Sun, 21 November 2021
The busy holiday travel season is upon us. After two years in which many people have not been able to gather with loved ones, the liklihood that even more people than usual will be hopping on the road, the plane or the train this time of year is to be expected. Even with unforeseen hiccups along the way, arriving at the doorstep of a loved one will often erase any stress caused and make for a story to chuckle about over a glass of mulled wine or while sipping brandy after a long anticipated delicious meal with hearty, heated, yet playful exchange.
Having just shared one idea for handling well travel headaches (finding the hilarity in it all and sharing a moment with a loved one to savor), I'd like to share a few more to help assuage the stress and enable you to move past them quickly so you may enjoy your visit, stay, and the experience you have been eager to partake in after having planned, saved and waited. Each of the examples have been experienced first-hand. I feel fortunate to not have experienced others that are far worse, so can only speak to my own travels (thus far and fingers crossed for continued good fortune). With that said, let's take a look!
1.The accommodation's description was less than accurate in a disappointing way
Just this past August, a vacation rental on the coast boasted their lovely accommodations (a place we had never stayed before); however, they neglected to share important information that would have steered me away as I was traveling with my two boys (lots of stairs and very little grassy areas for quick potty breaks). However, while only planning to stay one night, I did what I could to make it easier for my pups, and had I planned on staying more than one night, I would have found a different rental or changed my travel plans because enduring accommodations that make everyone uncomfortable is not something to spend money on.
Waking early in the morning, be scooted down the coast for a beautiful early morning walk on a new-to-us beach. Had the accommodations been lovely, we may have lingered longer, but I looked for the "lemonade" in the situation and found a lovely outdoor excursion that I had not planned on.
As well, I chose not to write a review as I find it unhelpful to leave negative feedback when my expectations may not be someone else's. I have in the past directly emailed the owner of rentals to provide feedback that may benefit future travelers, but preferring to only share positive reviews online while sharing specifics as to why I enjoyed my stay. This approach is a way to extend gratitude and also leaves me with peace of mind. Sometimes we travel with high expectations, and venting in the form of a negative review isn't as therapeutic as we may initially think it will be.
The next time the accommodations you have arranged are not what you had hoped, don't be afraid to change your plans. The spontaneity may usher in an unexpected wonderfully memorable moment or experience.
2. You cannot find your vacation rental (or think you cannot)
During the summer of 2018, I had finished a week of cooking with Patricia Wells and was now in my rental car (picked up in Avignon) to the Luberon area of Provence - the Golden Triangle as it is often called. Searching for a hamlet off one of the many less traveled roads that wind through vineyards, I had turned around and retraced the notes received from the owners multiple times. Having driven through Gourdes (gorgeous!) which I later learned was too far southwest, and then finally arriving at the home, I scratched my head: A very nondescript property with no similar vignettes as shown in the online posting and nobody to be seen. I had to be at the wrong house.
I asked one of the neighbors who was out in their yard if they knew the owner (whose name I had from our correspondence). It turned out they were also a traveler, traveling with their family from Australia enjoying their yearly stay in the region. Unable to determine if indeed I was in the right place, I emailed the owners. It turned out I was at the correct location, and they were on their way to open the doors. Their home was hidden behind large barn doors that upon opening revealed a gorgeous Provence three-story refurbished house (view the tour here).
While I waited to hear from them, I stayed put, stepped out of my car and began walking around the hamlet, capturing pictures of sunflowers, and the sublime Provençal blue sky. Turns out I could trust my directions and my sense of direction. Sometimes we become a bit more flustered and doubt our ability to read directions properly when we are in a new place, a new country and communicating with someone new. The best advice I have found is to yes, double-check and triple-check the directions by rereading them slowly. If you have someone else with you, have them read the directions as well. Follow the directions as best as you can and when you arrive, if nobody is about yet to let you in (should that be part of the accommodations), let yourself wander about and get to know the area. Chat with neighbors to ask for help or to ensure you are in the right spot. And absolutely reach out to the owner to alert them to your arrival.
A Villa in the Golden Triangle of Provence: Villa Dæsch (tour the entire property here)
3. Lost luggage
With more reliable tracking than ever before, most often if our luggage doesn't arrive when we do, it isn't lost. It simply hasn't arrived yet. The bags may have been put on a different plane leaving for the same city that hasn't landed at the airport. However, as your bags are not on the conveyer belt, be sure to check in with the information desk in the luggage area to let them check where your luggage actually is and where and approximately when you can pick it up.
Upon arriving in France in 2018, one of my pieces of luggage was not on the same plane as I had been (one was and I saw and collected it per usual). I checked in with the luggage information desk, they scanned the bar code I had received when I checked my luggage, and they were able to tell me at which station to pick it up and when it should be available. They were right and within 30 minutes to an hour, I was reunited with my bag.
When traveling to a country where English is not the primary language spoken, making reservations can be difficult if not done online. When I chose a small boutique hotel for my accommodations in Paris a couple of years ago, the manager's English was about as strong as my French, actually his English was far better than my French but not by much. While I did successfully make my accommodations, the taxi pick-up at the airport didn't happen for some reason, and completing payment was delayed for three weeks (I began my trip in Paris at the same location I ended it three weeks later). However, all of this may sound avoidable or absurd to us Americans who expect everything to happen swiftly, but the manager of the hotel particulier was not worried in the least, especially about the latter snafu. "We'll finish payment when you return. Do not worry!"
Often we bring our culture conditioning into situations - what causes us stress, our expectations while visiting - when what we need to do is take a breath, knowing we have what we need in order arrive, stay and enjoy, and then let go. Communicate as much as needed to confirm, say what you desire to know repeatedly, but then take a breath and enjoy your stay.
What eventually helped me to relax was my knowing the credibility of the accommodation, so after a quick phone call with the manager after my first stay, I chose to relax and yep, indeed all was tended to and paid for when I returned.
When we've done the necessary homework ahead of time, often the best thing to do is the reason we take vacations in the first place - relax.
5. You don't get what you don't ask for
I have quickly realized, especially in larger cities, if you don't confirm what floor, what type of view, etc. you want, you likely will not get the one you imagined. Case in point, for a one-night stay in London before my flight back home to the states in November 2017, I stayed at the Portobello Boutique Hotel in Notting Hill (see the street on which the hotel is located below in my IG post). A beautiful hotel and wonderfully located, my room was in the basement. The room itself lovely, but as someone who doesn't like basements as a general rule, I was surprised. Well, at least the price was nicer than a room on a higher floor, but still, it is always important to share your preferences. Even if they cannot accommodate them or only a few of them, at least you did your best to tailor your experience.
6. You forget to pack your necessary toiletries
Last New Years the boys and I headed to the coast to ring in the new year. I packed all of my necessities neatly in their containers, totes and bags, and set out for the four hour drive. Upon arrival at my accommodations, I unpacked my entire suitcase and situated everything as to make the home-away-from-home just that, as much of a home as possible. Well, I couldn't find my toiletries bag, and I remembered vividly packing it . . . ahhh . . . I packed it, but I then left it on my bedroom chair where it was neatly sitting when I arrived back home after our two days and nights away.
What to do? Not wanting to incur too much expense but still needing necessary items such as moisturizer for my skin, floss for my teeth and contact solution, I made a quick trip to the local grocery store. I didn't purchase anything terribly expensive, but I did purchase items I would use again should this mistake occur. Those items now are left in my main piece of luggage and NEVER leave it as my toiletries bag that I usually prefer to bring requires I add a handful of items I use at home on a daily basis (I do have travel sizes of most items that never leave my luggage, but again, the toiletry bag was removed to stock it and never made it back to the main luggage piece).
I will acknowledge with great thanksgiving, if these are the worst of travels gone awry, all is going quite well. The truth is, very often most of our travel plans go very well, even unexpectedly amazing. To remember to celebrate when such is the case is a practice in gratitude and holding ourselves in the present to witness and savor fully.
Travel of any kind requires us to be malleable, to stretch, to bend, and not to break and throw in the towel when all does not go precisely as we had hoped. Perhaps yet another lesson presents itself: set aside expectations and instead while plans may be in place, bring your preparation without rigid and narrow expectations of what must happen. Let it all unfold as it will and engage with your whole, true self so that you can drink up the beautiful surprises, connections and memories created along the way.
Through Wednesday November 24th, use promo code GIFTSAPLENTY to save 12% off your order.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #317
Sun, 14 November 2021
"Vitality involves intersection with and participation in the world around you. It is not predicated on taking a year off to find yourself. It doesn't require making a drastic change. You don't need to lose yourself in self-reflection. You don't need to overhaul your existence, or reinvent your life, or wait until the chaos [subsides]." —Dr. Samantha Boardman, author of Everyday Vitality
What is Vitality?
Vitality elevates the quality of each day, and it is something you cultivate with your actions, engagements and approach to living. "Health of spirit" is an oft definition of vitality, a "sense of feeling psychologically and physically up to the task". Most directly, "Vitality—the positive feeling of aliveness and energy that lies at the core of well-being."
It is important to note what writer and psychologist Andrew Solomon shares. "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."
Picking up Dr. Samantha Boardman's book Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress into Strength initially gave me pause. First of all, based on previous readings and research and my own experience, we shouldn't be managing stress, we should be assessing and eliminating it at the source when and where possible. So it was her subtitle that almost had me backing away from reading the book. However, as soon as I read the introduction it was clear, much of the stress that is in our lives is self-made and thus can be reduced and/or eliminated. Her book is full of specific approaches, backed by research and multiple studies to demonstrate the significant shift and beneficial shift our lives make when we approach our everydays - how we interact, that indeed we do interact with the outside world and how we hold ourselves as we navigate through our days - thoughtfully and intentionally. In other words, actively engaging rather than passively observing.
Today I have ten approaches, tips and tools for improving the vitality in your everydays. There are far more than ten to be found in her book, so hopefully today's episode will be a nice taste of what you may want to explore more if you pick up her book.
Visit the show notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast316
Sun, 31 October 2021
"We fall in love harder and fear it more because we are drawn to the depth and complexity of the emotions we are going to unleash, but we also know that the consequences of such deep love are unforeseeable, a situation we never relish."—Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You
Being in a loving relationship, of the romantic persuasion, can seem evanescent or near impossible for HSPs (a Highly Sensitive Person). In episode #44 of this podcast (one of the most downloaded episodes of the show), I detail the many gifts of being an HSP (of which I self-identify). Sharing 26 awesome benefits of identifying as HSP after reading Dr. Elaine Aron's first book The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You ushered in a breath of not only fresh air, but relief as I felt that finally I understood what for my entire life existed, but I could not understand or explain, let alone receive understanding from others who just didn't 'get me'.
Enter into the world of trying to be one part of a healthy, loving, respectful, equally fulfilling romantic relationship, and my confusion did not dissipate however because even though I tried my best to communicate what I now better understood about myself, I was missing a better understanding of how to first meet people more likely to mesh well with me. I was looking in the wrong places, misreading the indicators of my own feelings I had relied on my default in my pre-HSP-aware years.
Introduced to Elaine Aron's second book The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, I found a valuable resource that translated the once foreign language of my own self and feelings and also gave me tools to successfully and more confidently move forward.
In today's episode I am going to share 10 aha moments I found while reading the book, but there are FAR more than 10. Consider this a taste of what you will find in the book which is now a highly annotated book in my library and one I am thankful to be able to return to as my life journey unfolds.
1.Your partner does not need to be HSP as well (but it helps if they fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum of sensitivity)
With 15-20 percent of humans "born with a nervous system genetically designed to be more sensitive to subtleties, more prone to deep reflection on inner experience and therefore inevitably more easily overwhelmed by outer events", it can at first seem (if you identify as HSP), that you are alone, different, odd and something must be wrong with you. First, let me state emphatically - nothing is wrong with you. As shared above in the introduction, you have awesome gifts and now that you know you are HSP you can begin tapping into them. It is also important to know there is a spectrum of HSP, and Aron provides a HSP Self-Test to help you find where you and your partner might fall on it as a way to provide further insight into ourselves and our partner.
As well, it is important to know, one gender does not have a tendency to be more likely HSP or not HSP. "Just as many men as women are born highly sensitive, even though women are stereotyped as being sensitive to subtitles and men being tough and not noticing much." Not only is the stereotyping wrong and limiting, it is hurtful, yes to women, but especially to men as they are essentially bullied into hiding their true gifts if they are HSP.
Aron begins her book by talking about her own marriage with her husband who is not HSP; however, he has many sensitivities and awareness and appreciation for the world around him that enabled them to have many shared experiences which they both enjoyed. As you will find in the following points, a desire to understand one another and for each partner to be able to communicate and know who they are is key as well as desiring to be part of the partnership in a constructive way without losing one's core needs to thrive.
2. One of the biggest overlooked areas in relationship 'self-help' is the dismissal of one's degree of sensitivity and inherited temperament
Aron does temper the truth that for far too long relationship problems dismissed the awareness of each individual's degree of sensitivity and inherited temperament by saying that "relationship problems are still social, not genetic". She goes on to say, "The heritability of divorce only means that something about people's genetics is influencing divorce—I believe it's not our inherited temperaments that are causing trouble, but that we deal with some temperaments poorly."
Something we've distinguished in the past, but bears repeating - temperament is something you are born with, your personality is nurtured as you are socially conditioned - what is applauded, what is teased, etc..
And while we may not feel we can change our temperament, we first need to be aware of what it actually is, and often our personality is such a strong façade we have presented for so long, it is hard to know what our true temperament is. With all of that said, Aron underscores that "50 percent of your risk of divorcing has something to do with your genes. This makes inherited temperament a very important and neglected fact in relationship harmony."
3. Understanding your optimal level of arousal is crucial
"All organisms like an optimal level of arousal, and all day we humans make adjustments to stay there—we put on the radio to increase arousal, take a nap to decrease it, call a friend to increase it, turn off the TV to decrease it, and so forth. We do this over longer intervals too—change jobs to increase it, avoid divorce to decrease it, travel overseas to increase it, move to the country to decrease it."
Whether or not we identify as HSP, as Aron states in the quote above, each of us throughout our days and our lives are trying to maintain the optimal arousal level. What must be understood about HSPs is that "we get overaroused a little sooner than others" and that is perfectly fine, even if others may try to make you feel as though something is wrong and you should push through and just deal with it - discomfort or not. Don't buy into their ignorance or dismissal because it's more than discomfort, it is disrespecting your true nature and if you chronically dismiss what you need, your relationships suffer because you cannot be fully yourself or at peace.
4. Understand the culture you live in and what it values, and then don't be bullied to change
"HSPs growing up in cultures in which they are not respected have to be affected by this lack of respect."
Looking at the same study which took place in China and Canada "comparing elementary school children [it was] found that sensitive, quiet children in China were among the most respected by their peers, and in Canada they were among the least respected."
Aron shares insightful examples of how even science and its findings are influenced by what the culture values (see p. 32 in her book). I share this insight of Aron's to help HSPs become aware of the media, culture, voices and leaders that surround them and to listen and examine what you hear, see and witness being praised with a critical mind. If the predominant behavior in men that is applauded is loud, dismissive, unfeeling, more men will gravitate toward such behavior (unconsciously or consciously, likely the former) because of social acceptance. The same for women, if the behavior is to be the harried mother who just deals with it and is applauded for being exhausted, but still she is put up on a pedestal for burning the candle at both ends, instead of fighting the culture (they are exhausted after all), they go along because at least they are being praised.
Those are two general, and in some ways extreme examples, but all of it is to say, if we become aware first of our own true temperament and then of the culture that surrounds us, we can then live in alignment to our true selves and if the culture we live in doesn't applaud our natural tendencies to find peace, we can find our own peace and those who no doubt also exist in our culture and simply wish to find strength in others who understand.
5. Establishing good boundaries is essential
First, reflect upon your own life at the moment. If you feel overworked, are constantly saying yes, but as Aron describes "resent it later", you are likely not setting good boundaries. You may even occasionally put down boundaries, but they are severe and shut out everything and everyone. Again, these are not good boundaries, even if they are boundaries.
Another important truth to know about the harm of not establishing good boundaries is when we haven't put them in place we allow others to tell us hurtful false truths about ourselves - "you are weak, nonassertive, insensitive, rigid, etc.".
6. You can "fall in love" and not even be in a relationship with the person
I have put 'fall in love' in quotes because, "research shows that the longer you contemplate an object in an emotional way, the more intense the emotions toward that object will become". I will just admit, in my early twenties I held on to a hope for someone that while maybe it kept me out of some not-great relationships, it also kept me out of living and being present with others. All of this is to say, we need to simply spend time with the person, take our time getting to know them but also being ourselves around them and not over-processing what is revealed, but rather let it unfold as it will. Why? Because when we expend more emotion and 'more processing' we fall in love more intensely, and sometimes we fall too quickly.
7. Know where to meet a fellow HSP and How to Meet Non-HSPs Well
As an HSP, you likely enjoy your own company and find peace in hours of solitary activities. Knowing this also tells you that you will need to go out alone in order to have conversations with other HSPs. Aron suggests going where fellow HSPs might go (if it's somewhere you'd enjoy going as well). From seminars, lectures, art exhibits, heading out into nature, etc..
As I mentioned in #1, being in a healthy, loving relationship as an HSP doesn't mean you have to be with a fellow HSP, but you do need to know how to hold yourself in a respectful way so both in the relationship are understood. If you are amongst a group of non-HSPs, Aron suggests moving out of the group in some way, and find a way to talk in a more one-on-one manner. Listen and ask questions but remember to bring your emphatic dialogue skills which is what we will talk about in #8.
8. Practice Empathetic Listening and Emphatic Dialogue
Studies have shown that when one person in a relationship holds the majority of the power and influence - what they want to do, what they believe is the default - neither partner is happy long term. And while it may seem emotionally easier to just go along with what your partner wants to keep the relationship steady, calm and void of upheaval or disagreement, it is actually the best thing you can do to speak "plainly, honestly, without blaming . . . but without flinching, your authentic truth". Thus the definition of Emphatic Dialogue.
Empathetic Listening involves more than just paying attention to the words that are being spoken. "The listener attends to the feelings as well as the content and does not interrupt, interpret, advise or even offer his or her own experience or ask questions." I am putting this definition in bold because so often, we heard the advice - which comes from a good place - to simply listen. But we aren't often told or shown how to do so well. I find Aron's definition to be incredibly clear and something I still practice as I make mistakes, but awareness of how to listen well is the key, and with practice we become more proficient and thus better partners in a healthy relationship.
9. Refrain from jumping to the wrong conclusions (i.e don't make blanket assumptions)
"Both self-love and other-love increases when we don't make too many personality attributions about ourselves and others, when we recognize that people cannot be completely explained with a label such as shy, rude or even highly sensitive, and that situations are complex, rich, often unpredictable and infinitely interesting."
In #4 we talked about how a culture will favor one temperament over another. If you live in a culture that values the temperament you do not align with and you have not had a support system to strengthen your confidence in your awesomeness that you are, you may have a low self-esteem (which can be strengthened, but awareness as to why is helpful to reverse the lack). Because of our low self-esteem or negative past experiences in relationships, when a person we are interested in, perhaps have gone on a date or two, hasn't called back, we can jump to negative assumptions - about them and about ourselves. Don't go there. Instead, do the following:
Self-reflect and be honest with yourself about your own reactions. Aron suggests that maybe you actually are not as interested as you think you should be, but you are trying to make it be something it is not. In other words, take a breath, practice patience and go on about your life. If you wanted to call them, do so. Be your true self, express your interest, but keep your healthy boundaries. This will take practice, there will be rejection, by them but also by you, but there will also be peace because you have honored who you are, communicated your feelings and strengthened your muscle of mastering your overarousal.
10. How to prevent overarousal
During times of conflict, overarousal can often occur if we are not aware of the signs we are nearing such a state. Again, self-awareness is key. It is also important to note that when we reach a state of overarousal, especially in a situation of conflict, any contribution we attempt or any new information shared is not being processed, which means all engagement is pretty much wasted energy. All of this is to say, knowing how to prevent being overaroused is important.
First, if you have spoken out of a state of overarousal - name called, etc. - Aron states, with the support of research, "83 percent of marriages last if the partners show [the] repair skill" of "saying right away 'I shouldn't have said that—I'm sorry'." Apologizing is not a weakness. In fact, it can strengthen relationships and build trust if the same mistake is not made again and again.
Aron lists more than a few specific tools to avoid overarousal, and they begin with self-awareness. Are you stressed already? Are you tired? Once you know yourself, how you are feeling in a particular moment due to other circumstances - work, previous conversations, the news, etc. - you can best decide if you should enter into a conversation that you know will increase your arousal and whether you have the strength at that moment to remain in a helpful state of conversation and engagement.
In a healthy relationship, compromise does occur, BUT it is important to hold yourself in your awareness here most especially. "Look for every place where you can compromise or give in without feeling you have violated your own needs". And one of the most important approaches, and without it can actually cause more stress on an HSP, is to "agree about when you will resume your discussion and don't put it off too long".
11. Take a breath and take time
"HSPs in particular need time to decide about others—you need time, and if the other is an HSP, that person does too. You need time together and you need time between to think it over . . . if you persist, love may grow, or it may die. But time is on your side, in that the more you know each other, the more it will be that whatever happens will be for the best."
The willingness to let the relationship evolve naturally, at a pace both are comfortable with can be hard in that sometimes we don't realize we are rushing due to cultural pressure or pulling back out of unexamined fear from past hurts or confusion about our feelings. Again, this is where self-awareness and a confidence in exploring our feelings and then expressing them calmly, yet with strength as to clarify healthy boundaries, moves the relationship forward if both parties continue to be interested. We learn about each other as we spend time together in shared experiences and when we force desired experiences, we sometimes lose the potential of what could be. This is not to say, if we don't force and if we are patient that the relationship will work out as we had hoped. We cannot know how it will turn out, but being ourselves, taking the relationship at the pace it goes while partaking (not sitting back and letting the other person call the shots or not call them and thus letting it dwindle away) is the only way to know what the next right step is.
12. The truth of loving is especially hard for HSPs, love anyway
"HSPs especially tend not to want anything to change or die, so this message is important: In long-term relationships you must be ready to endure the nice-friendship aspect of your relationships being betrayed, perhaps through a terrible fight, in order for the passion of the Self, through essential spirit, to be reborn."
I wanted to share this last, additional point. Part of the reason I know I have avoid relationships in the past is because it hurts so incredibly much when that person is no longer in my life. Whether in a romantic relationships or friendships and family, our beloved pets. However, part of the reason it hurts is because we loved deeply, and as HSPs, we really do love incredibly deeply. The tools I did not have however in those past relationships are shared in Elaine Aron's book, and I am gradually and consciously trying to use them to build better relationships with more awareness which ultimately deepens my appreciation, holds me in the present moment and reduces the the chance of any regret when the end of the relationship occurs whether by separation or death.
I hope today's episode has shared insights you too can use in your own life to strengthen the love you experience and bring ease as you better come to understand and celebrate your self and the gifts of being HSP.
The Highly Sensitive Person in Love by Dr. Elaine N. Aron published in 2001
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability, episode #126
—The Gardener (2018), documentary
~learn more about why I chose the film here and watch the trailer.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #315
Sun, 17 October 2021
"The missing element of oxygen, when brought home, gives us time in which we can record the tiny, visceral, magnificent details of living. The shower after a sweaty workout, a belly laugh with a friend, the warmth of fine whiskey, rain on the roof, or a tight and lasting hug . . . Busy can make you miss it all. Busy keeps you paddling along the surface of the water instead of diving down to see the parrot fish and the fan coral." —Juliet Funt, author of A Minute to Think: Reclaim creativity, conquer busyness and do your best work
A thinking life is a happy life. But if you don't give yourself regular time to think well, living well is near impossible.
Inspired by my own aha moments most recently as work shifted temporarily to being at home during the pandemic restrictions for in-person work environments, but also throughout my life when I would notice my productivity rise and fall based on the rigidity of my schedule, I witnessed which approach blatantly not only produced the best productivity, but the most joy as well. They were not mutually exclusive.
In fact, each time I have had the opportunity to travel to France, I witness the daily routines of the French, the long lunches, the deliciously untempered dinners that stretch into nearly early morning, and I remind myself to value quality engagement over the quantity of doing more and fitting more into a day's work or even play schedule.
A new book, A Minute to Think provides encouraging evidence predominantly from inside the corporate world of the benefit of shifting away from more and instead investing in less. Today I would like to share with you seven ideas to ponder when it comes to how to live a life, that includes work, but is not driven by work, but rather living a fulfilling life, that brings you deeper contentment, joy and satisfaction.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #314
Sun, 3 October 2021
"Man's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a 'secondary rationalization' of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning." —Viktor E. Frankl
First published in Germany in 1946, Viktor Emil Frankl's seminal work Man's Search for Meaning and the desire to write his first book (to be titled The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy) that largely gave him the will to live while imprisoned at Auschwitz during WWII. Marrying psychology and philosophy, a primary focus of his work throughout his life, Frankl shares "Certainly, my deep desire to write this manuscript anew helped me to survive the rigors of the camps I was in."
Now with more than 16 million copies sold worldwide, Man's Search for Meaning continues to be a book to read, understand and reread. While not having the opportunity to read it until now, I am grateful that at least I finally did read it, and I would like to share with you today nine lessons learned about the importance of finding meaning in our lives.
Much of the premise of a simply luxurious life is centering our lives, our selves, or perhaps a better word is grounding ourselves in priorities that marry what we can uniquely give, but also what the world desperately needs to progress and cultivate a more civil, loving and peaceful place for not only ourselves, but future generations. At first, such a task given to each of us may sound ginormous and far too weighty a task, but when we drill down, ultimately, love, sincere love, being able to share our true selves and be accepted begins to create a harmony of contentment that cannot help but create a symphonic awareness grounded in a desire to live more peacefully and lovingly with each other. Too far reaching some may contest, but if my own life journey, which indeed is filled with good fortune and privilege beyond my choice or control, demonstrates, when we have not found our meaning, when we are discontent, building healthy relationships is incredibly difficult, and often fraught as while trying to make sense of our lack of purpose, we displace our pain, so I wholeheartedly find worthwhile value in exploring what Viktor Frankl teaches, and hope it will offer tools for you as well to tap into what gives you meaning and share it with not only the world but yourself so that your everydays may be full of contentment. Let's take a look at the nine lessons.
1.Choose to pursue the will to meaning
Frankl defines the will to meaning as "the striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence". For when we find our individual will to meaning, the healing begins. Existential frustration subsides, neuroses find solutions, anxieties wane and contentment soars.
2. Find your meaning, find your way forward
Frankl shares an anecdote of an American diplomat who came to his (Frankl's) in Vienna discontent with his current career. Following five unfruitful years with his former psychological analyst who claimed the discontent came from the need to reconcile himself with his father as the analyst made a parallel with the father and the U.S. being a superior figure, upon visiting Frankl, and following only a few visits, the patient realized with clarity that his "will to meaning was frustrated by his vocation, and he actually longed to be engaged in some other kind of work. As there was no reason for not giving up his profession and embarking on a different one, he did so, with most gratifying results."
3. Nothing is wrong with you if you feel existential distress; in fact, you are heading in the right direction
Frankl points out, moreso for practicing therapists, to not equate existential distress with mental disease. Asserting, "it is [the task of the therapist], rather, to pilot the patient through [their] existential crises of growth and development."
So often in my own life journey, the distress of frustration by my career, my relationships (or lack thereof), and what I was meant to do with my finite days on earth, felt as though it was a burden, not good fortune. Something was 'wrong' with me for not having figured out my life journey immediately, quickly and feeling at ease. Thankfully, the opposite is true, all was well. I was listening to myself, I was acknowledging something didn't 'fit', what I was giving, what I was spending my time doing either wasn't enough or it wasn't aligned with my talents and what the world potentially needed.
In this post - 9 Ways to Think Like a Monk, as taught by Jay Shetty - Shetty's idea of Dharma is shared.
Passion + Expertise + Usefulness = Dharma
In many ways, finding our Dharma is to find our will to meaning.
4. The unexpected gift of tension
"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."
I chose to bold the phrase 'freely chosen' because I find it to be an essential element to finding true contentment. Even if your life is charmed, yet you still feel discontent and frustration, yet society applauds, your family applauds, your friends cheer for what you are doing with your life, most likely, you have unconsciously not chosen for yourself the life you are living, but rather have been steered by approval, expectation and mores to take the steps and make the choices you have without truly acknowledging what you long for. Which leads me to the next item on the list, but first . . .
Welcoming tension in your life must be thoughtfully done. After all, unnecessary stress is harmful to our health. No, what Frankl means by stating tension is healthy has everything to do with pursuing what gives you meaning. If you derive meaning from advocating for a cause, then the path forward will undoubtedly be fraught as you are striving for progress, but you strive forward anyway because it is your will to meaning. If you derive meaning from raising a family, nurturing your children as to give them their own wings with which to fly, the journey together will be a mingle of emotions, but you strive forward because it is your will to meaning. If you derive meaning from contributing through your chosen career path to improve the lives of others, you navigate through the frustrations, setbacks and hurdles because it is your will to meaning and you know why you are pursuing it.
When the path we are on does not fulfill our will to meaning, similar to the anecdote of the American diplomat mentioned above, then the tension becomes unhealthy. Then we must be frank with ourselves and find the courage to change course and bravely do so, not only for our own well being, but for those we love and the world at large. Why? Because the world needs what you uniquely have to give. Figure out what that is and then begin giving what you discover. Your tension will be reduced to a healthy amount and your contentment will soar.
5. Discover what you long for and find your contentment
The term Logotherapy as defined by Viktor E. Frankl derives its meaning from the Greek root Logos which is defined as "meaning". Logotherapy "strives to find a meaning in one's life as the primary motivational force of man". Logotherapy opens itself up while including 'instinctual facts within the individual's unconscious [it] . . . also cares for existential realities, such as the potential meaning of his existence to be fulfilled as well as his will to meaning." In other words, Logotherapy assists the patient to become aware of "what he actually longs for in the depth of his being".
Understanding the language of your true self can sometimes be difficult and take time especially if we have suppressed it for some time; however, we are each capable of learning our language when we choose to be a student of ourselves.
As I share in my About page (I recently updated it to reflect more accurately and specifically what TSLL is all about, but the shared portion below remains the same as it did in 2009), while I valued and gave my all to teaching, in 2009 I finally acknowledged that something wasn't entirely being satiated by solely working in the classroom." (see the excerpt below)
When we find meaning, even if nobody else understands why such a path speaks to us and brings us to life, we have found the motivation of infinite energy, creativity, tenacity and strength.
6. Find your meaning, eradicate boredom
Frankl coins the term 'Sunday neurosis" as "that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest." He goes on while speaking about the existential vacuum to share that without the will of meaning, and with the improved automatization of our 21st century, "many will not know what to do with all of their newly acquired free time". Which is to say boredom, anxiety, distress and lack of direction cause more solvable problems that he argues can be largely solved when we find our will to meaning.
This is not to say you have to be busy every moment, pack your schedule with appointments; in fact, I would argue, it is the opposite. Or perhaps, more accurately, it is a knowing what supports and nourishes your will to meaning and thereby finding comfort with your down-time that is a part of your self-care and confidently engaging in your productive time when on task.
7. Your next best step toward meaning is what is best for you
"The meaning of life differs from [person] to [person], from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment."
I found it helpful to note that Frankl directly advises not to search for an abstract meaning of life, but rather a concrete 'assignment which demands fulfillment'. In other words, don't commodify yourself, but rather what is it you bring that is helpful and that you find fulfillment in giving? "Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it."
8. Finding strength during times of suffering
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
Just as Frankl's own life exemplifies harnessing his will to meaning to survive the unthinkable tragedies and struggles during WWII, he writes, "In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice." However, and this is crucially important to absorb, he continues on in the same section of the book to point out "But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering—provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable."
9. Hold yourself in the present fully for all the days of your life
Frankl writes that we must refrain from being pessimistic and instead be activistic when it comes to our human existence. That is to say,
"The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest."
He goes on to suggest there is no need to envy the young because we have lived fully each of our days, holding ourselves in the present, motivated by our will to meaning, and "instead of possibilities . . . have realities [from our past experiences] . . . not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered."
Just as happiness cannot be experienced in every moment, suffering cannot be wholly avoided when we find our will to meaning and let it guide us forward. However, by holding ourselves in the present moment, while we cannot avoid experiencing the loss of loved ones, we can love fully, so that when we reflect, we are filled with joy and reminded of the riches of our lives, riches we, by bravely living well, engaging with our humanity, courageously stepping into what we discover is our will of meaning, helped to bring forth into our lives.
Upon learning about Viktor E. Frankl's approach to therapy and perspective on the meaning of humans, I found an alignment that has unconsciously spoke to me to honor for decades. Although never making sense, and not having the opportunity, nor pursuing more intentionally philosophy courses in college, the ideas danced about in my mind, and while I, at the time, wanted them to leave me alone because they were so perplexing, they thankfully waited for me to make sense of them, to trust them.
The world swirling around us via media, messaging, our community can be deafening and hold us off course if we let it. But when we understand that the feeling of frustration is actually a sign that we are hearing our inner voice, we can find peace. Because in that moment of aha, we can take a breath, and continue to pursue the questions that keep bouncing around in our mind, because, if my own journey is any indication it is a path that will lead you to everyday contentment.
I do hope you enjoy this week's episode of the podcast. Thank you for stopping by and tuning in.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
View more Petit Plaisirs here.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #313
Sun, 19 September 2021
The workplace has shifted in a short amount of time, largely due to the pandemic, but also prompted by many other social and environmental awakenings. Communication, civil communication, remains at the epicenter of a civil society; however, currently, a significant learning curve has taken place, and we need to keep up in order to strengthen connections, build trust and foster workspaces of inclusion.
My guest on today's podcast, Tracy Hooper, the founder of The Confidence Project, released a new book The New Hello: What to Say, What to Do, in the New World of Work this past year to share with us all the how and the why to practicing and learning the skills of clear communication paired with acute awareness of others to create a workplace of mutual, positive benefit and exchange.
Having known Ms. Hooper for ten years (she was a guest on the show during its first season), we had a wonderful video chat for today's episode (audio only). Listeners will learn specific examples of skills to utilize not only in their work life, but their personal life as well to strengthen relationships and honor our own boundaries and voice.
Items of Discussion in today's episode:
I highly recommend The New Hello for not only our current times, but all times, as Tracy shares years of research and experience with a vast variety of workers and individuals, teaching the importance of self-awareness (how we speak - the words we use and what is conveyed, whether we intentional or by default; as well as our body language) and awareness of our surroundings and those we work with ensuring all parties feel comfortable, welcome and heard.
Links to explore:
Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5
Learn more about The New Hello (available in paperback and audio)
~I greatly appreciate what Tracy shares in this IG video (below) about standards and respecting the ones we have for ourselves whether in business or in our personal lives
As well, Tracy shares this episode's Petit Plaisir, a priceless example, something each of us can incorporate into our daily lives, to deepen our contentment, calm our minds and settle our being. Shared below, Tracy's zinnias surround her outdoor space at home to sit, relax and slow down during the summer months.
View more Petit Plaisirs here.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #312
Sun, 5 September 2021
"The world is already broken. And what's true of the state of civilization is equally true of your life: it was always already the case that you would never experience a life of perfect accomplishment or security. And your four thousand weeks have always been running out. It's a revelation, though: when you begin to internalize all this even just a bit, the result is not despair, but an energizing surge of motivation . . . You realize that you never really needed the feeling of complete security you'd previously felt so desperate to attain. This is liberation." —Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time management for mortals
Admittedly, the length of a human life is short when we take the long view of civilization, so it is understandable for us to make the most of our time. However, in so doing, we often go about 'making the most of it' in unhelpful, counter-intuitive ways.
Oliver Burkeman wrote a long-running and award-winning weekly column for The Guardian up until last year. He is also the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, and so after reading his final column for The Guardian, and the synopsis for his first book, I had an idea of his frank, yet considered and sincere approach to what he shares with his readers. Four Thousand Weeks is not your typical time management book.
It is a book to open our eyes to the reality of our mortality, no matter how much we may profess we accept that we will die, we demonstrate through our actions, how we live, we may not have fully absorb this life truth. But don't worry, Burkeman shares in his introduction, his objective is to write a book that helps each of us "redress the balance [of our finite time on this planet and engage productively with fellow citizens, current events and the fate of the environment]—to see if we can't discover, or recover, some ways of thinking about time that do justice to our real situation: to the outrageous brevity and shimmering possibilities of our four thousand weeks."
I have pulled ten tips he shares about how to live more deeply, and thus more contentedly in our everydays and thus our entire life; however, there is much more in the book and I highly recommend reading it in its entirety. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast311
Sun, 29 August 2021
In just one week's time, a new season, Season 8, of The Simple Sophisticate podcast will begin. Already, my bookstand is full of titles that have piqued my interest to compile into podcast episodes to inspire, inform and motivate you to cultivate your own unique simply luxurious life.
Below is a visual of the entire season running from September of this year through August of 2022. You may also download a pdf of the schedule here.
With more than 20 episodes, sharing two new episodes every month on the first and third Monday of each month (even April and May which were previously removed from the schedule in previous seasons due to my teaching schedule), the only month off will be July which gives me time to produce my cooking show's latest season which debuts each September. In November, you'll notice, there are three new episodes as many listeners are traveling during this time of year, and I thought what better time to provide more listening material?
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcastseason8schedule
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music
Wed, 11 August 2021
Provencal mystery writer M.L. Longworth joins me on the podcast for this year's French Week to share some exciting news about her series.
I invited Mary Lou back to the show (see our previous conversations here - ep. #268 - and here - ep. #203) as I recently learned her novels had been optioned for a television series to air on BritBox. Longworth shares many details about the cast, when it will premiere, which books will be included in season one and much more. Be sure to take the tour of Aix-en-Provence she gave me in this post to enjoy a taste of the world of Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, and tune in to today's episode as she talks about food, shares a delicious recipe AND shares the synopsis for her upcoming 10th mystery and when to expect it to be released.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast310
Sun, 8 August 2021
309: Let's Travel to Paris! My Discussion with Paris Perfect Vacation Rentals' Founder Madelyn Byrne
One day in the not too distant future, the dream will be realized for each one of us who longs to hop on a plane and slip away to Paris. Frequently during my daydreams I envision just this scenario happening, and when I do, I will find peace of mind knowing my accommodations with Paris Perfect await my arrival.
On today's episode discover just exactly makes each rental perfect for travelers looking to savor all that Paris has to offer - from the thoughtful attention to every detail down to how many outlets are in each apartment to carefully considered mattresses made in France and sofas made in Italy. Everything from the moment you arrive at the airport to any question you might have while you are in the city of light has been addressed. And who wouldn't want to wake up to a view of the Eiffel Tower? As so many Paris Perfect rentals offer, explore and find the ideal home-away-from-home for your next trip.
I am incredibly tickled to welcome to today's episode of the podcast the founder of Paris Perfect and London Perfect Madelyn Byrne (seen right). Her sister, Lisa Byrne is the General Manager of Paris Perfect, London Perfect, Italy Perfect as well as the Founder of Italy Perfect, and kindly arranged for this opportunity. What Madelyn shares will, I have a feeling, entice you to want to purchase that ticket to France sooner rather than later. ❤️🇫🇷☺️
Tune in to the latest episode of the podcast, in celebration of TSLL's 6th Annual French Week and discover why I personally recommend making reservations with the Paris, London and Italy Perfect team, as well Madelyn shares tips for success in any business venture you may be dreaming about, what life is like currently (as of June 2021 when the conversation was recorded) in both France and Italy at the moment due to covid, two Petit Plaisirs and much more. I do hope you enjoy today's episode.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast309
Sun, 20 June 2021
Ten years of visiting, followed by three years of construction and refurbishing, and now Shauna Varvel's family Provençal mas situated just outside of Avignon, France, is an exquisite Provençal destination to see both inside and out.
Feasting first on the thoughtfully designed and decorated property through Instagram beginning in 2018, I continued to follow her as the property named Le Mas des Poiriers as well as serving as a family home for her and her husband, their adult children and the growing grandchildren, is also now available for rent (although, likely for the most elite due to the price point - which it is worth based on the expansive grounds and thoughtful decor).
Featured in Veranda's April 2019 issue, inspiration abounds whether or not we will be able to visit and see with our own eyes, as Varvel's new book Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair (published by Vendome, photography Luke White) was just released earlier this month.
With today being the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, I thought what better way to celebrate the ideal season during which to visit Provence than by dedicating this week's podcast episode entirely to welcoming the Provençal decor and garden ideas into our home and lives wherever we may call home.
Having had the opportunity to receive and read Shauna's book, if you are looking for visual inspiration as well as a historical exploration of the design styles associated with Provence, Provence Style is a book you will appreciate and find incredibly resourceful.
In today's episode I have gathered 15 ideas adding a touch or a wealth of Provençal decor inspiration to our sanctuaries. Let's take a look.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast308
Sun, 6 June 2021
"Your life will tell you the truth." —Martha Beck, author of The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self
Divided. Compartmentalized. Unable to give what is needed, not by choice, but by pure, sincere inability due to time and energy. Signs of living a life off the track of the way of integrity.
Martha Beck explains in her new book, The Way of Integrity, the word integrity originates from the Latin integer meaning "in tact" and therefore cementing the definition of integrity as "to be one thing, whole and undivided".
When we are not living a life of integrity, we are not being true to ourselves, nor the world. Now you might be thinking about the general and more commonly understood definition of integrity - living by your 'values' or abiding by the morals society applauds, but this is not what Beck writes about in her book. Instead, Beck looks at the true meaning of the word and applies it to each of us individually, daring to step away from any culture’s expectations - a life of integrity is one when you have aligned your body, mind, heart and soul - your actions, your mental strength, your true self - you set yourself free. In the introduction she uses a phrase commonly known on this blog/podcast - you achieve a sustainable joie de vivre. "You may not believe that such a fulfilling life is possible. It is," Beck states with calm, assured confidence and goes on throughout the rest of the book, speaking from her own incredibly challenging and terrifying and finally liberating life journey, indeed what she shares is true.
"No matter how far you think you've strayed from your true path, the moment you say I'm going to trust myself, I'm going to follow my truth, the healing begins."
Beck's book crossed my path just after I had officially and publicly announced a resolve to live my own life of integrity as I had turned in my resignation papers concluding a 20-year career in teaching public education at the secondary level. I arrived at my decision after more than a few years of hemming and hawing about such a choice being necessary for me to live fully in alignment with what I knew to be true in my heart of hearts. And, as I shared in my May episode of the video series A Cuppa Moments (learn more about becoming a TOP Tier subscriber and discover more intimately why I made this decision here), it wasn't about running away; it was about running toward something I loved even more.
Another way of looking at the way of integrity is much like putting together a puzzle. It can be especially hard to rationalize why we should leave something when on paper and to onlookers everything hums along beautifully, but if the puzzle doesn't allow your true nature to be nurtured, as Beck describes, when you are "rushing to conform . . . often ignoring or overruling [y]our genuine feelings—even intense one, like longing or anguish—to please your culture . . . you've divided yourself. [You] aren't in integrity (one thing) but in duplicity (two things)." In other words, the puzzle isn't your puzzle to be a part of. Having the courage to step away from something that works, even if we languish while others shine is not living a life of integrity.
"When you pursue a career that pulls you away from your true self, your talent and enthusiasm will quit on you like a bored intern."
The question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Does the culture nurture your nature?" Pause for a second before answering because I would have answered yes a couple of years ago as the quality of my overall life improved immensely having moved to Bend, Oregon. And what enabled me to move to this dream-of-a-town in my eyes? A teaching job; however, upon reflection, with more truths revealed, and after reading her book, my answer whilst trying to teach and write, is most certainly no.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast307
Sun, 16 May 2021
The French define le Petit Plaisir as a simple indulgence that brings great pleasure and enjoyment. In English, the translation is easy to note - small pleasures, yet significant in their ability to elevate the everyday.
This week on the blog is TSLL's 3rd Annual British Week, and while yes, the term Petit Plaisirs is notably French, my affinity for the British culture is grounded in so many of the Brits' daily rituals, appreciation for nature which surrounds each waking day, and the dogged determination to keep calm and carry on coined and released to the public in 1939 in an effort to steel the nerves and assuage the fears of the impeding war.
As I sat down this past Saturday, savoring a weekend to spent entirely at home, I took a moment and glanced about. So much of how I structure my own everydays welcomes British influences. Most seemingly simple, but others which have come about intentionally, with patience and clear-eyed understanding of the comfort they would bring into my life and sanctuary.
Today I would like to share with you 25 British-inspired Petit Plaisirs, and please do share in the comments, rituals or routines you welcome into your own life which are inspired by your Anglophile predilections.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast306
Sun, 18 April 2021
Awaking without an alarm clock. Letting the body and mind in tandem wake up after having receiving the necessary amounts of sleep, my goal as I move forward in life is to have more mornings awoken only by the morning murmurs of the fresh air, the birdsong, the quiet of the house as the sun begins to gently start the day.
If you have ever experienced jet lag, you know what it feels like, what it sounds like when your body and mind to speak, asking, "Why aren't we sleeping right now?". Whether you are traveling across multiple time zones or not, your body and mind need deep consistent rest, and when we listen to and honor what we hear, we begin to live a life of healthy harmony. We are better able to manage our emotions, stay present, be patient, think clearing and so much more. Sharing the nine benefits of a good night's sleep a couple of years ago, I have no doubt you know the importance and value of a good night's sleep, but knowing and creating a space in our sanctuaries to offer a nightly restful slumber can be two different things.
Today, inspired by the completion of my primary bedroom's restyling (tour the full bedroom customizataion here - Parisian Elegance marries English Country Comfort Aesthetics in TSLL's Primary Bedroom Reveal - view before and after photos included along with all of the details, links and decisions behind the choices), I wanted to introduce next week's post with a post sharing 36 Bedtime Daily Rituals and Essential Details for a restful slumber.
To know what we need is one thing. To know how to cultivate it can be a bit more difficult to ascertain, but what I have learned over the years having never used an alarm clock during my teenage years, the daily necessary ingredient for an everyday of contentment is a good night's sleep.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast305
Sun, 4 April 2021
Today on the podcast, the creators of the new book Artists in Residence join me to talk about not only their collaboration, but also how readers can find inspiration to look at their own sanctuaries as a haven, decorating it in such a way as to nurture presence and the unique creativity each inhabitant would like to share with the world.
Melissa Wyse is the writer and through her research, so many details largely unknown to the wider public are shared about each of the 17 artists' residences and their life stories. Kate Lewis brings to vivid imagery each of the intimate spaces with her illustrations. yYou will find yourself looking at all of the detail, going back and forth between the written word and the painted peek to gain a sense of how the artist lived. Not only a book to feast upon with the eyes, but inspire you to honor your own gifts, find time to explore and share them and motivate others to do the same just as Kate and Melissa have done.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast304
Sun, 14 March 2021
"Living your purpose will make it possible to do all the things you need to do to reach the goals you need to reach in order to fulfill your dreams, which are as big as the world and as optimistic as your mind can imagine." —Norma Kamali, author of I Am Invincible
Change is inevitable, in the world, our bodies and our lives. How we navigate life's endless changes determines the quality of our lives, especially during our everydays and how we experience each 24-hours, but from the longview of life, it will determine the legacy we create, the connections and relationships we make and build and how or if we contribute positively to a better world tomorrow.
Upon the book's arrival, I read it in one day. Highlighting constantly, stopping and rereading, taking closer notes so as not to forget and apply immediately her wisdom to my life, I couldn't wait to share with podcast listeners and blog readers (where does the 'side of popcorn come in you may be wondering? she shares a simple, yet delicious recipe for homemade popcorn - I tried it the next day - yep, loved it).
Her book begins with the driving question: If you can control the quality of your life, why not do it? And while she definitely had me at Why Not . . . ? I couldn't agree more that indeed we should invest and apply in all the areas we can to elevate the quality of our lives.
Today's episode/post shares 33 of which there are many more lessons discovered as I read her book. I hope you enjoy.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast303
Sun, 28 February 2021
Over the weekend I quietly celebrated my 42nd birthday. It was lovely. It was full of much contemplation. It included delicious food and wine and the last day of the year brought the sunshine which found me out in my garden preparing for spring.
Over the past 12 months all of our lives experienced unexpected moments, ahas, wonderings, fears, break-throughs and endless other unplanned daily routine shifts and lifestyle adjustments.
Perhaps some of the lessons I share today won't come as a surprise to you if you follow TSLL blog and podcast and for every lesson I share, if there is a post or episode which explores the idea further, I will be sure to link it for further reader. All in all, much has been learned, much unexpected, and much I am incredibly thankful presented itself and equally am I thankful I chose to try to understand why it said hello in my life.
Sun, 14 February 2021
301: The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment
"People can change and be happy from this moment onward . . . the problem is not one of ability, but of courage." —from the book The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
"As long as one keeps searching, the answers come." American folk singer Joan Baez certainly narrows down succinctly and accurately the practice of finding our way; however, along the way toward the revelation of the answers, we must be courageous enough to feel uncomfortable for portions of the journey as well as capable of homing in on the gems of wisdom and letting go of needing to be agile when trying something new in our lives.
Today, I am excited to share with you a handful of insights the book The Courage to Be Disliked taught me (there are soooooo many more - I highly recommend reading the book). On the surface, each is easy to comprehend, but the first time we put the practice into use, it may be difficult. With time and consistent effort however, the practice will become habituated and before we realize it, our lives, our everyday lives and the longview of our lives, will change for the better. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast301
Sun, 31 January 2021
France, food, seasonally fresh produce.
American expat cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis has just released a new cookbook and it is good. Deliciously good. Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy was just released on January 12th, and I excitedly welcomed it into my cookbook library.
Today, Susan returned to join me on the podcast to talk about her new cookbook. Sharing the inspiration for the book, the history of the phrase Plat du Jour, recipes to enjoy during the middle of winter, much more along with another Petit Plaisir that will remind us all how powerfully delicious waiting for something delicious can be.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast300
Sun, 17 January 2021
"The lack of meaning in our lives stresses us out, but too much stress makes it harder to find meaning." —Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, author of The Stress Solution
Yesterday, for the entire day, aside from letting my pups outside from time to time and feeding them, I wallpapered. I turned on old British cosy mysteries (Poirot with David Suchet), and went to town (hopefully) transforming my primary bedroom from a gray space to a French/English Countryside cottage space.
After such focused projects, I sleep deeply. Stress? Nonexistent.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee explains in The Stress Solution how when you've found something you love "time, and even you sense of self, will seem to vanish when you're busy with it." Yep, this is the 'flow state' we've heard so much about. Your emotional brain finds it difficult to grab your attention as your rational brain is being fully encouraged to grow he further teaches. All of this is to say, any negative thoughts, cannot grab hold because you are intently engrossed in something your full attention needs to be engaged with.
Dr. Chatterjee shares more specifically as psycholoist Mihaly Csikszemtimihalyi (who coined the phrase - flow state) found, flow is only fully reached when we are challenged. Which makes it all the more important to find something to give your attention to regularly you not only love doing but also steadily gives you the opportunity to grow.
All of this is to say, we can alleviate and solve the problem of unnecessary stress in our lives. And when we do so, not only will our overall health improve - in the short and long term, but we will deepen the daily contentment we experience and improve our everyday lives.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast299
Sun, 3 January 2021
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." —Hans Hofmann
Far different from minimizing, simplifying requires that we consciously explore what is of value in our lives and then thoughtfully edit in order for what we deem most important to shine as fully as possible.
Upon recently rereading Carl Phillips' book 22 Ways to Simpler Living and a couple of other books which help me to assess how simplified I have kept my life or where I need to check-in and adjust or make improvements, I was inspired to make a list to serve as a refresher. I have a feeling each reader/listener stopping by today's post has simplified their lives in some way at some point if not multiple times throughout their lives, so today's post is a check-in so to speak. An opportunity to ensure we are each truly living a simple life for ourselves so we can then live truly simply luxuriously and find true contentment in our everydays. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast298
Mon, 21 December 2020
In the spirit of nurturing ourselves, healing ourselves and opening a door to a better year in 2021, today's episode/post is shared with the intention of providing inspiration for you to do just that as you tailor the final week of the year - the Between the Years as my readers taught me last year (read this post from last year which was inspired by this aha of the term) - to nurture you, heal you, open your eyes to a better, more deeply contented 2021.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast297
Sun, 13 December 2020
“Privacy - like eating and breathing - is one of life's basic requirements.”
The sanctuaries we call home, no matter how large or small, provide the comfort and necessary gift of privacy. We hold the key to whom will enter, who lives, who dines, who sleeps, within the four walls we pay each month a large portion of our hard earned money.
Similar to our sanctuaries, we are given choices in our lives, many which take time to materialize, but with clear-eyed effort, the beauty, the serenity, can be achieved. Much like the cleanliness and tidiness of a home, we provide self-care, tend to our physical and mental well-being so we can think clearly, decide well and experience true contentment each day. The ideas, the people, the conversations, the energy we open our doors to in our physical house affect the quality of our home-life. And the good news is, we hold the key to the door.
Immediately, when I think of a home and privacy, the voice of Diane Lane's character Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun dances through my mind, "What are four walls, anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer." And we all need to dream, to give ourselves time and the space to explore our wildest hopes and desires, to become fully acquainted with what sparks joy in our own hearts and minds void of society's influence.
A crucial component to living a life of sincerity, to tapping into and discovering our unique potential which the world wants us to share is having the privacy to do so, to finding a steady contentment in each of our days no matter what is swirling around us. So much of our lives is out of our control, but there is much that can be within our control when we become aware of these aspects of our lives (explore these posts and episodes on this exact topic of control).
"Maintaining some degree of control over interactions with other people is crucial to our psychological well-being." —Dr. Frank T. McAndrew
The key to a home of tranquility and the key to a tranquil life is to establish a personal privacy approach determining who and what can have access to various aspects of your life. Professor of Psychology Dr. Frank T. McAndrew explains how we have four types of privacy in our lives - solitude, intimacy, anonymity, and reserve. Understanding what each type of privacy is as well as how much we need of each (and we do need some level of each in our lives - although, the amount will differ from person to person) helps us to better understand how to find deeper contentment in our everyday lives.
Today we'll explore how to find the balance of healthy personal privacy which can elevate the quality of our lives. Recently, as many TSLL readers and podcast listeners know, I reformed my own privacy boundaries here on the blog this past October and while there were some who pushed back as I was changing what they had become accustomed, the personal peace I gave myself has been priceless.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast296
Sun, 6 December 2020
“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” - Thomas Edison
True contentment runs like a river feeding our everyday lives with constant inner peace.
Whether the weather for the day is a turbulent snow storm or a sunny Blue Bird day as we call them in Bend, the river of True Contentment continues to run so long as we feed it with conscious awareness and staying fully present much like a healthy snowpack which keeps the river flowing throughout the entire year.
To reach the river of True Contentment we have to create the map for ourselves, not find the map which already exists because it doesn't. It doesn't exist in a bookstore, a welcome vestibule at the beginning of your journey, no. And it is even more interesting to note, the map to true contentment is not an entire life-long journey. Rather, it is a map which materializes as we each navigate forward, choosing to learn and hone skills along the way, asking the scary questions our lives present and trust ourselves walk forward alone.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast295
Sun, 15 November 2020
"You shouldn't dream your film, you should make it!" —Steven Spielberg
To live actively requires we take action.
Seems simple enough, but if teaching my students as well as myself to refrain from using passive verbs versus active verbs in writing indicates anything, defaulting to the passive
What if we are defaulting in the same way in our everyday life and, even more largely, in our vision of how our journey will unfold?
A new-to-me podcast, Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life, shared an insightful approach to living life which caught my attention immediately. What if we, instead of being the hero of our own lives, choose to be the director?
Think about it for a moment. When we look at a film from the point-of-view from the real world, the hero in the film/movie/novel/play merely follows the directions of the person behind the camera - the Greta Gerwigs (Oscar nominated director for Little Women), the Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar winning director for The Hurt Locker), the Steven Spielbergs (Oscar winning director for Lincoln), the Amma Asantes (Mrs. America), the Jennifer Getzingers (Orange is the New Black and Mad Men), the Julie Delpys (2 Days in Paris), and the Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman).
“Humble perseverance and the ability to observe and grow, in pursuit of making what you love and believe in. Really. THAT is the secret”. —Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman
To be the director of our lives assumes the responsibility of having a larger vision for the purpose of each scene, each chapter; however, within each moment, each interaction and revelation, the director knows fully how to craft a scene so as to bring forth a dedication to being present, fully engaged and intentionally clear and knowing about living fully.
Being a hero, in theory, is not a bad directive, but it neglects the reality of being a hero - whether saving themselves or another or an entire vast swath of others - the climatic drama of adversity is assumed. And then there is the tragic hero. No thank you.
This is not to say that we can direct ourselves to avoid all conflict and adversity. No. From such unwanted and unplanned pains, we grow, we learn, and we gain wisdom, clarity, and strength; however, if we only relegate ourselves to being the hero, we follow a script written by another and directed by someone else as well. While there have been directors who directed themselves, there is a reason why only one has done so and been able to capture an Oscar for both roles - Roberto Benigini in Life is Beautiful (1999), which also one for best Foreign Film as well. It's hard to see yourself clearly - your actions, facial expressions, energy on screen with another, etc..
But wait, if you direct your life, aren't you also the hero? Valid point, and an important one to make. Yes. You are in all actuality both the director and the hero, but again, the director decides who leaves a scene when, how the interactions with others will play out, which details must be included in a shot to further understanding for the audience, what remains out of the shot, the colors of the attire, where the scene is set, the background, the music, all of the details as well as the over-arching storyline (and while often the director is also the playwright or at the very least has some say in how the screenplay is depicted and can mold and tweak it to what would be best for the film, the director has the full reins of the production). What I am saying is we must not forget our primary job - to be the director of our one and only life.
Let's take a look at everyday and large over-arching choices and actions imperative for directing our lives well.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast294
Sun, 8 November 2020
"When we speak a language that denies us choice, we forget the life in ourselves for a robotlike mentality that disconnects us from our own core." —Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Two lives may look like one another, but one may indeed be fulfilling, while the other a life of disdain and pain.
Choosing to live as we do versus living a life out of an expectation, obligation, avoidance of guilt, approval, to avoid shame, or to gain money is to choose a life of integrity according to Marshall Rosenberg. When we choose a life of integrity, we discover the ability to tap into our essential and most sincere self, and enable ourselves to share with the world the gift and talent only we can give.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast293
Sun, 1 November 2020
Books about happiness ubiquitously fill the publishing world, but the fundamentals of happiness quite simply are just that, simple. We become overwhelmed, and then it becomes easier to fixate, and often superficially so, which expends our finite energy rather than focusing our attention on the core fundamentals and choices of what happiness requires to be deeply and sincerely felt.
When the directions are wrong you will never see materialize what you desire.
Stop the pursuit. This is something I’ve discussed on the blog before, but I think it is worth exploring again. This time, I am going to explore more concretely the fundamental components of experiences real happiness, and much more of it in our everydays. Let's get to the seven truths in today's episode.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast292
Sun, 18 October 2020
“Your inner purpose is to awaken.” —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
To observe the seamless fluidity of a dancing pair with years of professional dancing experience float across the floor no matter what type of dance is asked of them is to observe a deep awareness and skill of their craft. Foxtrot. No problem. Viennese Waltz. Got it. Tango. Oh my, yes. Swing. Yep!
In 2017, in episode #143, the skill of self-awareness was explored in-depth here on the podcast/blog. For a quick refresher, to be self-aware is to be 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 are fully self-aware, we gain the instructions of how to live well even though we do not know what the next minute will reveal, the next week, month, year, and so on, will reveal.
When we become self-aware, we are awake and capable of noticing when we need to grow and in what way will help us navigate through whatever life may present.
I chose today's topic because no matter where you find yourself in the mix of stress, loss, pain, and confusion regarding our current situation, many readers have shared with me they are presented with new situations of questions, confusion, doubt, [fill-in-the-blank of an unwanted and somewhat or significantly new emotion] from time to time in a manner that perhaps was not present pre-pandemic.
"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment." —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
Borrowing Tolle's advice from the quote above, seize these unanticipated and initially unwanted moments and feelings and let them be your guide to deeper self-awareness and an improved everyday life. Assuage any grief, quandary, angst, by reassuring yourself that you have been presented with this moment for a reason. Don't toss it. Don't avoid it. Explore it.
Today I would like to look at six unwanted examples that may be happening in your life and how to step forward and do the latter to each in order to improve the quality of your life moving forward and through our current situation.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast291
Sun, 11 October 2020
"Creating an environment in which you can have a greater sense of clarity and calm . . . The result is a mind that feels much calmer and clear." —Andy Puddicomb
Having an abundance of choices is a valuable asset and an extraordinary opportunity. However, unconsciously, when we don't filter our seemingly unlimited choices, we welcome more unnecessary stress into our daily lives.
As someone who wholeheartedly embraces and celebrates choice, understanding the right balance of how much choice is helpful until it tips over into distraction, confusion and paralyzation, upon obtaining, significantly increases the level of contentment in everyday life.
Andy Puddicomb's seemingly simple advice is too often overlooked or forgotten, however is insightful and sage advice if we are seeking tranquility in our everydays.
The clarity we may need to welcome into our lives could be ushered in seemingly anywhere and everywhere. The variable is each of us. Where do we need calm in our lives? Where are we feeling harried, run-down and over-extended? Often we don't realize it is the over-abundance of options that is standing in the way of a sea of calm that carries us more gently and enjoyably through our days.
It has been argued that a large portion of our life experience is determined by a few key decisions. Coined the 80/20 rule, or more officially, the Pareto Principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 to describe the wealth inequality at the time, the concept has expanded to apply to a variety of aspects of life beyond business.
And while, the formula isn't exact, it is a concept worth pondering. When we think about our choices as investments in our lives, what choices will reap the most benefit, the best and longest lasting outcomes? Whether regarding our health or contentment or financial stability, quality choices, purchases and pursuits are wise investments which eliminate excessive, repetitive and time-consuming choices that may fill up our days and minds unnecessarily.
Today, discover 10 areas of life to consider paring down your choices and thereby, scaling up the overall quality of your everyday life and peace of mind.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast290
Sun, 4 October 2020
"The thread of all good cooking: the right ingredients, fresh and the way they should be - not fancy or expensive." —Anne Willan, author of Women in the Kitchen and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris
One of the world's preeminent authors on French cooking, a James Beard Award-winning author and the founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, Anne Willan joins me on the podcast today to talk about her new book Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today.
In today's episode we will talk about seven of the women featured in the book, as well as talk about Anne's time managing and founding La Varenne and much more.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast289
Sun, 20 September 2020
The Atlantic recently posted an article asserting there won't be a clear end to the pandemic. Rather, the end for each of us will be as unique and differentiated as each one of us and occur on a different timeline.
Frequently, the yearning for "returning to normal" may be voiced by those around us, strangers or intimate relations, or we may be simply thinking such thoughts, constantly, as we grieve the parts of our lives we enjoyed that are no longer readily available or available at all.
However, even before the pandemic introduced itself and in what seemed for many to change our lives much like a light-switch, the psychological experts have been talking about this word that seems to roll off our tongues more often than ever before in recent times - normal. Writing in 2009 on Pyschology Today, "The fate of normality is very much in the balance," wrote Peter Kramer.
While speaking about individuals as to their neurosis or so-called normal behaviors and the perameters of what constitutes "normal", he shared a final thought which may help reframe how we strive forward in our current times as we are more broadly looking at an entire world, culture, etc. and what "normal", the new normal, may be:
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast288
Sun, 13 September 2020
As soon as I read the first line in chapter one shown above, the analogy made crystal clear sense of my ignorance about relationships and how to navigate past it: I needed to learn HOW to love, not just want to love and want to be loved.
Love, as the oft mentioned quote reminds is a verb, but even if we accept this truth, we have to learn how to exercise this action, and we have to be willing to let go of so much incorrect and unhelpful advice in order to find the peace and contentment we seek.
Today's episode can help in all relationships you are engaged in. Fundamentally, the book was written in 2002 for readers trying to improve their romantic relationships, but indirectly, the skills and concepts shared will foster healthy relationships platonically from close friends and family members to acquaintances, neighbors and strangers we bump into along our travels and life journey.
Recommended by my counselor, my copy of David Richo's book is annotated in detail, and I have referred back and reread different sections since my first reading. I have chosen to work with a counselor since nearly four years ago, but it did take time to find the right one. Meeting regularly, primarily for preventative and skill strengthening purposes in areas I wish to improve, the opportunity to meet with a professional, trained in the area of expertise we do not have is helpful to make sense of what we learn not only about ourselves but how our minds and emotions work.
With all of that said, as soon as I read the book, lightbulbs went off repeatedly in my mind. Ahas occurred frequently and I found an ease I had never felt before regarding my approach to interacting with others in a variety of different relationship scenarios.
While I highly recommend you pick up your own copy and read it closely, I wanted to share with you the primary component that underlies everything about being an adult in life and love.
The world we live in would rather have us feel insecure and lacking, even though it blatantly argues the contrary (when you purchase their product, create [enter lifestyle and accoutrements] for all to see and witness, or behave in a certain way), so it is no wonder we are confused about what we should or shouldn't be doing when it comes to relationships. And even if we eventually do figure it out, trying to understand what it is that worked if we don't know ourselves leaves us struggling to explain to others why it works if they inquire, don't understand or have not been introduced to the fundamentals shared below.
The good news is, this intangible unknown need not be unknown any more. Knowledge is key, and this practice is essential to cultivate habits that will heal you and then strengthen your ability to connect as an adult with adults to build a life of social harmony and contentment.
First, we need to let go of some unhelpful and often destructive habits.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast297
Sun, 6 September 2020
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain
The thief of joy, if Mark Twain is right, is of our own making.
The good news in this revelation reveals each of us can take back our joy.
Comparing ourselves to others occurs consciously and unconsciously. Consciously, we may be acutely aware that we follow certain people on social media to see how we are doing in relation; unconsciously, when we choose not to speak up to set a boundary, when we set a checklist for our life delineating what should happen by what age.
Each of these three are examples of many more of unhelpful comparison, and while comparison is a primal instinct for survival, the good news evolution and civil society have provided the opportunity and arguably the necessity for each of us of to offer the world our unique talents rather than limiting ourselves to remain part of the herd or tribe.
The habit of comparison is a learned skill, and therefore, it can be unlearned; however, it must be a conscious choice to do so. Fundamentally, when we compare ourselves with others, some part of us believes we are not enough or needs to be reassured that we are enough just as we are.
Today, I will be examining five areas of our lives in which comparison can creep in and become destructive to contentment and living a fulfilling life, and then share how to let go of such comparing with the outside world.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast286
Sun, 16 August 2020
In three weeks the seventh season of The Simple Sophisticate will begin. With 285 episodes already shared, I am excited to explore new books, welcome guests that speak to what living simply luxuriously is all about and sharing motivating and inspiring ways to continue to live a life of quality over quantity.
I have shared the full calendar for Season 7 which spans the next 12 months. You will notice that 2021 has a handful fewer episodes than last season. The reason for this is to give me time to hopefully bring a second season of the cooking show during the spring season.
Keep in mind that every Monday that a new episode does not go live, a brand new Motivational Monday post will be available to read here on the blog, just as there is today.
I want to thank listeners again for sharing the show with their friends and family either by word-of-mouth or on their social media feeds, and for leaving positive reviews that share specifically what they enjoy about the show so that new potential listeners know exactly what they will discover when they tune in.
This September look for topics on building healthy relationships, listen to my conversation with a guest from the cooking world who has worked with the most well-known people in the industry, tips on how to make the most of this incredibly challenging time, and many more topics that are relevant and relatable as well as offering concrete ideas to apply to your own life journey.
Join me on Monday September 7th for a brand new episode wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe below in order to always have the latest episode ready to download and enjoy.
Sun, 9 August 2020
Author and blogger and American living in Paris Lindsey Tramuta joins me on podcast today to talk about her new book The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris (purchase on Bookshop.org). Having called Paris home for nearly 15 years, Tramuta explores the true Parisienne woman, looking past the myth and confining superficial stereotype that has been perpetuated for centuries through introducing readers to 40 Parisiennes in all of their diverse life journeys and talents and passions.
Joining me from Paris, our conversation covers where the myth of the Parisienne woman began, who benefitted from it and how we can shift the narrative to reflect the truth. We also talk about her happy place in Paris, the difference between universal feminism vs. intersectional feminism and with diverse individual profiled, what they all have in common. I do hope you will tune in and have a listen.
Lindsey's first book The New Paris (2017) is another wonderful Francophile resource to keep on hand as an introduction to new people, places and ideas in the City of Light.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast285
Sun, 19 July 2020
224: How to Welcome Simplicity Into Your Life: Live Differently for One Month (top episode from season 5)
Desired change in our lives can be seemingly elusive when so much of what needs to happen requires more energy, more time, more focus. With already full lives, the desired change remains just that - desired.
However, what if you set aside just one month. Why not for only one month institute the change you seek, and then should if it does not work out, you can return to your old ways? Part of this approach is a bit of a trick of the mind, but the other part is to reduce the stress on your schedule as you can shift your priorities temporarily and only permanently if you choose to at the month's end.
In today's episode, the top episode which kicked off Season #5 of the podcast, discover specific ideas for welcoming simplicity into your everyday life.
You can view the full Show Notes for episode #224 here.
Mon, 13 July 2020
Today's episode is a top episode from Season 3 discussing how understanding what our signature style is and then owning it with confidence permeates all arenas of our lives.
Ultimately, what we wear matters. Without saying a word we communicate our values, our confidence, our expertise, where we've been, where we are and where we want to go (or stay).
I do hope you enjoy this full episode, and if you are looking for a new book to whisk you away to France, be sure to stay tuned until the end of the episode when the Petit Plaisir is shared.
View the full original Show Notes here.
View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #142
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Mon, 22 June 2020
Building our signature style takes time. As well, it evolves. While some components - the best color tone for our skin, hair and eye color - may remain the same, the fit, the lengths, the necklines, as well as styles we discover and wish to welcome into our wardrobe will change.
Over the years, as you can see above, my dress length has gone from just above the knee to midi length being now my favorite go-to. While I do love wearing dresses, you are just as likely to see me in denim jeans and a button-up shirt, or a camisole and blazer with either heels or flats. Having options is wonderful, and cultivating our closets to offer these options takes time.
Thankfully, as we learn more about ourselves, the lifestyle we enjoy living (something that changes as well as the chapters of our lives continue to unfold) the decision-making becomes easier. All of this is to say, that while we may be shopping less often as what we have in our wardrobe is made well and lasts for many years, we also know when we come across something that will fit perfectly for our way of living and can snatch it up (if it is in our budget at the moment) without giving it much thought. The clarity of time and knowledge about ourselves is exceptionally helpful which is one component that will be discussed in today's episode.
Today's podcast episode is a top episode from Season One of The Simple Sophisticate which shares in detail the seven components to building your own signature style. My first book dives into this far more and my second book focuses with great detail on cultivating effortless style, so be sure to check those out if this topic piques your interest.
Sun, 14 June 2020
"Being in touch with [the essence] of ourselves as we make financial decisions is as good as it gets. Money is a store of life energy, and when we can channel that life energy into an expression of what is most dear to our soul, an exciting alignment takes place between our financial and spiritual lives . . . more than just having enough, our essence is deeply loving, contented, and grateful, not from any effort but as its most natural expression . . . In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels efficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort." —Brent Kessel, author of It's Not About the Money
Money can seem to be the fix for everything or the curse, but it need not be either, and can be in our control, largely when we shift how we approach our view and role of money in our life.
Today I would like to share with you key insights I discovered after reading Brent Kessel's book It's Not About the Money in which he dives into the unconscious emotional psychological nature money plays in our lives and how and why we make the decisions we make - for better or worse.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast284
Sun, 7 June 2020
"To embrace leisure, we don't have to let go of progress. [Our] constant pushing is now impeding our progress. We work best when we allow for flexibility in our habits . . . [w]e can and must stop treating ourselves like machines that can be driven and pumped and amped and hacked. Instead of limiting and constraining our essential natures, we can celebrate our humanness at work and in idleness. We can better understand our own natures and abilities. We can lean in not to our work but to our inherent gifts." —Celeste Headlee Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving
For the past 10 weeks I have had the good fortune to go to work with both of my dogs. Why? Because I have been working from home.
I am able to take them for a short walk about the neighborhood before I step into my office and remote classroom, then take a break around 10:30 am as we sit on the garden porch, soaking in some sunshine and thinking about what I might want to enjoy for lunch in a few hours time. Lunch is leisurely because I can cook it, savor it, not be rushed to eat it or interrupted and our afternoon outing after about 70-90 minutes of work after lunch is to the mailbox and about the neighborhood. Returning to the office if need be to tie up loose ends, check my work email one more time (I only check my school email three times a day), when the day concludes, I am not exhausted, but I do feel productive.
Admittedly, the scenario I shared above is due to an unwanted global occurrence, and I miss my in-person connections with my students and colleagues, but what I do not miss is the excessive expectation to always be checking my email, regularly being interrupted so that I lose my focus/students' focus and requirement for a long inflexible work day (meaning not healthy breaks, a constant expectation of being "on"), and being rewarded for giving more beyond the work day even if it reduces the quality of my home life and personal relationships.
I am not complaining directly about a system that surrounds so many of us, but trying to be honest about the reality of why I was quietly thankful to have the time at home these past 10 weeks to catch my breath. I did my best to examine why, and while the emotional toll for those of us fortunate enough not to have our health and livelihoods taken away was unhealthy and exhausting, overall, I found great refuge and restoration this spring whilst staying at home, finding a schedule that worked for me as I continued to remotely teach and blog and just be home.
I also found much more time to read books that have been patiently sitting in my shopping cart, and two books furthered my exploration into how exactly improve the working environment when we begin to step back into the workplace. I have a few ideas to share in today's podcast episode.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast283
Sun, 31 May 2020
Today on the podcast, fellow podcaster Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower joins me to talk about his newly released memoir Paris On Air (shop here on Bookshop.org) as well as living in Paris during France's 59 days of confinement. I had the opportunity to speak with him the day after the lockdown regulations were loosened, and he shared what his and his wife Lina's experience had been and what the first thing they did was on May 11th.
The primary focus of our discussion is his new book. Tune in to our conversation to discover the behind-the-scenes of how his acclaimed podcast (recently recommended in The New York Times for the top 13 podcasts to listen to for traveling abroad while staying at home) came about, evolved and, in a short amount of time, became his full-time and one and only job in the City of Light. As well, if you enjoy listening to your books, Oliver explains how his book is a unique Audio Experience that welcomes the people he writes about in his book into the studio to share their voice for their part.
Follow Oliver on Instagram (@theearfultower), and visit his blog here (learn more about his virtual book tour as well).
~Listen to my first interview with Oliver, episode #222 in August 2018.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast282
Mon, 25 May 2020
Today's episode is a favorite from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate.
Episode #45 was the sixth top episode of the first season and continues to be a favorite with listeners as it shares 10 Ways to Set Up Your Home Like A Luxury Travel Accommodation.
In the times we find ourselves, I thought this might be just the episode to return to as we are still spending more time at home that we had anticipated especially as summer nears. Cultivating a sanctuary that beckons us to linger and we long to return to and spend ample time in has much to do with the details. And the details, the luxurious details, need not be all that difficult to acquire and welcome into our home.
I do hope you enjoy today's episode, and look for a new episode next Monday and for the month of June.
Click here for the detailed Show Notes of the original episode and listen to the audio version above.
~The above image is Chateau de la Barre located in the Loire Valley where I had the opportunity to stay three nights in the summer of 2018. Read this post—A Traveler or Tourist? The Difference —to see many more pictures of the interiors and the grounds, as well, have a look below at more images I shared on Instagram.
Sun, 17 May 2020
British country homes evoke an image of comfort, cosyness and warmth. Partly, yes, because such warmth is mandatory living in a rainy environment, but also because they look and feel like such a welcome inside hug which is given immediately when the quintessential details are tended to.
Granted the above image is not an actual cottage as it was the set designed for Nancy Meyers' film The Holiday, filmed in part in Surrey. However, I chose the above image because when we design our homes to evoke the English country charm, Meyers achieved so much of it spot-on right. From the tufted ottoman, to the ottoman itself as the coffee table of choice, mixed prints, oodles of books and exposed beams, these details, as you will see in the list below resounding remind onlookers of English country style, and in this case a cottage.
In my own home I have been perusing frequently through The English Home magazines I have saved over the years, saving images that speak to me, images that offer a similar size or design of space and offer ideas for how to create an English cottage aesthetic.
I have begun to embrace wholeheartedly #1 on today's list in both my mudroom and foyer, and I look forward to welcoming even more wallpaper into my home. Hopefully if you too are wanting to welcome decor touches of the English countryside into you home, today's list will offer plenty of ideas to choose from.
~For each of the images shared below, simply click on the image to tour the entire home from which it was included.
William Morris is the founder of the Arts & Crafts decor movement, and with his well-known wallpaper company which began in the 1860s in England, a love for nature as well as symmetry and subtly as well as vibrant natural color are an example of beloved English wallpaper designs. There are many more of course, but wallpaper creates a cosy space, a welcoming, more personalized space.
~Want to wallpaper in your home? Read this post for detailed how-tos to a successful decorating session. ~Tour the entire Oxfordshire Arts & Crafts Townhouse: A Way with Wallpaper here.~
~Tour the entire Oxfordshire Arts & Crafts Townhouse: A Way with Wallpaper here.~
2. Wood accents
As a way to welcome nature into the formal living space, wood furniture, wood legs on upholstered furniture and regal cabinetry and shelves offer the balance of hard and soft surfaces.~An Englishman's Brooklyn Townhouse, decorated by interior designer Benjamin Vandiver. View the entire home here. ~
3. A penchant for garden and animal details
While English country homes will undoubtedly have a garden outside their doors, bringing an appreciation for nature inside will be more than common as well. Whether seen in the wallpaper with floral or animal prints, vases full of blooms, potted plants inside or a demonstrated affection for dogs in figurines or any other decor detail, the love of the outdoors is certainly a common presence.
~British interior designer Imogen Taylor's Burgundy home to which she retired. Tour the entire home here.~
4. The classic pudding sofa
Soft, plush, deep-seated and begging you to sit and stay a while. While the name may or may not have been coined by British furniture designer Loaf, the concept is iconically British - cosy, cosy, cosy.
5. Pleat, folded, rolled, padded upholstered arms
As you can see above, rolled arms on either an upholstered sofa or armchair that have gradual pleats pulled neatly over the rounded design intonate British furniture. Almost as if to signify a warm hug, such furniture provides literal warmth when you snuggle in as many days of the year are damp and cold, stepping inside a home that is cosy is all the more desireable.
~Tour the entire home in Cozying into Country Durham, English Style Abounds!~
6. Fabric covered lamp shades
Again, adding fabric to any space creates warmth, and especially in intimate spaces - bedrooms, reading nooks - the subtle, yet significant detail of fabric shades is an idea worth trying. Prints or solids, especially if the fabric is of high quality, purchasing such fabric is far more affordable for a lampshade than an entire sofa or chair.
~Tour the entire home of Tightly Tailored and Filled with ANtiques in Hampshire here.
7. Seagrass floors
British designer Ben Pentreath swears by seagrass, and if you have the opportunity to tour any of his projects, you will see they look quite nice. Adding a touch of nature, high functionality and wearability, they also, as he states, offer a lovely subtle scent. Layer with a a wool rug and you have created a warm space without excessive expense.
~View the entire home shown above in Signature Statement of Varying Chairs~
8. Ottomans as coffee tables
While there are exceptions, in the country, an ottoman is more often than not likely to be at the center of a living room or sitting room rather than a wooden table. Use as a coffee table and place trays and books, as well as always have an additional extra seat if ever necessary.
9. Traditional period details
While the items may or may not be old, they are a decision to pay homage to a particular period in history. Vintage chandeliers, exposed beams in the ceiling, wainscoting and wood floors are savored. Traditional lamps and the welcome of candles are chosen over canned or recessed lighting.
~tour the entire Cornish Country Getaway with Touches of the Sea here.~
10. An Aga stove
Used as much to heat up the home as to cook, the Aga stove is very much a luxury item now (and yes, it is available in the states), but in nearly every interview in The English Home magazine, when they share spotlight interviews, the one detail each guests shares a English Home mustn' be without is an Aga. Just Aga. :)
~Tour this entire home, titled Let the Lighting Do the Talking here. ~
11. A mudroom is a must
Having grown up with a mudroom as we lived out in the country, the need for such a room is a must. Whether you are gardener, have pups, ride horses or generally find yourself outside often, having a space that is designated to taking off the "gear" and not bringing the dirt into the rest of the home is a typical space found in an English country home.
12. A cabinet or designated shelf for teapots and cups and saucers
~Tour the entire home in Country Durham here. ~
13. Color abounds (and it works)
It is indeed a skill, but with time and experience and an understanding of hues and the size of patterns, it is a skill each of us can acquire.
~Tour A Cozy, Signature Bloomsbury Flat here~
14. Mixing small and large prints in the same space
The Spruce shares, "Large prints will be paired with smaller prints, such as gingham. Using similar color palettes in the patterns keep this from becoming overwhelming. "
~tour the entire home in A Small Yet Elegant London Flat~
15. An abundance of reading material
Bibliophiles may just have a predilection for English country decor if not solely for their love, display and admiration of books. In so many of the photos of today's post/episode you will see books, and that is not by mistake or exception.
~Tour this entire Bibliophile's Dream House here.~
16. Built-in bookshelves
And since we are talking about books, the English country homes are designed with storing books in mind. Built-ins are part of the decor and not only in the library or living room. Notice in bedrooms and even in kitchens, there are spaces for books.
~tour the entire home here in Finding Balance with Colors & Natural Textures in North Kensington~
For warmth, to cover old floors or stone floors, layers of rugs on seagrass, rugs are a mainstay and frequently seen in English country homes.
~Tour the entire home in A Welcoming Home in Wiltshire, England~
18. Climbing roses or vines on the exterior of the home.
While this final decor detail is outside of the home, it is still attached to the home, so I thought I would include it. Stepping into an English garden is an entire new post/episode, but yes, a vine of some sort whether it be a rambling rose or wisteria or clematis, is a must for English country homes.
Personally, I am smitten and have been smitten for some time with the English country decor approach. Creating a cosy, welcoming home for the inhabitants and any guest who is invited inside rests in paying attention to the details shared above - texture, layers, welcoming in touches of nature, not being afraid to mix up and discover what actually can match and creating spaces for everyday pastimes you love.
Enjoy the journey of adding English country touches to your own home wherever around the globe you call home.
~View all of TSLL's British-Inspired Decor posts here.
~The English Game, Netflix
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #281
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
2020 TSLL British Week Posts
Sun, 10 May 2020
Today's episode of the podcast is the top downloaded and viewed episode from Season 5 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, and it's one I think you will enjoy whether you are hearing/reading it for the first time or the second or third time.
Full of oodles of life and style tips from Parisian women inspired by a book read in 2018, it also melds my experiences and observances from my travels and conversations and engagements with women in France.
Have a look at the detailed Show Notes from the original airing of the episode in November 2018.
As shared in today's episode, TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week will begin in six short days - Sunday May 17th. I cannot wait to share with you what I have come up with for the postings (two each day) and the giveaways (four in total).
During the intro of today's episode of the podcast, I shared how the giveaways will work. Two giveaways will be open to EVERYBODY and Two giveaways will be exclusive: One to Ad-Free Subscribers and One to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter Subscribers (those who have subscribed prior to British Week commencing this year).
If you are wondering what TSLL's Annual British Week is all about, I encourage you to check out last year's inaugural event. (click on the image below, or just click here.)
SUBSCRIBE to The Simple Sophisticate podcast:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #232
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 19 April 2020
Today's episode is a favorite of listeners from the third season of the show. As we all spending more time inside, I thought listeners may enjoy some inspiration for making their time in our slower schedule more enjoyable and comforting.
SUBSCRIBE to the Podcast on your favorite podcast listening platform:
Sun, 5 April 2020
Today's episode is a favorite from the archives to help you jump well into the new spring season.
The next episode will be a new episode of the podcast, and it will air on Monday May 18th as we kick off TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week.
In the meantime, each Monday in which there is no new episode of the podcast, there will be a new Monday Motivational post. Click here to read today's new Monday Motivational Post - 20 Ideas for Making Working and Staying at Home a Pleasure
Check out the schedule for Season 6 below. The date of each new episode and when it will air is circled in red.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #29
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 15 March 2020
"You would think weightlessness is a good thing, but it's not. Because people weren't meant to float. Without gravity, we lose blood volume, bone density, muscle. Without it, we're untethered. So when you feel yourself being pulled toward something, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It may keep you centered. It may keep you safe." —Grey's Anatomy, season 16, episode #17, Shonda Rhimes
Thoughts, thoughts, all sorts of thoughts. With an abundance of time on our hands as we stay home, if we have not exercised our brains in this way, it may feel uncomfortable, and in these times we find ourselves collectively, understandably unsettling.
The above quote caught my attention this past week as it feels our attentions are being being pulled toward the necessities of life, what we sincerely need to simply live. Don't get me wrong, the past eleven years, economically, have been much needed and appreciated, and while each of our journey's is unique, perhaps we've forgotten what we truly need, what others truly need, to live well. At the moment, we are all being pulled to our homes, to our sanctuaries, to our immediate families with whom we reside with but perhaps never see often because of our busy schedules. Admittedly, some of our loved ones may be far away due to age, relationships, work, etc., but we at least have the phone, video chat and other technological ways of communicating.
Becoming grounded in what roots us, is what reminds us of what truly is a priority in our life, helps us to make better decisions to remain true to those values when the choices are vast. And sometimes when the choices are so vast and so ubiquitous for such a long time, we would only be being human to lose sight of our roots. I am not suggesting that we need to have a pandemic to root us, but that is where we find ourselves, so I am determined to see some good in this perilous situation.
There will be good that will come out of it when we come out of it on the other side, but as well, there is good we can partake in during this time of staying home.
Today, while I had originally planned a different topic for the episode to be shared, I have decided to focus on something that will hopefully be helpful to direct our attention to, to elevate the time we have indoors, wanted or unwanted. The gift and mood lifting power of daily and weekly rituals.
Under the umbrella of daily and weekly rituals lies our daily and weekly routines. Consciously creating routines in which we know boost the quality of our lives from our health, to our rest and rejuvenation to our productivity are ways to rest more easily which benefits our mind and well-being and decreases our stress. Each of these efforts strengths our immune system and ultimately strengthens our overall health, both physically and mentally.
Today I would like to share with you rituals you can incorporate into your daily and weekly routine even while you stay home.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast280
Sun, 8 March 2020
True contentedness is unremarkable to the outside world, or passerby.
Typing away in my cozy chair in the living room in my line of sight Norman eats his breakfast and Oscar acknowledging he will not be able to sneak a bite, takes a long cool drink of water. The croissant for my Sunday morning ritual is proofing in the oven and Sunday Baroque's weekly program fills my home.
Even having lost an hour of the day, I have decided to wake up with the sunset and use the dawn-filled hour to work early before we are able to go for our morning stroll in the woods. All is well, and so much surrounds me for which to be grateful.
I began the morning reading Maria Shriver's weekly email newsletter, and in particular this morning's letter resonated with me, and most likely would you as well as a reader of TSLL.
Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day.
I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today's episode/post to reflect.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast279
Sun, 1 March 2020
At the core of a happy home is a home that works for those individuals the four walls surround and keep sheltered and safe. Once the essentials are in place - a roof over our heads, walls to keep us warm/cool, then it is the inhabitants' responsibility to cultivate a sanctuary in which each person feels they belong and loved for being their true selves or having the space to understand who they are as they grow and evolve. Whether you share your home or not, both require clarity and willingness to be honest about the needs to live your best life and if you live with others to enable them to do the same without short-changing yourself or compromising too much.
If these steps sound familiar, you are right. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs builds on top of each of the necessities shared above. First we must have our phyiological needs met, then a feeling of safety before we can find belonging and feel and recognize love. Following the third step, once we have a home to feel free to just be, our stress levels drop, our health improves and strengthens and we find we think more clearly and thus make better decisions which leads to the opportunity to strive and try new things giving a boost to our confidence along our journey which builds the fourth tier - our self-esteem opening the pathway for us to have the choice to become self-actualized, the fifth and final tier.
Interior designer and author Rebecca West's new book Happy Starts at Home, which was just released in the states last month, takes the approach to decor that it is far more than the aesthetics, but rather thoughtful decor decisions that marry function with and supporting each person reach their goals which includes feeling welcomed and at peace in the present.
"The truth is your home can directly improve your well-being and contentment. It can help decreease your stress level and increase your happiness." —Rebecca West
What I was drawn to with West's book is her underlying definition of happiness is contentment which is something we talk about often here on TSLL. Contentment is something that has the capability of being steady day-in and day-out regardless of the events of our days - good, bad or just blah. In fact, when you are content, you rarely have blah days at all and when you do have bad days, you can confidently move through them and the good days are elevated even higher. How awesome is that!
While we must build contentment within ourselves, our homes play a critical part in supporting this contented state of going about our lives. And in even better news, our home decor need not break our budget. Just as it takes time to get to know ourselves, depending upon where we are in our life journey when we begin to cultivate our sanctuary, it will take time to understand how we live well, and what is needed to enable our best life to be enjoyed everyday.
Today I'd like to share with you the takeaways from Rebecca West's book that caught my attention as I am in the middle of customizing my home and making sure it works for me.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast278
Sun, 16 February 2020
Last fall two episodes were shared delineating ideas for a timeless capsule wardrobe for traveling about in Paris as well as in London and the English countryside. As promised, the series continues into winter, and while we are nearing the end of winter, with the Paris fall/winter collections about ready to take the runway sharing their 2020 trends and inspirations, I thought this would be the perfect time to share how Parisians dress in the chillest months of the year.
Of course the uber style stars who will share their street style at the end of February as they make their way to and from the shows, and while I highly recommend taking a look at what they are wearing as even though they may be out of reach budget-wise and offer strong signature style that is hard or less likely to be imulated and simply admired, the color combinations, layers, and fabric choices are worth noting most certainly.
Today, let's return to Paris and take a look at the necessities for a timeless winter wardrobe whether you are making a trip for business or pleasure.
First of all, what is the weather likely to be during winter in Paris? Paris Perfect explains that the average temperature during the months of December, January and February is 42 degrees Fahrenheit, so about 6 degrees Celsius. With a 50% chance of cloudy and/or rainy weather on any given day, be prepared for moisture, and likely not snow (although on occasion snow does fall, but it doesn't last for more than a day or two - typically).
Depending upon where you call home when you aren't visiting Paris, 42 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter may feel chilly, not-so-bad or perhaps even warm for winter months. Whilst keeping all of that in mind, let's take a look at the list of essentials for your capsule wardrobe.
1.Classic, well-constructed cashmere or wool sweaters
Since you are in Paris, you will likely be inside most of the time, but walking from place to place. Keeping this in mind, fine cashmere sweaters would be the best as you can layer them for more warmth, but also not become over-heated while inside at your desired destination.
2. Dark denim
Dark colors in general will never be a bad idea in Paris during the winter. From dark denim jeans to dark pants, dark shoes and dark outerwear, the benefit of knowing this and having such items on hand is that you can easily mix and match and then add the pop of color as you feel necessary.
3. Black jeans
4. Waterproof leather booties (ankle boot)
5. Leather sneakers
Ecco soft 7 sneaker, leather (many colors)
6. A Warm Winter Coat - Puff, Pea Coat or something similar - long preferred
The air is damp, so when the wind blows or the temperatures drop, it feels colder than it may actually be. A long coat will keep your entire body warm while you wait in line to go to a museum or venture outside to stroll from one destination to another.
~Be sure to check out Mango for beautiful coats at great price points.
7. A Wool Blazer
For days in which it is not as chilly, but still the air has a nip, wear an oversized wool blazer with a scarf.
8. Lovely warm, scarves
From classic oblong scarves to large stoles which can be used as a blanket on the plane while traveling, pack one or two favorite scarves that will work with what you have and provide the warmth you seek.
9. A Warm Wool Hat
Leave the beret at home and pack a warm wool or cashmere hat that covers your head and ears. Black, navy, ivory or anything neutral so you can wear it with anything you have packed.
Madeline Thompson cashmere navy beanie (black also avilable)
10. Leather, yet cashmere lined, gloves
Nordstrom's cashmere lined leather gloves (black also available)
Yes, an additional sweater, but turtlenecks are lovely in their retro chic silhouettes. Whether fitted or oversized, choose a luxurious fabric that feels good on your skin, a high neck that hugs your chin and a color that works well with your wardrobe, all while perhaps adding a touch of pop or a subtle unique shade of something fabulous.
Granted a cardigan is a sweater as shared in #1 being a must-have while traveling around Paris, but a cardigan is a casual choice to have for the flight, for snuggling in either in the morning or evening upon returning from being out and about, and well, just a lovely winter staple to have on hand (and a necessary one in Paris during the winter).
13. A travel umbrella
Likely, your accommodations will have an umbrella for you to use, but having a packable umbrella with you wherever in the world you might travel is never a bad idea. As shared at the top of the post/episode, the liklihood that it will rain in Paris is 50/50, so it's best to be prepared as you won't want to wear a coat with a hood unless you want to stick out as a tourist, unless the coat looks something like this.
14. Shop for what you need while in Paris - pourquoi pas?!
In January, the semi-annual French Les Soldes takes place in which every shop will be having sales on everything, not just the items they cannot sell. Take advantage of this opportunity and shop for what you need while you are there, but also what will live and be loved for many years to come wherever you call home.
15. Totes and handbags
This recommendation will be the same as it was for Autumn - a crossbody bag for going about the city and a tote for travel days. Poléne's full and mini crossbody bags are ones I recently learned about and now have and absolutely would recommend.
Whether your favorite time to visit Paris is the spring, summer or fall or winter, whenever the opportunity arises to escape to the City of Light, it will be hard to say no. Knowing you will be well-packed will ensure you feel confident and comfortable as you walk and explore and savor along with the Parisians themselves with no one being the wiser that you are a tourist unless you let it be known. Most certainly, your sartorial choices will not give you away.
Stay tuned as I will continue this series for the spring and summer months as the year unfolds and Anglophiles, rest assured, a winter shopping list will be shared soon.
View All Other Seasons & Their Timeless Wardrobe Essentials for Visiting France
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:
28 Life & Style Tips from a Parisian Woman, episode #232
Traveling Alone Well, episode #220
~My French Country Home magazine
~created and edited by Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home blog and travels
Images: Click through on each image to be taken to the direct source
Sun, 9 February 2020
Mise en place in translation means is "set in place", often translated to "everything in its place".
Perhaps part of the reason cooking and baking can feel rewarding as well as relaxing is that there is a science to, and the unofficial science is something even the most novice cook in the kitchen can quickly learn - mise en place. But what exactly is it and what is the art of a truly effective mise en place? That is what today's post/episode is all about.
When I attended both Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis' cooking classes in France, mise en place was de rigeur. Each day upon arrival into their respective kitchens and to our assigned cooking stations, the food was already either prepared and arranged in the necessary bowls, or at the very least the ingredients were waiting to be prepared along with the necessary bowls. As well, the recipe was clearly typed and propped up and ready to go to ensure ease of preparation.
~fresh ingredients from the market for a Niçoise Salad made in Susan Hermann Loomis' kitchen in Louviers, Normandy~
~Patricia Wells at her stove in Provence, Vaison-la-Romaine~
~Patricia Wells' stove in Provence; notice the collection of small dishes on the shelves, along with her cookbooks~
~Patricia Wells' stove, knives and measuring spoons on the right in multiple quantities; on the lift, cooking tools to be used at the stove~
~Susan Hermann Loomis in her kitchen in Louviers preparing food for the day of cooking. Notice the recipes situated at each station, along with the necessary ingredients.~
~Susan Hermann's stovetop~
As you will see in some of the images included in today's post, I was in awe and absolutely inspired by the organization in both kitchens. From Patricia Wells having multiple ceramic canisters complete with a label for multiple spatulas, peelers, and any other tool she would need to have her students use, to Susan Hermann's knives neatly and safely stored in the middle of her custom wooden kitchen island, every kitchen tool had a home, and all of the items we would need or that were regularly used were easy to find and thoughtfully placed where they would be the most handy to grab while cooking.
While mise en place often brings our attention to the recipe or meal we are cooking at the moment and the ingredients that are needed, in a larger context, mise en place is your kitchen, how you arrange it, how you work within it well, and the tools you welcome into your artistic space - your batterie de cuisine.
I have found my kitchen, especially my kitchen in my rental in which I lived for four years, to be indeed an artist's sanctuary of sorts because you are creating, you are exploring. Part of why I loved that kitchen so much (the kitchen you see in Seasons 1 & 2 of my cooking show) is due to how I felt completely at ease moving about it in, having enough space for everything I needed and everything being easy to locate and quickly so.
I am currently in the process of curating my new kitchen into a similar space so that I feel absolutely comfortable moving from here to there and finding exactly what I need. I look forward to making progress on it this spring if all goes well, and fingers crossed, hopefully have it ready to go for Season 3. But in the meantime, I am keeping in mind how a kitchen must be organized, how it needs to function for the cook that calls it home, that is the foundation of mise en place, and now let's talk about the benefits and how to create your very own successful mise en place each time you step into your own kitchen.
1.Ensures you are prepared for the recipe you wish to enjoy
2. Saves time
3. Saves the food
4. Deepens enjoyment of the cooking experience
~The creative stand of hooks for mixing paddles, Susan Hermann's kitchen~
How to "Mise en Place"
1.Determine what type of mise en place you need
In theory, you will eventually come to a point where you tend to mise en place each time, but each recipe or meal or dish will be approached in its unique way. If it is a dish you enjoy frequently, such as a go-to breakfast, your mise en place will be a default you don't even think about any more.
In such a case, my steel oats is in a cannister by the stove with the 1/4 cup measuring spoon that I use inside, the chia seeds are in a cannister that I simply pour out of, also by the stovetop, the salt and butter on the other side of the stove, and voila, aside from the cream, when I include it, it remains in the fridge until it is needed.
Mise en place can be as simple as having your go-to items at the ready at all times, but it can also be for the detailed recipe in which case all of the ingredients are pre-measured and placed in their own separate dishes and bowls.
2. Read the entire recipe, twice.
Not only do you want to read the ingredients list, but be sure to read the instructions as well, and why I recommend twice is often I will read too quickly the first time and accidentially skip over something.
But even if you are a close reader on the first read-through, reading twice confirms the order you will need the ingredients as well as how they should be prepared - sliced, diced, left whole, etc..
Back to the ingredients: do you have what you need? enough of what you need? Double check.
If preparing your mise en place ahead of time, either the morning of or the day or two before, begin making a list of what you need to pick up at the market (and how much).
~fresh artichokes from Louviers' market and eggs as well~
3. Find the necessary dishes, bowls, containers.
As you become fluent in your kitchen, knowing which dishes you enjoy preparing and eating and sharing, you will with time begin to have the necessary dishes, bowls and containers you need. Along the way to building your batterie de cuisine (literally: kitchen artillery; otherwise known as kitchenware), use dishes that work well for what you need. They may not all look neat and properly sized, but they will work.
~Susan Hermann's collection of copper pans~
4. Find the necessary kitchen tools you will need and have them at-the-ready
Along with having the ingredients you need, locating and having at-the-ready the necessary tools will speed up the process and increase your enjoyment of the cooking process. Beginning with a sharpened knife, and the proper knife for what you are doing, having each of these tools ready to work for you is an often unstated, but vital part of an effective mise en place.
In Patricia Wells' kitchen in Provence, each utensil is given its own cannister and labeled.
5. Prepare the food as needed
From peeling, slicing, de-veining and cleaning the seafood or meat, tend to the food, so that as the recipe calls for each ingredient, all you have to do is quickly add it to the pan or bowl or grill or, you get the idea. :)
~mise en place at Patricia Wells' cooking class~
6. Place the food/ingredients in order of use in the recipe.
Depending upon whether you are left or right-handed, place the ingredients on the preferred side and in the order they will be added to the recipe. If items will not be used for some time, you can place them further away so they won't be knocked over or accidentially added, etc. .
7. Have a large bowl for discards and items to be taken to the compost or garbage.
Rachael Ray creatively called hers the "thanks for coming" bowl, and having such an item as part of your mise en place is a simple way of keeping your kitchen clean, or at least cleaner, as you make your way through your meal preparation. A large bowl enables there to be more workable space so you can swiftly move from one task to another without having to constantly clean up along the way.
8. Refrain from multi-tasking
As tempting as it may be, doing more than the task of cooking while you are preparing a meal increases the chances of overcooking, burning and therefore ruining the ingredients you have thoughtfully welcomed into your kitchen. Speaking from experience, even when I just cook my breakfast in the morning, when I go off to my office while the steel oats are cooking, there have been time when I have become so engrossed in what I was doing for work that I lost track of time. Respect the food, and give it your full attention until the cooking is complete.
Ideas to Improve Mise en Place
I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities I had in attending both of the cooking classes with Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis over the past two summers in France. I continue to welcome their ideas and incorporate them into my daily cooking practice.
The primary purpose for mise en place is to make your time in the kitchen successful. Impressively, the number of dishes and the multi-course meals each class would enjoy every single time we sat down to dine for a couple of hours at first glance would have seen impossible, but when it is broken down into clear steps, ingredients and amounts prepped and ready, it seems all but impossible.
Hopefully you too will find even more pleasure when you step into your kitchen. I certainly have an even deeper appreciation as well as fondness for the time I spend cooking and preparing and of course, enjoying the meals that are created.
Have a look at videos from both of my cooking class experiences as well as the detailed posts that accompany each one below.
~cups and saucers in Susan Hermann's kitchen found over the years throughout France at Brocantes~
~ingredients for a fresh strawberry dessert at Susan Hermann's first day of cooking~
Check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen and see Mise en Place at work in my very own kitchen!
~Agatha Raisin, Acorn TV
Sun, 2 February 2020
"Emotional freedom is a homecoming to your own heart and fullest power. It salutes authenticity, not conforming to someone else's notion of what to feel or how to be." —Dr. Judith Orloff, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life (2009)
The middle of the night, before you can fall asleep or early morning thoughts that swirl and fuel agitation, worry and fear preventing you from falling asleep.
The feeling of being lonely and falling prey to the purport by society that the simple solution is to find someone to be romantically involved with.
Ratcheted chronic anxiety that cements you from pursuing something new or chasing your dreams or simply enjoying your everyday life.
An assumed negative default in perspective when it comes to the world, the future, especially your future and what is actually possible no matter what your age.
In sharing each of these scenarios, maybe you most strongly identified with one, or maybe none of them spoke to you, but moments of one or two rear their heads in your life when your energy is depleted or life temporarily becomes exhausting. And hopefully, maybe you recognize your former self in one or more of these and now are able to celebrate having broken free of the counterproductive emotional patterns that were learned and accepted as "how life will be".
Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of learning the skills of attaining emotional freedom, after reading/listening to today's post/episode you will have a clear path forward for identifying with the latter description in the previous paragraph.
I picked up Dr. Judith Orloff's book because I needed to read it. I knew the skills I needed to improve the quality of my emotional life were lacking, but I did not know what they were or, if I had a sense of them, how to strengthen them.
Dr. Judith Orloff defines emotional freedom as increasing your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and being able to compassionately witness and transform negative ones, whether they're yours or another's.
Choosing to become emotionally free is entirely the choice of the individual. Whether healthy emotional patterns were modeled by your parents or not, you can learn them, apply them and shift how you engage with the world, how you experience the world and thus how you move forward and elevate the quality of your life experience.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast275
Sun, 19 January 2020
"By comparison with relationships forged in blood and love, science has historically given friendship short shrift . . . biologists ignored friendships because unlike romantic or mating relationships they were thought not to affect reproductive success . . . most of us are as guilty as scientists of failing to take friendship as seriously as it deserves. We pay lip service to it but prioritize family and romance, ditching our friends when we fall in love, or letting time with them be the first thing to go when we get busy . . . eacg of us is contrainted by time. But we may want to rethink how we apportion the time we have . . . It turns out that friendship does have survival value in the most literal sense—more socially integrated people live longer than those who are less well connected." —Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond
Perhaps due to the media I consumed in the 80s and 90s, there was an unconscious understanding that romantic relationships were paramount to platonic. Don't misunderstand me, friendships were clearly portrayed in sitcoms such as FRIENDS, Blossom, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Will & Grace, Felicity, The Wonder Years just to name a few, but it was clear that the writers were directed to have their leads be in constant pursuit of the desired romantic relationship predominantly and perhaps more importantly.
Subsequently, not aware of the subtle influence of media, in my youth, I made the assumption that friendship was nice, but romance was best. It does appear today, and admittedly maybe due more to my own awareness, that such media portrayals are shifting and broadening to bring to the screen and the pages as well as other media mediums an array of life paths and journeys to find contentment and social connectedness.
The value of quality friendships is arguably one of the most important social components of our lives. For each of us, our quilt of friendships will be unique and include amongst it our acquaintances and community (work and personal) connections as well. It seems to me good, healthy relationships of all types - romantic or platonic - benefit when we have a healthy social well-being which fundamentally rests on our social connections. Of course, a social well-being requires first and continually that we include ourselves as part of the social circle; in other words, we need to honor and respect our true selves and not try to cultivate relationships that are contrary to our true temperament, but rather complement and strengthen.
When we remember to default to regularly checking in with ourselves, we will know when it it best to repair and invest in certain relationships and when it is best to move on. We will respect ourselves enough to know what boundaries to put in place and how to place them.
The great loves of our lives, even the moderately good and life-changing-for-a-period-before-we-both-must-go-our-separate-ways relationships that will hold a special place in our life's journey don't cross our paths frequently. We are fortunate to experience these relationships when we have the courage to step forward and say yes without knowing what the future will hold, but throughout the duration of our lives, it is the friendships, even with those we may fall in love with along the way as we come to know each other intimately, yet honestly, that offer so much more than "filler". They offer love, support, encouragement to step into our best selves and step away from limiting habits. They offer kindness and the reminder when we may doubt it that we are lovely and loved.
Author, Brooklyn-based science journalist and a writer who has contributed to Atlantic and the New York Times, Lydia Denworth has just released a book on Friendship that I was eager to receive as I find it helpful to explore the context of the research we have accepted as absolute truth and that which has thus gone on to influence how we choose to live and construct our lives. Denworth dives deep into the historical and established science and then examines what has been misunderstood or dismissed or ignored. Moving forward she explores the brain and how it learns to be social and then the majority of the book explores how friendship, the desire for it, our ability to connect or not connect plays a role in the quality of our lives and ultimately, how to live a healthy social life full of sound friendships.
Today I would like to share a taste of what I learned as I read Lydia Denworth's new book Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast274
Sun, 12 January 2020
"Vitality means moving through life with energy and vigor, making deliberate choices and putting to good use the time and energy that we have been granted." —Twyla Tharp, author of Keep Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life
Knowing how to care for our body which we must not forget includes the mind is a lifelong course of learning. Beginning with the basics of how food is fuel and energy expends said fuel to understanding which fuel is best and how our body repairs itself and ultimately what the body and mind truly are capable of regardless of our age, understanding and then apply this knowledge will have a powerfully positive effect on the overall longevity as well as quality of our life.
Highly decorated and revered American dance choreographer, Twyla Tharp released a new book this past fall, and as I appreciated her insights in her previously published book The Creative Habit, I was especially curious to read her new book Keep Moving as she herself is in her mid-seventies and more fit than most adults in their prime. However, what I quickly discovered is that Keep Moving is not only about the physical movement we must continue throughout the duration of our lives, but the continual movement of our thoughts, ideas and way of living and thinking about the world that is as well ever-changing and evolving. Today I'll be sharing 12 key factors for living and enjoying a physical and mental well-being for the entire length of your life.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast273
Sun, 5 January 2020
The new year rolls around and there is much talk about resolutions and cultivation of a life we wish to live. It is old news to share that many resolutions are unfulfilled; however, BJ Fogg argues that perhaps we have had a faulty instruction manual to be successful in our pursue of lasting change.
Released just this past Tuesday, December 31st, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything asserts in fact that it is the small, seemingly easy changes of habit we make in our lives that will lead to grand transformation of ourselves and therefore our overall lives, even our relationships and especially our health and overall contentment.
After devouring the book in two days during my getaway to the coast, I wanted to share with you eight takeaways that will introduce you to this shift in approach. I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine and look to add a third when my teaching schedule resumes this week.
The good news, if you have already written your 2020 resolutions, is that upon reading the book, you will be able to look at them more closely and construct and approach them in such a way, according to Tiny Habits to ensure their success. And if you have not created resolutions, maybe you have decided due to previous frustration that doing so is just a waste of time, taking a look at the list of takeaways below may shed some light on why past years were less fruitful than you would like and even encourage you to try again and see better results.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast272
Thu, 2 January 2020
“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” —J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #263
Style and comfort. Knowing how to achieve this combination while we travel enables each of us to relax and fully enjoy our excursions wherever our wanderlust might take us.
As would not surprise TSLL readers, many of you, including myself, love to journey to Europe, in particular France and Britain, and while I have primarily traveled to France in the summer, and London during the summer months as well, it was during the fall of 2017 that I had the good fortune to travel back to Britain. Expectedly, the suitcase's contents were far different than for the warmest months of the year.
So when a TSLL reader recently reached out and asked for style ideas for her upcoming trip to London this October, I came up with the idea to share a seasonal style episode/post for Anglophiles.
In the coming months and seasons look for the remaining three seasons for both Anglophiles and Francophiles as having a resource to help simplify the packing process so that we travelers can focus on creating an itinerary that surpasses our dreams.
Admittedly, and unsurprisingly, I enjoy selecting the perfect outfit for whatever the occasion might be, but equally as desiresome is to not have to worry about my clothes while I am traveling. Just trusting that what I have packed is exactly what I need frees my mind to absorb the many new sightss, sounds, tastes and interactions which enrich the trip all the more.
So with that introduction, I'd like to share with you Style Essentials for Traveling to Britain in Autumn, the city and the country.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast263
Sun, 22 December 2019
Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate is well underway as 2019 wraps up and we head into 2020. As I reflect back to September 2014 when the show premiered, I could not have fathomed the engagement it would inspire, the topics and books we would cover and explore nor the people who would wish to be on the show.
This year, Apple changed its categories for podcasts, and in so doing prompted me to reconsider how to label the show for new and potential listeners, which turned out to be a boon for the show and new listeners discovering it.
With the help of you, the listeners the podcast and readers of TSLL, the selections that were decided upon (#1— Education: Self-Improvement; #2 — Society & Culture; #3 — Leisure: Home & Garden) in no small part contributed to the podcast reaching #33 in the United States' ALL-Time Self-Improvement podcasts. And, as the podcast has a strong Francophile following, when episode #269 - 32 Ways to Be Parisian Chic went live earlier this month, the podcast soared to #5 for the daily Self-Improvement podcasts.
As listeners share how and when they listen to the show — while running the NYC marathon, while spring cleaning, while starting the day in Australia, while commuting via car or train or subway, while walking/running with their pups, while strolling along a river in the European countryside, while strolling through a park throughout the vast United States, while winding down at the end of the day in a cozy abode in Canada, and in so many countries around the globe as listeners go about their lives (the show ranked #16 in South Africa, #12 in Hong Kong, #23 in Romania, #6 in Oman, and #2 in Spain!) — I am humbled as well as tickled to realize how TSLL community stretches far and wide, but more so how similiar we are no matter where we call home regarding our interests to live a life of contentment, a life of deep joy and understanding of the world around us as we strive to contribute positively to its future as we savor the everyday moments.
How to rankings work? The combination of number of downloads and positive reviews and rankings drive up a show on the charts, and for both of these contributions by listeners, I want to say thank you. So many of you have left positive reviews and high rankings, and as I try to share all of the reviews, sprinkling a few in each podcast episode, thank you for your time to share specifically what draws you to the show. (you can leave a review here on Apple iTunes)
Mon, 16 December 2019
When it comes to the winter holiday season, cozying in asks of us to be inside our homes far more than we would be during the warmer months which is why our homes need to become a sanctuary inside which we love spending time.
Over the years my approach to how I decorate for Christmas, the New Year and the wintery weather has evolved, and this year I am excited to share with you 12 ways I have simplify, and at the same time curated decor that surrounds me and those who spend time in my home with warmth, comfort and an abundance of joy.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast271
Sun, 8 December 2019
"We have the choice to change our life, to be courageous and to live true to our heart, one that will see us die and live without regret." —Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Dying, death and loss has unwantingly been on my mind this past fall. Rest assured, today's episode will uplift, inspire and remind, but the reason I share what has been occupying my mind these past few months is because I likely would not have picked up Bronnie Ware's new book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. But I am very grateful that I did.
Ware's entire book shares her experience working in the palliative care system in New South Wales, Australia, which sprung up from what was originally a blog post. Subsequently, after more than three million people viewed the post, it was thankfully turned into a book which shares detailed five lessons and those special individuals she had the opportunity to spend time with in their final days. Along the way, Ware shares her own journey of self-growth and discovery and how she has applied the lessons she has learned.
It is not lost on me that often the books we need find us, and after the loss of a special woman in my life who was very much akin to a grandmother, who having lived a wonderful life of nearly 95 years reminded me with each visit and time spent together the power of a happy heart, and after a cancer scare with one of my parents (they are in full recovery now), along with my beloved boys (my dogs) each in their double digit years, it quickly becomes apparent that life is short, precious and up to each of us to make it something we are proud to have lived, shared and experienced.
While we will all make mistakes in our lives, that is the gift of being a human :), we do not have to suffer needlessly if we are willing to open our minds to the stories and life experiernces of others. In the past ten years I have come to enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies to soak up as many life lessons as I can that I would have otherwise not known about (Julia Child is one of my favorite teachers, but so are many others). Today what I would like to share with you are nine Life Lessons that caught my attention as I was reading Bronnie Ware's book. While her book focuses on five overarching regrets, interwoven amongst each are smaller, no less important lessons, to understand and apply to our lives moving forward.
As I was reading, I began to celebrate as I discovered that much of what is shared aligns with living a simply luxurious life, and especially if you've read TSLL's 2nd book, you will know that nearly all of these topics are explored in depth. I cannot fully understand the emotional strength Bronnie exercised in each of her experiences, as well, and more importantly, the individuals who shared their stories in their final days, but I am determined to make sure their lessons are learned and applied forward as we go about our daily lives. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast270
Sun, 1 December 2019
"Everyone knows you don't have to be born in Paris to dress like a Parisian." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide (2019) with Sophie Gachet, co-author
In 2011, Karl Lagerfeld's muse and the first model to sign an exclusive modeling contract with the haute couture fashion house, in this case Chanel, Ines de la Fressange published her first Style Guide. Becoming quickly a New York Times Book Review bestseller, eight years later, she has updated her much applauded Parisian Style Guide.
Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide was recently released this past November. Having written a detailed a review when her original book was first published (have a look), the updated version contains 50% new content, 300 full-color illustrations/photographs, and is completely refreshed. Now admittedly, much of the original holds true and is still a valuable resource, but if you too have the original copy, you know that the latter half of the book is a resource of addresses of boutiques, restaurants and many other Parisian locales recommended by de la Fressange. As one might imagine, these had to be updated.
Today, what I'd like to share with you are 32 Ways to Exhibit Parisian Chic style whether in your wardrobe, home or lifestyle because whether we live in Paris, wish to visit Paris or not, incorporate one or many of her style tips will help us to cultivate our own unique signature style. Let's get started.
~Be sure to tune in to the audio version as much more detail is shared on each of the items shared below.
1.Muster up courage and ignore the trends (p.13)
2. Create a vintage collection of your own (p.14)
3. Remember to let your style evolve (p.30)
4. Practice discretion when it comes to labels and accessories (p.12)
5. Take on the role of 'buyer' for your own wardrobe (p.15)
6. Hone the skill of 'mixing things up' (p.16, 26, 28, 29)
Wear a high end designer pant with a simple white shirt
7. Mix patterns and soften with white (p.21)
8. Know the universal rule of proportions when it comes to good style
9. Simple is good
"Not everything you buy has to be interesting. A nice scoop neck sweater is a must. You can wear it with jeans and a long necklace —it will look elegant without being boring." (p.32)
10. Welcome men's accessories into your wardrobe - especially belts
Worn and too long for a traditional outfit, belts with such descriptors are perfect for cinching everything that needs a waist. (p. 27)
11. Avoid fashion faux pas (p. 34-37)
Such as T-shirts with supposedly funny sayings and leggings (unless you are headed to yoga class or a your daily workout is calling).
12. Style idea for a date - cropped black trousers, a man's white button-up shirt and low heeled or flat shoes, but don't forget nice lingerie (p.41)
13. Don't be afraid of sneakers (stylish and thoughtful, bien sûr) (p. 45)
14. When packing for a getaway, bring denim (p.48) . . .
. . . also a loose shirt, white jeans, two long-sleeved shirts, a white cotton dress (and to view the entire list visit page 48-49).
15. Buy the right leather jacket . . .
. . . which is "as close fitting as possible with high armholes and patch pockets". (p. 54)
16. Never follow diets. Rather follow Ines' golden rule:
"Pay attention when you are eating and stop when you are no longer hungry." (p. 171)
17. Remember the truth about dinner parties - they are coming to see you, not for a gourmet meal (p. 170)
18. Dinner party - a simple, yet delicious dinner, followed by an amusing dessert (regarding the presentation). (p. 170)
19. Stick to a central theme in your home decor
View/Listen to episode #228 - 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Decor Book
20. Make decor statements with a single piece of furniture - a chair, a settee.
Thoughtfully chosen items can stand-out against a neutral palette
21. Welcome the scented candles . . . to every room
22.Harmonize containers in the kitchen (p. 152)
23. Use vases to store kitchen utensils (p. 152)
24. Display a painting on an easel instead of the wall (p.156)
25. Collect and display a variety of ceramic items on a table - trés Parisienne (swap regularly) (p. 156)
26. Choose an inviting sofa (large, comfortable, plush is that is your liking) (p. 156)
27. Keep your eye out for a vintage stepladder to place next to a bookshelf (p. 156)
28. Unification in the closet - hangers of the same color
29. Give everything in your closet a front-row seat
So you can see what you have and wear it! (p. 162)
30. Don't worry about buying last season's trends
31. Walk or bike as much as you can instead of hopping into a car (location dependent)
32. Know what true effortless style is . . . "self-confidence and a smile" (p.26)
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
How to Cultivate Your True Style All Year Long, episode #149
Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange, TSLL's review (2011)
Mon, 18 November 2019
268: M. L. Longworth Talks Provence during the Holidays, Favorite Cookbooks and Her New Provençal Mystery
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Today's episode is my recent conversation with returning guest M.L. Longworth. Her latest mystery in her Provençal mystery series became available to readers last Tuesday, and it is the eighth in the Bonnet and Verlaque series: A Noël Killing.
Having had the opportunity to read and having thoroughly enjoy the book earlier this fall, I invited her on the show again to talk about the book and so much more. After all, France, and specially Provence, is a place TSLL readers are quite fond of along with myself, and why not learn more about this special place on the map from someone who has called it home for more than 22 years!
For the first time, the plot is set during the winter holidays in Aix-en-Provence, which prompted me to ask a handful of questions about Provence during this festive time of year.
Of course, food was the topic of a more than a few questions, and Mary Lou generously shares her go-to Provençal cookbooks as well as recipes she enjoys making for her family and friends and items she looks forward to purchasing from the artisanal shops during the winter season.
A Noël Killing is a true delight of a Provençal mystery that is cozy in all the right ways, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering who will turn out to be the culprit behind the unexpected murder. Be sure to tune into our conversation, and do not forget to discover her Petit Plaisir which is shared at the end of the episode: It is simple and lovely, as well as an inexpensive daily routine that will take the definition of simple luxury to the next level during this special time of year, put perhaps year-round too.
Links mentioned during the show:
~Listen to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.
Sun, 10 November 2019
Here in the states, we may officially wait for the holiday energy to be set free, but by the time November arrives, it can easily begin to feel as though the holidays have begun. Whether that is due in part to marketers and shops shifting from Halloween on October 31st to red and green everything on November 1st, or an earnest desire for the holidays to begin by the public, I cannot quite be sure, but what I do know is that I love the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving of which I am calling the "pre-holiday" season.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but during the first third of November (Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November which this year is quite late in the month), I just linger with absolute contentment.
Today I would like to share with you 10 activities or ideas for savoring the pre-season period as the year that is begins to wind down to celebration and festive gathering.
1.Set the mood in your home without pulling out the decorations
From placing simmering spices on the stovetop to fill the house with luscious, warm and citrus as well as spice-filled flavors (check out my simple recipe here) or simply switching the wreath on the front door to an autumn theme (if you have not done so already), protect, yet acknowledge this time of year that is truly meant to be savored after a summer and early fall of harvest as we gear up for the bustle of the holiday season.
2. Put the yard and exterior of the home to bed for the winter
Depending upon where you live and when the temperatures begin to drop, take this time to be outside and winterize the home, tend to the plants that need to be mulched and trim the perennials, as well as plant the new bulbs that will emerge in the spring. Tending to the exterior of your home will enable you to sleep soundly at night during the snowstorms and frigid temperatures knowing all is taken care of so that you can simply enjoy the winter wonderland that appears out the front door.
~Trusted British gardener Monty Don shares a worth-keeping monthly list of what to tend to in the garden during the month of November.
3. Assess your fitness routine and improve now to feel your best during the holidays
When we are conscious of the benefit of a good and regular fitness routine as well as a well-balanced eating regimen, we are more likely to do well during the holidays. Establish or cement what is working well and plan now to figure out how you will maintain your ability to stay active and eat well even if you are traveling or removed from your regular environment.
4. Make a favorite fall dessert or main dish for you and the household just because it's fall.
From Apple Tart Tatin (check out my recipe and video tutorial below) to butternut squash and apples roasted to perfection for a lovely side dish with pork chops. (The image at the top of the post is a favorite fall dessert inspired by Julia Child - look for my adaptation to be shared in season 3 of the cooking show!)
~Quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and apples: Combine cubes of butternut squash and apples on a parchment lined sheet pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the squash and apples with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy!
5. Make sure you have something to look forward to just after the holidays wrap up - something simple, low-key and maybe just for yourself.
6. Have fun with fall foliage - arrangements, playing in the leaves, taking photos of unique compositions that catch your eye
7. Take advantage of weekend sales as businesses clear out inventory for the holiday season.
Currently many business are having sales during our long weekend here in the states, but that is just a start to what is to come. Whether you are beginning to shop for gifts for the holidays or have a list of items you love but are waiting for a sale, be sure to take advantage if the price is right and the item is exactly what you want. As I shared yesterday, I am looking for a fresh holiday wreath for my front door, and was pleased with Williams-Sonoma' 20% off sale.
As well, examine your fall, winter and holiday wardrobe: Do you have what you need? Are there any gaps? The fall collections are about to go on drastic reduction and scooping up your preferred and needed items at great prices will make you and your budget quite happy, not to mention ensure you look your best and feel comfortable going about your day.
8. Forage for the arts and literature and culture you love
On Wednesday of this week I shared a list of books, podcasts, and television shows to enjoy during the winter season, but what I love most about these three weeks leading up to the holidays is that I cozy inside my house far more than I would during warmer weather and pull out a book (or two, or three) and let the time pass by. The same happens when I discover a great show or when I toodling about the house or walking the boys while listening to a podcast in which I learn something but lifts my spirits or ensures my day will be better after listening to it by either teaching me something or deepending my understanding on something that matters.
Perhaps why I enjoyed my visit to Portland last weekend so much and stopping (and lingering) at Powell's Independent Book Store was because books and late fall and winter, along with the shorter days means more time to get lost in a book. Of course reading is savoring year-round, but there is all the more reason to further our knowledge and let ideas percolate giving them time to germinate so that they can bloom fully when spring arrives and summer follows.
9. Get cosy often and lose track of time
At the foundation of these three weeks is time without apology for self-care. Self-care needs to happen year-round and on a regular basis most certainly, but since we know what awaits in the near future, no matter how much we greatly look forward to it, we can enjoy it all the more with a fully rested self.
As 2019 began, the first Petit Plaisir of the year was the book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir. Released in early November 2018, her timing was not on accident. The cosy/cozy season truly feels as though it begins with November's arrival.
10. Find time to be with yourself, not just introverts researchs finds
In a recent New York Times article, research was shared that "valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it". Why?
With the new and different, wanted and unwanted people you will see and spend time with during the holiday season, there will undoubtedly be swells of emotion, good and perhaps not so good. Knowing how to regulate our emotions will help us navigate what has the potential to be a truly joyous time of year well and most beneficially not only for our own mental health but those around us. And it is with giving ourselves time to be alone that we learn to regulate our emotions.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we have talked about often here on the blog, podcast and in TSLL's 2nd book, and continued research finds that mastering this skill has life enhancing qualities. By giving ourselves time to learn how to monitor our emotions which when we are alone with ourselves and our thoughts expectedly will provide plenty of practice until we learn how to calm the tide and just be present, we give ourselves an awesome gift. Perhaps the best give to give during the holiday season, non? ;)
So cosy up in your favorite spot, turn on a lovely playlist that will wash over you and just do something that you love. At this very moment I am snuggled up with Oscar by my side in my oversized, very well-used chaise armchair, the jazz fills the house and I am watching the many birds dance around the birdfeeder determining who will have the opportunity to snack for a moment. The emotions are certainly swimming about, especially after the week my family has had with the loss of someone truly special to all of us, but because of much practice spending time with myself, I savor such moments and am thankful to have them.
May these three weeks, this "pre-holiday" season prior to the holiday festivities be joy-filled and provide many moments of contentment.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV
~Habitually Chic's post: Outfits Inspired by Jennifer Aniston's Wardrobe on The Morning Show
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #266
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Listen and download the episode here.
~For TSLL reader information: Some of the links shared on the blog are affiliate links, earning TSLL a small commission at no cost to you. Please know, I recommend only products I genuinely like. Thank you so much.
Mon, 4 November 2019
A stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg or one of the many other jardins located about Paris as the many carefully groomed leafy trees turn orange, red and brilliant gold is a memory to savor for travelers who come from far and wide to visit the City of Light during the autumn season. Granted, most travelers wish to visit for many other reasons as well, but being dressed well for the season ensures the visit will be comfortable and help one to fit in well so as to best experience the city as it goes about its everyday business and routines.
Last month I shared Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain — with the promise to share each season a capsule wardrobe to pack for both Britain and France. Today, specifically Paris is our focus.
To visit during autumn is for a select lucky few, and while I have only traveled abroad during this time of year once due to work restraints, I look forward in the future to more visits during this somewhat "off season". After all, from rain, to chilly temperatures, to stunning fall days complete with cobbled streets sprinkled with leaves, autumn in Paris encourages all the more slipping into cafes, museums, bistros and just soaking up Paris and Parisian life.
Let's take a look at what to pack for a comfortable visit for day and evening in Paris.
Paris can be quite cold when the right combination of dropping temperatures and whistling wind sweeps through, so having warmth, yet stylish warmth is a good idea. Depending upon how long you are visiting, pack one or two sweaters, at least one being oversized for wearing over slim jeans or trousers.
Just about every person you will see in Paris, men and women will be donning a scarf that is functional and subtly (or sometimes not so subtle) chic and perfectly paired with their outfit. Pack a wool or cashmere scarf for layering with your coat as well as silk large square scarves for wearing with your outfit after the coat has been removed.
3. Opaque tights
Whether you prefer classic opaque black tights or what the French call collants fantaisie hosierie, tights with details in them, having a pair to keep your legs warm when you still want to wear a skirt or dress is a simple, yet necessary detail to have packed in your suitcase.
4. Ankle boots
Worn with pants, jeans or skirts and dresses, ankle boots are a go-to must-have for the fall season.
5. A Leather or Faux Leather jacket
Layering is the approach to ensure you have what you need to stay warm, but also look pulled together. A leather jacket is a versatile item pairing well for casual occasions as well as evening outings. Choose a color that works well with your wardrobe and skin tone, and don't feel you have purchase a black jacket. Shades of brown or grey are a wonderful neutral choice depending upon what you will be pairing with it.
6. Knee-high or Over-the-Knee boots
Depending upon your style, choose a boot shaft that is tall, but slender. Over-the-knee boots are quite en vogue at the moment and actually have been worn by style icons for years, those that had the aplomb to wear them. And wear them well they most certainly did. With more and more price points available, if you have a nice slim skinny jean or a skirt that is knee or just above the knee length, consider having some fun with this style. However, knee-high boots will always be in style and work well with all ages and wardrobes. If you are comfortable with a little bit of a heel, knowing you will be walking about in them a bit more than usual, go for a heel, but if not, keep them low or flat.
7. Skirts — day skirts that can transition
Knee length or just below the knee skirts are frequently seen on the streets of Paris. Depending upon your body's shape, choose a cut that flatters your figure, but is also versatile to pair with a sweater, your leather jacket as well as a nice blouse.
8. Jeans and/or pants
Whatever you feel most comfortable in and can dress up or down easily, pack two or three - jeans, pants or a mixture. Dark denim if you choose jeans and a color of pant that can be worn with at least two different tops you have brought with you.
9. A Trench coat and/or a Wool coat
Depending upon what time of the fall season you will be visiting, one or both of these coats is a good idea. Wool coats will be ubiquitous in the winter season, but there will still be warm and temperate days in early fall in which a trench would be perfect.
10. Loafers or sneakers
Sneakers are not a no-no anymore so long as they are not trainers. With a vast array of wardrobe sneakers to choose from at varying price points, find a color (white is popular, but it need not be the only neutral choice) that works best with the other items you have brought with you.
Loafers on the other hand can be quite comfortable as well and are perfect on those mild fall days in which letting your ankles meet the fresh air won't chill you at all.
~While your sneakers do not have to be as fancy as the Saint Laurent pair at the top of the post, having a pair that is narrow and simple will make walking comfortable and make sure you don't feel out of style.
11. A crossbody bag
As you will be walking quite a bit, even if it is simply to hop on the metro or hail a cab, having a handbag that is secure, yet a decent size without being overwhelming is a good idea. While pickpocketers are certainly something to be aware of, and a crossbody bag will help you keep your purse secure, choosing a bag that is just large enough for what you need is perfect for walking about as well as traveling to and from Paris. And since you are in France, why not choose a Polène Numero Un or Numero Un mini?
12. A long-sleeve blouse
Choosing a blouse in a print (is always a simple way to make a statement with the other neutral items in your wardrobe) or a solid that pairs with at least two bottoms in your suitcase is a way to offer versatility for both day and evening.
13. One or two dresses
While your wardrobe will be dependent upon your itinerary and what you will be visiting and how you best prefer to enjoy the city, pack one or two dresses. Midi-length is quite popular right now and flattering to many different figures and ages. Depending upon how you most feel comfortable dressing up, make sure you have at least one nice evening outfit. If that is a dress, pack the dress that raises your confidence meter at least two notches. For day, choose a dress that allows you to move, sit, stand and still look wonderful.
Wearing what makes you feel your best, so much so that you can forget about your clothes and just enjoy being in Paris is possible when the wardrobe is thoughtfully compiled. These items should keep you warm, but also trés effortlessly chic. Finish with a scarf, and a curious heart and mind, and you will look absolutely stunning.
~View the remaining three seasons of timeless style for traveling to France below.
TSLL's 2nd Book is now available in Audio Format! (Audible, Amazon and iBooks)
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain, episode #263
~22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment, episode #258
~Top 10 Style & Beauty Lessons Learned from the French, episode #196
~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow
Sun, 20 October 2019
265: Let's Talk Relationships (with Ourselves & Others): Before & During, Embracing Chance and Choice
"A true love story isn't a fairy tale. It takes vulnerability and effort."
Contentment versus misery. Peace versus malcontentment. Joy versus heartache.
What separates a life of the former from the life of the latter in each of these side-by-sides is knowing when to leave life up to chance and when to choose to invest purposely, intentionally and regularly.
To successfully reach the result we desire, as with any process, there is a particular order in which certain ingredients must be welcomed into the recipe. Just as with making an awakening cup of espresso, not only do the beans need to be of high quality, but the proper tools must be at-hand and the knowledge of how to use them properly understood. Equally important, the water used that filters through the ground beans must be of high quality, and then, after the necessary process has been tended to, then, the results we wished to see and experience with our own eyes and tastebuds will materialize and savored.
Understanding relationships, from the one we will have our entire lives - the one with ourselves, to the relationships we have with others, either platonic or romantic, and how healthy relationships work, and what they require of each of us is life-changing knowledge to possess.
"There are no directions. There are no checklists. There’s no “to do” when it comes to love, there’s only “to feel” and feeling cannot be predetermined, it cannot be forced. It arises when we move from our heads into our hearts, stay present, and let go; when we drop our typical millennial, achievement-driven style and instead, remember, the only thing truly in our control is our ability to surrender." —Dr. Jordana Jacobs, in a recent article for We Are Doré
I recently received a question from a TSLL reader in her mid-to-late twenties, and I appreciated her candid and sincere question about relationships in which she inquired about how to not be envious of those already in relationships when she is not in one and would like to be. The question inquired about my approach most specifically as she had previously shared she appreciated the celebration and contentment I express of being single (for readers who may not know, I am 40) and enjoying my life. I have shared my response below.
I want to thank the TSLL reader who reached out with her question (I will keep her name private as this was a DM conversation) because I know she is not alone in her quandary. As good timing would have it, after reading this article regarding how currently the culture is approaching dating incorrectly, I found myself nodding in agreement profusely.
What I have realized upon reflection as to part of the reason my twenties were unnecessarily exhausting was the energy expended on doing what I thought I "had to do". In this case, the idea that I was supposed to be dating or seeing or getting close to finding my life partner. My experience was less about being inspired by other couples and more a response of not wanting to feel like an outsider. However, it was in my thirties that I finally, as I shared in my books, fully invested my time (outside of my daily teaching job) into getting to know myself and invest in opportunities that my curiosities led me toward. More contentment had and has never been before experienced, and in my case, it all happened without a partner and solely due to my investment in the relationshp I have with myself.
Our life's journey, as much as we would like them to be made clear, especially regarding our relationships with others, but vitally as important as the relationship we have with ourselves and where this knowledge will lead, cannot be made known before the opportunities cross our path.
When said opportunities cross our path, whether they hint where our passion could lead us or a person who we could not have described until we met them and spent time with them, if we are in tune with themselves, so thereby grounded, but also open to the unknown, that is when our lives begin to blossom.
~Related Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy:
"Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts. A lifetime of love is created every single day you are together." —Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, co-authors of Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
As much as our lives depends upon chance when it comes to relationships (with ourselves or with others), once chance has introduced us to the career that speaks our language in a way to offer the vehicle to express our talents and passions with the world or to the person who we mesh with more than we ever thought would be humanly possible, this is where chance steps aside (after all, it has put forth an immense amount of effort) and choice steps forward.
Even though the adage "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life" has been stated as fact quite frequently, the fact of the matter is, the idea of "work" must be put into context. If "work" is seen as a having a negative connotation, then perhaps the quote is true as you are doing something you love doing, but if we look at "work" through its benign, literal definition, it involves effort, dedication, diligence and regular maintenance to ensure the career we so love having the opportunity to be a part of our lives keeps humming forward successfully.
When it comes to the latter interpretation of work, the same must be said, according to the co-authors, husband and wife, Dr. John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman, of the new book Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love , for loving, healthy romantic relationships as well.
Too often, when a couple or a desired career path fails beyond the initial success or wedding day, it is because the choice and chance were flipped. In other words, the idea that technology and endless "dating" as a "to do" item in our planners would suggest we cannot leave our love lives to chance. But as scary as it might sound, if we wish to find a partner that sees us for who we are, respects us for what we do and desires to get to know us because of this truth, we must strengthen our relationshp with ourselves first and thus fall in love with our lives with or without a partner. In doing so, we are leaving our "finding" of a partner largely up to chance. It doesn't mean we don't put ourselves out there, but it does mean putting our phones and all of the seemingly amazingly helpful apps down.
Further, once chance has led us, no matter how long it has taken, to what we patiently hoped we would one day discover, we must then regularly make the choice to continue to invest. Both with our emotional vulnerability and our time. If we want our relationship to grow, deepen, strengthen and endure whether it be our relationship with ourselves or with another, we must choose to put the energy forward of our time, our priority and our courage of belief in what seemingly magically introduced itself into our lives and we bravely recognized it to be something that aligned with ourselves.
~Related Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy:
At this moment, each of us are at a different point along our journeys whether in our career, or I would argue calling or the pursuit of our calling as well along the journey regarding relationships. Once we recognize where we are, we can discover the clarity of understanding how to proceed. With the right balance of being open to chance and embracing the responsiblity of choosing to invest, the discovery of unexpectedly awesome abundance and contentment will dance into and throughout our everyday lives.
~A big thank you to TSLL reader Sarah for finding a recipe to make your own: click here.
~Sponsor of Today's Episode:
Sun, 13 October 2019
"Elegance is not something that adds stress or difficulty to our lives — quite the contrary. True elegance . . . means confidence in who you are and what you love, grace in how you handle yourself, and openness to the best in others." —interior designer Timothy Corrigan in his new book The New Elegance: Stylish, Comfortable Rooms for Today
In many ways, Timothy Corrigan's defition of elegance is a cousin to simply luxurious living.
An understanding of what speaks to you, what you need to live your best life and how to dance with the world in which you are a citizen, partner, friend and community member, is a skill and a gift that we can all welcome into our lives. And when it comes to our decor, Corrigan describes in his new book succinctly and vividly how to welcome your own unique elegance into your sanctuary.
Today I would like to share with you Corrigan's insights into cultivating an elegant home accompanied by a handful of decor images found in his new book. Having had the opportunity to peruse and read his new book which along with home tours also includes his expertise delineated clearly and specifically for Scale & Proportion, Symmetry, Architectural Details, Impactful Surfaces, The Layered Look, Art & Mirrors, The Power of Color, Mixing Elements and more tips and ideas for becoming your own interior designer, I hope you find a guiding compass of confidence to step into your own home and make the changes or updates that would align with your unique exemplification of elegance.
~Note: Upon reading Corrigan's latest decor book, it was brought to my attention that his previous book was An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Lucé: Decorating a Great French Country House (2013), and I must say, as a Francophile who loves French country homes, I quickly put it on my wish list. That one looks to be a lovely read full of inspirational decor ideas as well.
Why Add Elegance to Your Home?
"Elegance adds immense pleasure to life. To seek elegance — in your behavior, in what you wear and surround yourself with —is a treat you give to yourself and, almost inadvertently, share with those around you."
Depending upon how you most enjoy spending time in your home, you will invest in different ways. If you are someone who enjoys cooking and sharing your meals with others as a way to bring them together, then investing in a kitchen that is best suited to how you cook enabling you to do so effectively will not only bring pleasure to your life, but provide the opportunity to share with those you invite into your home.
In this way, elegance is a reflection of your true self to the world that you invite to cross the threshold of your home. It is not about one-upping or showing off, but rather cultivating a space that dances with you and the life you love living, a home that supports you through your journey and also enables you to soar. In other words, you are not burdened by your home when you choose to cultivate elegance, but rather nurtured.
Can Comfort and Elegance Exist Together?
"Comfort is not antithetical to elegance, but rather its support and backbone. No one can feel truly elegant (at least not for long) if he or she doesn't feel at ease."
When we talk about comfort, there is an underlying presence of security, thus enabling the inhabitants to fully relax and breathe deeply in their own space. Corrigan speaks to this need for security being at the underlying roots of all of his designs, "The notion of feeling cocooned, protected and pampered . . . is the one effect I consistently try to accomplish . . . an innate feeling of safety."
Each one of us will define a sense of security slightly or significantly different depending upon how we most enjoy living our lives, but either way, knowing what that definition is for ourselves is a crucial key to decorating a home that is our place of refuge.
If books nurture you, then make sure you welcome them into your home in a way that pays them reverence. In other words, let them be seen, let them be scattered if that works best for you so that you have a book wherever you may sit down to relax, let them be orderly if simply seeing them brings you a deep sigh of relief, but either way, welcome books into your home. The same can be said for any pasttime, lifeline or hobby that brings you joy and comfort - musical instruments, photos from your travels, flowers from the garden, I think you get the idea. Go forth and bring your world into your home, and then the elegance begins to flourish.
How to Live with Beautiful Items in an Elegant Home
"The secret to avoiding polishing silver is not to put it away, but to use it everyday — then you won't have to polish it . . . " [in other words] "use what you have. Use it all. Use it now. Few things are sadder than piles of exquisite porcelain and china hidden away in a cupboard, or a large house in which many of the rooms go unused."
From the porcelain teacups picked up along our travels to the china set handed down from your parents from your grandparents, use these beautiful, story-telling items regularly and often.
I will ease your mind right now and say, yes, you will break one at some time and be heartbroken, but it was being used and loved and appreciated and that how memories remain with us - the repetition of their story dancing about in our minds. And each time we use the item, the memory becomes more vivid and less likely to be forgotten if we wish it to be remembered. We cannot strengthen such a memory if we do not use the items.
Case in point, I purchased a teacup and saucer on my trip to Devon two years ago. I only have one, and if I break it, well, it's gone. There is nothing that will replace it, but because I have used it so much (see it here), not only do I have pictures of it in use, but I have used it so frequently, I can describe in detail that mug and all of those wonderful memories come rushing back.
How to Use Each Room in an Elegant Home
"Each room has a specific purpose, guaranteeing it will be used. And if something you own doesn't work for you, give it away. If a room doesn't function for the way you live, change it to make it work for you."
Similar to letting go of limiting beliefs and ways of life, so too can assuming a room must be the room the architect or previous owners planned it be and used it for.
Case in point, when I when through my-now-home the first time with my real estate agent, he noted that the small room close the rear entrance would make a great office, as it was wired to be so (internet cables, etc.). Immediately, in my mind, I said, nope. This will be a mudroom. Well, and here again, I would make it a mudroom that would serve my lifestyle and be in many ways, a rear foyer to the home as I will enter it each and everyday from the garage.
"Too often, we succumb to visions of how we want to live —in a sleek, white space, a country cottage, or a grand manse — then we feel bad when we can't live to those fantasies . . . Never buy into a trend."
As we go through our lives and if we are paying attention to when we are soaring and what helps it to feel this way, we come to realize what we need in our life's routine to feel not only grounded and secure, but comforted and strengthened. Such knowledge guides us through the decorating and appointing of each room's purpose as well.
Budget and Elegance
"Great design is not about the size of your space or the budget you spend. It is a reflection of knowing who you are and what makes you comfortable, and living confidently and happily with the objects you choose to assemble."
My apologies for using my own journey for my examples, but quickly, many readers may remember that my previously own home was 2600 sq feet. Since then I moved into a rental four years ago that was under 1500 sq feet, and it was through living in nearly half of the space that I realized what fit me and my life the best. Now, I will also share that during my first year of teaching, I rented a cottage that was 500 sq feet in Minden, Nevada. That, while thoughtfully designed to make for a cozy and safe home, was too small for my life. But again, we learn as we go.
My new home is just under 1600 square feet, perfectly tailored to my life and the life my boys need with a small, but not large yard. There will be times in our lives when we have a choice and other times when we do not, just as we may be making less money than we would like to live the life that would be more comfortable. However, along the way, we can live with elegance.
I have found that my time living in rentals — NW Portland, Nevada, NW Bend and even in college — has given me time to experiment, but also explore new ideas (remember that red wall I talked about in my first book? yep, that was a rental, and while I loved it for one year, one year was long enough). Each time, wherever I call home, I have been determined and in a variety of expected and many unexpected ways successful in creating a sanctuary that let me relax and unwind no matter no how much or how little money I earned each month.
~POST TO READ: 7 Simple Ways to Create a Sanctuary
Invest in Quality for a Home of Elegance, But Mix and Match Price Points as Well
"You should always buy the best-quality items you can afford, but not everything in a room needs to be expensive. A mix of items of different prices, different eras, and differing qualities is far more appealing."
From mixing antiques with yard sale finds, custom furniture with shabby chic family hand-me-downs that you will never want to let go, knowing how to marry these two ideas is a skill that becomes easier with time.
Much like wearing a quality pair of shoes with a simple pair of jeans and a tee, finished with a tailored blazer, the balance needs to be struck to work well and exude the elegance you seek. Not everything needs to be new or antique, but it needs to speak to the function you require in your life as well as be perceived by you, the inhabitant of the home, as beautiful. Maybe it tells a story that you never want to forget - a framed photo for example or playbill from a play you saw with your grandmother when you were young - or maybe it was an item you saved up for over months, even years, and serves as a reminder of your journey. Whatever you choose to welcome into your space, never forget that quality will last and memories can provide a comfort of confidence when you look about your home.
The Gift of Cultivating a Home of True Elegance
"I can assure you that spending each day in beautiful rooms, rooms full of personal items and objects you love, will bring meaning and solace to your life, satisfaction, and even joy."
Wanting to spend time in your home is the goal. Weekends need not be for escape from our home and everyday life when we create a space that we love spending time in whether we are with others or alone.
The decoration of our homes will take time, but with a map of what to look for, a reason for why you want to bring items into your sanctuary and what you want (and need) your sanctuary to do each time you return home, will make the puzzle you are working on bringing together much easier to complete.
~Learn more about Timothy Corrigan's book The New Elegance: Stylish, Comfortable Rooms for Today
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Derry Girls, Season 1 & Season 2, on Netflix
Sun, 22 September 2019
"When we learn how to spot the narratives that get in the way of our happiness, we improve our chances of taking control of the stories that have for so long controlled us." —Paul Dolan, author of Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life
"There are countless stories about how we ought to live our lives . . . as such, many of these stories end up creating a kind of social dissonance whereby, perversely, they cause more harm than good. They become . . . narrative traps, which together form the myth of the perfect life."
NOTE: Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as a detailed introduction and other conversation is shared.
1. Understand the difference between having wealth and being rich.
Wealth is defined as accumulated assets in the form of savings, investment and property and is more difficult to measure. Rich is often understood to be a numerical amount of cash earned in income. Looking at one's wealth is a better reflection of a person's purchasing power. In other words, simply because someone "looks rich", does not mean they are rich.
"Getting richer does not necessarily bring more happiness, partly becasue we upwardly adjust the people we compare ourselves to."
2. A happy life doesn't require you to have children
"Happy and fulfilled lives are often supported by, but certainly do not require children. There are good reasons not to have children, both at the micro and macro level. It is not helpful, therefore, to push the 'have your own kids' narrative on everyone. Finding a way to celebrate rather than undermine people's decisions to remain childfree by loosening our hold on the social narrative can have a positive societal impact."
3. Stop comparing yourself to others and putting yourself in a position to be tempted to compare.
Dolan suggests, if you are going to make comparisons, to make a comparison to any one of the other 7 billion people on our planet. Most likely you are doing very well financially. Not only will this provide perspective but also humility.
4. Let go of the pursuit for more money
Once you have a enough money to live a life in which you are not struggling for the basic necessities, Dolan suggests taking the path to "just enough". Why? When we become aware of what we truly need, we are demonstrating we are cognizant of the social comparisons and status markers that may have pushed us to pursue more in the past. Understanding why we are pursuing what we are pursuing, to truly get to the core of the urge, is to make sure we are indeed thinking for ourselevs and not being unconsciously led around by the nose due to the narrative traps we are unaware surround us constantly.
Once you stop pursuing more money, "you can stop constantly worrying". And what a gift to give yourself as your everydays will elevate immediately.
5. Reexamine what your success looks like, and let go of the pursuit for status
Conscious living is at the heart of what we're talking about today, and becoming clear about what we are pursuiting and what is pushing us to achieve it is crucial to live a more contented life.
If at the core of why you are pursuing a particular career is because of the status it will bring, applause you imagine will happen, then you are being led around by a narrative trap; however, if you are instead pursuing a field of study that ignites you, allows you to come to life and aligns with talents that naturally are easy to share, then you are on the right path for the success that will be unique to you.
6. Pursue a career in which many skills are utilized and your contributions are valued
Dolan found that those individuals who work on a job that uses a variety of skills are happier. As well, if your work is valued, that too cultivates a work environment of enjoyment. Not only is a job that asks our minds and sometimes bodies to work different skill sets and tasks healthy regular exercise for our brains and beings, but it leads to a feeling of productivity at the end of the day which is very satisfying. Add the knowledge that what we are doing is contributing something of value that we are proud of that the pair is the perfect natural medicine for a sound and peaceful night of rest.
7. Women and girls and education
Dolan found that receiving a basic education for girls had a significant effect on the overall happiness of their lives. In other words, making sure all people, but especially girls enables them to have agency over their own lives. Largely because the world is dominated by patriarchies, educating women to understand the world they live in and how to advocate for their own rights as well as navigate in the world that may not, depending upon where they live, want them to think for themselves, is crucial for the individual's happiness.
8. Understand the difference between passionate and companionate love
"Given the way that love is portrayed in literature, film and the media, the prevailing narrative clearly places a high premium on its passionate aspect, most often in manipulatively uplifing ways."
As shared previously on TSLL, being married is not the causation of happiness, but rather, if the happiness lasts beyond the short-term (as it does bring a feeling of euphoria to have met society's standard or expectation), it is due to two happy people finding each other. In other words, they knew how to be happy on their own and the happiness together, being happy in their choice to come together, likely increased their feelings of contentment. Dolan points these findings out as well.
When it comes to falling for the trap of passionate love and trying to mold it into happily ever after, I have fallen into that narrative trap as well. The narrative of intense chemistry swirls around us constantly in the media, and it is up to us to be aware of what it is and what would be best for a long-lasting, healthy, loving relationship.
9. Be married, be single, it does not matter when it comes to happiness
More and more studies are revealing that those who are married and happy are no more happy than any other group - single, widowed, divorced.
The social narrative of promoting marriage as the goal is prevalent in our society and has been for decades in our modern lives (in previous centuries, due to lack of equality laws, it was often a necessity). When we can recognize the narrative trap, and be clear about what is speaking to us for how we wish to live our lives, we set ourselves free to live our best lives - whether that is with or without someone.
Dolan books continues on to explore many other topics such as health, volition, monogamy and altruism. I encourage you to read it as it provides an exercise for the brain regarding the narrative traps we may have stepped into and did not realize it.
To make a blanket statement and say that all social narratives are bad is not wise, but all should be explored, and likely, at least for me, you may find that most should be challenged. That is the difficult part as you are going against the grain of what society expects. Dolan reminds that any narrative that is predominant "always serves the interests of those in power, the groups they serve best will depend on the context". What he is suggesting we keep in mind whenever we talk about or consider and examine any narrative is to closely look at the narrative to understand all of the nuances and not make sweeping assumptions or statements.
Fundamentally, when we let go of what no longer serves us, we set ourselves free, and much like fall and the as the quote below reminds, it is a lovely revealing of what we have the opportunity to experience as we go about living a life that will bring us far more contentment than we ever thought possible.
"Trees are about ready to show us how lovely it is to let things go." —Emily Ley, A Simplified Life
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Play with the pumpkins
~Sponsors of today’s episode:
Sun, 15 September 2019
"A home should reveal the personalities of its inhabitants. At its best it should be a portrait of who you are . . . Look at your house as an artist would and have fun creating vignettes as a painter would a still life." —Kristin Perers, author of A Home for All Seasons
Fall will arrive next week on the 23rd and spring for the southern hemispheren on the same date. The changing of the seasons, as I recently shared in an interview on the Synced Life podcast, is a consistent and dependable way to be present in our everyday lives.
By choosing to be present during each season we are acknowledging that its presence in our lives is evanescent, fleeting and in three months' time will transition into something different. Waiting nine more months is necessary to experience the gifts of each season. Simply knowing the reality, we have all the more motivation to revel in the gifts of each season.
Last month TSLL reader Tracy emailed me and introduced me to Kristin Perers' book, A Home for All Seasons which was released quite a few years ago. But as one might imagine, since we have the same seasons each year, it is a classic of a book to refer to every three months - if nothing else, to serve a reminder for ample inspiration.
Perers suggests that when we decorate with the seasons, revolving with them, we make our home feel much more alive and dynamic, but at the same time, reflective of the home's inhabitants. And in so doing, we improve the quality of our days as our moods due to our emotions are elevated with each day we spend in our sanctuary.
Below are a handful of ways to decorate and adorn seasonally as inspired by Perers' book.
1.Let the seasonal blooms make their statement
Whether you pick up your blooms at the farmers' market or from your yard and garden, appreciating the daffodils in early spring, the peonies in late spring, mums in fall and dahlias in late summer, remind us to savor until the blooms are no more.
2. Textiles - slipcovers, curtains, table linens, bed linens, pillows
Depending upon what you have in your home that is upholstered, if you have slipcovers, changing the type of fabric if not the color as well is a way to eagerly begin a new season as well as care properly for the linens you have.
3. Determine the focal points of each community room (living room, dining, kitchen, etc.), and change or decorate it differently for the seasons.
For example, if your fireplace is the focal point, adorn the mantle with seasonal details. If your dining table is the focal point, either with table linens or blooms, choose what you place on top of it to align with the seasons.
4. Create space to contemplate the beauty of nature
I love this suggestion that Perers makes, and while she suggestions physically bringing things in from outside and placing them about the home to prompt us to ponder nature's beauty, I think as well it would be delightful to create somewhere in the home where you can look outside and be cognizant of what season it is. For example, my parents have a sun room in their country home, and with each season my mom will rearrange the furniture: spring - space is made for young seedlings in preparation for planting in the coming months; in summer, ample seating is the preference as it serves as a wonderful place to soak up the sun when stepping outside due to work projects inside is not possible; autumn and the arrangements and bouquets change; and in the winter, the holiday tree is adorned for the festive, wintery season. All the while, we can see outside to observe and celebrate the beauty of the outdoors.
5. Give the bedroom special attention
While making sure to attend to all four of the previous items above for our bedrooms — different blankets, duvet covers and pillow covers for the bed; seasonal blooms for the side table, etc. — always keep in mind the power of a space we inhabit, especially in such an intimate fashion as our bedrooms. Here are a few ways to welcome the changing of the seasons in our most intimate room of our sanctuary:
~Discover and learn more about Kristin Perers' book A Home for All Seasons
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #261
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 8 September 2019
Over the next couple of months I look forward to sharing many different decor ideas. I have titled today's episode/post as part une because there will be more to come. I am not sure how many at this point, but with many wonderful decor books being released this fall, I am enjoying perusing through them all, and want to share what I have discovered.
The first book that inspired today's episode is Cathy Kincaid's The Well Adorned Home: Making Luxury Livable. There may be a second post/episode inspired by her book as she shares an abundance of inspiration, but these are the first ten takeaways that captured my attention.
Advice from Cathy Kincaid:
Let's take a look at 10 decor ideas discovered in Cathy Kincaid's new book. I have included a handful of images from the pages, and I have a feeling there will be another episode including even more of her expertise.
Be sure to tune into the podcast episode for more conversation on each of the following ten ideas for simple, yet significant decor ideas to add luxurious touches to the home.
1.Add classic moldings to the room to raise the ceiling (so to speak) and incorporate a regal touch
2.Expand a small space by using one pattern throughout
"Most people think that pattern will overwhelm a room. That can happen if a pattern is used piecemeal, but the opposite is true when there's continuity." — Cathy Kincaid
3. The Power of pairs
Especially in small spaces, to avoid the cluttered look that can happen with too much eclectic charm, include pairs of chairs, nightstands, etc.
4. Balance pattern and solids
If the walls have a statement patterned wallpaper, choose solid upholstered furniture and visa versa.
5. Choose comfortable dining room chairs (i.e. upholstered ;)) to encourage your dinner party guests to linger.
6. Select bespoke lampshades to add a signature touch.
7. Include a luggage rack in your guest room
Often our guests room is smaller than other rooms, or the closet is already being utilized. Adding a standing, foldable luggage rack conveys a warm welcome in a functional way.
8. Include some open shelves in the kitchen to provide ease of access for frequently used dishes, oils and spices.
9. Convert a beloved table into a kitchen island or work space by adding either a cutting board top or marble top to the surface.
10. Layer rugs on top of one another to make the room feel larger
Place a neutral rug on the bottom, which will be the largest, and then a print or pattern that is smaller on top.
As I go about examining and considering how to add my own signature to my new home, as well as follow Cathy Kincaid's advice to make sure it creates a cozy home that fits with my lifestyle, I look forward to sharing what I discover. Click here for Part Deux - 7 Décor Ideas to Add Signature Simply Luxurious Touches to Your Sanctuary
~ The Well Adorned Home: Making Luxury Livable by Cathy Kincaid
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Great British Baking Show, Season 10 (Netflix!)
Sun, 1 September 2019
In today's premiere of Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, personal stylist Tiffani from Shop NYC joins me to talk about the fall season fashions worth investing in, her work with clients, bridal trends, her new and updated Shop NYC digital guide and three books she highly recommends reading.
Links to designers, brands and books discussed during the episode:
~SHOP TSLL's Fall 2019 Shopping Guide (released yesterday!)
Sun, 18 August 2019
Season 5 of the podcast has wrapped up, and I cannot quite believe The Simple Sophisticate has been producing episodes for five years (debuting in September 2014). But it indeed has, and I am very grateful for listeners and their continued interest, positive reviews and sharing what you love with friends and family.
Today, the full schedule of Season 6 is available (see above). As you can see, it is very similar to Season five's schedule with at least three new episodes for every month through March. While there may be a few more new episodes shared than scheduled, what you see above are the dates on which new episodes are guaranteed to be shared.
If you are new to the podcast, let me explain why I am taking the weeks off in the particular months you see above:
Looking forward to the Season 6 kicking off with a new episode on Monday September 2nd! Thank you for tuning in and have a wonderful week.
Wed, 14 August 2019
Each time I have finished reading a beauty book that offers advice I welcome into my regular routine, I think there will be no need to read another book. But the truth is, as we know, as we grow older, so too does are skin; consequently, our need to understand how to best take care of the skin at the age we are become necessary.
Since the publication of Ageless Beauty: The French Way by Clémence von Mueffling, TSLL readers continued to recommend it, and it wasn't until this summer that I purchased it and read it in one afternoon and evening. I highly recommend it if you are looking for specific beauty product recommendations for your skin at every stage of aging - jeunesse (20-35) to maturité (55-older).
Sharing not only specific beauty routine ideas but also offering detailed explanations so that readers can understand why they are doing what they are doing to justify the investment, the book will be a resource I return to in the future as well when I begin to step from plénitude, as she describes 35-55.
But beauty when it comes to products for skincare and makeup are not all that is covered. She writes about food, exercise and carriage, as well as hair and perfume.
Today, what I'd like to share with you are 22 beauty secrets that caught my attention and that I either have found to be high advantageous or are new ideas I am now incorporating into my routine. Let's get started.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as much more detail is shared than what is shared below.
1.Regularly and properly hydrate your skin
A skin's quality determines the aesthetic beauty of one's exterior appearance. "Well-hydrated skin that is dewy and glowing optimally reflects light in a flattering way that makes it look almost like silk."
2. Attention to one's skin must be a regular routine to see the difference you are seeking
3. Attend to proper posture
4. Adopt a cleansing routine that properly cleans and cares for your skin
Mueffling advocates for washing your face twice (the first time to rid your face of impurities, pollution and makeup - preferrably with a creamy product; the second, to clean the topmost layer which "optimizes the skin's natural protection and regeneration which primarily takes place while you're sleeping"). And while I have only been washing my face once each time I wash my face - in the morning and evening, I have now begun to wash my face twice in the evening as she has suggested.
However, as she reminds, the goal is not squeaky, clean skin as that would be counter to what the desired goal is. Rather, it is about cleansing and caring for our skin so that the serums, oils and moisturizes we then apply will be able to properly penetrate enabling the investment we have made in these products to work as they are intended.
Depending upon your skin type, she delineates the different types of cleansers to consider in chapter 2: milk cleanser, foaming cleanser, cleansing gel, cleansing oil, micellar water and toner.
~NOTE 8/16/2019: In the audio version, I incorrectly pronounced "micellar". The "c" should be pronounced softly, like an "s" in "cell", not a hard c as in "crunch". Thank you for the gentle constructive feedback from listeners.
~read about micellar water and why I added this beauty essential to my cleansing routine a couple of years ago and continue to love it.
5. Apply a toner after cleansing with a cotton ball.
What is the purpose of a toner? As she shares, toners have received a bad rap for being "unnecessarily or overly harsh". Case in point, for the past 10 years, I haven't used one, but did during my 20s. She explains that toners when made properly as the more modern, natural toners are that are available, "use plant essences to deliver targeted ingredients deep into the skin". The reason for using a toner after cleansing and before you apply your serums and moisturizers is to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively.
~I recently began using Clarins Camomile toner per her recommendation and find it be soothing, as well as affordable.
6. Make sure your skin is pat dry after cleansing and toning and before applying any serums or moisturizers
7. Start early and be consistent
8. Find a quality hydrating moisturizer as it is essential to your skincare routine
I finally found a moisturizer that works well, especially in the arid climate that I live in - La Mer. However, she recommends many moisturizers at varying price points, some below and some above what La Mer is priced.
9. Apply any oils or serums on BEFORE applying your moisturizers
I have read conflicting commentary on which should come first, but I am trusting Clémence on this one. Whether you apply a serum or an oil after your toner, apply it after your toner and before your moisturizers (face and eyes). Why? For the same reason the toner and the second cleansing is used to ensure that the moisturizers can properly penetrate and do their intended job.
10. Consider welcoming a humidifier into your home
Living in an arid climate, for some reason it took me four years to follow this sage recommendation. However, if you live in a tropical or humid climate, there is no need as the moisture that the humidifier provides is already done naturally in the environment in which you live.
Why a humidifier? Remember, the goal is to regularly and adequately hydrate your skin, and especially during your sleep, by keeping your skin hydrated you enable the products to not have to be asked to do more than they are capable of, but your body retains more moisture offering that healthy glow you are looking for.
~1st recommendation (what I use in my home) Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier (the previous link a model no longer found, this new model is its equivalent and comes highly recommended - Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier)
~2nd recommendation Pure Enrichment Mistair humidifier
11. Apply a spritz of thermal spring water
After finishing your evening beauty cleansing and moisturizing routine, spritz a bit of thermal spring water on your face. As well, after cleansing in the morning, apply for a a bit more hydrating and extra dewy glow. Blot off gently after letting it sit on your skin for about one minute.
~I am not using after her recommendation Avène's Thermal Spring Water, and based on the size of the bottle, I will have it for some time.
12. Find and use a hydrating and healing lip balm
It has taken me a long time to find a lip balm that does just these two things, and it was found after reading this book. Bioderma's lip balm stick will cost you $4.90 at the most and is soothing and exactly what I was looking for. Apply throughout the day and especially just before going to bed.
13. High SPFs are a good idea, let me explain AND consider reducing your time in the sun even when you are wearing sunscreen
Perhaps you have heard it as well when you share with others that you are wearing SPF 50 or higher, "beyond [insert number], the SPF doesn't matter". First all, that is incorrect, and second of all, it's absolutely incorrect! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest. Mueffling explains that SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin and can be used to approximately how many minutes you can remain in the sun without burning. So yes, wearing SPF 60 as I do, especially on your face, it will save you money and time.
But let's back-up what is the difference between UVA (which sunscreens do not protect against) and UVB (which sunscreens do protect against). Understanding the difference has motivated me to stay out of the sun as much as possible during the highest and most direct sun exposure times of the day. UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) are the most harmful because they can cause "the most injury to our cells' they are able to reach inside cells and damage the genetic code, impacting the cells' ability to produce good-quality collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the other proteins needed for proper functioning". UVB rays (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation and the superficial damage that occurs immediately after sun exposure) can be protected against with sunscreen (when applied regularly).
So, consider limiting your sun exposure and consider increasing the SPF.
14. Help your skin out while you are traveling, especially on the plane, and refrain from drinking alcohol while in flight
15. Avoid spritzing your face while traveling (plane) as it actually will dry your skin out even more
16. Moisturize your hands regularly
Hand creams to try:
17. Add a facial massage to your weekly beauty routine
Something that you can do at home, she provides three basic techniques for massaging your face with a moisturizer you already use. As our facial muscles need to not be contracted all of the time, so when we give them a massage we are asking them to relax. A facial massage will help your facial muscles retain elasticity and remain firm.
18. Visit a facialist regularly
Depending upon your age, von Mueffling recommends jeunesse receive a professional facial every season (every three months), plénitude every two months and maturité every month.
By visiting a reputable esthetician you can keep your skin in its best shape, combat problems that may arise quickly and accurately without doing more damage and improve the quality of your everyday skincare routine.
19. Eat skin-friendly foods
Sharing a long list of best foods to eat, at the core of such a food regimen is eating food that is sufficient in healthy fats, low in caffeine and very spicy foods, regularly include citrus and offering diversity and brilliant colors.
20. Your Décolleté Needs Extra Care and Attention
From cleansing to moisturizing, remember to not only tend to your face and neck but the area between and just above your breasts.
21. Exercise Regularly and Well
22. Prioritize Quality Sleep
~Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from three generations of French beauty editors by Clémence von Mueffling
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019)
TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th
MONDAY August 12th
TUESDAY August 13th
WEDNESDAY August 14th
Sun, 11 August 2019
If you take an American man and place him in Paris, asking him to fit in, it will take a good sense of humor and a sincere love of France, but this man will be calling Paris his home, his sincere home, in due time.
Such a man, or should we say, monsieur, is author and writer John von Sothen.
I had the opportunity to meet up with John in the arrondisement he has called home for nearly 20 years - the 10th - and join him for what I like to describe as a "walk and talk". For more than two hours (which felt like minutes as I had the good fortune of being on a one-on-one guided tour of a city I too love, but have so much to learn), he showed me his everyday life from the fish monger where he picks up his poisson, the boulangerie where he walks down to pick up his faily's baquette (or two) in the morning and the restaurant where the neighborhood parents meet up after dropping their children off at school in the morning.
His new book, released this past May - Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French - shares the reality of being an expat from America living in Paris all the while being newly married, newly a parent and new to everyday living in France. Needless to say, with a dose of humor, an insatiable curiosity and deep affection for France, and being raised to "contribute" as his mother would also encourage him to do at dinner parties his parents would host in Georgetown in his youth, he has found France to be his home in more ways than he ever intended, but sincerely appreciates.
In today's episode, I have divided it into three parts (all included in this one episode). As our conversation begins, we are seated outdoors on a terrasse in the 18th arrondisements bordering the 10th.
I hope that you will appreciate the real-time acoustics of the city of Paris' background music as you will hear it all - French conversation, the traffic, and a city that is alive. With my trusty, but small hand-held recorded we chatted about everything, much of what I learned by reading his book and much more.
There are a few instances in which the wind is heard, and while I have edited out most parts of our conversation in which the wind was present and obstructive, the instances in which I have not is intentional as what we are talking about is worth hearing, and I did not have the heart to cut it out. Thank you for your patience in these rare moments because the rest is a dance of insights about Parisian and French living from the inside that we don't often learn or hear about.
From talking about the famed French vacances that foreign onlookers love to dream about, what being an aristocrat really means in France (psst - his wife is an aristocrat and from an aristocratic family, so he has the inside scoop), the truth about raising children in the city of Paris, how his mother influenced his love and interest in France, why he was raised unintentionally to be someone who could step into a new culture and not be intimidated, what escaping to the country in France is like for someone who loves the city life, the film Amelie, American politics as perceived by the Parisians, and his now quickly-becoming-famous rescue pup made it into a French film.~John von Sothen's family dog Bogart at home when I met in him July in Paris (left); the French film Yves in which Bogart stars. The film premiered on July 26th of this year.~
Now, a quick note about that last point. Of course, I was drawn to our entire conversation and intrigued about the realities, but when we started talking about his family's dog Bogart, I couldn't help but be intrigued. And perhaps John noticed this because he gave me the opportunity to meet his dog, and so, below I captured a picture of him after I had the chance to say hello. He is the sweetest pup, truly a kind soul and no wonder he is a star on screen because he is a star period. (view the trailer for the film - Yves - here - Bogart appears in the first seen sleeping on the sofa)
I do hope you enjoy our conversation. John von Sothen's book is available now, and you can find him writing for Esquire, French Vanity Fair, GQ, and AirMail, as well as other French and American publications (and even sometimes on French television as his book describes in hilarious detail).
~Learn more about John von Sothen and read more of his writing at johnvonsothen.com
~Purchase a copy of Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French (May 2019)
~John entertained graciously my attempts at a photo together, but I wanted to included especially the photo on the lower right as in the background is a piece of art created by his mother of which wsa talked about at the beginning of today's episode.~
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Find all of the French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th
~Sponsors of today's episode:
Sun, 4 August 2019
159: 18 Ways to Define Your Classic Style in Life and Within Your Closet (top episode from Season 4)
Cultivating our signature style takes time because it involves understanding ourselves and bringing our truest selves forth. In other words, our signature style is more than what we see on the surface.
When we discover what our signature style is, it will become a classic for us uniquely because it is a timeless revelation that will not subside with time. It may ebb and flow to adjust with the offerings of sartorial collections of the zeitgeist, but at the core, who you are, remains the same. What you value - characteristics of importance - i.e. integrity and warmth; what brings forth your most beautiful and best self - a particular silhouette and a particular fit so you feel most comfortable as well as stunning; each of these and more are small, but significant parts of your classic, and thus signature style.
In today's episode of the podcast, a readers' favorite from last season, discover 18 ways to define your very own classic style. With each point, there will be great discussion and examples, so be sure to tune in to the audio version.
~View the show notes for episode #159 here
~Images 2 & 3 - previous posts shared on IG of Shannon's style over the years
Sun, 28 July 2019
While it may appear that everyone outside of ourselves is living lives full of amazing, surreal moments from distant lands or dining out at amazing restaurants, even wearing the perfect item of clothing or experiencing bucket list events with every scroll on our social media apps, the reality is that we too are living an amazing life each and everyday even if it doesn't make our social media page to share with the world.
Whether looking about as we take our morning walk with our pups as I did yesterday morning (shared in the image above), waking up in a home that provides the feeling of safety and warmth, conversing with loved ones as we share how our days have unfolded or any number of seemingly quotidian details, all of them are something to celebrate and savor.
In today's episode of the podcast, one of the top five episodes of season two in early 2016, you will hear shared and discussed 15 ways to elevate the everyday. In spring 2016 I had been living in Bend for about nine months, and I hadn't left the area since arriving in July 2015. The everyday of my life in Bend to me was electric. I can vividly remember pinching myself nearly every week at the reality I had the opportunity to experience, and while in between now and then, I finally did venture outside of Deschutes County to see my family, travel abroad as well as experience a few moments of frustration, I do my best on a regular basis to remember how fortunate I am, and get excited about the everyday things that make life truly extraordinary.
Speaking of those hot air balloons, today's Monday's Motivational post was inspired by them. Have a look at the post here - A Life Lesson from a Hot Air Balloon.
I hope you enjoy this episode, and thank you for stopping by.
~View the full show notes of the original episode and post here
Images: captured by TSLL in Bend, Oregon, and shared on IG. If you look closely between the cattails you can see two hot air balloons.
Sun, 21 July 2019
I find that the summer months are a wonderful time for assessment and reassessing what works well in my daily routines and why.
Similar to the French's La Rentrée which occurs in September after residents have returned from their holidays and school and life and everyday routines return to their regular pace, so too do many of us find ourselves determined to make everything we do run a bit more smoothly. So I will admit, I wasn't surprised when this episode, which was shared in the first season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, was a listeners' favorite.
With some aspects of our daily routines, there are supplies we need to always have on hand to make our everydays run seamlessly, and that is primarily what a Modern Woman's Lifestyle Grocery List is all about. And if you're like me, I take a look at this list every year and update it for my life as it may have changed or improved and different details of each or some of the items may need to be updated, substituted or replaced. I do hope you enjoy and thank you for stopping by and tuning in.
~View the original show notes for episode #28 here.
Sun, 14 July 2019
Summer season offers a wonderful opportunity reboot our eating habits, remind us of the ease and deliciousness when we eat in season and highlight how eating can be pleasure-filled minus the any guilt.
In today's episode of the podcast, this archived episode was in the top five episodes of the first season. Originally airing in the fall of 2014, I hope you enjoy discover the 10 Simple Ways to enjoy food and enjoy the body that takes you through each and every day.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 7 July 2019
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun." - from Julia Child's memoir My Life in France
During the month of July, The Simple Sophisticate podcast will be airing top episodes from the archives. Why, you might be wondering, as this is the first summer I've taken July off? Don't worry, I am hard at work in the kitchen, exploring new ideas for recipes and producing the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Premiering on Saturday September 7th, be sure to tune in the cooking show when it returns this fall.
In the meantime, today's listeners' favorite episode from the archives shared six life lessons from Julia Child. The original episode aired in 2017, and as I have just returned from France, I thought paying homage yet again to the woman who continues to inspire me and so many listeners and readers would be a good idea.
To view the original and updated Show Notes for the episode, click here.
Thank you for tuning in, and be sure to stop by the blog each Monday when there is not a new episode of the podcast as there will always be a new Monday Motivational post to kick off the work week.
~MORE Julia Child Posts/Episodes YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~TSLL's image captured during time spent in Rouen, France, at La Couronne, the restaurant that she credits for beginning her love for French food. View the entire post on my experience here.
Sun, 23 June 2019
"San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world — one of the really urbane communities in the United States — one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world."—Duke Ellington
In 2002 I began my career in teaching - my first job was teaching 9th grade English in a small town at the bottom of South Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. And on occasion, maybe two or three, I believe it was two, times I made the four hour drive to San Francisco for long weekends. I found a small boutique hotel near Union Square, walked and drove the hills (becoming more proficient with a clutch than ever before) giving my calves an exquisite workout, enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Empress Hotel with my mentor who showed a bit more of the city to me on a long holiday weekend, as well as drinks at the Top of the Mark, but each of my visits was well before Google Maps and the entire tech sector engulfed Silicon Valley and the city by the Bay, so I wasn't sure really where to go and just visited as far as my feet and my comfort would take me.
Fast forward sixteen years, and I finally had the opportunity to return to San Francisco.
Since before moving to Bend, it has been on my list of places to visit. After all, it is in many ways the West Coast's New York City. Understandably, each city is uniquely its own, but having visited Los Angeles, Seattle and many times Portland, Oregon, San Francisco isn't quite like any other west coast urban destination. In fact, I have to agree with Cecil Beaton,"San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities". Now, New Orleans certainly is a destination unique infused with French and Spanish cuisine and history, but San Francisco involves more ease and community than any other major urban city I have visited, sports the most delectable food options, offers transportation that is varied and easier than any other American city I have traveled, as well as a temperate climate that is never too extreme in any season. Again this is my opinion, but perhaps Twiggy is right, "I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other".
But I am getting ahead of myself gushing about San Francisco. I'd like to share with you all that we experienced in a mere 72 hours this past week, offer up some recommendations, and perhaps encourage you to either visit or return to the Paris of the West (an old term used primarily in the late nineteenth early 20th century largely because of the three waves of French immigrants arriving in San Francisco beginning in 1849 with the Gold Rush, in 1852-53 when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III offering a national lottery of trips to California to rid the country of his intellectual opponents, and a third wave of many women and children as in San Francisco's early days, the city was comprised of 90% men. In short order, in 1852, six thousand of the city's 36,000 residents were French). No wonder I love this city so much. :)
I've organized today's episode/post into the three fundamental parts for any trip to any country/city to be most successful. Thinking of it as the tripod foundation of traveling with ease: knowing how to get around to wherever you want to go (transportation), knowing you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep at night, and knowing you will be fed to satisfy your appetite. Where to eat, sleep and get about.
Once these three decisions are made, reserved and settled, I am able to loosen up on the itinerary and also relax and look forward to my trip.
Let's begin the 72-hour visit to San Francisco. The good news is you don't have to make your plans too far in advance to still have a wonderful experience. Case in point, for our trip last week, the trip was decided upon in April. Plane tickets and hotel arrangements were made, and then one month prior to the trip, dinner reservations were made as well. The only piece of the three part puzzle was to tend to the on-the-ground transportation, which I had researched, and will talk about more below.
~Fisherman's Wharf - classic fishermen’s boats docked in the bay.~
When to visit:
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
Depending upon the weather you hope to experience, as one of our Uber drivers who has lived in the city for decades shared with us, don't come in June, July and August and expect traditional summer temperatures. Nope. While there is the rare extremely warm day as there was a couple of weeks ago, the average high in the summer is low 70s - expect the fog to roll in and out throughout the day and if you're by the bay, the wind will rip through in the afternoon.
If you are looking for the idyllic weather, our driver, after sharing Twain's quote above, suggested coming in September and October. I quickly took note. The rain will abate in April and not truly return until November. Again, taking the advice of the driver, so readers who live in the Bay Area or who have lived in the area, please do confirm or correct.
Also, we traveled during the work week. The opportunity to arrive on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday was perfect for the pace of everyday life. Nothing was too extremely tourist-laden (there was still an abundance), the evenings were very quiet on the street as we had a street-side window, and traffic at the airport and getting about was as would be expected in any work day scenario - rush-hour, etc.
Whenever you visit, bring layers. One day we both were kissed by the sunshine more than we expected, but in the evening we needed a jacket. My mother packed her light-weight cashmere scarf, which was perfect. I saw many people with scarves. What did I forget, of all things? A scarf. I won't forget again. It is a city in which to wear a scarf.
How to Get Around Once You Arrive
~waiting for the airport shuttle to take us to the BART airport stop~
Where to Stay
While my list won't be long in this section, what I can share with you is where we did stay during our trip and why I highly recommend it. I know it will not fit everyone's budget nor be what everyone would prefer, but if you are looking for the following, you will be very happy with The Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf:
~Fisherman's Wharf seen directly out our hotel room window.~
~wallpaper in the bathroom~
Where to Eat
As one Uber driver who has lived in the city for 22 years told us, San Francisco has always had a strong food culture. Boasting 5000 restaurants, whatever type of cuisine you prefer, you will be able to find it. While he couldn't guarantee it would be delicious fare at every destination, he did note that you can find many wonderful places throughout the city and Bay Area. So let me share with you four places I HIGHLY recommend.
~the scrambled egg plate and avocado toast~
~the dining room for Boullettes Larder (open to the public for breakfast and lunch; private group dinners in the evening)~
~Bouli Bar (open for lunch and dinners for the public)~
~Pistachio Cake with strawberry ice cream~
~the entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley~
~the menus - guests can keep them~
~dessert: Savarin cake with fresh summer berries and candied pistachios~
Now it's time to tailor it what you love
Each one of us who visits San Francisco will come to the city for different and special reason. As I shared in last Friday's weekly newsletter with subscribers, my visit was all about the food in preparation for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen's upcoming second season. And the city did not disappoint. However, there were a few other places we took the time to see and experience, and I'd like to share them below in case you too might be curious to check them out.
~Ghirardelli's Square in the background, park in the foreground~
With the 72 hour trip nearing an end, we decided to hop in an Uber to take us to the airport as we didn't want to lug our luggage onto BART amongst the crowds, although, it wouldn't have been impossible to do, we were just tired. In a swift 30 minute time period, leaving from our hotel, we were at the airport ready to return to Bend.
While I knew we had soaked up every minute of our trip seeing and exploring and eating, we also were able to take a nap each day which for me was absolutely necessary. But even with the naps, I slept deeply and quite more at length this past weekend than I have in awhile. What a pleasure this trip was, and I am thankful it is only a 90 minute flight away. Needless to say, with even more recommendations from readers, and places I look forward to visiting again, I look forward to returning.
"Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible." —Walter Kronkite
Be sure to stop by the blog later in the week for a detailed post on Chez Panisse.
~None of this trip was sponsored and all was entirely planned according to my own curiosities and predilections. However, there are some affiliate links.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Traveling Alone Well, episode #220
~French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux, episode #216
~Written and Co-Produced by Mindy Kaling, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Reid Scott (VEEP)
~Support women in Hollywood to promote multi-dimensional, diversity in age, ethnicity, life-experience and the varied representation of women that inspires women and young girls to be the hero of their own lives and others, not the playmate in someone else's story. Learn more about the statistics of women in Hollywood. While the numbers are gradually improving, they is progress to be made, and when we go see films that support what we truly applaud and wish to see more of, producers and film executives follow where the money is.
~All images via TSLL, any image with Shannon in them were taken by my mother (thank you Mom!)
Sun, 16 June 2019
We talk quite often about the importance of routine, and how by having a routine, we actually set ourselves free, especially our minds. And it is in that vein that Mason Curry shares his two books Daily Rituals. His second is focused entirely on Women at Work, sharing the routines and preferences of creative women who lived and created over the past four centuries.
I thoroughly enjoyed his second book, even more than the first which I also found great inspiration. It was refreshing to see so many women living their lives in a variety of different ways, but all in which they discovered worked well for them and the craft they most loved.
Not all of the ideas resonated with me, but it was wonderful to get into the minds for a moment of these women and how they approached their days. I highlighted vigorously from beginning to end, and would like to share 34 daily routines to consider to enable your creative ideas to flow freely and without withdrawal.
Some will speak to you, some will not, but each one is inspired by a woman's routine which is shared in the book: Daily Rituals: Woman at Work - 143 artists on how they paint, write, perform, direct, choreograph, design, sclpt, compose, dance, etc.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of the podcast where much more discussion takes place on each point.
1.Begin with a hot glass of lemon water
Designer Elsa Schiaparelli woke up at 8 am, sipped lemon-juice-and-water and a cup of tea for breakfast as she read the papers, handled private correspondence, made telephone calls and gave the menus of the day to the cook.
2. Wake up early if that is when your creativity is most fruitful
—Lillian Hellman would wake up at 6am.
—Marie Bashkirtseff would wake up at 6am
—Maggie Hambling wakes up at 5am each morning
"I get up between three or four o'clock in the morning, because that's my best writing time." —Octavia Butler
3. If spending less time with people fuels your creativity, embrace it fully
"I enjoy people best if I can be alone much of the time. I used to worry about it because my family worried about it. And I finally realized: This is the way I am. That's that." —Octavia Butler in 1998
4. If traditional "holidays" don't work for you, create your own, or dive into what you love.
Coco Chanel worked six days a week, and dreaded Sundays and holidays. As she told one confidant, "That word, 'vacation,' makes me sweat."
5. Greet the day in a habitual way that sets the tone for a great day
6. Live your ideas, don't talk about them
"People would sit around and talk about things constantly. I never really went in for that. If you talk something out, you will never do it. You can spend every evening talking with your friends and colleagues about your dreams, but they will remain just that —dreams." —choreographer Martha Graham
7. Keep a small journal next to your bed to capture ideas
"I always have notebook and pencil on the table at my bedside. I may wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to put down." —American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
8. If you work at home, carve out a part of the day to get out of the house and just absorb inspiration or let go of the day completely
"In the nocturnal evening, I get the hell out to some movie or damn play and I come back and sleep like a rock." —Frida Kahlo
9. Figure out the ingredients that are needed to let the ideas find you
To develop a new work of choreography, Agnes de Mille needed 'a pot of tea, walking space, privacy and an idea'.
10. Don't feel obligated to keep the same schedule when you are in the middle of creating your art or craft
Margaret Bourke-White required long periods of solitude to write, with as few interruptions as possible." In an interview with a Life photographer Nina Leen, Leen remembers after asking her if she would have lunch with her, "She told me she was writing a book and there was no hope of a lunch for several years.
11. Don't feel bad for loving your work and working on what you love beyond the traditional work hours.
"Everything seems petty and uninteresting, everything except my work . . . ". Russian-born painter and sculptor Marie Bashkirtseff
12. Do something during the day that is relaxing and keeps you present
'I relax before lunch by arranging flowers . . . When these are all beautifully arranged in bowls and vases, it's usually lunch time." —English actress Gertrude Lawrence
13. Have a studio or space of your own to create
"The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere." —Agnes Martin
14. If you love solitude, embrace it
"But it is, as Yeats said, a 'solitary sedentary trade.' And I did a lot of gardening and cooked my own food, and listened to music, and of course I would read. I was really very happy. I can live a solitary life for month at a time, and it does me good." —poet Katherine Anne Porter
15. Trust your intuition as to what works best for you
"It's not right if it doesn't feel right." —English painter Bridget Riley
16. Find regular time to just read what you love
Rachel Whiteread [English sculptor] would "at some point stop for lunch, and she'd often spend an hour of the day reading sitting in a comfortable chair away from her desk.
17. Establish a flexible routine to work with what you need
Morning routine: "Zittel feeds her chickens, waters plants, and performs other outdoor chores before meditating, taking a shower, making breakfast and getting dressed. In the winter, Zittel's morning schedule reverses: She meditates, showers and eats breakfast first; then, once the sun has raised the outdoor temperature, she heads out on her hike and does chores. 'It's really all about establishing a flexible routine."Andrea Zittel, an American artist, in 2017
18. Don't quit trying to live the life you wish to live
"It never occurred to me that I couldn't live the life I wanted to lead. It never occurred to me that I could be stopped . . . I had this very simple view: that the reason people who start out with ideals or aspirations don't do what they dream of doing when they're young is because they quit. I thought, well, I won't quit." —Susan Sontag
19. Try a crossword puzzle like Joan Mitchell
20. Determine what view in your studio/sanctuary/work space is most productive for inspiration
"Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue." —Kate Chopin, American writer
21. End the day with a signal to your mind to relax
"During the performance I drink water with breadcrumbs, which is most refeshing. After the ballet I have a bath as soon as possible. Then I go out to dinner, as by that time I have an unmerciful hunger. When I get home I drink tea." —Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova
22. Let baths be your creative muse
"Baths also played a part in her creative process - a post-breakfast bath enjoyed regularly by Virginia Woolf.
23. Let lunch be a true mid-day break
At 1:00 p.m., Hambling has lunch, takes her Tibetan terrier, Lux, for a walk, and switches on the television to satisfy her tennis addiction.
24. Write when inspiration hits - even if it is in bed in the morning so as not lose the ideas.
25. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
"Fresh air and cold water are my stimulants." —Harriet Martineau - the first female sociologist
26. Enjoy someone's company for tea, lunch or a walk regularly
Emily Post would regularly welcome a guest or two for tea in the afternoon.
27. It's okay for your personal time to be less than what others feel is acceptable
"It seems to me you have to have your personal life organized so that it takes as little of your time as possible. Otherwise you can't make your art." –Eleanor Antin
28. Don't expect the routine to come naturally, create one and stick with it as it enables you to flourish
29. Cook and walk
"The only other essential component of her day is a twice-daily walk with her dog, during which she avoids thinking about her writing project. In the evening, she makes herself a simple dinner and goes to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.." —Isabel Allende
30. Create space for your ideas to be seen
"Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient." — Hilary Mantel
"I think the way to become inspired is to empty your mind and let things come into your mind." —Joan Jonas
31. Do you and don't apologize
"I live here as in Paris. I rise every day at 5 o'clock; I drink my two large glasses of hot water; I take my coffee; I write when I am alone, which is rare; I do my hair in company; I dine every day with the king, chez lui, or with him and les seigneurs. I make calls after dinner; I go to the theater; I return to my place at ten o'clock; I drink my hot water , and I go to bed." —Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, a major salonniéres of the French Englightenment
32. Turn on music paired with your favorite drink to start the day
"I wake about nine, turn on the symphony and have juice, fruit and a pot of black coffee . . . " —Grace Hartigan, American painter
33. Leave evenings open for your social engagements
"In the evening, she would see a friend for dinner or attend another social engagement. But the real key to this perfect writing day, she said, was to know that the following day would be exactly the same." —Eudora Welty
34. Be patient until you find what works, then cherish it
"Trial and error, and then when you've found your needs, what feeds you, what is your instinctive rhythm and routine, then cherish it." —novelist Doris Lessing
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, a Patricia Wells recipe, click here for the recipe
~Check out TSLL's IG account, see the Highlights and Part 3 of my FR Trip '18 - mid-roll to see the presentation of the dish in Provence.
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, enjoyed in Provence with Patricia Wells and the other cooking class students during the summer of 2018~
~the same dish served this past weekend as the second course during a dinner party at my home. Cool and crisp cucumber and yogurt soup.~
Sun, 9 June 2019
"Across the world, despite all prejudices and beliefs against it, singlehood is the growing trend." —Elyakim Kislev , author of Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living
It is highly beneficial to understand the construction of our beliefs regarding singledom, so that after discarding the myths and acknowledging the realities, we can "freely choose whatever lifestyle fits [us] best".
With the life expectancy in most developed countries rising to just under 80 years, it is a statistical probability that all of us will be living single or solo at some point in our lives whether by choice or circumstances, and consequently, knowing how to enjoy being single is a skill that would be most beneficial to acquire.
Depending upon our innate temperaments, which is different than our personalities, each of us is more predisposed to be comfortable or prefer more or less social engagement. And depending upon what we most enjoy doing in our careers and in our free time, we will be more or less inclined to seek out companionship for long or short durations.
Elyakim Kislev's new book, which was released in February, includes extensive research and an abundance of studies that demonstrate the reality of our modern world that no matter what you prefer, will enable each of us to live more consciously and thus more fully, as well as support others in our lives who choose to live in a manner we may not prefer or choose.
The first powerful finding that spoke to me was the acknowledgement of an unspoken truth regarding marriage (these studies involves a large majority of the industrialized world, not just the United States) - why do people step more easily into marriage even with modernizations of the world we live in today.
Studies have actually proven that the 51% of individuals entering into marriage acknowledge that it is "a fear of aging alone or dying without anyone at our bedside that drives us into marriage".
"Marriage may not be such a good way to escape loneliness in old age. Not only do married people feel lonely in surprisingly high numbers, but also long-term singles are often better equipped to deal with loneliness later in life".
Yes, that does then mean 49% of people did not report this as a reason, but that alone should give us pause, especially when we know that the divorce rate is nearly as proportionate and the percentage of a second divorce is higher still. While each couple's situation is uniquely alone, to not address this fear is to place an undeserved burden on individual we are marrying. In fact, studies have proven, when we do address this fear, as those who have never married do, earlier in our lives, the individual is more likely to make the best decision for themselves and thus improve their overall happiness no matter what the decision may be.
Many TSLL readers/listeners know I am single and have been for the majority of my life. Don't worry, this is not a post/episode advocating for being single if you are either already in a happy marriage, happy relationship or wish to be coupled. Rather today's posting will hopefully broaden our understanding of the realities of societal norms, motivations, pressures, expectations, unconscious biases and realities so that whatever your life's journey is and will be, it is one made with a clear mind that has discarded the myths and is then able to make the best decisions for you and the life you wish to lead. True contentment, in other words, is the goal of today's posting.
26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom
~Each of these points are discussed in detail in the audio version of this podcast episode. I encourage you to tune in for further clarification of each point or pick up the book Happy Singlehood from which each of these points were inspired.
1.Assess honestly your self-perception of how you define loneliness and where that definition was constucted.
2. Build and continually nurture a strong social well-being
Having a strong social well-being helps eradicate or reduce social loneliness and emotional loneliness as you will have people in your life in which you feel close to and may turn to (emotional), as well as have both intimate and peripheral acquaintances that give you a sense of belonging (social).
~Listen to Episode #92 - Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being - for further discussion on the construction.
3. Conduct a life review: Self-reflect and find peace with your journey thus far
"Happy older singles [have] the ability to look back and gain control over the circumstances that led to being single".
4. Celebrate and exercise the ability to make your own decisions
5. Revel in your solitude - produce your own "show" so to speak
6. Take responsibility for your own contentment
~View a long list of archived posts and episodes on cultivating true contentment or pick up my 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life
7. Distinguish between the myths regarding marriage and singlehood and reality
Myth versus reality:
"Young people fear being physically vulnerable in old age more than elders [actually] do".
"Fifty-seven percent of the eighteen-to-sixty-four-year old population anticipate memory loss in old age, while only 25 percent of those aged sixty-five and above actually experience it. Furthermore, while 42 percent expect serious illness in old age, only 21 percent of those aged sixty-five and above experience the same."
"While an expectation of loneliness arises among 29 percent of young people, only 17 percent experience loneliness in old age."
8. Foresee and prepare for potential emergencies
In other words, financial planning - engage with it early, often and regularly, craft a living will, construct your own "family" - .
9. Engage with your community for resources, connection and engagement
10. Learn how to socially engage as a singleton in a manner that makes you feel safe and fulfilled
11. Refrain from seeing marriage as a form of "self-validation".
In other words, seek validation from within, as society's values are limiting, dynamic and generalized.
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: First, Seek Self-Approval
12. Use your time being single as a time for self-growth and development - find the road to your truest self
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?
13. Maintain and strengthen your overall health - physical and mental
~An episode you might enjoy on this topic: The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212
14. If you are a pet person, welcome a pet into your life.
15. Confront the fears that are causing you to assume marriage is the answer to assuage them before you get married for the wrong reasons.
16. Simply be aware of the social stigmas, discrimination and pressures placed on singles.
Doing so will enable you to confront and effectively deal with situations when they arise in a productive way to potentially bring more awareness to the realities and discrimination that exists.
17. Have a positive self-image and self-perception of your life as someone who is single
Present yourself to the world, whether at work or in your personal life as the confident and happy person that you are - some who happens to be single - knowing that is not all that defines you. Gradually, images change when we put a face to the reality.
18. Build your self-confidence
Find work and hobbies in which you feel valued and accomplished - this could be in your career, in your hobbies or in your social network. Be willing to try new things, and as you see that you can learn, change, improve and grow, you begin to realize you hold more power to cultivate the life you love than you may have realized - thus your confidence grows.
~An episode you might enjoy on the topic: Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5
19. Consciously avoid the social pressure and discrimination
In other words, your attention gives validation. And if you choose not speak up, what is said or done is deemed as acceptable. Whether it is the conversations you listen to or engage in, the people you spend time with, the films you pay to see, the music you listen to, etc., your time, money and attention are powerful - give it consciously.
20. Speak up and confront discrimination when it occurs
Often people aren't even aware of their bias regarding marriage being the "best" option. Construct a parallel question to those who ask "Why are you still single?" or "I'm still keeping an eye out for you." There are some great ones in the book. Make sure to keep the comment or question equal to what was received so that the speaker can see the error of their words and assumptions.
21. Seek a career or a calling that gives you purpose, in which you feel you are contributing something of value to the world.
22. Find a balance with work and leisure
23. Let your curiosities guide you to seek out educational opportunities for growth
24. Strengthen your three pillars of good health - physical, mental and financial
25. Acknowledge and cultivate manageable household responsibilites
26. Recognize that choosing and embracing being single is not out of weakness or selfishness, but of strength and awareness to connect often more consciously.
"As singles, we know more than anybody else that true independence is actually interdependence."
We liberate ourselves when we recognize there are many different ways to live well in our modern world. And even for those who do not fully or will never accept that there is more than one traditional way to live contentedly and contribute to society positively, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to be self-actualized, when we model the reality rather than the myth, we encourage others to explore and reach their full potential as well. A more content world is a peaceful world.
If anyone is so fortunate to find a partner to enjoy life with should they wish to and be able to reach their fullest potential without feeling they are limited, confined or lonely in something they "should" be doing, what a magnificent awesome union. Losing such a person, no matter what our age would be heartbreaking, but we can only control and strengthen ourselves, and when we strengthen the muscle of self-reflection, acknowlegement of fears rather than a suppression, we set ourselves free to live well throughout the entirity of our life's journey.
The responsibility each of us has is to not place upon someone else's shoulders that which we are capable of doing ourselves. When we take on this responsibility of cultivating our own happiness and contentment, we will see more clearly what path we truly wish to travel, we will strengthen all of our relationships as we recognize we are interconnected in large and small ways, and we will give ourselves a deep breath of relief and excitement for the next step in our journey forward.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Truths & Myths of the Independent, Single Woman, episode #94
~Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry
Sun, 2 June 2019
"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
Sixteen years French chef Robert Arbor released a book that offers a personal glimpse into his everyday routines which adhere to the French's simple approach to living well. With time split between living in Connecticutt and living in a country home in Flaujac-Poujol, France, with his wife and two sons, he shares how the secrets of the French are really quite simple when it comes to elevating the everyday.
Yes, it took me far too long to pick up this book, but as soon as I did, his words were music to my ears as he too celebrates and revels in the everyday routines, cultivate seemingly simple rituals that are savored and deeply appreciated. A way of life that is inspired by his own upbringing in Fontainebleau, France, just outside of Paris.
Many readers recommended Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living and many readers have shared they return to read this book often to reminders of how to slow down and savor the lives they have worked so hard to have the opportunity to live. Joie de Vivre is a gem of a resource for reminding ourselves of the beauty of life - understanding that our lives are made up everydays is all we need to do to recognize and embrace a truly contented life.
While I will certainly be picking up the book many times more in the future, having highlighted and annotated heavily throughout, I wanted to share 36 ideas Arbor shares in the book as an introduction to how grand the everyday can be, and how it truly is quite simple.
~Be sure to tune in and listen to the podcast episode and more discussion on each point is shared.
1.Breakfast - enjoy alone and make it nice or with a very close friend, someone you like - make it your personal time of the day.
2. Savor the buttery goodness of a croissant on weekend or for special occasions
~TSLL's homemade croissant recipe~
3. Cloth napkins for everyday dining
4. Cultivate a routine you enjoy around your breakfast and morning "to give a quick thought to each day's potential".
5. Cultivate your own potager (vegetable garden) to "grow a few things to eat fresh". And only grow what you love to eat and share.
6. Disperse flowers throughout your potager, let go of perfection and separation.
7. Place your fresh, delicate vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, courgettes, most fruit) in a compote on the kitchen counter to be reminded to use them immediately (or very soon).
"A big part of comprehending joie de vivre is understanding that enjoyment in day-to-day life is the true key to happiness. Finding happiness in small things means that ordinary days are filled with pleasures rather than obligations. Joyful anticipation of life's everyday events is part of bringing joie de vivre into your home in a lasting way."
8. Grow your own garden of herbs
9. Make food shopping enjoyable - visit a special shop, a farm stand or make it a social engagement.
10. Enjoy good, seasonal food and revel in it.
11. Welcome cheese into your eating regimen
12. Regularly frequent le marché in your area when available
"Great food and ingredients can be found anywhere. One just has to make more of an effort and decide on a lifestyle choice about the quality of the food."
13. Make the kitchen the center of the house, but it need not be state-of-the-art.
14. No need to spend a lot of money to have a pleasant workable kitchen - regular height chairs, let go of the high stools, so you can relax and enjoy conversation - sitting back, etc. Only purchase the equipment you will actually use and buy quality items that will last. Here are a few ideas: 3-4 pots with lids, a cast iron skillet (keep it seasoned), a teakettle on the stove for boiling water, a Dutch oven or cocotte, but again, only tools you will need for the food you and your household enjoy eating.
15. Have the basic cooking utensils stocked in your kitchen so no matter what the season, you can make what you enjoy: 3 sharpened knives (paring, chef's and serrated), 2 cutting boards, earthenware jugs full of different wooden spoons and spatulas, a stainless-steel spoon and 8-oz ladle, perforated stainless steel spoon, tongs, a whisk, 3 graduated mixing bowls, a fine mesh strainer, hot mitts, a hand-cranked can opener, cork screw, cotton kitchen towels, and a scale, measuring cups and spoons, rolling pin if you are a baker.
~A Cook's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
~A Baker's Kitchen (necessary utensils)
17. Tidy your kitchen as you go to make the space a place you enjoy stepping into each time.
18. Lengthen and deepen (full and satiating) your midday meal as much as possible.
"This is a time for stepping away from your work — even if you are eating with your coworkers—and talking and thinking about something else . . . Whatever the company, the conversation is always pleasant and positive. And that, naturally, adds to the pleasure and anticipation of lunch. It is a real break from the rest of the day. Le déjeuner is not about using time, it is about taking time."
19. Enjoy a picnic and make it comfortable
"I do love a picnic in the French style, which, of course, means comfort, comfort and more comfort. First of all, a French person is simply not going to eat on the ground. Although we might lounge around on a blanket later, it is much butter to eat sitting up."
20. Reserve Sunday to enjoy a big Sunday lunch, focusing on pleasure rather than obligation.
21. And grab that nap after the lengthy lunch to add regular moments of rejuventation .
"Remind yourself that sometimes the best ideas and solutions rise to the surface when you're not thinking so hard."
22. Grab an afternoon break regularly with la pause gourmande to give yourself a treat - "a treat with a purpose" and offer the perfect solution to the "afternoon blahs".
23. Enjoy dinner in the dining room regularly and offer the opportunity for everyone to contribute (whether by setting the table, etc.) somehow.
24. Unwind after dinner with a little dessert treat (nothing too grand), and partaking in something you enjoy on your own or with others so that you can go to bed happy and content.
25. Share dinner with friends with a casual dinner party - only invite people you truly like and don't "overstretch yourself".
~10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from My last Dinner Party, episode #235
26. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere, which means you need to be able to be relaxed and enjoy the evening as well. The goal: good food, good conversation and good fun.
27. Begin with apéritifs - small nibbles and drinks.
28. Have very small groups of flowers on the table to create a welcome, but not cumbersome table to sit around and enjoy the meal.
29. Add candles to the dinner table either in glass hurricanes, or small tea lights spread around the tabletop.
30. Add a low volume lyric-less music to the background, as the conversation amongst friends is the best music.
31. Enjoy cheese and a vinaigrette dressed salad course after the main course prior to dessert.
32. Add water to the meal to be enjoyed while enjoying glasses of wine with each course.
33. Dessert need not be homemade when you have a favorite local patisserie.
34. Savor the winding down at the end of the day and do not skip this important part of each day. Cultivate a pleasant ritual, perhaps a different one for each season.
35. Make lavender-scented linen water to add an inviting scent to your bed linens.
36. Enjoy a good night's sleep
"Americans are fascinated with how the French manage to live so well, and so contentedly, in their ordinary, day-to-day life. It's not just about cooking, decorating, or entertaining — it's about enjoying all the small details of domestic life." —Robert Arbor
May your everydays be full of simple pleasures and moments of joy as well as you remember how extraordinary your life already is at this very moment.
~Order Robert Arbor's book Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS from THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life, episode #23
~View all French-Inspired podcast episodes here
~Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent)
Sun, 26 May 2019
Today's episode is a top post from season one. And as it addresses the topic of authenticity, it pairs rather well with today's new Monday Motivational post - A Simple Way to Find Lasting Respect & Inner Peace.
Also mentioned at the beginning of today's episode:
~Visit all of The Simple Sophisticate podcast episodes here.
~View the entire schedule for Season 5 of the podcast (also, see below).
Sun, 19 May 2019
252: The Characteristics of Being a Late Bloomer, and How Embracing This Gift Could Change the World for Everyone
"By necessity, we late bloomers are on a different, more challenging trajectory. As we travel through life, we encounter obstacles like the push for conformity, the oppression of groupthink, and the pains of self-doubt. But . . . in all these challenges, we find our hidden treasure. We unearth our individuality. We see that a path to excellence, to reaching our true potential, is available to all of us. Within these challenges lies our true power, our covert talents and secret advantages as late bloomers." —Rich Karlgaard, author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsesses with Early Achievement.
Unsurprisingly, the new book by Rich Karlgaard spoke to me and offered an abundance of reassurance and exhilaration. If the comments on IG a few weeks ago when I posted an excerpt from the book are any indication, you are or will be as well.
Especially as Americans we greatly celebrate, strive for, and thus put pressure upon ourselves, and either unconsciously or consciously, to figure out our path early, to achieve success quickly and when we don't we make faulty assumptions about what we can contribute which can erode our self-confidence and potentially prevent the gem that resides within us all to be discovered and then shared with the world enabling us to find deep, lasting inner contentment.
Karlgaard's new book is worth reading in-depth, from cover to cover as he delineates the obstacles that our culture currently needs to address with historical details, new studies, multiple anecdotal examples of how indeed the "late bloomer" simply needs time, patience and awareness to blossom at their own time, as well as the most difficult support to refute findings - neurology.
So while I will encourage you to read the entire book, in today's episode/post, I wanted to share with you the characteristics that you might find yourself identifying with when it comes to being a Late Bloomer and not realizing the gift of opportunity you have given yourself to enjoy the rest of your life.
15 Characteristics of a Late Bloomer
1.Curiosity is the late bloomer's fuel
"By its very nature, curiosity demonstrates an independence of mind."
To keep on blooming throughout the entirity of our lives, forever remain curious.
2. We are predisposed to be compassionate
"In facing the ups and downs of life, many late bloomers gain a greater sense of compassion. They show greater reflective thinking, diminished ego-centeredness, and a deeper appreciation of others' challenges."
Because late bloomers have faced struggles along the way, have refrained from conforming at the expense of our social connections and acceptance into "the group", we can more easily put ourselves into the shoes of others, we are more empathetic.
3.Better leadership skills are developed
Due to elevated compassion, workers view leaders more favorably, and combined with "authenticity and integrity", this trifecta of skills "improves retention and employee performance".
4. Resilience is developed and strengthened
"When it comes to developing resilience, the regulation of emotions gives mature people an advantange over the young: 'There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience. Those are the behaviors that we gravitate to more and more as we age'."
5. Emotion regulation is easier which cultivates a calmer demeanor which leads to more effectiveness and better relationships
"Our brains are driven to seek calmness as we age. Columnbia University social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson claims that calmness is central to happiness . . . research has long established that calm leaders are more effective".
Late bloomers naturally develop the skills necessary to find calmness if we choose to keep exploring, learning, listening and observing what works and what does not. This is where our curiosity helps tremendously leading us to the blooming stage of our lives that is authentic and unique to each of us.
6. Extensive insight
"Our insights are the result of us drawing on our full mental library of experience, patterns, and context, yielding an idea of extraordinary value."
Karlgaard explains that "the right hemisphere [of the brain] matures in childhood; the development of the left is consistent with the development of the prefrontal cortex, which is not fully mature until the mid-twenties". Due to the left-side's difference in development compared to the right, it takes time for us to see the connection of the awesome or unique events, sights and experiences of our lives and make sense of how we can utilize them in our unique way.
7. Navigation of life's ambiguity becomes easier
"Perhaps this is the perfection defintion of wisdom: reasoning and cognition based on knowledge and experience".
In other words, we are not born wise, but so long as we choose to be curious, continue to be life-long learners, we begin to build it. "Wisdom is the ability to see the layers of light that were harder to see when one was younger". And consequently, we have the opportunity to hone our intuition as to how to best navigate our journey even with the unknowns that are presented.
8. More easily determine what's important versus what's trivial
To piggy-back onto #7, because we have acquired knowledge about the world over time and have made the conscious choice to continue to learn, we are then better at discern patterns faster and jump to logical solutions more quickly.
9. A desire to cut the apron strings with your parents
"To fully bloom, we must declare our independence from our family. That doesn't mean we must reject their love . . . it means only that we must reach our own conclusions about what does and doesn't support our blooming."
Creating a healthy culture in which to bloom is analogous to the proper soil and conditions for a plant to flourish. Each plant will need different types of soil, different amounts of sunshine and shade, varying temperatures - some extreme, some moderate, and it all depends on the plant. Unlike the saying, "bloom where you are planted", we should instead get out of the soil we have been planted in and explore to discover where we truly thrive.
10. Adult peer pressure is real, and if you've felt it and tried successfully or not to not succumb, you may be a late bloomer
"Some of this [peer group] influence can be healthy and positive, as when we join a hiking club or sign up for a program to quit smoking. But not every peer push leads us to a better version of ourselves; not all communities support growth and positive change."
To break free from our peer group, even when we don't know why it feels uncomfortable or wrong (but we know it does), is not easy and it takes great inner strength to do so. However, it does become easier because we eventually begin to feel more in tune with our true selves, we feel a burden lift, we feel our energy surge because we are no longer trying to be or do something that isn't truly in line with what we can offer the world.
11. Societal pressure to conform is limiting to our true potential
"[Today's media] also promote cultural, racial or gender biases, either through stereotyping roles and behaviors, or under- or overrepresentation of minorities. And repeated exposure to media content can lead viewers to begin to accept media portrayals as representations of reality."
From the media's portrayal of how to socially engage, what dating should look like, what children should be doing at certain ages based on their gender, the values are repeatedly shared and included in endless amounts of media such as video games, movies, television, newspapers, magazines, books and radio, and since it is a passive medium, unless we are critical thinkers questioning everything we receive, it is easy to accept what is applauded as normal and what we should adhere to regarding our life's journey.
12. Letting go of comparisons
"Mass media ask us to compare our body shape, sex life, marriage, house, car, family and community to unattainable television versions of perfection. Social media ask us to compare our own commonplace or even boring reality against the curated accounts of how absoutely wonderful someone else's life is — people we know!"
When we stop comparing and start celebrating, we liberate ourselves and enable the opportunity to observe our own awesomeness without the outside world's close-minded criticism or limited acceptance.
The author shared something that I think is worth sharing here as a reminder that there are many paths to success, to reaching a goal, to attaining contentment. He writes, "There are always many ways to achieve a goal, gain expertise, or find success. In sports or music, they are easy to see . . . But it's not as easy to see multiple paths for success in most endeavors . . . [which leads to confusion. As a result,] we default to following norms and take the road everyone else is taking". And these paths to success have as much to do with professional "success" as well as personal "success". Your definition of a life of contentment, as I have said many times before on the blog and in my books, will most likely be very different than mine, but that doesn't mean we both cannot feel the contentment that is spoken about and written about that provides deep satisfaction and peace.
It is important that we all recognize that each of us will bloom at a different time.
"Each of us deserves the opportunity to bloom in our own way."
When we do this there are many invaluable benefits:
1.We protect ourselves, and others we encourage to bloom, in our own time from the consequences of disappoitnment or failure. (this doesn't mean there won't be bumps along the way, but it reminds us that it takes time to understand where we are headed and why)
2.We learn how to work with self-doubt and let it be our superpower.
"To bloom, we all must learn not to fear self-doubt but to embrace it as a normally occurring opportunity for growth and improved performance . . . The key to harnessesing self-doubt starts at the very core of our individual beliefs about ourselves . . . self-efficacy".
3. We strengthen our self-efficacy
Self-efficacy is an individual's confidence in their ability to accomplish what they set out to do.
4. Obstacles begin to be seen as opportunities to grow rather than road-blocks
"While you may feel a general sense of self-doubt . . . [you] proceed anyway".
5. Improved positive self-talk
"Positive self-talk can improve our performance by helping us regulate our emotions, thoughts and energy".
When we begin to see skill-sets that render positive results, we are more likely to invest in them. For example, positive self talk leads to more confidence, a strengthening our self-efficacy and thus improved performance with whatever task is in front of us. And so we continue to practice positive self-talk and it becomes stronger with this skill rendering more positive outcomes.
6. Stronger, healthier relationships
When you bloom, gravitate toward those who celebrate your blooming, and for those who initially are not, give them a moment to understand why your blooming makes them uncomfortable. Depending upon the person, they may not realize that their discomfort with your growth is a reflection of their disappointment in what they feel they could have achieved but didn't. This is all about them. Some will grow from this and remain in your life, others will not, and you will need to move on. But all of the skills you have acquired and applied will help lead you toward building not only healthier relationships with others, but a healthier, less critical relationship with yourself.
7. Excellence will arrive when you let your curiosity take over
"When [curiosity takes over], a sense of exploration also takes over. I get in the zone, and I go for it. I feel pulled, not pushed — pulled by a beautiful power I cannot explain."
8. The courage to repot when necessary
"When it comes to repotting, late bloomers have a distinct advatnage over early bloomers. We're naturally curious and resilient. We're not afraid to follow a different path or break free of convention. We genuinely want to see what's around the corner or over the hill. These late bloomer strengths enable —even propel— the change we need to find the right people and the right place to help us thrive."
Once you have a clearer understanding of who you are and what cultures and communities are best suited for you to bloom, you will have strengthened, as was mentioned above in the first list, an awesome skill set. This skill set will be your bedrock for being able to repot when and if it is necessary.
"We need to give ourselves a break. We need to recognize and celebrate the fact that we're all different, with different skill sets, developmental profiles and backgrounds and that each of us will forge a different path toward blooming."
Being a late bloomer is most certainly something to celebrate, and when we "change our story, we can change our behavior and even our life".
Let me leave you with this lasting thought from the book that resonately powerfully with me:
~The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
~read my review and reason for recommendation here.
TSLL BRITISH WEEK 2019 Posts:
Sunday May 19th
~Do you enjoy reading TSLL blog and visit regularly, but would prefer to read the blog without ads? I have some good news for you. For a limited time, during British Week, the price for a monthly or yearly ad-free subscription has been reduced. Simply use the following promo codes below when you subscribe (or learn how to subscribe) here. The discount runs through Sunday May 26, 2019.
Sun, 12 May 2019
Today's post and episode is the penultimate episode/post before a new episode returns next Monday.
I want to thank you as readers and listeners for your patience as I had scheduled to take the entire month of April off in order to for the intense time of the school year that is the final weeks prior to AP testing for my juniors. I have never taken so much time off, and while it was scheduled (have a look at season 5's schedule here), it was new.
I certainly found myself coming up with a long list of ideas for upcoming podcast episodes, reading more than a handful of books and discovering Petit Plaisir I cannot wait to share, but it was odd being away from the microphone.
Thank you for understanding, and I cannot wait to share a new episode next Monday as TSLL's first annual British Week begins.
With that said, I wanted to share a listeners' top episode from the second season of the podcast as it speaks to something I am thoroughly immersing myself in, and have been since this last summer. Case in point, the image above. My home is becoming just that, more and more of a home, and a large part of the reason I love it so much is that is it smaller and thoughtfully tailored to the inhabitants (myself and my dogs and occasional guests) that spend time there.
This particular episode, episode #97, shares 11 ways to live small and simply, curating a signature sanctuary that we thoroughly enjoy returning to each and every night and waking up in every morning.
~Read the full show notes of Episode #97 here
I do hope you enjoy.
Sun, 24 March 2019
Let's escape to France for a moment, at least for the duration of today's episode. :)
Today's episode is a re-airing of one of, if not the top downloaded, read and listened to episodes if including YouTube and Pinterest. More new readers learn of TSLL blog and the podcast through this episode than any other source. And since the next new episode of The Simple Sophisticate is scheduled to air on Monday May 20th, I wanted to bring it to readers and listeners attention.
Originally airing during the first season (currently we are in season 5), epissode #32 - The French Capsule Wardrobe: the 14 Essentials, has a plethora of images paired with each essential to offer sartorial inspiration.
So without further ado, click here to read the full show notes of episode #32.
~Love TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes? Check out the currently 34 French-Inspired episodes in one spot.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #32 (top archived episode), replayed. The original episode aired on April 6, 2015 - view the detailed show notes of this episode here
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 17 March 2019
"Most people are in a constant state of falling for whatever the most interesting thing is. Falling for whatever the most popular person is doing . . . This introduces the endless cycle of constantly ‘shopping’ for experiences. An endless search for novelty, hedonism, and just a dash of escapism. Because they do not conduct the orchestra of their own lives, they search out the best possible maestro to do it for them." —Eric Brown, High Existence blog, article "Conquer FOMO Forever: Embracing the Joy of Missing Out"
The simple creation of an acronym such as FOMO (the fear of missing out) creates exclusivity. Consequently, creating yet another acronym to combat it is hypocritical as it too requires one to know the meaning without being told, but it was the apprecation for pushback on the former social media acronym that I applauded as while it may have been designed to speak about the current moment one is posting about, it is a celebration of living one's life with courage, thoughtfulness and clarity.
The quote above speaks to social influence of a mass population: If we don't know what to do, at least we know if we follow along, we will not be left out or behind. As I mentioned in the introduction of my first book, the only maestro that will create a fulfilling life for each of us is the one we see in the mirror.
But taking on the job of being the maestro is frightening, intimidating and brimming with uncertainty if our journey doesn't emulate the crowd's.
But it also opens the only door that will lead to joy and thus true contentment.
When we make decisions from a place of fear, we are not in the driver's seat. And in order to remain in the car, so to speak, we don't have our hands on the wheel and must go along with with the journey someone else is navigating. We don't have the opportunity to respond to our curiosities, something we see out the window that grabs our attention unexpectedly or even stop at the rest stop when our body needs a break.
When we give fear the driver's seat, we may live, but we have given up the opportunity to live well. Because only we know what is inside of us, consciously or unconsciously, that wishes to be realized and shared with the world. And if the form that it takes is at odds with society's "approval", then there will be great pressure to conform. But by living a life ascribing to FOMO dictates, we lose the opportunity to experience true joy.
The Benefits of Choosing JOMO (the joy of missing out)
When we understand how to cultivate joy in our lives, we come to realize as Eckhart Tolle teaches, that joy is found within us, whereas, pleasure is found outside of ourselves. Therefore, when we choose to live a life of joy, we can experience said emotion which is equivalent to contentment, every single day whether we are doing what the masses are doing or not.
~Read a detailed post on The Difference between Pleasure and Joy
We can be happy for others when they do what they enjoy doing and all the while not feel envy or jealousy as we have discovered how to cultivate our own joy in our lives.
The key, as with everything when it comes to living a fulfiling life, is to begin with getting to know yourself (discover how in TSLL's 1st book and captialize on what you learn with tools shared in TSLL's 2nd book). Such knowledge remedies what the quote above shares in the reason so many people gravitate and fall into following due to the FOMO: We don't exactly know what to do, so we do what others are doing.
So much of historical trends, societal expectations and norms are fertilized with the constant sprinkling of FOMO. However, if you choose to live a life inspired by the JOMO, your journey will be like no one else's even if it has similarities at times to others living now or in the past.
Reading a recent post of Garance Doré's (which has since been removed, as to why, I am not sure) , in which she speaks about the limiting clichés that American society attempts to place on women, and men as well, based on their age, relationship status or whether or not she or he is a parent, she offered inspiration for celebrating as demonstrated by where she finds herself along her journey - being single, something she has stated is the first time since she was 13, and being child-free at 43, - advocating for society to embrace the variety of ways women and men can live, and live well, while being themselves sincerely, relinquishing the games, the disingenuousness and instead, liberate ourselves.
When we let go of the societal clichés and refuse to let the culture berate us emotionally for not cowering and acquiescing, we cast off the doubt society would have us put on ourselves and the life journey we have discovered to be aligned with our unique strengths and cultivated skills.
Such assumed clichés of desperation if one hasn't chosen to be married or is no longer married at a certain age or has chosen to live child-free or is without children at a certain age, is the tool society attempts to use to limit people, confine them and attempt to guilt them into being what it wants and supposedly understands. In other words, it wants you to be less if for some reason you have elected not to follow what society applauds collectively.
Modern men as well as modern women perhaps are going through a struggle of consciously letting go of society restraints, and upon doing so, are setting themselves free to be who they fully are and can be, thus strengthening society as a whole if all people recognize the vise grip that unconsciously wanted them to stay within the confines of societal expectation.
It appears to me that a movement is strengthening as more modern women and men are exemplifying lives of being content within themselves and bringing calm and acceptance to those around them without tossing aside their boundaries when society pushes back.
When we refuse to follow because it doesn't align with our sense of well-being, we begin to lead ourselves along a more authentic path that aligns instead with the person we enjoy being and we begin to build a life we are enthusiastic about living each day. And it is in such a moment that we reach the state of JOMO.
Funny enough, it is by sort of an accident, that we do lead, but it is not a leadership by force, but instead with organic inspiration.
The world will always change, evolve and continue to try to suggest what is better or preferred or "right", but it is with an open mind and curious attitude dedicated to continuing to learn that we can recognize what is an aha moment and what is a "thanks, but not for me" idea.
When we understand ourselves, but also how the world moves, gets along, and how it has done so in the past, including the knowledge of social, psychological and economical motivators, we can observe, contemplate and feel confident in how we will move with or speak out (either with our actions or our voice) against or suggest or model a new or adjusted ideas that has not yet been introduced. Such is the case with JOMO. A simple concept, but a 180-degree shift in perspective of what had been put forth as the motivation for leading one's life.
Specific examples of living a life inspired by the JOMO:
A modern woman or man embracing JOMO understands . . .
. . . there will be pressure from society to conform, but when we recognize it for what it is — ignornace, fear of the unknown, a want of power or control over another — we can say no confidently, liberating ourselves and others.
. . . romantic love is not the only rich, nurturing, kind, respectful, enriching love that is available to welcome into our daily lives.
. . . respecting others, no matter how little or significantly they play a role in our lives, is an exercise in respecting ourselves as well. This understanding requires us to communicate clearly and without falsehood or insincerity. And it also recognizes we may have to correct ourselves as bad habits and defaults take time to change, especially if society has rewarded us for behaving disrespectfully (either in subtle or not so subtle ways).
. . . loaded language is a common way for societies to nudge (or guilt) individuals into ascribing to a particular way of living (i.e. "childless", "unmarried" - both include a negative connotation in either the suffix or prefix to suggest something is lacking). It is when we live more consciously, welcome more knowledge into our lives about the constructs of society, why they were put into place, we can recognize the defaults others may fall into unknowingly when they use such diction in conversation.
. . . meeting, engaging and conversing with people - men or women - during our everyday lives can be a bright moment. Simply being friendly and sincerely engaged in the exchange is a reflection of who we are as a person and not of a wanting something more than the current moment which offers friendly human connection and kindness.
. . . the potential the future holds upon recognizing and refusing to be limited by the confines of societal expectations and savors the present moment in which they find themselves as they, by simply living a life of joy, can model and inspire others to feel comfortable to do the same.
Enjoying the journey moving forward
A modern woman need not be defined by their romantic relationship status or parental status (neither should a modern man, but fewer stigmas are attached to men as opposed to women in our current culture). Welcoming love into our lives, good, real love, is available in so many forms and for each of us will follow its own timeline. It begins with a love for the life we find ourselves in at this very moment — not wishing for something more or fearing we are missing out if certain events or outside opportunities don't present themselves "on time".
Love, and thus a discovery of joy, is available via a multitude of avenues and communities. Explore, embrace and nurture where the love is in the journey you are on at this moment because it is uniquely yours and most certainly worth celebrating.
—Queer Eye, Season 3 premiere, Netflix
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #251
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 10 March 2019
"Never decorate all at once. 'When you do it all at once, you make mistakes,' explains Fredéric Amico. Take your time trying out different pieces, and never settle." —Architectural Digest's Clever (new online destination for decor ideas, quoting French actor and artist Fredéric Amico (view his Paris loft here)
Our wardrobe, our mind, our relationships all ebb and flow, grow, migrate, wander and progress as much as we choose to let them, and our sancturaries need not be any different.
Reflect upon your childhood bedroom and the first time your parents gave you permission to decorate it as you pleased - paint color, linens and all (or maybe you took the initiative all on your own). Then graduate to your first home away from home - perhaps your dorm, perhaps an apartment. Then remember the next home and the next as your life began to unfold.
I can remember vividly during my junior year in high school wielding a paintbrush, ushering in a double bed, selecting the wallpaper for the accent wall and reveling in my very own "grown-up" sanctuary. Then college arrived, and it was with my first apartment sophomore year that furniture was needed, and much was cheap and yard sale must-have finds, but there were treasures that I brought with me from my childhood home - that black rod-iron bed, dishware found at an unexpected estate sale, pictures that held dear meaning. And then the first "adult" apartment during graduate school, living on my own - daring to paint an entire wall red and framing everything in gold. It reflected my choice at the time, and having a choice and a home that was all my own, felt liberating. Never before have I painted a wall red - it took three, at least, coats to make it as I had hoped. But I don't regret it for a moment.
Since then, the homes I have rented or owned have been unique unto themselves, but one detail always remains constant, the woman living within the four walls - me.
Even so, each home of which my paycheck has paid the monthly mortgage or rent, has gradually evolved to reflect more of what has shaped me and influenced me and inspired me to become the person I am today. And as much as we, okay, maybe this was just me, moreso especially in my earlier years of homeownership, may want our homes to come together immediately to reflect the aesthetic we desire and see in our mind's eye, our most authentic sanctuary will be a reflection of patience, of thoughtfulness and of careful selection.
Not all of us have the luxury of being able to live in a home we love for decades, and others might state that it is a luxury to be able to move frequently based on curiosity and opportunities, but either way, we can take what means the most with us to our next home. So that no matter where we go, our journey can be reflected within the four walls of our sanctuary.
Today I'd like to share with you ways that you can begin to decorate your sanctuary to not only reflect your journey which will offer comfort and confidence each time you cross the threshold, but also be welcoming to most importantly the inhabitants, but guests who are invited to visit as well.
In last Wednesday's post, I shared eight small, but unique ways to add your signature to your sanctuary, many of which, as you will discover, reflect my journey thus far over the past 40 years. And today I'd like to share less of the specific things to include and more the concepts to consider when deciding what should hang on your walls, fill your rooms and welcome you home.
1.Does it warm your heart and lift your spirits?
Ask yourself this question when deciding what pictures, paintings, souvenirs, etc. any item that doesn't perform a function, but rather only adorns a wall, tabletop or shelf, to display.
Being reminded of what you are capable of, being reminded of the love that was felt and expressed, being reminded of a dream that came true, all of these reminders are helpful and healthy to have in your home especially on those days and during those moments we need comfort and confidence.
2. What function does it provide?
Being clear about the function that an item provides - literally or figuratively (i.e. a candleholder, a vase, a settee, a bench (literal); painting, particular coffee table books, throw pillows (figurative) — clarifies in your mind why you are considering it for your home. If the reason is because it is the color of the year, or my favorite influencer has one, unless your signature for decor is trendy, perhaps find a deeper purpose for welcoming it into your home. But if instead, the reason is to provide warmth, to lift my spirits, to hold my favorite bunch of flowers and fit perfectly on that particular tabletop, then by all means, welcome it into your home.
"Have nothing in your home that you don't know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."—William Morris
With points #1 & #2, it may appear that I am simply further describing what William Morris has taught decorators for years, and if your interpretation of the quote is similar to mine, then you are in good company, but for me, it goes deeper. What does beautiful mean?
Beautiful must go deeper, beauty can only be present if it fits the two criteria above in a more visceral part of our well-being. There are many items that are beautiful - from traditional to modern designs, art that speaks volumes from contemporary to acclaimed icons, but if it doesn't mean something to you, if it doesn't have a story as to why it spoke to you, then let someone else welcome it into their home.
I am continually editing my home, just as I am my closet, and with more evaluation, comes more removal of items that were bought at the spur of the moment, out of preceived need. Gradually, those items, if they don't possess both of the criteria above, are replaced by items that do, and the home's decor begins to feel more symphonic.
Speaking of symphonies, there is more criteria to consider when bringing it all together in your home.
3. Cost per true value
Similar to cost per wear, but slightly different, cost per true value is how much it costs to acquire the item while taking into account the value it will add to the overall quality of life over the amount of years you expect to own the item.
In other words, the antique dining table that costs $1000 and would fit perfectly in your dining room. No more need for separate tables, more dinner parties, more opportunity to share your passion for cooking and your partner's passion for convivial conversation about the guests' favorite topics. Many would way this is priceless and others would say you can do the same thing around two nondescript tables pulled together, but this is where the decision will be different for each person: What do you want to invest in? What is it that brings you and those you love great enjoyment and peace of mind?
Some of the items we bring into our homes will be treasure finds for pennies of what they are actually worth, or maybe not worth anything at all to anyone else, but priceless in our eyes. Whatever you choose to invest in monetarily, simply remember to ask the "cost per true value" question and answer it for yourself. No one else's opinion (unless they are paying for it or a partner in the household) should matter.
4. Consider the decor that spoke to you on your travels
So many of TSLL readers/listeners of the podcast are travelers to all sorts of amazing places, large and small, far and near on the globe. Often it isn't until we see, and then sometimes live with temporarily through staying in vacation rentals, a particular decor idea that we realize how excellent of an idea it is or how much it makes us feel at home even when we are far way.
As I shared in my post last Wednesday, one decor idea I would have never known about or considered was to use linen tablecloths as curtains. Perfect! And with my love of linen as it reminds me of France and my travels to the south and north of the country, the curtains I now have in my home not only serve a much needed function, but they also bring back fond memories.
5. Does it tell a story that you want to welcome into your home?
I have an antique English draw-leaf table that was the first dining room table I ever owned (you can see a bit of it in the above image on the far right). I purchased it in college after saving up $400 for it and have had it with me ever since (here is a similar one from One King's Lane). No matter what size my home, I have always made a spot for it. Currently, it holds my record player which suits it perfectly as it brings the music and the news into my home.
As well, a chair from an individual who you knew or have known and simply remembering who they are makes you smile when you look at the piece furniture even if there are a few tears in the upholstery is a keeper.
Not everything in our homes will have long stories that will make your heart smile, but gradually, once we have what we need to live sufficiently, we can be thoughtful and careful about what we wish to bring into our sanctuaries. Often it actually becomes easier because we know precisely what is not only needed but also what would be cherished.
6. Include custom art or upholstered items with beloved fabrics from your travels or the past
Whether you are a painter or someone has painted or illustrated something for you, framing it gives you an original piece of art. Playful or serious, seasoned artists or first-timers, the art we display can share a glimpse of your story to those you invite into your home as well as remind you of what you care most about.
As well, choosing to upholster old furniture, or cover pillow or make blankets with fabrics found like traveling or found like going through your family's attic are unique and signature ways of adding a decor idea that can't be purchased in a retail store.
Transforming a house or an apartment into a home is a creative journey and revelation of our truest selves in many ways if we want it to be. Recognizing the power of communication and comfort and confidence that can transpire simply with the decor choices we make is a tool we can put in our toolbox to improve the quality of our lives. It is a process that requires patience, but one day when you least expect it or aren't looking for it or trying to achieve it, you will find yourself sitting in that one particular spot in your home, passing the time doing something you love either on your own or with someone you love and you will feel the most at home you have ever felt. Such a feeling is not because your home is complete (it never will be), it is because you have curated a space that enables you to relax, recharge, share yourself without saying too much or saying just the right amount in each room of the home and knowing you did what you could with what you had.
It is my hope that you experience such moments often no matter where you are along your journey. Because, if my experience has taught me anything in each of the homes I have inhabited, it is possible and it only gets better with each step forward along the journey.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Create Surroundings for Everyday Contentment, episode #219
~learn about each episode here
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #250
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Image: an everyday moment captured in my living room, complete with a dog toy left on the floor - learn more about the photo in this post.
Sun, 3 March 2019
Oprah: What is a lesson that took you the longest to learn that you kept repeating and it kept showing up wearing a different something, but was the same lesson?
Julia Roberts: I think we as people, or as women, or me just myself who I am in this world that I make myself less for someone else to feel more of whatever that "thing" was.
When I heard Julia Roberts share with Oprah on her podcast Super Soul Conversations this past October the lesson that took her the longest to learn, it struck a chord. Actually, having seen the above Instagram post on Oprah's feed prior to the interview which prompted me to download the episode (airing on October 23 & 24 - it's a two-part conversation), I finally felt I had found a word for what I had been doing for quite some time in my life but couldn't understand what it was and why it was causing me so much frustration.
Shrinking, unconsciously becoming less of who we are so that others feel more comfortable, either to avoid confrontation that is unwarranted, but still we choose to prevent it from occurring by not being our full and awesome selves, or by not partaking in a life path because we don't want to upset others or deal with the push back, can become a habit and mistakenly become accepted as who we actually are.
The habit of shrinking is something I became accustomed to for a long time - with my family, with my friends, in relationships - but thankfully, I find myself in the past 5-8 years refusing to do so, and the blessings of this conscious choice have been beautiful - primarily, a sense of peace and tranquility within myself which is especially felt when I am in own and only company. And more importantly, I have begun to find people who accept me for who I truly am, and have been more keen to gravitate to others who as well are being themselves and do not ask or expect or want me to shrink.
A common reaction to onlookers or individuals who have interacted with those of us who have become conditioned to self-select to become less is that we are 'too much of ourselves'. In other words, arrogant. They skip over the observation of one simply being confident and jump to, she/he is too confident. Too full of themselves. But what they are really communicating is "I am not comfortable with you not being who I want you to be or what I am used to you being". And often, it is women who when they choose to let go of being less, receive the comment from others of being 'too confident'. I rarely hear this about men who are confident, and even those men who are well into the arrogant tier of confidence. Nope, primarily women. And this is what is known as social conditioning.
Even more unfortunate, it is often women, but men too, if they haven't been conditioned or around women or any individual who is not adhering to what they believe to be 'their societal role' , they will push back. The irony is, if they are women pushing back against women, they are pushing themselves down as well.
What does 'refusing to make yourself less' look like? Certainly, women can step into the realm of arrogance and go beyond simply being confident just as men can, but too often we fear this misstep and thus never even dabble or try to exude our confidence of being exactly who we are. And being exactly who we are is what the world needs.
How to Be Your Full Self, Not Less, Not More
1.Understand what true self-confidence is
To possess and exude confidence is to establish a "firm trust" with someone else as defined in the dictionary. In episode 5 of the podcast, we detail how to gain confidence and why it is invaluable, an episode inspired by the book The Confidence Code .
And it is imperative, that in order to not convey arrogance, but rather confidence, you refuse to fake it. In other words, let go of the life advice maxim that seems to be quite ubiquitous - "fake it until you make it". If you fake it, you overstep, you don't have the credibility and people will not trust you. The goal is to gain authentically other people's trust, which means, you need to be you and do what you love and what comes naturally, where you find your flow and where you acknowledge others' strengths and successes, where you recognize new ideas and thus adjust your ideas. Being adamant is not being confident, especially so, if your stance on any issue needs to be adjusted as new knowledge is put forth.
In other words, excluding true confidence comes from showing, not telling. Simply put, our actions, how we carry ourselves, how we handle difficult situations, how we prepare for our projects/conferences/speeches/etc., how we respond to questions when asked, when we engage in conversations - what it is that we share and how we speak - our tone, listening skills, responses, etc., how we go about our lives when nobody is necessarily watching, etc.
Confidence is gained from continual growth, a bit of vulnerability to put yourself out there and show your strengths, but also a recognition that it is in your actions,, that build upon themselves to build trust with others and to demonstrate to yourself that yes, what you have to offer is valuable, but first you must acknowledge this truth to yourself.
2. Let go of the need of wanting everyone to like or approve of what you do/say
Become more comfortable walking away and not taking it personally when someone doesn't "approve" of your behavior, ideas, lifestyle, etc. First, this is where having confidence will help strengthen your resolve to not be so shaken when someone speaks ill of you or your work. Second, this doesn't mean constructive feedback shouldn't be considered. After all, in order to grow, so long as the source who is relaying the feedback is trusted, credible and wishes only to help, not tear down what you have put out into the world, consider their feedback.
On the other hand, whether it is with relationships, career pursuits, lifestyle choices, or political ideologies, while we may intrinsically want others to like us, agree with us, go along with our ideas, accept us, date us, marry us, hire us, vote for us, etc., we want them to like our full self, not a version of what we think they would accept. Because in time, we will no longer be able to stay confined inside the box we have initially put ourselves in and the other has accepted that we stay. Our breaking out will come in all different forms - getting angry, ending a relationship, etc. - but rest assured, it will come eventually.
3. Find the courage to be vulnerable
The most frightening part of being our fullest selves is knowing that there is a possibility we will be dismissed, rejected, ignored, laughed at, simply not accepted for who we are. But the comfort, the safety net so to speak, is the self-confidence we have built up and take with us everywhere we go.
If you understand your self-worth, which has been with you since the day you were born and will be with you your entire life, you know that you have immense value that the world is fortunate to have. In 2011, I wrote a post sharing 10 Ways to Strengthen Self-Worth and one vital point shared was that "we all have self-worth; itâ€™s a matter of finding it within ourselves. Once we accept and acknowledge, and know, that we are worthy, the amazing journey of finding our purpose, of discovering our passions and living our most fulfilling life can really begin."
Once you acknowledge how awesome you are all on your own, those rejections, those negative responses that none of us are seeking, will more easily become a part of the past and roll off your back. But first you must establish your self-confidence.
"Itâ€™s no surprise that confidence is the foundation that makes it okay to be vulnerable. Itâ€™s the layer of self-trust that allows you to take a few bricks out of that wall and know youâ€™ll be okay, to really show up and to show others who you are. Real, natural confidence is trust rather than second-guessing. Itâ€™s congruity rather than compartmentalization. Itâ€™s ease rather than resistance." â€”Steve Errey, a confidence coach
If you are someone as well who has felt they have had to shrink themselves in order to live life, then you know how uncomfortable and confining it can be to live such a life. Such experience is not wasted because now that we know how to become our full selves we can make sure we don't expect others to shrink or become less around us. With empathy we can make sure this harm to others doesn't continue - to women or men. But we must stand strong in our full selves and become comfortable with walking way, communicatively clearly, but with clarity and calm certainty and recognizing that these are both skills - the shrinking to be less and the expanding to be our full selves - and so while it took time to learn how to shrink, it will take time to learn how to be fully who we truly are out in the world.
For me, there are three aspects that are the most difficult part of being fully who I am: not holding on to the past of how I have been treated by the same people I am trying to be fully myself with and bringing unhelpful rash and reactionary emotions with me (while I have walked away from those I could, sometimes we don't have a choice as we either work for or with them or are related to them and see them at holiday occasions whether by our own invitation or not); letting go of the guilt that had been instilled by society for being stronger than it wanted me to be - whether that guilt was exhibited by having a voice, an idea or letting someone go; and lastly, believing in what I wanted to bring to the world more and considering the certain critics that will inevitably arise less.
As you can see, it takes time, and awareness of what is most difficult for each of us, but we each can attain the place of being fully who we are each day and moment of our lives no matter who we are with. And in knowing this, we can support and nurture others who are daring to take this brave step to be themselves and encourage them, not laugh or limit or dismiss, so that we all rise to our best selves. However, it starts with supporting yourself and giving yourself permission to be exactly who you are. Just be you. And in your being, you will dazzle, amaze and find the people who delight in exactly who you are. Trust your journey.
â€”Agatha and the Truth of Murder, on Netflix
starring Irish actress Ruth Bradley as Agatha Christie at the age of 36 as her marriage to Archibald Christie was coming to an end.
Set in December 1926, during the 11 day period in which the novelist went missing. The movie is a fictionalized version of what might have happened.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #249
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 17 February 2019
Over the years I have recommended, reviewed and shared a long list of French films or films set in France either as Petit Plaisirs in previous podcast episodes, in the weekly This & That under the Francophile Finds category or during the annual TSLL French Week the past three years in August.
And as someone who appreciates simplicity and organization, I realized I didn't have one destination where readers/listeners could find my favorites. So today, that is exactly what I have done.
Understandably, there is a multitude of French films from decades passed that many people would place on their top list, but I wanted to share films I have loved that premiered in the past ten years.
As you will see, most are French films with English subtitles, but there are a few that are American films set in France, and one, I couldn't not help myself, that isn't French at all. It is Italian, but I learned about it while watching a French film in New York City's must-visit-foreign-films movie theater The Paris Theater (which is located adjacent to Bergdorf Goodman on the south end of Central Park). All of them are thoughtful, some more comical than others, but each will leave you in a contented mood having finished the film (and some will leave you with a voracious appetite - most for food, some for wine and others for . . . well . . . let's get to my list of the 12 French films I love).
1. Un Peu Beaucoup Aveuglement (Blind Date)
Released in France in 2015, this romantic comedy juxtaposes two tenants who need starkly different things in their lives in order to achieve the goals they have set. With merely a wall that separates them, the battle ensues and the humor begins.
First shared in episode #130's Petit Plaisir, you can listen to my full review there, and here is the trailer.
In 2015 I was looking for a light-hearted film, yet something to catch my eye’s attention as well as pique my curiosity. Released in 2014, Barbecue is a French film situated the majority of the time in the countryside of south France, but also in the city of Lyon. Amongst a group of long-time friends, one suffers a heart attack only to have it prompt him to question his entire life’s approach to living well. Enjoy the laughter, the camaraderie, the tears, the frustration and the ultimate happy ending. Available on Netflix, be sure to put it on your watch list.
Last year I had the opportunity to watch a new film which debuted on Netflix a few weeks ago, I Am Not An Easy Man. Not only will Francophiles appreciate this modern film as it is set in Paris and is written in French, but with the recent swelling of awareness surrounding the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp, the lead role stars a male chauvinist’s whose life is flipped upside down when after a concussion he wakes up in a matriarchal world in which men are inferior to women.
The satirical plot will perhaps have you laughing at times until you take a moment, pause, and then recognize how conditioned society has become to accept certain behaviors, roles and expectations of each gender. Watch it, absorb the message and then live more consciously. I know I was taking serious note of the message. The last scene alone was all too real of a wake-up call of where society is and the progress that still needs to be made.
4. Last Love
In 2013, Mr. Morgan's Last Love, aka Last Love, starring Michael Caine as a bereaved widower living in Paris, debuted. Co-starring alongside French actress Clemence Poesy, a jovial dance instructor, this film was a Petit Plaisir in episode #60's. While critics did not like the film, I found it unexpectedly lovely. The friendship between the two, the unexpected introduction to people Clemence's character may not have met, there is great love shared throughout the film from the love the retired professor shared with his wife, to the current relationships being built to the future love Poesy's character will embark upon.
The film is based on Françoise Dorner's French novel La Douceur Assassine, and while the main character in the novel is French, the screenplay was written with Caine in mind for the part. The title reflects the widower's contemplation with ending his life, and it is the young dance instructor that he meets that begins to change his mind.
5. Sex, Love & Therapy (2014) aka Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas (Do You Want It Or Not?)
Let's lighten it up a bit, and Sex, Love & Therapy are certain to do just that. Sophie Marceau and Patric Bruel star in this French romantic comedy about a marriage counselor (Bruel) who is trying to get over his love for sex, but his new assistant (Marceau) is not making it easy.
When I read the review of director Cédric Klapisch’s new French film in The Wall Street Journal, I immediately put it on my watch list, and since then I have had the opportunity to view the film and enjoyed it immensely.
Centered around a family vineyard and the dilemma of what to do when the patriarch passes, the three children come together, squabble, remember and then decide on the best path. The cinematography will transport you to the rolling hills of Burgundy and you will be spoiled with footage watching each season in the vineyard. It is a pure treat and a wonderful examination of siblings who dearly love each other, but are faced with a tough dilemma. Don't worry, the ending, I have a feeling will satisfy.
An American film, starring Diane Lane, Paris Can Wait was released in 2017 and was the Petit Plaisir episode #160. Written, directed and produced by Eleanor Coppola. Yes, that Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather series, The Outsiders, etc.) for 54 years. Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival, Paris Can Wait is Eleanor’s first narrative feature film, but you wouldn’t have known. Now, not all the critics are loving it: The Boston Globe felt it was strained and relied too heavily on clichés, even those who thought they would love it came away unsure due to the ambiguous ending, but it is precisely the different approach to making the film that makes it lovely.
Coppola has shared that the film’s plot was inspired by her own life (be sure to read the San Francisco Chronicle‘s interview with her here), but not every piece and parcel of the story (there was no male companion). Along with the struggle Diane Lane’s character (Anne) wrestles with is what Coppola herself did as well, the “‘inner conflict, the push and pull’ she’s felt her whole adult life about pursuing her own creative ambitions while raising three children and supporting her husband’s career”. As well, both women (the character and Coppola) have suffered the loss of a child which is briefly, but touchingly included in the film.
Some readers have shared with me, they didn’t enjoy the insinuation of infidelity, but I think that may be taking it further than Coppola intended as nothing occurred, merely adoration and a woman (Anne) who was keenly aware and steadfast. What Anne’s journey does do for her is awaken her to her strengths, to her passions, to the realization yes of her imperfect, but still very adoring husband. And by not giving viewers the concrete ending, leaving us wondering, Coppola does something I must applaud her for: She doesn’t tell us how to think.
As someone who has been immersed in Hollywood due to her husband, then daughter and son’s successful involvement with silver screen productions, she doesn’t fall prey to the formula. Maybe she does have a sequel in mind, but I hope not only because this film, as she has stated, took six years to raise funds as it wasn’t full of “aliens, nobody dies, there are no guns and no car crashes. There was nothing that an investor wants to invest in. No sex, no violence”. Rather it was a piece of her life she wanted to share and explore, and in so doing, she allows the viewers to ponder what we don’t often see in movies: a leading female role who is complete all by herself so long as she embraces her passions, lets herself feel what she feels, appreciates her allure which may be initially noticed due to her beauty but is profoundly powerful and substantive due to her intellect and character.
And whether or not she remains with her husband (who isn’t perfect) or explores her attraction to Jacques, played by Arnaud Viard (who also isn’t perfect or ideal either) shouldn’t be needed for a happy ending. What the happy ending is is liberation for Anne who hears the reminder from Jacques to share her talents with her husband (and perhaps the world if she so chooses), and to savor the pleasures of everyday moments and food without rushing to Paris.
8. My Old Lady
The third and last American film, based in Paris, My Old Lady is film involving love, unexpected treasures and a renewal of life. Kevin Kline stars in the directorial debut of Israel Horovitz. Upon arriving from New York, Kline’s character is set to liquidate his estranged father’s Parisian property, but discovers a refined old lady as the tenant. While waiting to determine how he can acquire his asset, he comes to learn that the old lady (played by Maggie Smith), was his father’s lover for 50 years, as well as meeting and becoming smitten with the old lady’s daughter played by Kristin Scott Thomas.
Queen to Play is the most recent French film to be shared as a Petit Plaisir, and you may remember it was reviewed in episode #242. Kevin Kline also stars in this film, and while a much smaller role, it is his first role in a French film. Released in 2011, Sandrine Bonnaire stars as Héléne, a wife and mother who is a housemaid not only at a luxury hotel in Corsica, but also for Kevin Kline's character's home in the country.
Héléne becomes curious about the game of chess after watching a couple flirtatiously play a game in the hotel where she works. In hopes of bringing sparks to her own marriage, she discovers she has quite the talent for the game with the help of Kline giving her practice sessions.
“Did it meet your expectations even if you have felt at times uncomfortable or lonely? You’re still in time to choose, in the future, a more comfortable and protected solution – maybe more suitable to the needs of a family. It is well, to keep in mind, however, the happiness and well-being and strictly personal concepts. For some people, the sense of freedom and adventure is an essential part of the experience. Trust your instinct. This is your journey. The route to take is up to you. Have a safe journey.” –A Five Star Life
Upon watching the foreign film A Five Star Life, the ending will be an untraditional jolt to an American audience as it will deign to allow the heroine to journey into the credits in absolute contentment with her own company. The quote above is stated by Irene just as this last scene unfolds, and as I was collecting all of my sources for today’s post, I couldn’t help but realize with certainty that Irene is indeed the epitomization of self-actualization.
Why? You may ask. Does one have to journey through life alone in order to be self-actualized? Absolutely not. But what Irene exhibits is the knowledge of herself and the world around her. She is not limited by what society purports to define as a “happy life”, but rather investigates and discovers what happiness is indeed for her while accepting that others may, and many do, have a different definition.
While the language is Italian (with English subtitles), based on the trailer and the story line, and the premise that “real luxury is the pleasure of real life. Lived to the fullest, full of imperfections”. It aligns quite nicely with living simply luxuriously, non?
11. Le Chef
Now I am going to make your mouth water and your appetite perk up with the last two films of recommendation.
Haute-cuisine and France, a beautiful pairing indeed, come together for a light-hearted comedy starring Jean Reno and Michaël Youn in Le Chef. Written and directed by Daniel Cohen, a young self-taught chef played by Youn is far from lucky in his pursuit of professional success and happens on a star chef (Reno) who is in danger of losing his reputation and his restaurant. The two come together to help themselves, but end up helping each other along the way.
The story is based on the real-life case of Danièle Delpeuch, a lesser-known provincial chef and restaurant-owner who in the late 1980s was summoned by President François Mitterrand to be his personal cook at his official residence, the Elysée Palace. Catherine Frot stars as Hortense, the chef chosen by the French president and Jean d'Ormesson plays Mitterrand. An interesting point to share is that Jean d'Ormesson, not an actor, will be instantly recognized by French audiences as he was a writer and journalist and during Mitterrand's career, was one of his toughest adversaries.
Back to the film, based on Mitterrand's choice for his chef - The President prefers the traditional cuisine from his childhood and finds Hortense to be the chef he is looking for to the chagrin of the rest of the cooking staff.
Come with a full stomach otherwise your tastebuds will be tempted throughout. Or perhaps come with an appetite and make sure you have reservations at a delectable French restaurant afterwards.
Oh, my. I do hope you have discovered a film that tickles your curiosity, or perhaps one that you would like to watch again.
There is something about watching a film that enables you to slip away virtually to another part of the world that truly offers a respite from whatever is going on in your life. And then when we add the necessary requisite of paying attention to the subtitles, our full attention is captured.
Before long, if you are like me, you will begin to hear the language more than you knew you could and not look at the subtitles as often.
Wishing you happy viewing and bonne journée!
~Listen to all of TSLL's French-Inspired podcast episodes
~The Simple Sophisticate will return with a new episode on Monday March 4th. You can view the entire 5th season schedule below. In the meantime, next Monday, stop by for an Inspiration/Motivation post to kick off the week.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~6 Cozy French Mystery Series I Have Enjoyed (posted in Feb. 2021)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #248
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 10 February 2019
In today's episode I had the opportunity to chat with Portland, Oregon, based stylist Scarlet Chamberlin who has styled women and men as their lives begin to evolve along their journeys.
Having styled clients for the red carpet - the Academy Awards and Golden Globes - she works with everyday individuals seeking a style that aligns with where they are and where they want to go in their lives.
In today's episode we talk about how her career began in styling (she began in 2010), what services she offers to clients (see the list below), how Scarlet will help unearth your precise style, as well as insights about the styling process and how it plays a far more profound role in our lives.
Scarlet's passion will be made evident when you tune in, and as many readers and listeners have reached out to me in search of a stylist, whether in person or online, the good news is she does both, and I could not recommend her more highly. You will be in very good hands. Have a look below at more links and information shared during our conversation and be sure to view Scarlet's website for more detailed information.
~Below: Have a look at the video discussed during the episode of style Scarlet captured during her travels in Paris this past summer. Just listening to the music will make you want to hop on a plane to the City of Light and don your stylish best wares.
~stylist Scarlet Chamberlin~ ~Scarlet Chamberlin Styling Co., Studio in Portland, Oregon~ ~Scarlet with Gunnar (golden doodle) and her husband~
~View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate
Sun, 3 February 2019
"A well-designed life is a life that makes sense . . . a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions." —Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
At the heart of choosing and the actively living a simply luxurious life, is to live a life tailored to each of us. It will be unique, it will be thoughtfully constructed and a dynamic being, as our lives continually grow, evolve and expand due to our curious natures.
As I share in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Selves, I have been tailoring my life unconsciously since I was a young girl, and now consciously as an adult for the past two decades. Tailoring takes energy, intention and a desire to understand and then the courage to apply what we learn to our lives. It can be difficult at times, but ultimately, it is greatly rewarding as we are living in accordance to our true nature and discovering all the potential we have within us.
Editing our lives - removing what does not align with our priorities and dreams, and making room for what enlivens us and brings us joy is a highly beneficial process.
Imagine that dress that looks exquisite on the model or the hanger, and you know the color is precisely what will make your skin and smile glow if only you could shorten (or lengthen as it usually is in my case) the hem, taper the waist, but broaden the width of the shoulders and make the neckline fit just so.
The dress in this instance is your life - you love living life, you are consciously aware of how awesome it is and the opportunities that could potentially come forth if only you had the time and energy to see them and then capitalize upon them.
The tailor that will make the necessary changes to make the dress fit perfectly for you uniquely is you (with the help of experts in their field - i.e. books, writers, etc.). And yes, the tailoring will take time, but with careful awareness, the little changes begin to make a significant positive difference in how your daily and overall life begin to feel as you live the changes you have made.
This is to tailor your life to fit you. And it is absolutely worth the time it will take. In fact, I have a feeling if you are a reader/listener of this blog/podcast, you had already been a tailor of your life for some time. But as the quote below reminds, a well-designed life isn't something you tend to once and complete. Nope. Much like our favorite dress, we may need to adjust it over the years in all sorts of ways, but the dress (i.e. our life) is capable of adapting if we have made good decisions along the way.
After all, our skin tone, eye color, hair color (okay, this can change if we want it too), height, shoe size and temperament do not change. We simply become better at understanding how to complement and enhance and thus, bring forth to the world who we truly are. And that is why we need to be a tailor of our lives, which is an ongoing job.
"A well-designed life isn't a noun — it's a verb . . . your life is not a thing, it's an experience; the fun comes from designing and enjoying the experience."
1. Follow What Brings You Joy
"Follow the joy; follow what engages and excites you, what brings you life."
2. Create an Activity Log for 2-4 months
Log your energy and engagement levels for each activity, noting the specifics of said activity, the environment you find yourself (physical, emotional, social, etc.), what type of interactions you have with other people, other things - machines, etc., what objects were part of the experience - technology, analog, sporting equipment, instruments, etc. and who else was with you as you engaged in the activity?
3. Plan small rewards after completing "energy-negative" tasks
4. Let go of Agonizing over what the "best choice" is
"You can't make 'the best choice' because you can't know what the best choice was until all the consequences have played out. You can work on making the best choice you can, given what's knowable at the moment."
When I read this part of the book, I acknowledged that I can agonize from time to time, especially when it involves decisions of great risk or great change, but when I read the quote above, I was put at ease. When we replay over and over again in our minds the "what if's", we are agonizing and thus expending energy that would be better placed moving forward and letting go. Moving forward and letting go, trusting that we made the best choice with the information we had at the time will enable more 'best choices' to be made in the future.
5. Practice self-discipline
The art of letting go of agonizing and being able to move on takes self-discipline as it will be a habit you will have to break if you have been a seasoned 'agonizer'. However, eventually the skill of letting go once the decision has been made and moving forward takes place will become habit as well. To frame it different, choose happiness. Better still, choose contentment. If agonizing does not bring you either of these feelings, then let it go.
"Happiness is letting go of what you don't need."
Now that you know in what ways your life would be best tailored to you, below are a few concrete areas to consider so that your everyday life - the want-tos AND the have-tos - can work best for the life you want to live.
1.Automate what you can
Last year, I shared 12 ways to automate your life. Be sure to check out the post to discover specifics everyday or routine tasks that can be tended to once and not repeatedly. Some of the ideas include finances, savings, bill paying, regular beauty items, etc.
2. House cleaning
Whether you have the luxury of hiring someone to do the deep cleaning regularly or you are the cleaner of the house, find a system that is efficient both in energy and time. I have done both, and currently, feel fortunate to be able to have someone clean my house once a month while I maintain it with weekly pick-up cleaning sessions in between. However, this hasn't always been an option, so I have followed a weekly and then seasonal cleaning schedule that enabled me to not have too large of tasks if I had put them off, but also make sure the big items (windows, refrigerator) were cleaned on a regular basis.
3. Reading material
Thoughtfully edit out and welcome what you enjoy, what keeps you informed, but without the excess. I recently discovered that simply by asking for a particular partial delivery (weekends only), which was more to my reading schedule and interest, I could not only save money, but reduce the amount of newspapers I was having to recycle.
Currently, I have reduced the number of magazines I subscribe to (here is a list of all of the magazines I have subscribed to at one time or another, but I do not subscribe to all of these now), and I also subscribe to three newspapers: The New York Times (Sundays), The Wall Street Journal (weekend) and The Washington Post (digital).
4. The Market Shopping
From making sure your canvas totes are already at the ready, as well as cotton mesh bags for produce so that no more plastic needs to come home with you, creating a place for these items will reduce extra bags that you will need to recycle and help the planet as well which will make you feel good for doing a small part to help.
5. Bring in the Small Luxuries
What brings you joy? What delights you during your day in your home or in your daily life at work or going about your regular business? We have spoken abundantly about small luxuries on the blog/podcast, so this idea will come as no surprise, but this is where you tailor the small luxuries that will elevate your everyday - whether it is always having fresh flowers in the house, to having beautiful French candles to help you wind down at the end of each day, welcome small luxuries into your life. Discover 27 ideas for bringing simple luxuries into your life in this 2013 post.
6. How to Best Stay Informed without Becoming Overwhelmed and Anxiety-Ridden
In 2017, episode #187, I shared a list of 9 ways to Create a Healthy Approach to Staying Abreast of the News, and ever the advocate for staying informed, I also have experienced first-hand that there is also a breaking point for all of us when it negatively effects our lives. This is where tailoring is crucial for our mental and emotional health, which does contribute to our physical and then overall health.
One significant change I have made over the past year is HOW I receive the news. Instead of watching it (the only news programming I view is NBR - Nightly Business Report - which focuses on solely economic news), I read or listen to the news. By doing this I am choosing when I listen, and or read, and I read my daily news brief each morning, sometimes a few articles that interest me and then save my Sunday reading for reading the entire papers (the sections that most interest me). This has helped me make the shift to be less reactive and more responsive thoughtfully and when I see necessary.
~episode #145, Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference
7. The environments in which you live and work
Whether it is our home where we have much more control to design our environments or our workplaces, where we may not have as much, but we can still pay attention to what we do, doing so for each is one of the most significant tailoring jobs we can take on to improve the quality of our lives.
~Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary? 7 Ways to Get Started
~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #108
~For Introverts in the Workplace: 8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, #6 speaks to cultivating a sanctuary at work
~The Importance of Cultivating a Sanctuary, episode #46
8. Your Signature Style
Style, whether it is our clothing, our homes, how we speak or how we go about living our lives, is a form of communicating with the world our life experience, our values and our dreams. To not at least be aware of this power, is to ignore a powerful way we can engage with our lives more fully and elevate them with our choices when they align with our true selves.
I have an entire Archived Section of posts dedicated to finding your signature style, but this episode/post will help you get started , episode #15.-
9. How we eat
Do you make food a source of pleasure as well as nourishment? Do you celebrate with food small and large moments of your life with those you love?
Food and how we approach engaging with food, how we speak about food, is an everyday part of our lives. If we curse food, that is negative energy we are bringing into our lives. If we berate ourselves for eating certain foods, that is a choice we are making before and after that negatively affects our lives, but we can tailor this part of our lives as well.
As we become knowledgeable about food, recognizing that we do not need to deprive ourselves, the food we eat, how we prepare it and how we approach creating the meals we enjoy with ourselves and others, can become a wonderful source of joy. Check out TSLL's archives on Health which is all about Elevating the Everyday Meal with Seasonal Fare (and also check out TSLL's new venture into the cooking show genre with The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - 8 episodes are now available).
10. The Big Life Decisions
So much of what is shared on TSLL is about designing your best life and tailoring to the unique person you are. Hopefully the above list will jumpstart you in the direction of paying attention to the little details that when tended to thoughtfully will make an impressive positive difference.
Most importantly, our lives our ours to curate. Often, we don't realize how powerful changes in our default thinking, in our default way of living can change the quality of our lives. The key is to live consciously, make the best decision we can at the moment and continue to enjoy the living part, which is the only part that truly matters. Even with the have-tos that will bring us to the destination we seek, there is goodness to be savored, appreciated and enjoyed. Living thoughtfully, letting go of what is done and making the most of what is and potentially can be has the power to make your life an awesome experience each and every day.
~TSLL's 2nd book is specially written to help readers tailor their lives to their most authentic selves. Discover how to cultivate and strengthen the many tools that will elevate success in your everyday life, career, relationships and much more.
~Monty Don's French and Italian Gardens, Netflix
~French Gardens (3 part series), 2013
~Italian Gardens (4 part series), 2011
~Discover Monty Don's gardening books here
~Visit Monty Don's website for he posts monthly tips for gardening.
Monty Don's Italian Gardens trailer
Monty Don's French Gardens, clip
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #246
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 27 January 2019
"Resilence is more than bouncing back from adversity. People who are resilient keep pursuing their goals in the face of challenges. Consequently, learning how to regulate your brain's motivational machinery is a key aspect of resilence." —Rick Hanson, Ph. D, author of Resilient: How to Grown an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness
Living well and successfully reaching our fullest potential in part resides in understanding what is and is not in our control. Once we understand what we have control over, for example, and for today's post/episode's purposes, the mind, then we need to be willing to take the time to learn how it functions and how we can use its talents to enhance the overall quality of our lives.
Dr. Rick Hanson shares in the introduction of his book Resilience that "the brain is continually remodeling itself as you learn from your experiences. When you repeatedly stimulate a 'circuit' in your brain, you strengthen it." After reading his book, which is organized by the needs we have as human beings - safety, satisfaction and connection - readers discover the skills, and then the tools to build those skills to build our resilience. "True resilience fosters well-being, an underlying sense of happiness, love and peace."
And in order to foster the sense of each of them and hardwire them into our being, we need to experience them, seek them out and consciously savor them so as to remember how to live each day consciously as we build a life we love living each day.
Hanson asserts and I have to certainly agree, when we practice and improve our resilience in good times or seemingly benign moments in our everyday lives, we "will feel less anxiety and irritation, less disappointment and frustration and less loneliness, hurt and resentment. And when the waves of life come at you, you'll meet them with more peace, contentment and love in the core of your being."
So let's start by looking at our everyday lives and discovering how we can strengthen the muscle, the skill, that is resilience.
1.Take care of your own well-being first
"Being good to yourself is good for others. When people increase their own well-being, they usually become more patient, cooperative, and caring in their relationships."
We can only give our best selves when we care for ourselves well. When our needs are met, we can help others who are in need of generosity, understanding and patience. Read/Listen to episode #242 for 31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care.
2. Notice and savor enjoyable moments
Creating the habit of being self-compassionate is a learned skill. And with any skill, it takes conscious effort and repetition to habituate the skill into our default systems. Hanson advises, "Once you're having [an enjoyable] experience, feel it as fully as possible and take a little time —a breath or two or ten — to stay with it. The more often you do this, the more you will tend to hardwire psychological resources for yourself." Once you have strengthened this skill, you will be better able to utilize it during difficult as well as joyous times.
~Learn more about self-compassion and how to cultivate it in episode #122
3. Welcome Enjoyable Moments into Each Day
Conscious living is thoughtful living to pay close attention to how our days are constructed. Now this doesn't mean we have to plan every minute of the day and it doesn't mean everything must be nose-to-the-grindstone work or striving for nothing but perfection. What Hanson encourages is to understand and find what is enjoyable about the tasks you both want to do and have to do.
Completing a project at work for example, while the entire task may not be enjoyable, ask yourself, what is and focus on that. In so doing, you are more engaged, more attentive and more likely to give your best and have a more positive outcome.
On the flipside, for those activities you enjoy, make sure you partake in them regularly and savor the enjoyment you derive from doing so. Each time you focus on the reward, the enjoyable part, the brain releases dopamine, norepinephrine and natural opioids which then prioritizes in your mind what actions it wants to continue to pursue unconsciously. So essentially, you are beginning to hardwire your brain for wanting to do things that you consciously know will add quality to your life whether the enjoyment comes from have-to tasks or want-to tasks.
4. Repeat the superpowers you want to be part of your brain's hardwiring
"The more [neurons] fire together, the more they wire together. In essence, you develop psychological resources by having sustained and repeated experiences of them that are turned into durable changes in your brain."
Hanson shares that our character strengths, mood, skillful ways, outlook, good habits, etc. are predominantly learned as only one-third are innate in our DNA. The remaining two-thirds are acquired through learning.
This is good news, but it also means we have a massive responsibility in recognizing that we are who we either consciously or unconsciously choose to become. As Hanson coins, "who we learn to be".
5. Encourage Beneficial Experiences
"See the jewels around you."
The brain's negativity bias is programmed to protect us, and so it will bring to the forefront, if we aren't the master of our mind, all the negative in our days. However, when we understand why the brain is doing this, we can counteract it by seeking out, observing, savoring and incorporate more positive little moments into our day.
From savoring your breakfast or that cold glass of water, observing the beauty of the day, or the happy step of your pup as you head out for your walk, when we pay attention to the good experiences, we are nurturing our well-being. Why? Because if we are regularly letting the negative take the stage of our attention, there is "wear and tear on your body and mind".
6. Understand the essence of learning
What we learn, we become, and since two-thirds of who we become is learned, knowing how to learn is essential, so we can do it well and learn what will improve the quality of our everyday and overall lives. Hanson's acrynom for learning is HEAL (H - Have a beneficial experience; E - Enrich it, A - Absorb it; and finally, L — Link it to replace or soothe painful material). The first three steps are the essence of learning.
With that said, we need to live consciously. We need to choose experiences that are beneficial or have the potential to be beneficial. To enrich each of these beneficial experiences, we need to be fully present, taking everything in, slowing down, looking for something we had not seen if we are experiencing something beyond the first time, and then become clear as to why the experience is valuable to you. (a more detailed list regarding how to enrich experiences is hared on page 58 of Hanson's book).
Once we have enriched it, we need to savor the experience, or absorb it. To be clear, and Hanson points this out and I think this is vitally important to not misunderstand: Absorbing doesn't mean hanging on, clinging and not letting go. In fact, you are letting it go because you were never holding on to it, just noticing it, being present with the experience and appreciating it. Absorbing has to do with letting yourself feel good, letting yourself bask in the warmth of what has been part of your experience and in your own way, letting it become a part of you. Experiences can stay with us forever. Make sure the experiences that stick are wants that truly jewels.
7. "Let the Flowers Pull the Weeds"
I love this analogy, and the neurology behind the concept demonstrates how we can rewire our mind to reframe or eliminate negative thoughts and unhelpful attitudes about life and replace them with beneficial ones. Hanson points out that practicing mindfulness will be a helpful tool to be able to grow flowers whilst bringing as well to your attention the weed you want to replace. Because when you are able to hold two thoughts simultaneously, it is then that the good can begin to replace the negative, as you are able to recognize that good that is true and begin to chip away at was no longer serving you.
8. Be Mindful of The Self-Critic and Strengthen the Inner Nurturer
"There are two different attitudes or 'voices' inside us all, one that is nurturing and another that is critical, one that lifts up and one that weighs down. This is perfectly normal. The inner nurturer brings self-compassion and encouragement. The inner critic helps you recognize where you've gone wrong and what you need to do to set things right . . . for most people, the inner critic goes way overboard . . . it's big and powerful, while the inner nurturer is small and ineffective, which wears down mood, self-worth and resilience."
The inner critic needs to be kept in check, and this can be hard to do when moments in life, people in our lives become frustrating or hard to work with. We can be excessively harsh on ourselves which is why in such moments, we especially need to have a strong inner nurturer. A simple truth to keep in mind is that overtime those of us who allow our inner critic to run rampant are actually less productive in what we are critical about, and ultimately, that bleeds into our overall quality of life the elevation of living well we are able to reach.
9. Practice "liking" more and "wanting" less
"The root of [wanting] means 'lack'. It's natural to like things that are pleasurable, such as a sweet dessert with friends. But issues arise as we move from liking to wanting, from enjoying a meal together to insisting on the last piece of pie."
When we let our "auto-wanting" take control, we are pulled from the present, we are infusing our minds with the belief that we are not enough or what we already have is not enough. This is draining physically and potentially financially. Instead, practice appreciating - window shopping, so to speak. Whenever you feel "any sense of pressure, compulsion or 'must-ness'", take a breath, recenter yourself and remind yourself that the advertisers are doing their job, but you can still appreciate the beauty, goodness, awesomeness, etc. without funding their cause.
This is where the skill of being content will help tremendously. As was shared last week, in episode #244, contentment can be felt everyday, all day, as contentment is not dependent upon external sources. And when we are able to be content, it becomes easier to 'like' versus 'want'.
10. Healthy Intimacy Begins with Healthy Personal Autonomy
"Paradoxically, in order to get the most out of 'we', you need to stay centered in 'me'."
Intimacy as it appears in our lives can be cultivated with mere acquaintences as well as a romantic partner of 50 years. As defined in the book, intimacy is "to make familiar or known". And the knowledge of self and security within oneself is the foundation. Because when you are confident that you are able to take care of yourself, you can step forward to be engaged with others, knowing your limits, knowing your boundaries. And if necessary, knowing that if the limits or boundaries are not respected, you can step back and take care of yourself well.
With the relationshps you begin to build or relationships you are currently in, assess if you are able to do the following things:
If you are unable or were unable in past relationships that no longer are a part of your life, you may recognize you do not have full personal autonomy in that particular relationship. These may be relationships you either now recognize need to be stepped away from as you now can pinpoint why they don't feel right, or, if it is only one of the items on the list, you have a specific focus you can bring up to try to improve the relationship.
"Much as autonomy enables intimacy, intimacy supports autonomy. Close and nurturing relationships help a person feel safe and worthy as an individual, which promotes a confident independent. In a positive cycle, autonomy and intimacy feed each other. Together, they make you more resilient."
Moving forward, keep these abilities in mind as you should be able to exercise all four in a healthy relationship as too should the other person with you in the relationship, thus embodying the paradox shared in the above quote.
We often hear the word "resilence" uttered during times of strife or hardship, but the truth is, as Dr. Rick Hanson points out, strengthening the tool or skill of resilience can elevate the quality of our everyday lives in all of the good moments that we have as well.
As is often discussed here on TSLL and on the podcast, our mind is an amazing mechanism, and to understand how it works, have patience with the rewiring process if we are choosing to do so, can yield awesome outcomes for our life, enriching the journey and lead us where we truly want to go.
~Felicity Jones stars as Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg and Armie Hammer stars as her husband Marty Ginsburg
Sun, 20 January 2019
"Finding an ease with what you are thinking, feeling, the world as it is, not necessarily accepting it, but not resisting it. This is contentment." —Andy Puddicombe
The truth about contentment is that it is different than being happy. We cannot know what it feels like to be happy if we have not been sad, so therefore we cannot feel both simultaneously. The argument may be made that, feeling sad and happy at the same time is possible; that is the definition of a moment being bittersweet. But if you examine such an argument closely, that is why we give it another name - bittersweet - rather than happy or sad.
Contentment resides within each of us. It is not something that comes to us from an external source - someone loving us, success in our hobbies or careers, celebrating an awesome moment in the world around us. Sadness arrives conversely, when we have to say goodbye to someone who has brought much happiness into our lives, when we stumble or hit a road block in our careers or something tragic happens in the world.
But through each of these instances both happiness and sadness, we can be content. Indeed, it is true. We can be content during happy times (which may seem easy to do) and during sad times (which may seem impossible and contrary), but it is true in both instances to be content.
Contentment is a state of understanding yourself. It is an awareness of your strengths, your capabilities, your understanding of how to navigate well in the world no matter what the circumstances. In other words, contentment is a skill that can be strengthened because you hold the keys, the muscles, to either strengthen or let atrophy.
At this point, you may be asking, how do I cultivate and build the strength of contentment. The good news is, it is has been a central topic of TSLL for years, and in fact is thoroughly examined in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self. In the meantime, you can read and listen to posts and episodes from the archives that go into great detail about how contentment can be attained.
Most wonderfully, when contentment is achieved, our happy moments become grander and our sad moments more bearable. As well, upon understanding and welcoming true contentment into our lives we let go of false means of contentment that are really energy or resource zappers and teasers such as the desire for more and the feeling of lack (which is disquised as "want").
True contentment finds us in the now, not gazing at the future.
True contentment is a state of mindfulness. Meditation can play a helpful role in training the muscle that is our mind to be present, to not be overrun by our thoughts, and help us to engage fully in the moment without asking for more and simply savoring the now.
Truthfully, contentment is possible wherever and with whomever we are with, but initially it is not easy to build in particular moments until we grasp its gifts. Below are two instances when reaching a state of contentment can be difficult initially:
Contentment begins the moment we wake up, when we realize the little beautiful gifts around us - whether it is the peace and quiet of a safe home, the loved ones sleeping calmly or having our home to ourselves, seeing the soft snow fall to the ground, blanketing the yard and neighbood with a paintbrush of beauty, seeing the first light climb above the horizon, hearing the birds begin their business of hellos. But still, the events outside of us, each of the moments listed above, are not what bring you contentment.
What brings us contentment is being able to find, recognize and appreciate them. Because in that same moment, we can easily be noticing that we have woke up too early and wish desperately we could fall back asleep, observe the house that we wish we had cleaned up a bit more, bemoan the fact that our home is full and there is too much to do for others and not enough time to do for ourselves or bemoan the fact that we are waking up alone, or remembering that it is a day of the week that is full of tasks we are not thrilled to tend to, or wishing it wasn't snowing because we will have to drive in it, or lamenting that the sun up because we want a bit more sleep.
You see, it is all about our engagement with the world. Contentment comes from our choice of choosing to recognize the power we have each day to engage in such a way that will open the doors of opportunity to a positive energy.
Contentment doesn't guarantee seemingly much, but upon closer examination, it guarantees a much more fulfilling life that can be savored every single day of our lives. It makes sure that so long as we are in the situation, we will find the goodness, we will find the opportunity, we will make the day better simply by the attitude we bring to it. That energy has a direct effect on our overall well being, and if we are sharing the moment with others, it will have a positive effect on them as well whether they understand it initially or not.
Now, let's go back to those two above mentioned moments that initially are difficult in which to find contement: being by ourselves and being with others who haven't yet welcomed contentment into their lives.
Once you know who you are, you begin to savor days and moments to yourself because being alone doesn't mean you fear what you will find in your own company. In fact, you revel in it.
Spending time with people becomes a joy because you begin to realize the power of the type of people you surround yourself with. You are thoughtful about who you spend your time with, communicate clear boundaries and when you do not have a choice over who you spend your time with you steady yourself to limit the interactions. Listen to episode #92 in which I share The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being and how to do each of these things when it comes to spending time with others.
The gift of contentment is priceless and it is also free. You don't have to buy one more thing (in fact, you may want to let go of some things), you simply need to understand how to focus on understanding how to cultivate contentment and let go of the pursuit of happiness.
~Concept and Project Planners (many more colors), they sell the signature paperclips as well.
Sun, 13 January 2019
"When you take control of your mornings, you take control of your days. You get to engage with the world under your terms. You can act, instead of react." —Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning Millionaires
Reflect on those mornings in which you eagerly step out of bed regardless of the early hour. What was to happen in that day? Most likely, it was something you were excited to enjoy or partake in. Most likely it was something you loved doing or felt fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of.
However, what if I told you that having such a day actually begins with cultivating mornings, mornings that will heighten the overall quality of your life because a good morning is where you invest, a good morning is where you captures your ideas that are bouncing about asking to be caught, a good morning is where your good mood begins and what you carry with you throughout the day?
1.Invest in yourself
Hal Elrod, author of Miracle Morning Millionaires reminds that the most popular personal financial advice is to 'pay ourselves first'. Referencing compound interest, this premise correlates to tapping into our true potential and bringing it forth. He states, "Time is similar. Developing yourself is the most powerful tool in the world." Making the argument that our mornings, each day are a boon of abundance of opportunity to leverage wisdom, productivity and clarity in order to invest in ourselves. And based on my own experience and after reading his book, I would wholeheartedly agree. Let's break down how the morning can indeed be a magical time of day to make the entire day awesome as well as contribute to the success we seek.
2. Give yourself time to ease into the morning
" . . . Wake up slowly. Make awakening a delightful ritual." — Mary Beth Janssen
Elrod shares in his book an acronym for specifically how to structure your mornings - S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing). While he breaks down each in great detail, after reading the book, as each of us will do should we read it, I began to intrepret it for myself - examine what I am curently doing that works and how it may fall into this structure, what I am doing differently and what I am not doing and ask myself why not and do I want to consider tweaking my routine.
One detail that I feel is quite powerful to begin the day well is to ease into the day. For some, that may be silence (prayer, meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, etc.), for others it may be talking or snuggling with your partner (or pets). For me, easing into the morning is turning on my morning classical music station as a Breakfast with Bach is always being played at 5:05 for about 10-20 minutes (8:05 Philadelphia time as it is WRTI.org).
Over the past year, I have found this practice to be gentle and not jarring, but something to ensure my mind begins dancing in the right direction to start the day well.
For each of us, our "delightful ritual" as Mary Beth Janssen suggests, will be unique, but I encourage you to find a gentle way to wake up in the morning during those first few minutes before you set the intention for your day.
3. Drink 2 cups of water upon waking up
Before you go to bed each night, have a pitcher or carafe of water (similar to the one shared on last week's This & That) next to your bed. While drinking water before bed is a good ideas as well, you will want to drink two cups of water upon waking up. Not only will this begin the process of cleansing your body of the toxins it has worked to rid from your system while you slept, but it will hydrate you and ultimately, help wake you up.
4. Shift your mindset about mornings
"People do transform their lives, every day . . . The key, it turns out, is to simply start behaving like the person you want to become." —Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger
It may seem overly simplified to state, "be the change you seek", but studies have proven this guidance to be true. In an article written for Psychology Today by the author above Jeff Wise, he writes, "Act out the change you want, and day by day, the weight of evidence will become undeniable. Before long, the person you pretend to be becomes the person that you are."
And while we should not take on too much change all at once. In fact, sound advice is to take one one thing at a time, but if the change you are seeking is to be able to wake up in the morning well and rested, be proactive and start going to be earlier, start understanding how the mind works regarding neural patterns and put helpful "bumpers" in place to make it easier to be successful at being the morning person you want to become.
Your mindset when it shifts to seeing the potential and magic that, when done well, of morning routines will enliven your eagerness to wake up because this is the part of the day that you have the most control over and, as well, have the most potential to improve your entire day.
5. Write down your thoughts
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic:
"When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention . . . The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realises that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else."
Beside my bed is a notepad, and each morning, as I am lying in bed listening to my classical music or simply in silence, when ideas pop up that I do not want to forget (because I have in the past, so I know I will even if I swear I won't), I write them down. It is not a journal entry, it is not long, it is just the idea.
When I read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic a few years ago (listen to my podcast episode #70 inspired by my reading and listening to her speak at a local book reading), it resonated with me for a variety of reasons, but one was that we have within us so many treasures waiting to be discovered if only we would pay attention. And it is when we are quiet, the day is quiet, the world is quiet that we can best hear ideas that may not make sense fully to us now, but it is important that we capture them.
"Creativity arises from silence and stillness." —Andy Puddicombe
6. Become clear in your mind about your journey and desired destination
In other words, practice visualization.
"Many people don't feel comfortable visualizing success and are subsconsciously scared to succeed . . . consider that the greatest gift you can give to those you love — and those you lead — is to live to your full potential." —Hal Elrod
The goal is to change your subconscious. When you shift your mindset (this can be done through affirmations - spoken or written), and pair it with gaining clarity about what you are striving to create or become or do, you strengthen your motivation, overcome "self-limiting beliefs, as well as self-limiting habits such as procrastination" and make yourself available to attaining the success you seek.
7. Exercise regularly
At this point you may feel this directive has been stated ad nauseum, but when it comes to our brain health and thus are overall health and finally our quality of life, did you know that "the best preditor of brain speed is aerobic capacity"? Yep. Dr. Steven Masley, a Florida physician and nutritionalist shares, "The average person going into [a corporate wellness program] will increase brain speed by 25-30 percent".
But why is it preferable to exercise regularly in the morning? First of all, the exercise need not be extremely strenuous. it simply needs to be regular - a short 7 minute walk if that is all you have time for, but when we work out in the morning we give ourselves an energy boost that we can carry into our day.
Personally, I love working out in the morning before I sit down to work fully, but currently, my teaching schedule makes this very difficult as I like to exercise with my dogs and prefer not to walk in the dark. With that said, I walk, ski, take a yoga class or paddle board 5-7 days a week after school when school is in session, otherwise, I do work out in the morning. The key is understanding the power and necessity of exercising regularly.
8. Read, Learn, Forever be a Student
With many recommendations for how much we should read a day, the most important part is what you are reading. Read something that teaches you something, that deepens your understanding, stretches and challenges your mind and asks you to broaden your perspective, improves your communication skills which will improve your relationships.
Active reading has been proven to deepen comprehension of the content being absorbed which involves annotating as you read - underlining, circling, margin notes, summarizing in writing at the end of each chapter, etc. - and do not feel as though you have to finish each book you start or read it in order if it is a non-fiction book. Reading feeds your mind, and as you may have noticed, in many of our points discussed today, it is the mind that will lead us to success if we become its master and care for it properly.
I prefer to read newspapers, articles I have saved from the weekend deliveries, or online Life & Science articles from my newspaper subscriptions. I also read a daily briefing each morning from my national newspaper. Depending upon your schedule you might read a few pages from a book in the morning. Each of us again will be different as to what we want to read when, but I usually keep my books for lunchtime reading or evening reading unless it is a research topic I am doing for TSLL.
9. Enjoy a delicious, satiating, energy-boosting breakfast
I have shared multiple times that I enjoy nearly the same breakfast each morning (I even produced a cooking show episode around it), and at a recent book signing here in Bend I shared that I actually wake up looking forward to my morning routine, especially my breakfast.
Along with what you choose to eat to begin your nutritional day, design a morning breakfast ritual that is inviting, fun (yes, fun!) and contributes to the overall morning routine that helps you ease into your day with eagerness and clarity.
Here is a glimpse of what is part of my morning breakfast (aside from the food itself - click here to learn more and see the recipes).
Perhaps your moment of meditation takes place as you ease into the day, first thing in the morning. I prefer to go through most of my morning routine and following breakfast, once my mind and body are fed, sit down for morning meditation of 5-10 minutes.
The calm moments I have leading up to this moment, and then the actual moments engaged in meditation further solidify a positive tone that I wish to carry with me throughout my day.
11. Check in to make sure all is well with your business and view the plan for the day
This will depend upon what your work is. But checking in can also include the other people in your household. This is a time to check in with each others' schedules, for example, as well as your own. For me, this is when I check my email and make sure all is going well before I return to my office (after my walk or after school) and get started with my work day. I take a look at my daily schedule, remind myself of appointments, errands, etc. that need to be completed through the day.
Another idea is to set your three goals you want to accomplish for the day. Yes, three. And put them in order of importance. In other words, at the end of the day, having completed what three tasks will make you feel productive and satisfied. If only one item is complete, make sure it is the one at the top of your list and move the two that have yet to be completed to the top of the list tomorrow.
12. Waking up early is a skill
Believe it or not, once you are an adult (adolescent brains require more sleep and actually do fall asleep later than young children and adults as their melatonin kicks in two hours later than which is what evokes one to feel sleepy), you create the habit that will make you either a morning person or not. Why? Because you will create neural patterns in your brain that make it habituated to going to sleep or waking up at certains times of day.
If you have experienced jetlag, traveled or lived in a distant land, only to return weeks, months or years later, you know that with time, you can adjust your circadian rhythms, but it does take time and conscious effort.
The magic of our mornings will likely surpass what you believe will be possible. Our mornings become the springboard, the starting off point, and the more bounce we have, the higher we are capable of soaring.
"When you wake up with excitement and create a purposeful, powerful, productive morning, you set yourself up to win the day." —Hal Elrod
When it comes to cultivating a day and thus a life you love living, if you love the way your life is at this very moment and it is working for you, then keep doing what you are doing. But if you recognize that the way the day begins can be improved, or you feel you have more to give if only you could restructure how you go about your day, or you just don't know what to do to improve the quality of your days and thus life, look no further than your mornings. It truly is that simple.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Ensure a Bountiful Harvest (in Life), episode #177
~My Daily Breakfast & More Morning Meal Ideas: Steel Oats, Soft Boiled Eggs & Soldiers, episode #3 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen (cooking show)
~Listen to my conversation with Kimberly Wilson on her podcast, Tranquility du Jour, where we talk about my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life in a recent episode on her show, #438
~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
~7 Days Out, Netflix
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #243
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 6 January 2019
If you Google "self-care", more than two billion posts, articles, books and videos pop up. For a variety of reasons, many valid, self-care is topic of discussion in the world, and the reality that stress levels in America have increased for the first time in 10 years is evidence that perhaps we all would benefit from understanding the value of proper self-care.
The topic is something that is indirectly discussed here on TSLL blog and the podcast since both were founded. But today I wanted to dig down to understand what self-care is and the benefits of incorporating it regularly into our daily lives.
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as "to preserve or improve one’s own health", and while often self-care is explained as being free and easy, the truth is, real self-care is not initially easy if we haven't incorporated it into our lives properly. Eventually, it will become habituated, but with any new skill we are choosing to bring into our lives, there is a period of struggle, of frustration.
Mary Beth Janssen describes in her 2017 The Book of Self-Care, "No amount of massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, healthy food or exercise will sustain us over the span of our lives if not experienced from the layer of our being that is pure consciousness." In other words, there is deeper work that needs to be done, but we can still incorporate these surface, pleasure-finding practices into our self-care regimen.
True self-care enables each of us to attain optimal well-being, thus the opportunity to practice the art of living well, a fundamental component of living simply luxuriously. Again, Mary Beth Janssen:
"Self-care is the ultimate healing mechanism for wholeness in mind, body and soul . . . preventative health care at its best."
How do we pay attention and practice optimal well-being? Let's take a look.
1.Start with getting to know yourself.
~Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself?, 3-part series
2. Practice Self-Compassion
As human, Janssen reminds, "Beyond basic physiological needs, fundamental human needs are for attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance". In summation, we all need love, and that includes self-love.
~Why Not . . . Have Self-Compassion?, episode #122
3. Refrain from letting your emotions run your life
Our perceptions of the world, of those around us and of ourselves are powerful. When we change our mind, our thoughts, our understanding, we truly can change our world.
4. Choose to understand the Ego's role in your life
There are positive effects of having an Ego - "when in higher states of consciousness, [it] ensures that our basic needs are being met so that we may fulfill our life's purpose", but it can act as a result of fear. When we feel we are losing control, power or needs, but does not have approval from the external world, it can get nasty.
5.Choose to respond, rather than react to daily events that are unexpected and unwanted.
~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145
6. Practice being present each moment - improve your mindfulness
7. Cultivate daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual rituals
8. Spend time in Nature
In the kitchen, in the studio, on the dance floor, on the computer, in your home, in the museum, you get the idea.
10. Celebrate seemingly ordinary events that truly are extraordinary upon closer inspection
The changing of the seasons, mini and major life milestones
11. Practice compassion
A study by the National Institutes of Health in 2015 revealed that "brain imaging shows how the practice of compassion stimulates the same pleasure centers associated with the desire for food, water and sex."
12. Understand the detrimental power of stress and change what creating the distress
Janssen points out that stress is "triggered by the body's instinct to defend itself - the 'fight or flight' response", but if we leave this feeling unchecked and allow it to become a regular state, distress accumulates and then a long stretching list of chronic and acute diseases can follow. Eliminating distress is in fact preventative health care. And thus, it is self-care.
Remember #5 and practice responding rather than reacting as when we react, the potential for our stress to rise increases.
13. Schedule regular time to rejuvenate
14. Become a regular journal writer
15. Practice regular meditation
As talked about before on the blog and in my recent book, mediation is a powerful skill, and often one that is misunderstood to those who have yet to understand what it truly is. First of all, I too used to be one of those who misunderstood meditation. I used to errantly believe I had to stop my thought, not think at all. This is absolutely incorrect. Meditation, is the ability to "observe our thoughts, breathing with them, allowing them to happen without judging, believing, arguing or interacting with them." And with regular practice, Janssen states, "you learn to interrupt conditioned behavior —the habitual reactivity to our thoughts . . . observing our thoughts allows us to interrupt this process."
16. Stay hydrated
Place a reminder on your phone four different times each day to remind yourself to drink 16 ounces of water (2 cups). If you adhere to this schedule, you will meet the recommended 64 ounces of water a day.
17. Improve time management
Instead of simply rearranging what you do, eliminate what are no longer priorities in your life.
18. Enjoy regular, deep nights of sleep
19. Cultivate an environment - home, work, personal - of support, optimism and respect
20. Enjoy eating well and with the seasons
~The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - Seasonal Meals to Elevate the Everyday
21. Let go of what you cannot control
22. Play a lot! In other words, exercise, but change the term you use to describe it it.
23. Set healthy boundaries
Boundaries exhibit self-awareness of what you need to live well, productively and feel respected and loved. Cultivating healthy boundaries involves being able to say no without apologizing, and doing so in a non confrontational manner. Read more about how to set boundaries and why they are vital to building a life you love living and relationships that are strong, loving and full of mutual respect.
"Remember, when you claim your boundaries, you're not defining, attacking or judging someone as a person. Rather, you are defining a behavior that needs to change for you to feel comfortable. This is the boundary."
~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability, episode #126
24. "Express gratitude to those who respect your boundaries"
25. Understand what mindfulness is and practice
"Live life from [your] depths", not on the surface. In other words, don't be dependent upon outer circumstances for your happiness. In fact, that is what happiness is - "hap" is the Old Norse (medieval Norwegian language) for luck. Instead, find your calm, your contentedness, from within. I loved this quote that was shared in the book, so I want to share it with you:
"There is pleasure in being in a ship beaten about by a storm, when we are sure that it will not founder." —Pascal
26. Become "Mindfully Curious"
Another way to become more present in your everyday is to practice the term coined by Janssen, "mindful curiosity". Let your youthful, playful side come forth. Stop editing yourself and experience what is right in front of you and all around you. See the beauty, see the awesomeness and celebrate it in your own way.
~This week's Petit Plaisir exemplifies the act of being mindfully curious.
27. Slow down
28. Discover the power of the colors that surround you and welcome more natural light into your world
29. Limit or Eliminate exposure to upsetting imagery and events and people
30. Continue to be a forever learner and become okay with not knowing
31. Heal what hurts
"If you want to change your thinking, heal your heart." Understand how to be emotional intelligent.
Self-care is mandatory, not a luxury. When we choose to regular practice self-care we are being respectful to ourselves, but also modeling to others' that they too are worthy of the same kindness. And when we practice kindness, receive kindness and understand what true kindness is, we can better extend it to others without expectation and we can recognize unkindness and walk away as a means of being respectful to ourselves.
As a new year begins, why not strengthen the foundation of what will enable you to be your best self, but enjoy your everyday all the more and thus create a life you love living and sharing with others?
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~16 Ideas for Simple Everyday Self-Care, episode #227
~Queen to Play (Joueuse)
~based on Bertina Hendrich's novel The Chess Player
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #242
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Mon, 31 December 2018
"In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process." —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
The resolutions whether you have concretely written them down or potential ideas of what you wish could improve in this new year are dancing about in your mind, are being considered because you recognize growth that you'd like to see in yourself and in your way of living.
In redoing my office space this past weekend, I was reintroduced to The Art of Happiness - a book that I purchased in 1999, read with eager curiosity, and only now is able to more deeply understand what was written.
Much of what is shared reinforces what the art of living well consists of - a better understanding of one's mind, as well as one's self, giving yourself permission to delve into your emotions, becoming comfortable with letting go of attachment, and being willing to have patience, put forth great effort. Also, becoming conscious of how society and the culture each of us resides influences us and our ways of living that we may not be fully aware.
In chapter 12, the subject focuses on "Bringing About Change", and the three components of success and lasting change are determination, effort and time.
A reminder of this truth is apropos this time of year, but truthfully at any time of the year when we choose to make an improvement, and especially when we think the change is impossible or becomes too difficult.
On the subject of the change we seek being difficult to attain, the Dalai Lama was asked the following question by Dr. Howard C. Cutler,
"People often want to make positive changes in their lives, engage in healthier behaviors, and so on. But sometimes there just seems to be a sort of inertia or resistance . . . How would you explain how that occurs?"
The Dalai Lama responds, "That's quite easy . . . It's because we simply become habituated or accustomed to doing things in certain ways. And then, we become sort of spoiled, doing only the things that we like to do, that we are used to doing."
When asked how can a person overcome this, he responds, "By using habituation to our advantage. Through constant familiarity, we can definitely establish new behavior patterns . . . by making a steady effort, I think we can overcome any form of negative conditioning and make positive changes in our lives. But you still need to realize that genuine change doesn't happen overnight."
Being realistic is certainly a good idea when it comes to setting goals and making resolutions, but we also should not be afraid of making significant change even if we aren't sure how long it will take.
If new year's resolutions revolve around the theme of losing weight, refrain from the quick fixes and instead cultivate a healthy and enjoyable way of living. This includes not only diet, but exercise and a balanced daily life that does not leave you exhausted and chronically stressed. Look at the habits that are helpful and be honest about the unhelpful defaults.
If new year's resolutions have to do with completing a significant project or task, be realistic about your schedule and prioritize and perhaps eliminate other activities or responsibilities in order to give your best effort.
Today is the day when we set an intention, but the immediate next step once we have outlined the journey to arrive at our desired destination, is to put into action the activities, new habits and mindset we need to be successful. And since we're on the topic of success, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom "examined the lives of some of America's most accomplished artists, athletes and scientists. He discovered that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to the success in their respective fields."
In other words, be persistent, when it becomes difficult, read my New Year's 2018 post and recite Marie Forleo's saying, "And this is what I want". And then keep doing the daily work, consciously sticking to the habits that will eventually become part of your muscle memory, and eventually, you too will see the awesome change you seek.
The new year holds an abundance of promise. Seek out that promise because you do have what it takes to attain it. Bonne année! Happy New Year!
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~episode #137: Welcoming A Year of Quality, One Month at a Time
~Shop Etsy for French Compotes and other treasure finds for the home and getting cosy.
~Follow me on Etsy and discover my favorite shops!
~SHOP A FEW FINDS FOUND BY SHANNON:~a compote in Sharon Santoni's guest cottage full of fresh fruit upon my arrival this summer. See more here.~
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #241
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 30 December 2018
Mon, 24 December 2018
Sun, 16 December 2018
Season 5 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast kicked off earlier this year in September. Just prior to beginning, I shared the schedule of the season (see below) so that listeners would know for sure which Mondays they could tune in to find new and inspiring content.
But I must admit, as today approached, it was odd not to offer listeners something to begin their week (as only two new episodes were scheduled in December), so I have decided for the remaining three Mondays of 2018, to share with you the top downloaded episodes from previous seasons.
Today, one of the top episodes from season #1 is shared - episode #23: The French Way - 20 Ways to Create a Luxurious Everyday. This particular episode was not only one of the top five episodes downloaded on iTunes during our first season, but it has since been viewed 7K+ on YouTube.
You can view the complete list and links mentioned during the episode here, and as an update to the season's schedule, I will be airing a brand new episode of the podcast on TUESDAY January 1st! After all, it is the beginning of a new year, and I couldn't wait until the 7th to kick off the new month. So that means, you will have a top episode from the archives airing on Monday December 31st and the next day, Tuesday January 1st - a brand new episode to inspire you as you step into the new year. Wishing you a wonderful penultimate week before we say adieu to 2018.
~View the SHOW NOTES of EPISODE #23 (originally posted in February 2015)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #238
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 9 December 2018
"Things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed." —Benjamin Hoff, author of The Tao of Pooh
~Below is a list of the life lessons shared on today's podcast episode. For detailed conversation about each point, be sure to listen to the audio version as Shannon elaborates on each point.
~Correction 12/11/2018: The copyright of The Tao of Pooh is 1982. The copyright of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is 1926.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #237
The written character P’u (pronounced Pooh) is defined as natural, simple, plain, honest. This basic Taoist principle not only applies to things, but to people too
1.Find what you can uniquely give the world
"The Way of Self-Reliance begins with recognizing who we are. Each of us has something special hidden inside somewhere. But until we recognize that it’s there, what can we do but splash around, treading water? The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it." P. 65
2.Life can be truly fun, no matter what your age
“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you discover that simple, childlike and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Life: Life is Fun.”
Cleverness has its limitations. It’s mechanical judgments and clever remarks tend to prove inaccurate with passing time, because it doesn’t look very deeply into things to begin with. P37
3. Just be yourself, embrace your awesome
"When you know and respect your inner nature, you know where you belong."
"Cottleston Pie - a way of saying inner nature. No two people are the same either. Everything has its own inner nature. Unlike other forms of life, though, people are easily led away from what’s right for them, because people have brain and the brain can be fooled. But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much. Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others. "P. 57
4. The change you want does not exist outside of yourself
"Real progress involves growing and developing, which involves changing inside."
5. Be patient on your journey
"No matter how useful we may be, sometimes it takes us a while to recognize our own value." p. 117
6. Being an optimist will serve you well
"The play-it-safe pessimists of the world never accomplish much of anything, because they don’t look clearly and objectively at situations, they don’t recognize or believe their own abilities, and they won’t stretch those abilities to overcome even the smallest amount of risk." P. 122
"Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they are part of a continuous cycle that begins right here . . . it's sometimes referred to as the Snowball Effect, which can remind you of the time you pushed that little ball of snow along, and it got bigger and bigger until it got so big you couldn't stop it . . . now the principle can work negatively or positively. It can promote cynicism as easily as it can encourage hope . . . the important thing is to make it work for yourself and for the benefit of others."
7. Discover the Power and Opportunity for Rejuvenation with Time Spent with Yourself
"Music is the space between the notes - emptiness cleans out the messy mind and charges up the batteries of spiritual energies - Loneliness actually begins when all the spaces are full and the tv gets turned on to make it go away. The power of a clear mind is beyond description."
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Live Alone Well, episode #33
~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93
~Authenticity: The Courage to Be Yourself, episode #6
~TSLL's New Book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self (released November 13, 2018)
~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
The Simple Sophisticate podcast, Season 5 Schedule
~The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 2 (especially episode 2 as it is set in Paris)