
    • Work
  • Evening {6-10}
    • Question: What good have I done today?
      • Tasks: Put things in their places, Supper. Music or diversion, or conversation. Examination of the day.
  • Night {10-5}
    • Task: Sleep

Why exactly is a daily regular routine significant when it comes to the overall well-being of our lives? If anyone has observed the stability routines provide for children, students, pets and colleagues, one will acknowledge, so long as the routines are healthy, restorative, invigorating and based on sound reasons to benefit the individuals to reach their best potential, that routines are a simple solution to much of what we wish our lives to become: fulfilling, enjoyable, tranquil, and a foundation for moments of spontaneity from which we can springboard from occasionally, all the while knowing we can and will eventually come back to the routine that enabled us to be someone who can think outside the box, who can and feels comfortable taking a risk. From the routine I keep with my blog writing, to the routine I adhere to in my classroom, as well as with my dogs when I at home, the purpose is to gain more energy, to not deplete it in myself and in others unnecessarily, to cultivate an environment in which the unexpected wonderful ideas, experiences and conversations can blossom. Because when we need not worry about our fundamental survival needs, food, shelter, social connectedness, etc., we can then make our why to self-actualization (which I talk in great depth about in episode #25). While some dislike the idea of sticking to a routine, I will admit freely, there have been routines I loathed, either they didn't work with an approach to good health for my body and mind or I was being expected to do tasks, etc., that I didn't find meaning or purpose in. We will all have times in our lives, especially when we are younger or the newbie on the job in which the routine we are given is not the routine we want. The task we are given, or that we must give to ourselves is to ask the question and do the homework, what will work best for me to reach my full potential? Areas of your life to consider aligning into a daily routine: 1. Eating schedule Dr. John D. Day's new book The Longevity Plan describes in detail a diet (not a temporary, but long-term, forever approach to eating well) that will enable you to thrive into your 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond and obliterate the Western assumption that old age is a deterioration. Especially what we eat, but as well when we eat has a powerful effect on our overall health. In fact, he shares, "Erratic eating schedules have been shown to result in decreased metabolism, which can lead to long-term weight gain." 2. Sleep time

"Nobody in Bapan had an alarm clock. When we're hitting at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis, and a regular schedule, something quite amazing happens: We get the exact amount of sleep our bodies need without having to be jarred awake by a buzzer before we're really ready." —Dr. John D. Day, The Longevity Plan

3. Create a life of motion Instead of punishing your body with the workout you think is intense enough you only need to do 3-4 times a week, Dr. Day recommends, based on observing the centenarians in The Longevity Village in Bapan, China, simply live a life of movement. Granted, many of our lives don't easily support this. If we work at a desk or behind the wheel, but even by adding a standing desk to your office or a walking treadmill, the job you have to do doesn't have to keep you sedentary. Again he reminds, our bodies were meant to move, not stay in one place five days a week. Consistency is key and doing what you love is the best way to make it a habit. So if you dread the spin class or the run you are determined to take each morning before work, don't do it. Do something you love, raise your heartbeat enough, but then keep your body in motion throughout the day: park further from the front door, take a stroll after dinner (something those in Bapan do nearly daily), or get outside for lunch. Create a routine of movement that keeps your body awake and entices you to stay active. 4. Productivity As witnessed in Franklin's schedule, having a clear objective is imperative to reaching the desired goal. After all, if we don't know what we want to achieve, how can we ever feel productive at the end of the day? I have found one of the few must-have ingredients in a day that I would need to experience in order to call it a good day would be a sense of achievement, progress, accomplishment or productivity. By no means do any one of these things need to be grand or even known or understood by outsiders, but if I put the task of write the introduction to chapter four as my objective, it not only gives me something to focus on, but when I do complete the task, I feel as though progress has been made. An essential component to being productive is to know what enables each of us to be our most productive selves, and create a routine that fosters productivity rather than making it difficult to find our rhythm. 5. Social lives Social lives are less likely to fall into a daily routine only because you are engaging with others who must adhere to a schedule that works best for them and there will be times, sometimes many, when it will shift. However, the key is to focus on your engagement, how you stay in touch, how much you stay in touch, how you keep your boundaries so you can continue to be productive and how you can support those you love to accommodate their needs (and they hopefully are doing the same for your needs) without sacrificing a quality way of living. 6. Our mind-set

"The way in which we choose to perceive and deal with stress is, after all, a tremendous market of biologic age. Studies show that those who embrace stress actually live 17 percent longer. In contrast, as measured by telomere length, it appears that people who don't effectively manage high levels of stress age their bodies by nine to seventeen  years." —Dr. Day

Shifting from feeling as though we are lacking and rather appreciating all that is going well is a simple way to shift your mind-set for the better. The American mind-set especially, but we are certainly not alone, tends to work more hours in order to earn more money to buy more or bigger things. But in so doing, we are racheting up our stress. As well, finding work you enjoy can reduce your stress level, and paradoxically, Dr. Day points out, enable you to be more productive as you are not depleting your energy but rather are enlivened by what you have the opportunity to do. Such an approach is helpful in both our professional and personal environments.

"At least 70 percent of all visits to the doctor are for stress-related ailments."

Another way to reduce stress is to play. Play not only outside of work, but at work as well. Have fun, lighten up, keep in perspective what is important. "When we treat work as play, we change the very nature of work. We rob it of its power to stress us and deplete us of our energy." Think about someone who turned what they loved doing on the side or out of pure enjoyment into their job. It's possible to do that yourself; the key is to be able to return to that feeling of pure play because it is through play that we learn more as we are fully engaged and not worried about outcomes but rather enjoying what we are doing. Perhaps you are dismissing the concept of playing in your life, let alone at work. Here's another tidbit of information to keep in mind regarding the importance of play. National Geographic has reported that there is a "direct correlation between playfulness and intelligence, since the most intelligent animals engage in the greatest amount of playful activities. The reason is simple: Intelligence is the capacity for learning, and to play is to learn." Hmmm. Make room to play; how wonderful of a directive for living well is that? 7. Environment One of the seven lessons Dr. Day advises we all pay close attention to when it comes to cultivating a life of longevity is to place ourselves in a positive environment from the people, to the homes, to the communities that support healthy living. Where we wake up, the air we breathe, the words we hear, how much technology we consume, the support we receive, the products and furniture we live amongst, the information we consume, each of these items are details that effect our daily lives and to live in a positive environment, a supportive, healthy environment and to wake up in such a place every day is to continue to improve the quality of our lives, as the opposite would be to gradually deplete the quality of our lives.

"Yes, our electronic influencers have a powerful impact on the rhythms of our lives, but our bodies want to be in sync with the natural world." —Dr. Day

With each of these areas in which to create a routine, simply do your best. Even Ben Franklin shares in his autobiography about the creation of his daily schedule, "I enter'd upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continued it with occasional intermission for some time. I was surprise'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined, but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish." Even he did not stick to his routine fully each day, and took breaks ("occasional intermission"), but he stuck to it the majority of the time, and in so doing, saw the quality of his life improve. His routine may not appeal to you, but as he arose each morning with a question, and assessed at the end of the day how the day had unfolded, this simple habit is a grand way to determine what is working, what is not and how to do better tomorrow. Small corrections can be made and a pat on the back can be given as well each day. Find your rhythm. Create a daily routine that hums your tune, makes you tap your toes in excitement to start the day. Rhythm, your rhythm, a rhythm that enables you to reach your full potential will be a song you want to sing again and again and again.

"the reason [the village people of Bapan - Longevity Village]'s hearts are in rhythm is because their lives are in rhythm." —Dr. Day, The Longevity Plan

It will take time, or maybe for some, not much time at all because you've already been stepping into a routine and observing what is and isn't working. Now, consciously, sit down, and ask yourself, what works? How can I do more of that? And give it a shot. Each spring and each fall before my summer schedule begins and before school begins, I sit down and look at the daily schedule that will work best for me incorporating routines that will enable me to reach my goals. I love this bi-annual ritual. To help me make the best schedule, I will reflect back on past year's schedules to see what worked and if it didn't, why not. Just this year I have added something new to my routine, a weekly check-in on my progress along with my nightly journaling. This weekly check-in usually takes place on Sunday evenings after the week has wrapped up and a new week is about to begin. I find myself able to quickly rectify anything that didn't go as planned or get back on track before it goes too off the rails without much of a fuss. I also am reminded and motivated by observing what I have done well, what daily routines are producing the outcomes I have desired and this is motivation to keep adhering to my daily routines in the new week. Again, this is what works for me. I have always been someone who loves to plan, write it all out, not excessively, but in a manner that is clear for me to visualize. Today, consider for a moment the benefits of establishing a daily routine that works for you. Perhaps Dr. Day's list of benefits will provide even more motivation:

"The overwhelming majority of cases [cardiac arrest], perhaps up to 80 percent, can be prevented, and half of the people with arterial fibrillation can reverse their condition through lifestyle changes aimed at eating better food, maintaining a healthy mind-set, building supportive communities, staying in motion, and learning to connect with their own rhythms."

And as we create a rhythm in our life that works well for us, we discover more energy to do what we most enjoy, we experience more mental clarity to make sound and successful decisions for the life journey we are on and as all of these benefits are felt, our overall well-being begins to soar. There is nothing boring about that. I am continued to be reminded that is us, humans, who make life difficult. Real luxury. The luxury of living a life of quality and true contentment is actually quite simple: create a daily routine that enables you to live well and experience your life begin to improve.

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~The Benefits of Daily Rituals

~My Daily Breakfast: Steel Cut Oats

~Why Not . . . Celebrate the Ordinary?

~Art & Happiness: Discover Art's Ubiquity and Power to Improve Your Everyday Life

Petit Plaisir:

~Farro Salad with tomatoes, sweet onions, avocado, herbs, a poached egg, chicken and garlic vinaigrette. Find the recipe here.     SaveSave

Direct download: 164DailyRoutine.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #161
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
In the first annual "Ask Shannon" episode of the podcast, listeners and readers have sent in their questions. With an episode full of the answers, this extra full episode (75 minutes) will address the topics of eating well, traveling to Paris: where to say and what to do, adhering and refreshing your signature style, my personal strength training routine, how to get your "mojo" back after life has thrown you an unexpected twist and this is just a taste. Readers and listeners from around the globe asked away, and upon tuning in you will hear my detailed and personal answers. Below you will find all of the show notes and details mentioned in the episode, as well as this week's Petit Plaisir.

SHOW NOTES:

Food & Wine: Skincare Routine: Style/Clothing: Fitness/Strength:   Paris Recommendations:
  • Ma Vie À Paris by Astier de Villatte, as a Petit Plaisir in episode #134 of the podcast (see below)
    • Order online here
    • Order from Nicole Michelle Decor (based here in Bend) who will ship to your U.S. address
      • phone:541.306.3000
  . . . More Paris recommendations:   Blog/Writing: ~TSLL Planner Pages (three different sizes and the planner you see below) ~TSLL Notepads for all of the lists I make ~the image below as discussed regarding the second book's arrival (click to read the post)   Happiness: ~The Difference Between Pleasure and Joy ~38 Invaluable Lessons About Attaining Happiness, episode #131 ~The How of Happiness   Thank you for everyone who emailed me with questions. I wish I could have answered them all. Until the next Ask Shannon, be sure to keep emailing me your questions and perhaps your question will be answered in an upcoming episode. Stay tuned! New Ask Shannon Episodes: ~January 2018, episode #191 (What to Pack for Paris, the Classic Tote and more!) ~On Monday June 25, 2018, the annual Ask Shannon will go live, episode #214

Petit Plaisir:

~Ariel Pocock, second album Living in Twilight (released June 9, 2017) ~Song clips heard on the episode of the podcast: https://youtu.be/4ikop85KJ00   ~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here ~If you enjoyed the podcast, leave a review here, and your comments may be shared in an upcoming episode. Download the Episode Download the Episode
Direct download: 161AskShannon.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #156
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Each time NYC stylist Tiffani Rogers stops by The Simple Sophisticate podcast we begin with a conversation about the most recent trends and fashion events, but then it leads to a life discussion as we both, women in our 30s who are striving to enjoy the everyday, making it our own as well as reach our full potential while learning from the many lessons life abundantly shares with us. And this interview was no different. As mentioned in the title of today's episode, relationships and how to meet new friends and potential romantic partners are both discussed, as well as inching toward 40 and loving it. Tiffani also shares a couple of life lessons she has learned thus far, and we discover there is one approach we both use to remind us that we are doing just fine in this thing called life. Be sure to tune in. Below are all the links, photos and videos discussed on the blog. Style by Tiffani

  • Shop the City - Shopping Guide of Manhattan, use promo code SIMPLYLUX to save 10%
  • Discover Tiffani's styling services: personal wardrobe, bridal, special occasion (online or in person)
    • Did you know you could hire her to be your on-call stylist? Yes! Weekly, Monthly, Yearly or Seasonal check-ins
  • Visit Tiffani's blog for insights into taking care of your wardrobe, shopping and styling

~Past interview with Tiffani Rogers on The Simple Sophisticate:

~2017 Met Gala, honoring Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo. Red Carpet style discussed on the episode:

~Priyanka Chopra in Ralph Lauren~

~Gisele Bündchen in Stella McCartney~

~Katy Perry in Comme des Garçon~

~Blake Lively in Burberry~

~Watch Norma Kamali video on the difference between 21 and 71 here 

 

~Petit Plaisir

~Blueberry & Rhubarb Crostata, find the recipe here.

Download the Episode

Direct download: TiffaniInterviewFullEpisodeMay2017.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #154
~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." —Nelson Mandela

Amelia Earhart, at the age of 23, had a dream awoken within her that she could not explain. Filled with both fear and pleasure, she "knew she had to fly". Julia Child was determined to change the dining, cooking and eating experience of Americans, also known as the "servantless cook". At the time, no one had written, nor demonstrated how to successfully engage with real food, delicious, satiating cuisine as she had (and as I know, many of you are quite aware being Francophiles ;)). And so it was hope, not fear that she, as well as Amelia Earhart pursued their vision with dogged perseverance. It was the nebulous vision held within, unknowingly willing their dreams to materialize, how and when they could not know. I am reminded of Nelson Mandela's quote often with the many different new experiences and people I have had the opportunity to encounter in my now nearly two years living in Bend. A multitude of unknowns dance about untamed in my life that have tested my confidence, faith and desire. From the desire to become once again a home-owner, to producing a second book of quality and inspiration for devoted long-time and newly introduced readers of living simply luxuriously to finding and cultivating real love and friendships based on trust, curiosity and similar passions shared authentically, just to name a few. And it is at times of doubt and unknown situations, that self-preservation can be the default my mind wants to revert to. After all, it is a rare individual to travel unscathed by pain, loss, hurt and disappointment through life; and therefore, it is only natural to allow the mind, when it recognizes seemingly similar behavior equivalent to a pain-inflicting person from our past to put up its defenses, assume the worst and no longer step forward. But such behavior is to ignore Mandela's directive, such behavior is to make a choice that reflects our fears. And when we continue to make decisions that reflect our fears, we are no longer building a life in which we can thrive striving toward our fullest potential; no, instead, we are merely surviving and watching pass by beautiful opportunity after beautiful opportunity, of the life we have not yet experienced, but could if only we would make choices that reflect our hopes. Last week, I began to make firm plans for a summer holiday in 2018. Money has been invested, dates have been confirmed, rentals have been secured. While I am not sure how all of the details will come together or even exactly how long I will be away, I at least know a dream I set in 2011 will be taking place. I chose to build a life based on hope. I chose to believe that the pieces would gradually fall together if I set out the invitation enabling them to materialize. I chose what I am excited about, rather than what I am fearful of. To have hope may not seem to be enough, and I would argue, while it isn't enough, it is a significant part of the foundation of the beautiful life we wish to build for ourselves and those we love. Think of it as building a sanctuary in the country, complete with koi ponds, long, tree-lined lanes and thoughtfully planted perennials that awake in their designated seasons in order for a full year of natural beauty. Such a creation, while yes, taking time, also requires of the dreamer to plan, design and educate themselves, but then act in a manner that involves decisions that open the door to the possibility of ample and abundant beauty. Conversely, a life built on our fears resembles a fortress of stone, iron walls, gates, anything to protect the individual(s) inside from being penetrated by the unknown. No engagement with the outside world unless deemed fit and suitable. No plan except to build higher walls that are no more natural and healthy, let alone beautiful, when it comes to a well-lived life than forced solitary confinement.

"Worry retards reaction and makes clear-cut decisions impossible." —Amelia Earhart

Yes, the former example leaves us open, leaves us more vulnerable, but it also invites the natural world to thrive. The seasons to work their magic, relationships to grow and mature, life to move through its cycle and for the residents to appreciate each step. Whereas the fortress controls everything, or creates a way of living that presents a façade of having everything under control.  When in actuality, the beauty that could flourish is killed due to lack of sunlight. In other words, hope is driven asunder. No, we will never know how everything will work out. We will never know precisely when the economy will ebb and rise or why prior to the event that sparks the change. We will never know when we might run into that person that captivates our attention more than anyone we have ever met before. We will never know when we will hear yes, or when we will hear no. We will never know when our time will be up or for those around us. We will never know anything except how we choose to respond to any situation. Having hope doesn't mean we are being fool-hearty. Having hope doesn't mean we cannot do our homework. But when we are left with unknowns, choose the hopeful outcome rather than the fearful one, and your behavior and words as you interact and engage with the world will reflect this choice and thus the energy that is reflected back to you. A funny, and aha moment awareness I had recently is that not all of my negative defaults have been a result of personal experience. Some of my negative, self-protecting defaults have come from the media, from plots and tales that are told as entertainment and some as cautionary tales. Now most, I have recognized were experienced unconsciously as a younger child and adult, and so the lesson for myself is to feed my life experience well. Not only with the entertainment, literary journeys and news I consume, but also with the people I spend time with. What conversations, what lives, what tales are shared? No, we must not sanitize our lives; we must know what is going on in the world; we must be aware of suffering to an extent so that if nothing more we can be a part of the effort to alleviate it; we must be conscious citizens. But then we need to get in our lane. A lane that is based on self-awareness, clarity of direction and a mind that is constantly being fed and nourished and live our lives well. But how do we that, especially when at times it will feel as though living in fear is far smarter? First, vent or express your frustration in a healthy manner: understand that you are not seeking a solution, but rather a means to express and release the frustration. And then do not dwell. Move forward. You are human to feel frustration, maybe even anger, but in recognizing that we cannot control everything, we recognize what we can control how we respond in such moments. Second, and most powerful, let go of the outcome. We can only control our behavior, our thoughts, and our preparation. Focus on these three things and let the others go so that you can enjoy the life you have cultivated for yourself, no matter what life may bring, toss or surprise you with. And as we go about our lives, having invested in hope rather than fear, we are more likely to awake unexpectedly to a ladybug on our shoulder.

"When I was a little girl, I used to run around in the fields all day, trying unsuccessfully to catch ladybugs.  Finally I would get tired and lay down for a nap. When I awoke, I’d find ladybugs walking all over me.” —Under the Tuscan Sun

https://youtu.be/G7t_gCfTPlM

"...decide...whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying...." —Amelia Earhart

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Make Your Own Life Rules: How & Why, podcast

~Decide to Act

~Remember to Embrace Your Unique Journey

Petit Plaisir:

Sweet Palmiers, click here for the recipe (savory is an option as well)

 

Direct download: 154ladybugs_.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #150

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." —Ralph Waldo Emerson

The blossoms of spring have begun to bloom; the scents, vibrant green grass and and brilliant pastel hues offer their natural talents of awing us mere humans. And after a winter that didn't seem it would in, the blossoms all along knew they would bloom; they just needed time.

As many around the globe yesterday celebrated Easter which manifest from the pagan holiday coinciding with the spring equinox and the earth's reawakening, I found myself reflecting on all around us that requires time in order to flourish. From the dogwood and magnolia blooms to the delicate baking of a soufflé, extraordinary seemingly unimaginable occurrences and revelations require time to incubate, to evolve and realize the possibilities which are harbored within.

Below is a list of simple as well as significant life events that require the exercise of patience and trust that in time, beautiful outcomes will materialize.

1. A transcontinental flight to a destination on your bucket list

2. Learning how to truly listen

3. Accrued compound interest on savings

4. The zit-from-hell that sprang up out of nowhere

5. Attainment of an academic diploma or skill certificate

6. Learning a new language

7. The pesky debt you are working to pay off

8. Becoming a better communicator

9. Loving well

~responsive vs. reactionary - episode #145

10. Mastering cooking techniques that appear impossible: slicing an onion, flipping an omelette, building a sauce without it separating

11. Mastering your mind

12. Discovering what ignites your soul, stirs your curiosities and what, if pursued, will lead to your fullest potential and true contentment

13. Respect from others

14. Trust from others

15. Personal growth: developing these 22 skills

"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." Leo Tolstoy

Part of the reason I savor the arrival of the spring season, as I mentioned earlier this year, is because the world around us reminds us that evolving into our better selves is possible. And the most important lesson that the arrival of spring teaches us to wait. We must not rush what needs time to develop, to breathe, to heal, to gain its footing and establish its strong foundation so that when it does arrive, it will last as long as it is most capable of doing.

Often I reflect on this life lesson of giving what we seek, what we desire, what we are hopeful for, as a litmus test for what Charles Stanley reminds,"Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we're waiting for." So the next time you find yourself frustrated that something isn't arriving quickly enough, ask yourself "How deeply do you truly want it?" And perhaps if you still choose to be impatient and rush it, you were simply looking for a placeholder because you hadn't found what you truly desired. And on the other hand, if you reflect, step back and recognize the need and willingness to be patient, you have discovered what for you is worth seeking. Perhaps for you, you have found your path, the journey you truly wish to be on.

~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 #151. Have a lovely week.

~Petit Plaisir:

~Soft Boiled Œufs et Mouillettes Pour Deux (eggs and soldiers for two)

~View and print the recipe here  

~All images captured by TSLL Instagram.

Direct download: p150wait.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 11:59pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #148

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die; and then dies having never really lived." —Dalai Lama

Most Sunday mornings at around nine or 10 o'clock you will find me in my living room having just returned from walking my boys, Norman and Oscar, settling in with a pot of black tea, a warm croissant from a local bakery and the Sunday newspapers. Such simple pleasures bring me a priceless amount of happiness, and I look forward to this weekly ritual as I tuck into bed each Saturday night.

The recent trending term hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) in the lifestyle publishing industry springs from the happiest country in the world as found by extensive research compiled by the United Nations World Happiness Report. Simply defined, incorporating hygge into your way of living is a choice to encourage the enjoyment of life's simple pleasures.

There are a multitude of books focused exactly on how to welcome a hygge lifestyle into your life out on the market at the moment (and these are just a sampling released in the past 12 months). Just take a look below:

~The Little Book of Hygge

~The Cozy Life

~The Year of Living Danishly

~How to Hygge

~Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well

~The Nordic Theory of Everything

~Hygge: 25 Secrets from the Danish Art of Happiness, Getting Cozy and Living Well

Needless to say, the attention to a way of life that welcomes in the simplicity and everyday savoring of pleasures and reminds of the gifts a welcoming sanctuary can bring into our everyday lives is something that tickles me immensely. Many TSLL readers have pointed out the similarities between hygge and living simply luxuriously, and after reading two books on the subject, I certainly have to agree.

So how exactly do they overlap? How are they similar? Let's take a look:

1. Savoring quality in each arena of life:

  • food (a decadent hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream)
  • relationships, the people you spend time with
  • everyday experiences
  • a small but welcoming home

2. Cultivating a sanctuary to relax, unwind and rejuvenate 3. Light a candle or two or three 4. Cultivating trust in those you love, in the communities you live and work in 5. Building a life that enables you to feel free, thus realizing you have more control over your level of happiness than you may have once assumed. In other words, you truly can become the CEO of your own life while building and being a partner in your community, home and work place. 6. A strong, respectful support system "meaningful, positive social relationships" 7. Practice gratitude, let go of want 8. Build and cultivate strong, healthy, loving relationships The quality of one's happiness increases with improved relationships, not surprisingly when we make more money.

"America has gotten richer, a lot richer, over the past fifty years, but we've not gotten happier." —Jeffrey Saks author of the United Nations World Happiness Report

9. Become a lover of books 

Discover the pleasure reading can bring when a wide open afternoon, evening or 30 minutes anywhere in your day arises. Pick up a book, snuggle up and dive in to discover something new. Keep the television off, put your cell phone away and get lost, letting go of time.

10. Become a regular visitor of nature

"Whether you are sitting by a river in Sweden or in a vineyard in France, or just in your garden or nearby park, being surrounded by nature enables you to bring your guard down and adds a certain simplicity." Meik Wiking

11. Choose to be fully present

Put away the technology, allow your mind to be in the here and now and look around you. Savor the sun, savor the company, savor the flavor of the food. Savor the amazing life you have the fortune to be living.

12. Cultivate calm 

13. Savor simple rituals

14. Let go of competiveness

The mindset of a market economy versus a social-democratic economy is at once significant and worth contemplating. Often, based on where we live and the culture we are raised in when we see our success based on how others fare as well: in a market economy, it is more likely to be an independent mindset, and in a social-democratic economy, it is more of a collective success one seeks. Ultimately, we only have control over ourselves, but to ignore how our behavior and decisions effect others is to ignore the power of emotional intelligence in our lives. When we consider others in our decision making, it is a means of paying it forward, of cultivating more wellness, kindness and positive behavior that builds each other up rather than tears one another down.

15. Seek internal approval rather than external

Refrain from needing to wear labels or purchase more or larger homes, cars, shoes, clothing, etc. A mindset set on fine-tuning one's outer appearance is a person who has not found peace within. When you do have peace within, the external becomes far less important and the once temporary highs are substituted with permanent peace.

The primary, underlying similarity that is at the core of living well, living simply luxuriously and thereby incorporating a hygge approach to life is to truly appreciate and savor the life we've each been given now. To drink the marrow from life so to speak every single day. It need not be excessive, expensive or grand. The true pleasures are actually quite simple.

It is the moments of sitting next to those you love, letting go of time and letting go of worry knowing you are living well, you're living wisely and you haven't been pulled off track by the marketing masses that merely want your money when superficially they promise you more happiness. They are wrong, you are right when you choose to live in such a way that focuses on your well-being. And well-being cannot be purchased, it must be consciously cultivated, tended to and patiently fine-tuned.

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

Petit Plaisir:

~My Master Recipes; 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence int eh Kitchen by Patricia Wells

Download the Episode

Direct download: 148Hygge_-_31917_3.24_PM.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #145

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

"The act of responding requires one to look at the circumstance, identify the problem or situation, hear what is happening and reflect . . . What matters is that you stopped and put an effort to think and suspended judgment. It is a conscious act and shows that you are willing to listen or observe. This ‘gap’ between the circumstance and your behavior is what contributes to gaining a sense of control in your life." —author Debbie Hampton 

Responding thoughtfully to an interviewer's questions versus reacting spontaneously to an inflicted, unexpected pain whether a paper cut or something more severe. The physical examples shared reveal the human responses: the former - responsive, and the latter - reactive.

Responding is a conscious decision whereas reacting is instinctive and done without forethought. And while reacting in emergency situations involving life and death, to scream, run and protect one's self is primarily and understandably about survival, it is when we react rather than respond in everyday situations that we inhibit the potential outcome.

Let's look at it more closely. When we choose to simply react to what occurs in our lives, we behave defensively. Sometimes defensive behaviors take the form of blame, scapegoating or taking revenge. Stephen Covey describes the difference between reactive and responsive individuals quite well.

“Reactive people are often affected by their physical environment. If the weather is good, they feel good. If it isn’t, it affects their attitude and performance. Proactive people carry their own weather with them.”

In essence, choosing to be responsive versus reactive is to take charge of your life, to be the hero/heroine, to be the person who recognizes everything will never be in our control, but our response to circumstances is. Choosing to be responsive is taking responsibility of our lives. Recognizing the power of our words, our behavior, our tone, our delivery, our volume, our timing, make a difference to those in our presence. On the other head, when we react we actually aren't choosing. Rather we are allowing our reptilian brain, the oldest part of our brain, to take control. The reptilian brain is all about the individual and survival: movement, breathing, circulation, hunger and reproduction, territory, and social dominance. But the gift that humans have as well as other highly evolved mammals, is we have two additional brains: the mammalian brain or limbic system, which is highly reactive as it is subconsciously responding to temperatures and hormones thus involves our emotions and feelings, and the neocortex, the thinking part of the brain, in other words where our capability to respond rather than react derives itself. The third brain, as was just mentioned, the neocortex, is the key to gathering information from what we are seeing and feeling, and putting it into context. The neocortex digests the necessary information, understands the world and the fact that there is a future beyond this moment and is capable of making sound decisions. Humans's neocortex is the most highly developed of all primates, and therefore, when we recognize what we have the potential to do, we must utilize this amazing strength of mind. Let's take a look at what responsive vs. reactive looks like in our everyday lives: ~Event: you sleep through your alarm - responsive: edit out timely morning rituals, access what the necessities are to be your best at work (eat well, dress appropriately, look presentable); reactive: scurry furiously around the house setting a mood for anyone in the household to become more frazzled and storm out the door with nothing complete or having prepared you efficiently for the day. ~Event: a colleague or boss states something unexpected that takes you aback or hurts your feelings - responsive: choosing to pause and take a breath you think about the best response, if one is needed at all, and do so calmly; reactive - fall back on your default response to critical, hurtful comments and either don't stand up for yourself and continue to agree or become snarky and sharp in your retort. ~Event: your significant other forgets an important date or occasion - responsive: collect your thoughts, come to understand why or if you feel hurt and determine how to calmly express how you feel during a time when both can talk; reactive - as soon as you see or hear from them you either give them the cold shoulder or speak with a hurtful tone and words. ~Event: a friend texts or emails to invite you do something - responsive: read the text, assess your interest and then consult your calendar or other people's calendar if it involves or effects them, then return the text/email either way; reactive: either respond immediately or not at all ~Event: the line at the grocery market is long and the person at the counter doesn't appear to know how to work the machine - responsive: assess your situation - do you have a time constraint? If so, can you move to another line. If time isn't an issue, observe the wait in line as an opportunity to take a few deep breaths, relax or check your email recognizing that either eventually the line will move or the management will open another line. The paradox of choosing to be responsive is that it requires of us to be both present and aware of the future. We need to both be cognizant of the effect of our actions, whichever we choose to take and we need to know what actions are best in the situation. Fittingly, when we react, we are reacting out of fear based on what we have been genetically disposed to do to protect ourselves. But as we know, we live in a civilized world. It is a civilized, thoughtful approach that will yield us the best results. It is not easy to know how to respond best in every situation. However, being self-aware and emotionally intelligent help tremendously. As these two traits are skills, so too is knowing how to respond well. It will take practice, it will require of us to be able to pause in nearly any situation before speaking or acting, and in its own small way, meditation plays a helpful role as well. When we respond to life:

  • we become the directors, rather than the followers
  • we will establish stronger relationships with anyone we come into contact with
  • we will reduce unnecessary interactions and confrontations
  • we will find more peace
  • we will reduce regret
  • we will build a confidence that we can handle any situation we come up against
  • we will thrive

No doubt all of us, and I know I can include myself in this category, have reacted at times in our lives when we should have responded. And upon reflection, we can probably pinpoint those events quite well usually based primarily on how we felt after we reacted rather than responded. We may have wished we wouldn't have said something, chosen a different tone, or taken a deep breath and simply removed ourselves from the situation until we knew how to respond well. It is just these moments of experience that will actually make it that much easier to respond rather than react as you move forward. Because when we know first-hand the negative experience that can result from reacting, we are far more motivated to make sure we respond in the next similar situation. Our lives provide guidance even through the moments we wished we didn't have to endure. As a student, all we have to do is vow to learn the lessons we are given. We cannot know how to do something until we are shown how. Now we know how to respond rather than react. Now we know the difference and the benefit of embracing responsiveness versus defensiveness.

Petit Plaisir:

~The Magnolia Journal: Inspiration for life and home

  • $20/yr subscription (four issues each year)
  • Each issue has a theme (Note: Issue 2 | Simplicity) - on stands now

~Joanna & Chip Gaines of HGTV's Fixer Upper ~The bed & breakfast in Walla Walla, Washington, mentioned in today's episode: Green Gables Inn  

Download the Episode

Direct download: 145ReactionResponse_.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

“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.

 

Petit Plaisir:

~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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Direct download: 13510LifeLessons_.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 12:00am PDT