The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

"He who comes home with the most money doesn't win. He who comes home with the most experiences wins." - Steve Smith, contributor with Rick Steves in Rick Steves France 2015

The Simple Sophisticate, episode #23

One of the most exquisite pleasures in my experience has always been having time at home without a to-do list. To enjoy my sanctuary that comforts me, rejuvenates me and allows me to dream so that when I do step outside into the world I can do, seek and produce, is one of the things I most treasure about living simply luxuriously.

And so it began when I was a child, no doubt, as my mother always cultivated a warm home, but as I grew up and became responsible for establishing my own abode, it took much exploration, dead-ins from time to time and investment to create a space that allowed the everyday to be just as stimulating as new experiences brought about by travel.

And in so doing, paying attention to my home environment, I began to pay attention to how I spend my days. Was I exhausted and unfilled at the end or exhausted and feeling productive? Did I have time in my day to spend it with those I loved, converse with those who engaged in creative, uplifting and thought-provoking conversation or care for myself in such a way that respected my overall health? And depending upon my answer, I would tweak, eliminate, maximize or designate more or less time to those activities that improved the quality of living.

"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much."
-Bessie A. Stanley

As the quote reminds us, living well is truly about prioritizing how we spend our days. Did we make time to enjoy the day, spend it with those we hold dear, take time to respect what our minds and bodies need or did we cram everything into our waking hours in order to fit a mold that we weren't asked for input regarding its creation? Everyone's path to living well will be different, but the key is to know what you want - more loosely rather than specifically. Because as we know, our lives intermingle with the rest of the world, but if we bring our best selves, have good intentions and are willing to be true selves, success is possible when it comes to living well.

Recently, I was watching the travel guru Rick Steves discuss on PBS his explorations through the countryside of France. While staying at Chateau de Pray and dining on their outdoor terrace, his dining companion shared the quote listed at the beginning of today's post. And I couldn't agree more especially when it comes to travel, but why not bring a similar way of living into our everyday? Why not . . . live well each and every day? Why not use the nice china in the middle of the week? Why not treat ourselves regularly to dinner or lunch with a dear friend at a restaurant that piques our interest or tantalizes our taste buds? Why not sleep on silk pillowcases each night?

Many may quickly scoff at such ideas as being too indulgent, thus deflating the exhilaration that is felt when they are only experiences from time to time, but what I hope to bring to your attention today is that with patience and careful planning, everyday life can indeed be lived luxuriously and can actually enhance the quality of our lives. Below are 20 ways to foster a simply luxurious way of living, but these are just a taste. If you would like the full list inspired by the French way of living, check out chapter 10 "Indulging Your Inner Francophile" in Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide.

1. Cook at home. Find simple, yet delicious recipes and discover the pleasures of cooking on your own schedule for your own dietary needs and preferences. (View TSLL recipes here.)

2. Indulge in café time. Once, twice or three times a week depending up on your schedule and enjoyment, select a favorite local café and stop in for some reading time, moseying through magazine time, or chats with friends. Indulge in one of the patisseries delicious sweet treats and lose track of time.

~Les Deux Garcons cafe in Aix-en-Provence, cours Mirabeau~

3. Wear luxurious lingerie everyday. As I talk about in my book, lingerie is a necessity for the woman who wears it, not for those who might see her in it. Why? Because simply knowing we are wearing beautiful, comfortable, luxurious lingerie feels good. And everything begins with our thoughts. If we feel good, we smile more readily, we are more open to new experiences and our attitude is lifted.

4. Let go of busy. A powerful decision that will change your day-to-day living drastically for the better. Busy doesn't mean better or more productive, it simply reveals a life that perhaps could be managed better. After all, living well means living a life of quality. A life that focuses on what is necessary and lets go of the rest. And when you let go of busy, you have more time for moments of simple leisure and luxury that cultivate an everyday life to savor. (Click here to dive into this topic.)

5. Cultivate a capsule wardrobe for each season. Knowing you have in your closet clothes that will make you look and feel your best is a very powerful tool to possess as you begin your day. While this takes time and never really ends due to lives and bodies changing, it is worth our attention. (Click here to learn more about building a capsule wardrobe.)

6. Follow your own schedule. Perhaps it's Friday or even Saturday night, everyone must be out doing something, staying up late, right? Wrong. Your daily schedule is one that works for you and those you spend your time with. Perhaps you prefer Wednesday evenings out because Thursdays are lighter days at work and you enjoy spending your weekends waking up early and getting things done. Whatever schedule works for your goals, intentions, health, family, etc - adhere to it and don't apologize. After all, our lives, needs and desires change, listen to what is nudging you, calling your name and that is where you will find the unexpected beauty.

7. Discover a personal scent. Similar to knowing you are wearing luxurious lingerie is the choice of scent you layer upon your skin before stepping out the door for work or for play. A luxurious decision and investment, but one that will reveal your attention to detail.

8. Subscribe to daily/weekly/monthly periodicals. Running throughout the philosophy of living simply luxuriously is being well-read. Depending upon your lifestyle, curiosities, locale and interests, you will select reading material that interests you. Most importantly, gather knowledge, choose to learn something new each day, read a review of a new play or restaurant and be encouraged to give it a try. Become in the know of current events in order to strike up a conversation with anyone. Reading in truth, is a way of tickling your brain and refusing to live each day the same even if the events may be routine.

9. Save time and don't wash your hair everyday. Purchase a dry shampoo and have on hand for the days you don't lather up. Shampoo less often, thereby saving yourself more time in the morning, and believe it or not, improve the condition of your tresses. (Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk)

10. Invest in quality skincare products. In episode #13 of the podcast, specifics are shared on how to create glowing skin, and by investing in quality skincare products, your most beautiful skin will shine. The power of prevention is real, and while it takes time and a bit of investment, the pay-offs are tremendous.

11. Design a workout regimen to look forward to. Whether you enjoy exercising outdoors in Mother Nature or attending classes lead by instructors that inspire you and classmates that boost your mood, explore your interests and community to see what is available and what captures your needs and proclivities. Most people after having exercise will tell you that they feel better, energized and less stress, and if you can bring that into your everyday life, everything will be affected in a very positive way. (Revolver Yoga Studio, Walla Walla)

12. Find time to treasure hunt. Even if you are not necessarily going to buy, poke around in local consignment shops, yard sales, second-hand shops, antique boutiques and even boutiques that catch your eye. If nothing else, you will walk away with ideas on how to design, style and mix and match what you already have.

13. Be sincere, yet kind. While everyone has days that you are simply grumpy for any list of reasons, taking it out on others is something you will most likely regret. And even if you have to deliver news that isn't favorable, there is always a way to do so with kindness. Being conscious of how we treat people and our delivery will almost always be appreciated, and even if it is taken for granted, at least we can go home at night and feel good about the energy we put out into the world.

14. Shop at local vendors and boutiques. Perhaps you live in a town that you hand-selected for the community it offers, but what if you didn't? Either way, supporting local vendors when it comes to food or local boutiques when it comes to shopping for gifts, necessities and products not only builds good-will, but strengthens the economy of the local community. And additionally, when it comes to buying food locally, you benefit your overall health as most foods are free from pesticides and hold more nutritional value that your body craves.

15. Eat real food. Full of flavor that will satiate, real food is a choice your body will thank you for. Processed food may be more convenient and help you reduce the shopping trips to the grocery store, but in the long term, it is a bad investment. Returning home after a long day knowing the food you will be incorporating into your meal will be satisfying and nutritious will remove guilt and properly fuel your body for whatever it may be asked to do next.

16. Elevate the conversation. Easier said than done when we are exhausted, stressed and frustrated, but when you do your best to refrain from complaining and gossiping, you are less likely to go home in the evening regretting or feeling guilty about partaking. In fact, when conversations are full of curious information - books, local events, news, etc - you can walk away inspired, motivated and eager to do something new. Why not bring such a conversation to those in your world?

17. Create an evening routine to look forward to. At the end of the day, your body and mind may be entirely taxed which is why making time (even 15 minutes) for unwinding with a favorite pastime is crucial. Being able to look forward to this simple routine can be the silver lining no matter what your day has unearthed.

18. Schedule regular spa appointments for beauty and health maintenance. Much like exercise, caring for our bodies is a means to caring for our health, overall beauty and mind. So be sure to schedule your facial, massage, hair cut/color, waxing and any other must-dos before you walk out the door from your last appointment. They can often be the respite in a busy week and will no doubt leave you feeling rejuvenated.

19. Stock a bar cart for spur-of-the-moment entertaining. Whether you drink alcoholic beverages or not, stock a bar cart that has drinks and nibbles at the ready for last-minute guests. Even for one or two guests, having a bar with wine, beer or if it's morning - croissants and hot tea keeps the food with the conversation in the living room or sitting room. Luxurious and ready for any everyday occasion. (A glimpse of my

20. Fill your home with inspired music. For techies or retro audiophiles, have your turntable or playlists ready for any occasion. From leisurely jazz tunes when you return from work and wish to read the daily news to beautiful Bach in the morning as you get ready for work, set up your music station, turn off the television and forget about time, even if for a moment.

Whatever inspires you in your travels or remains memorable to you from your past, why not bring it into your everyday life if at all possible? Cultivate an everyday life that perhaps no one would believe is possible, but rest assured it is. After all, as Annie Dillard reminds us, how we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Why not spend your life living well each and everyday?

~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Episode #32: The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials

~10 Gifts of Mastering the French Mystique

~Why Not . . . Indulge Your Inner Francophile?

~Why Not . . . Find Your Je Ne Sais Quoi?

~10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile (episode #4)

~French-Inspired Living: Books to Enjoy

Petit Plaisir:

Befriend a local wine shop to ensure great wines no matter what the occasion.

~Liner & Elsen "One of America's six great main street wine shops." -Bon Appetit

2222 NW Quimby St. (off 22nd Ave.)
Portland, OR 97210

  • They can ship the wine to you!
  • Staff who've helped me in the past: Neil Thompson and Kevin Geller

~Chateau Du Grand Bos (2005) Bordeaux, France (wine enjoyed in the photo to the right).

liner3

~Images: (1) a cafe in Paris in Montmartre captured by TSLL

Direct download: 2EveryDayLuxury23.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 12:42pm PDT

 

"Your soul needs time for solitude and self-reflection. In order to love, lead, heal, and create, you must nourish yourself first." —Louise Hay

Whether you have ten minutes or an entire afternoon or day to give to quiet contemplation, otherwise known as reflection, when you choose to do so, you ground yourself, ensuring the next "step" in your life journey will be far more constructive and in alignment with a life of contentment.

 

Silence and the act of Reflecting go hand in hand, as we need to provide the space to recall, remember, examine and consider. As artist from the 16th and 17th century Francis Bacon states, “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” In order to understand, we must slow down. In order to find peace with our direction, we must find the time to be still and ponder all that we have experienced during the day, the week, etc..

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #332

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 332Reflection.mp3
Category:happiness -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

"Our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default." —William James

To hold our attention on a singular point of focus exhibits a strength of being able to thwart the tugs of distraction. And to be able to thwart distraction takes conscious intention to notice, to choose to hold ourselves in the present and to be an observer.

An observer, contrary to what many may at first liken it to being, is not a wallflower or someone who is shy or passive in how they engage in life. No, an observer demonstrates awareness of the world beyond their inner world, beyond their own thoughts, worries, past experiences and biases. An observer acknowledges that the moment in which they find themselves is far more awesome when we step away from the past and choose not to look past today into the future and instead hold ourselves and our attention in the present without expectation of what we 'must' see or find.

There are many reasons for noticing of any sort - looking for the good, looking for the threat or simply observing - to become a honed, yet unconscious skill in our lives, and I will be addressing by the latter on this list of three can actually bring more awesomeness into your life.

Depending upon our childhood or our relationship with any caretaker during our youth, or in a culture where and if we were perceived as inferior or the minority, if the day's events unfolded based on how we engaged, what we said or didn't say, did or didn't do, we may have become very skilled at noticing others' moods, behaviors and tone of voice. Such 'noticing' was for survival, for a 'better', less contentious environment. However, it wasn't a noticing of what all that surrounded us, but rather a noticing in order to avoid threats, pain or belittling most specifically and solely.

If we were so fortunate to be raised and then as an adult live in an environment where joy was a regular and consistent feeling, good moments and peace-filled and happy feelings, even if different from those around us, were celebrated without judgment, then noticing the good is a muscle we have been toning and maybe didn't realize what a gift we were given.

I recently read The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker, and his introduction shares that the environment in which many of us find ourselves, if we aren't exercising our 'noticing' muscles, can detract our attention and thus prevent us from living well or fulfilled. Walker includes a quote from philosopher Georg Simmel who in 1903 wrote, "The stimulation of modern life . . . wears down the senses, leaving us dull, indifferent, and unable to focus on what really matters." That was in 1903 which while I know many may say, well, it has only gotten worse, I would counter an understandable remark by saying, its a perennial issue, an issue of whether or not to choose to notice the awesomeness, to notice when we need to turn off the noise (if we perceive it to be noise) and live more presently rather than just let what comes and what happens happen.

There is a reason stimulation of constant bombardment of noises - pings, quickly displayed images in movies, programming, advertisements and overlaying of music with films/shows/etc. - occur: to give you no space to think, and instead to tell you how to think. The only way such stimulation can work is if its creator knows where its audience is at the present moment. The advertiser, the media, the speaker has to meet the audience where it is, then they pull the audience (whose attention they now have) where they want them to go (or to think). If where they begin their messaging is too far removed from where we (the audience) are, their message or idea will not land and thus not be effective, so to this point, whether it is 1903 or 2023, the world around us will forever be trying to overstimulate us in order to wear us down to refrain from thinking and nudge us to just go along, letting us believe it was our idea. Our job is to be thinkers, critical thinkers, and choose to strengthen the skill of 'noticing' or as what is often described on TSLL blog, be fully present and thus mindful.

So how exactly do we become better at noticing all that is around us and thus witness, observe and savor the awesomeness in our life and the world? How do we see all that is around us clearly without the veneer of societal biases and norms? I'd like to share with you a list ideas for doing just that - seeing clearly, seeing the awesomeness and thus discovering how quite sweet everyday life is exactly where you live, call home and make your life.

1.Slow down

I can already see some readers/listeners' response to this first item on the list. The reasons for their inability to slow down are on the tip of their tongue. 😌 I don't disagree that the life you are currently living will not slow its pace to match yours when you choose to shift to a speed that enables you to notice the world and yourself as you live in it. However, my first question is, Whose needs are not being fulfilled when you slow down? Likely, it is others' needs, not yours because if you are acknowledging you would like to slow down but cannot, you are already expressing a need to take your foot off the pedal.

We cannot change anyone else's behavior but our own if we wish to engage in healthy relationships, so we cannot know why others feel they must go at the pace they travel, but if the pace you are traveling leaves you unable to feel fulfilled, leaves you regularly trying to catch your breath, hitting the snooze button, drinking one more cup of caffeine, etc. then slowing down is the first and best way to be able to notice anything that will be beneficial and incorporate it regularly into your life to see significant change.

When our regular everyday pace slows down, much like a train that has halted at the train station, we can situate ourselves, read the signs clearly, take in the scenery without it whizzing by and really observe the detail in our lives. When we observe, because we have slowed our pace, we are able to take note of what is working, what provides comfort, genuine support, real love, and what does not. Then, with this clear information, we begin to make better decisions. Not being rushed, we choose with confidence what and whom to engage with or to refrain from and know in our minds why we are doing so, and that it is our true self that is making the decision, not an outside influence.

2. Celebrate this truth about being human - "more than any other creature, humans can outmaneuver our own base instincts"

Base instincts in humans deal with surviving. Not thriving, but surviving, so in other words, we are programmed to instinctively look for the threat, not for what will make us smile, not for what will make us feel at ease or happy or loved. Instincts are not intuition, so let's not conflate these too. Instincts are pre-programmed based on experiences we have never had, but as human beings living in a civil, modern world, our instincts are leading us astray and causing us more harm and dulling a life that could be so much more fulfilling and peace-filled. Intuition is honed; it is a skill that takes time to understand because each of our intuitions, while residing within us, is waiting for our true selves to emerge and for us to consciously understand who that is. Once we come to understand our own language, translating what our intuition is telling us becomes second nature.

So back to the outmaneuvering our base instincts as shared by Rob Walker in the above quote.

For survival purposes as a child or as an adult who has to be constantly looking out for threats due to variables beyond their control, noticing takes on a negative, but necessary connotation. Even when the threat is no longer - we have removed ourselves from that environment, that person, etc. - our instinct is to stay vigilant and only keep an eye out for threats. This is where we must outmaneuver what we have done in the past, and instead begin to observe all that surrounds us.

Walker astutely points out that it is no coincidence that a civil and modern society that feels overwhelmed by stimulation is simultaneously seeing a rise in meditation and mindfulness practices, teachings and routines. This is a beautiful and constructive example of 'outmaneuvering'. Humans can bring about that necessary change for a more enriching life when we acknowledge how we are currently living is not fulfilling.

3. Embrace solitude

Discover the gift and nourishment sharing time in your own company can be.

A TSLL reader recently and bravely shared that it wasn't until they felt truly lonely, that they found their true selves. Why? Because by looking the feeling of lonely in the face, they came to understand what made them feel lonely, and as this reader journeyed through the feeling (she didn't avoid it or turn away from it once she met it), she found ways of living her days that included time in her own company partaking fully having intentionally chosen for no one else to be there but herself and finding deep enjoyment. why? Because it wasn't her being alone that made her feel lonely. What she discovered was her true self, and this self-knowledge was aided by letting herself run into feeling that was lonely which then led her to understanding what her true needs were to feel fulfilled and nourished.

Loneliness often is misdefined. Loneliness is not being without other people. Loneliness is not knowing what fulfills you and thus not feeling connected to the world in which you find yourself.

It is when you embrace solitude, a necessity, not a luxury, that you give yourself the ability to be the student of yourself. You are forced to be honest with yourself if you choose to be courageous enough to stand in the space where you are the only human being.

It is my regular moments of solitude where I am refueled, nourished and find clarity. It is in my regular moments of solitude where I reflect on my feelings, events and thus come to fully understand myself so that moving forward I know clearly how to engage well with others, to apply what I now know and connect more sincerely and deeply when I step out of my solitude.

4. Let your curiosity be your guide

Being curious leads you to new discoveries. And each step forward prompted by curiosity strengthens your ability to be vulnerable. Your first steps fueled by curiosity may be small and appear insignificant, but they all add up to you becoming a person who knows how to be present and keep an open mind, open to what will cross your path, and instead of judging it, exploring it.

Whatever it is that stirs your curiosity such discoveries are much like the cookie crumbs leading you to and on a trail of fulfillment. You begin to discover what brings you to life, what enlivens you in a way other activities may not have. And while other activities may prompt curiosity in others, you begin to celebrate the differences and realize that following anyone else's path is not the route to true contentment for you. All of this is to say, each of us finds our way to true contentment on different paths, and this is something to celebrate. Because when we find our path, we're not looking at other people's route, but grateful they have found the grounding peace just as we have.

Concrete Ideas for Noticing

Choosing to be an observer means we are holding ourselves fully in the present moment, and rather than judging what we see, which involves our unconscious biases, we are simply noting. We see it. This is what we see, hear, feel - the senses become our translators.

5. Choose to engage in only one task at a time

By choosing to engage in only one activity, we are not distracted by another tug of the other tasks. Our attention is given wholly, our focus is on one thing, and so we can take it all in and are less likely to rush and thus deepen the quality of our efforts.

6. Reflect regularly - Make a list weekly, yearly, etc. of just what is

To note what has evolved, changed, is no longer, has begun make a list first of what was just last week at this exact time. If you would like to go further, make a list of what what happening in your life one year ago today, perhaps even two years ago or three years ago. When you create such lists, you are not passing judgement, just stating facts - truths of what was happening, was in place, how you felt and why you felt it, etc.. I enjoy this regular practice for weekly reflection and what I have found, especially when I make the yearly and bi-yearly lists is that the headaches and bothers at the time are no longer remembered, and thankfully, often the large headaches have been overcome and that gives me calm and confidence. Moreover, I am reminded that any harried or fretful thinking I had didn't materialize and that savoring all that was going well was the best thing to do so that better engagement occurred (whether I wisely heeded this advice them or not, upon reflection I am encouraged to do so moving forward).

7. Allow silence in conversation to be present

While in a conversation, often when there is a span of silence, one or both people try to fill it. Why not . . . let the space of silence be. In so doing, you let thoughts marinate, you give time for a response rather than a reaction and how you hold yourself in this span of silence has the potential to provide comfort to the other that indeed, such a silence is okay and you are not rushing and you are choosing to be right where you are and with them.

Begin to notice in such moments how you feel. At first you may feel uncomfortable, unsettled as you acknowledge you want to fill the space but is there really anything that needs to be said at that moment if you don't know how to respond to what has just been shared? Give time and see how you feel not rushing to speak.

8. Just listen

My mother does this very well. She will just listen to me. She doesn't insert her opinion, pass judgment or interrupt and thus I meander in my words until sometimes I discover something I had not realized simply by sharing. Of course, just sitting silently all of the time doesn't consist of a conversation, but the practice is to know when to just listen. When you do this you open up space to just notice. You take in not only the words, but their physical movements, facial expression and all that is going on around them. You also again give yourself time to observe and thus when you choose to engage verbally in the conversation, you are responding having given thought to what you will say and how it will be received because you have wholly taken in all that the speaker has presented.

9. Regular digital silence

Walker suggests taking a week of digital silence to not engage or 'connect' on your social platforms, but instead just observe. You can check your email, your social media accounts, but if you are trying to become more aware of the world around you and really see what does surround you, do not comment, like or anything else that is engagement on your part. Instead, just observe and see what you notice. What really does draw your eye, and why? Discover if you really do need to respond and why you previously felt you needed to. Walker goes further to entertain the idea that if we had a limit to how many times we could comment or respond each week, where would we place our energy and focus? Why would we do this?

All of this silence we choose to welcome into our lives as shared by #7, #8, and #9 give you the opportunity to become more aware and thus discover if you are engaging in the world in a way that is in alignment with the life you want to live and how you want to show up in the world.

10. Audit your daily sonic profile

This particular suggestion by Walker caught my attention, especially as someone who lives alone, and for any TSLL readers who tune in to the monthly A Cuppa Moments, Norman's snoring (something I adore) is more pronounced than I realized when it is captured on video. This always makes me smile because when we take note of all of the sounds in our everydays we might discover certain ones provide comfort while others dull our experience and still others numb us to truly feeling what we need to feel.

I have spoken about this before but I have realized that as I have grown, I am more and more comfortable with silence and prefer it as unnecessary sounds if not soothing to my ear (I adore birdsong for example and find it nurtures and encourages my writing, but the sound of a leaf blower drives me up a wall leaving me unable to concentrate). What I have also realized is that part of why I needed some 'noises' in my life - the television on or the radio in the background - was because I was unable to be mindful, unable to master my mind and where it would wander. As well, advertisements are always muted or turned off when they appear during shows I am watching as after having taught rhetoric for many years in school, I am now aware of the subtle influences of skillful advertising companies and don't want to introduce any ideas I don't choose to watch or explore mindfully and entirely into my days when all I want to do is relax with a quality program.

The auditing of your sonic profile also includes the small, everyday sounds such as the dishwasher's humming, the dryer's whirling, ice crackling when you pour the liquid over the top for sipping. Observe the natural sounds that surround you as well - the drizzling of rain, the gentle breeze and dancing of the leaves. When you begin to notice all of the auditory details of your days and how they affect you, you begin to pay more attention to how to build a life, a day, that nourishes you, your mind and your being.

11. Be alone in public

I sincerely enjoy doing this and because of how I live my life, I am alone in public often, and am quite comfortable with it. Being alone in public also makes me more deeply appreciate when I am spending time with others out in public as I engage differently as my attention is primarily on the conversation I am having and what we are doing together rather than the exterior going-ons.

When I am alone in public I notice details far more quickly, easily and deeply. I also notice how others are not noticing all that is going on around them which, as I shared above, is what most of us (including myself) do when we are with someone we want to be with - we give them and our engagement with them our full attention (this is a good thing :)). The balancing of both time in public alone and with others enables us to become more aware of our environment and how the community we live in engages, organizes, what it enjoys, explores, celebrates, etc. I also find myself being open to new and unexpected conversations and opportunities when I am alone in public because you see more, and if you are observing and not judging, you are open to whatever may cross your path. This doesn't mean you have to engage, but you see it and that is what noticing is all about.

12. Journal your days

This one is my practice and suggestion. One that I have found when I don't know what to do with my mind due to feeling restless or confused or at the beginning of shifting my days to a slower pace. When I sit down to journal, I begin to notice what just thinking about what I noticed could not accomplish. Putting on paper how I felt when I woke up and how the morning sun streaming through the reading nook window brought a smile to my face reminds me of the awesomeness that I may have forgotten about by the end of the day. Such seemingly trivial 'noticings' are actually, as Walker states in his introduction, vital. "[Paying attention] connects us with others. It makes you eager to find interest in the everydays to notice what everybody else overlooks—these are vital skills and noble goals." When you begin to really pay attention to the present moment and observe with an open mind, you begin to realize "what matters to you" and you begin to let go of what was told to you that you should care about, what your life should look like and what next steps you should take, because you now know what brings you to life when certain details, events, people, activities, time alone awakens your true self.

Today and moving forward, infuse your everydays with more 'noticing', more observation and by doing so you will strengthen your ability to hold yourself in the present moment which strengthens your ability to be mindful which all contributes to your discovering how awesome your everydays are and the world you choose to live in fully.

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

Toscana

episode-331-3

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #331

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 331noticing.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

The British culture is varied and vast and while one person's affection for the culture may include punk rock along with their love for the Beatles, another's affinities may gravitate toward the gardening and afternoon tea. While my predilections lean more toward the latter, whenever a culture speaks to us that is not the one in which we grew up in or were raised entirely, we owe it to ourselves to continue to explore because our intuition is speaking.

As many readers of TSLL and listeners of the podcast know, TSLL derives much of its content from two cultures, the French and the British, specifically the ways of life that invite us to slow down, savor and invest in quality moments and approaches rather than quantity and superficial living to gain approval. Instead the only approval we seek is from within.

In episode #144 I shared 20 ways for welcoming the French culture into your everyday life, and so it is well overdue that I should share a similar list for welcoming the British culture into your everyday life. After having now visited London on three separate occasions and the English countryside on two separate occasions, I enjoyed compiling this list as my life in Bend is a marriage of both my love of the French and British culture, incorporating from both the everyday rituals I love, savoring approaches, tastes, décor and ways of life that reminds me of two cultures that tickle my curiosity and nurture my true self most sincerely.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Inspired by my most recent visit, but also drawing upon all of my experiences and fortunate opportunities to explore Britain, let's take a look at how we can welcome different ideas into our everyday life the British culture.

~Note to readers: Be sure to listen to the episode as each item listed below is discussed in much more detail in the audio version.

1. Create a tea ritual in your everyday routine

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

The feline host at The Rookery in London, Bagheera, joined us for our morning tea.

2. Know, use correctly with confidence and be able to explain the difference in conversation between saying England, Great Britain/Britain and the United Kingdom

~tune in to the audio version for this episode where the differences are explained

Check out this detailed and easy to follow post about the clear differences.

3. Subscribe to either AcornTV or BritBox (or both), and enjoy multiple series, films and BBC programs, some within hours of their airing in Britain

4. Grow a garden no matter how large or small your outdoor space or balcony

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Touring gardens was a primary focus on this most recent trip, and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens inspired many ideas as well as soothed the mind and being as I wandered the grounds for hours.

5. Invite others to 'tea' at your home or for a Cuppa

6. Celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this year

~Have you entered the Grand Giveaway for your chance to win Fortnum & Mason's Jubilee Hamper? Click here to do so.

7. Welcome cozy upholstered furniture (reupholstered an old favorite) into your home décor

~Staying at The Pig at Bridge Place introduced many ideas for cozy upholstery inspiration.

8. Watch football (aka soccer), or not and instead watch tennis or cricket or rugby

9. Have biscuits (shortbread cookies) or something simple to nibble on when having tea with guests at your home

10. Tune in via television or radio to the BBC

"The oldest national broadcasting organisation in the world with a global reach, covering world events 24/7 and producing world-class entertainment".

11. Watch Ted Lasso on AppleTV+

A new season will likely be released this late summer/early fall. The first two seasons can be streamed in entirety now.

12. Acquire a high quality umbrella (and use it when it rains)

~James Smith & Sons in London on New Oxford was a must-stop during my recent trip to London.

13. Layer with pillows, let go of matchy-matchy

Instead keep in the same color tone, and mix large and small prints with the occasional solid.

14. Find time to spend time at the oceanside

15. Make and enjoy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam

16. Watch Come Dine With Me (on Channel 4)

Premiering in 2005 and running for 27 seasons, so far, this reality series is a hit across Britain.

17. Find your favorite color of a pair of wellies and have them on hand

18. Make and enjoy a traditional Cornish Pasty

19. Watch The Great British Bake-Off each late summer/early fall

20. Enjoy a proper English Breakfast

What exactly is a traditional English Breakfast (we're not talking about the tea here)? Sausages, back bacon (not a crispy version, but rather more hearty as it consists of a little bit of the loin and is smoked), eggs, tomatoes - pan seared and seasoned with salt and pepper, mushrooms, fried bread, and beans.

21. Practice your French

Did you know that the Queen looks over the weekly menu given to her by the chef who writes the menu in French, as has every chef dating back to Queen Victoria's reign? Yep, and just another lovely reason to incorporate both cultures in some way into your daily life. :)

22. Practice thoughtful manners

Give personal space (an arm's length distance), use both a fork and knife when dining, don't ask nosey questions, please and thank you, respect the queue, refrain from superlatives (i.e. the best, greatest, worst, tallest, shortest, most exciting, etc.)

23. Make and enjoy Yorkshire pudding (and it isn't a 'pudding')

24. Welcome trays into your everyday for serving tea, meals, courses, etc.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

~Be sure to enter this giveaway to win a high quality, handmade rectangular tray with glass top.

25. Enjoy daily walks with your pups and say hello to passing pups

shannonwalkinglondon-1

During this trip walking was done both in the heart of London (seen here with Big Ben in the background) and in the English countryside as we toured Sissinghurst Castle Garden. This photo was captured after just having departed from The Tube in the morning on our way to Westminster Abbey, followed by a visit to The National Gallery and then to Claridge's for Afternoon Tea. Needless to say, Norman was missed, and our reunion upon arriving back in Bend was quite sweet.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Enjoy English tea at home in Bend, Oregon, with Norman as my companion. Bliss.

SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

Petit Plaisir

~Downton Abbey: A New Era

-premiering in the states May 20, 2022 (in the UK April 29th)

pp330downtonabbey

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #330

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

~Explore all of the posts shared during this year's Annual British Week. Today's episode wraps up all of the new posts that will be shared (16 in total), and be sure to enter to win all of the five giveaways by 4pm (Pacific) today. All winners will be announced in a detailed post tomorrow on the blog. Thank you to everyone who stopped by this week. What a fun week it was! To talk all things British's and reminisce and hear your stories of travel as well as future trips, I am excited for everyone as each of us welcomes the British culture in our own way of everyday life continues. Have a wonderful weekend.

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

Direct download: 330BritishEverday.mp3
Category:travel -- posted at: 7:00am PDT

 

 

To feel intrinsically connected with a culture other than the one you were raised involves the feeling of a coming home. A 'coming home' in a way that seems impossible until you feel it first-hand, deep in the marrow of your bones. As I share in detail in the introduction of the month of May in my new book The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment, my first trip and time spent in the English countryside spoke to my inner most true self in a way I didn't expect, but completely understood.

Returning to England this past April was life lifting. Noting not having visited since 2017, which I didn't realize consciously is nearly 5 years, ended a drought of British culture seen with my own eyes that I needed more than I realized. It was a figurative deep breath of fresh air that upon taking in, immediately brought a smile to my face and a calm to my being. While I didn't spend my time as I most enjoy for most of my days when I am in England, which is to rent a vacation rental out in the countryside and go about many days just savoring the everyday routines and visiting an occasional destination of interest, I was in Britain, and that was all that mattered. I saw places and spent time partaking in activities that further introduced a culture to me I had not done before, and for that I am grateful.

In today's episode/post, I'd like to share with you 20 Life Lessons learned during these 3 1/2 days in Britain - both in London and in Kent as we took a train ride out to the southeast countryside of England and spent the night as we were intent to visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden, and oh what a treat that was.

Let's take a look at the list:

~Note, if you tune in to the audio version, I share much more detail about each item on the list. Be sure to check out the podcast wherever you enjoy your favorite shows.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #329

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 329LifelessonsEngland.mp3
Category:travel -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

Today I would like to share with you 16 ideas for savoring Paris fully no matter how short your stay may be. As I have written about in my first book and referred to in my third, the Paris Syndrome is real, but the magic of Paris is real as well.

Admittedly, I thoroughly enjoy the French countryside and appreciate and utilize my time in Paris for punctuating my visits as my trips begin and then as I conclude them before making my way to the airport or heading to England via the Eurostar. While in Paris, I give myself a day or two to soak up opportunities to explore exhibits, try new and different restaurants, step inside places I am most curious about as there is always something I have yet to see with my own eyes or simply sit on a terrasse and watch the city go about its day. The energy, the city itself is like no other, and it does seem to breathe new life, excite new ideas and bring them to the forefront for my attention to cease.

My recent trip found me traveling with my mother who I invited to join me as I wanted to get my feet back onto the terra firma of the two countries I adore and write about here on TSLL after the nearly three year hiatus. With this being my mother's first trip to either country (France and Britain), I decided against stepping outside of Paris and instead tried to give her a taste of what makes the City of Light so special. Seeing so much in the span of just under three days was a bit overwhelming, but each experience was quite special. However, with this being my seventh visit to Paris, it solidified even more concretely what I enjoy spending my time doing when I visit no matter how much time I have and what enables me to truly savor, appreciate and revel in any opportunity to be there in person. Let's take a look at the list.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #328

 

Direct download: 328ParisSavor.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

"Although your true nature may be hidden momentarily by stress and worry, anger and unfulfilled longings, it still continues to exist. Knowing this can be a great comfort."—Rick Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, MD, Buddha's Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom

The mind's default is dialed to 'survive', not to thrive. However, the wonderful 'gift' that our brain has within it is the toolbox full of tools (i.e. capabilities) to learn the skills to change the dial to 'thrive'.

There is a distinction, however slight between the brain and the mind, and while the two are often conflated, think of the brain as the physical entity within your skull and the mind, the conceptual idea maker that thinks due to the capabilities of the brain.

With that said, the title refers to the truth of what will change your life for the better. The author of Buddha's Brain, Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist shares along with the contributor, doctor in neurology Richard Mendius, "If I know one thing for sure, it's that you can do small things inside your mind that will lead to big changes in your brain and your experience of living . . . you really can nudge your whole being in a better direction every day. When you change your brain, you change your life."

The secret that is often unknown unless we are taught, learn or observe it, is that we have to change the dial from 'survive' to 'thrive' and it is a muscle we have to keep toned. The question I have been asking for over two decades is How. And while I have been grateful to find books over the past twelve years, sharing so many of them and what I have here on TSLL, it was reading Buddha's Brain that provided the science that help me make sense of why my brain encourages my mind to default in certain ways that in hindsight are not helpful. (I will list the other previous books and their post/episodes below.)

1.Practice the three fundamentals of Buddha's teachings: Virtue, Mindfulness and Wisdom

Since our brain and how it functions is the reason we suffer, yet we can change the brain, then we can also cure the suffering. Hanson summarizes what Siddartha who over two thousand years ago, at the time not yet called Buddha, discovered as he trained his mind "thus his brain" while understanding the causes of suffering, also discovered the "path to freedom from suffering".

Let's take a look at what each of these three look like in everyday life:

  • Virtue: "regulating your actions, words and thoughts to create benefits rather than harm yourself or others"
  • Mindfulness: "the skillful use of attention to both your inner and outer worlds"
  • Wisdom: "applied common sense . . . first, come to understand what hurts and what helps . . . then based on this understanding, let go of those things that hurt and strengthen those that help . . . as a result, over time you'll feel more connected with everything, more serene about how all things change and end, and more able to meet pleasure and pain without grasping after the one and struggling with the other"

2. Prolong feelings of happiness

Did you know that as "you become a happier person, the left front region of your brain becomes more active"? Yep. And this is a very good thing because the left frontal region of your brain is where your skills for communication and thinking abstractly as well as understanding abstraction are rooted. When we consciously prolong and hold ourselves in moments of happiness, in other words, savor them deeply, we are actually rewiring our brain, and "when neurons fire together, they wire together". When we do this regularly, savoring what is good, what makes us happy, we are gradually, yet steadily and significantly changing our brains, and thus 'how we think' for the better.

3. You don't need more resources, you already have what you need

The key to changing our brains is not to have more money, more time or well, anything outside of ourselves, which is very good news. The key is awareness, knowledge of how to change the brain, and the will and restraint to do so. So, look back to #2, that is a great place to start - savor the moments of happiness.

4. Understand why we 'suffer' when we step away from what we know

From ending a relationship and moving on, to changing jobs and thus the colleagues you surround yourselves with, the first year at college away from your family after having lived with them your entire life thus far, leaving your home to travel and experiencing home sickness or even the Paris Syndrome, your mind defaults to 'surviving' and is not concerning itself with what is best for you to thrive.

Within our brain, the Lizard brain as it is often called, when we separate from what we have done, when we choose to be independent and start something new or go somewhere new, our brain will push back and "produce painful signals of disturbance and see your choice as a threat". Thus the struggle with the mind, and the emotions, for a temporary period of time. Often, people don't understand such feelings are temporary and retreat to what they've known which is what the Lizard brain and brain set to the default of 'survive' wants you to do, but that is not thriving.

5. Understand how past negative experiences trigger the mind in the present more powerfully than positive memories

"The brain is drawn to bad news."

Velcro versus Teflon.

Since our brain is set to default to survive, "the hippocampus makes sure [negative events are] stored carefully for future reference", our negative experiences tend to have more of an impact than positive ones unless we live consciously and understand why the brain does this.

I found this section of the book incredibly powerful because once I understood why the brain kept pulling me back to worry, doubt, anger, sorrow, shame, any negative feeling to prevent me from stretching, changing, growing, progressing, even hoping, I could then take the wheel and pause its previously unstoppable progression toward an unhelpful state of mind. Keep the following quote in mind if you too have a mind that you might right now think cannot be controlled (the good news, and why I am writing this post, is that it can):

"[The brain] highlights past losses and failures, it downplays present abilities, and it exaggerates future obstacles. Consequently, the mind continually tends to render unfair verdicts about a person's character, conduct and possibilities. The weight of those judgments can really wear you down."

6. Stop living in simulations

Simulations are moments that the brain plays, or replays over and over again. Whether you are rehashing an argument or situation that didn't go as you had hoped, or thinking ahead to the future and imagining every possible outcome, every single one is a simulation and it pulls you away from the present moment. Hanson calls simulations 'mini-movies', and shares, "Mini-movies keep us stuck by their simplistic view of the past and by their defining out of existence real possibilities for the future, such as new ways to reach out to others or dream big dreams."

Essentially when we let ourselves get lost and wander about in simulations we are putting ourselves into an invisible cage, and as Hanson rightly reminds, trapping ourselves in a life that is smaller than the one you could actually have.

7. Practice regular self-compassion

We often know how to give compassion or extend compassion to others. It is important to note that compassion is not pity. Compassion instead involves extending "warmth, concern and good wishes". In 2016 I wrote a detailed episode (#122) sharing how to extend compassion to yourself, and why it is important. When you practice self-compassion you are creating a refuge, an island of calm as author Dr. Kristin Neff describes it for you to just be - stepping away from all negative and positive energy that you may have running in your mind, letting go of self-doubt and extending kindness to yourself.

When we practice regular self-compassion, we are exercising self-awareness as we give ourselves what we need, and we are in that moment, in a state of true contentment because no matter what is swirling around us - in the outside world or within our mind, we are stepping back and finding stillness, observing, but not engaging, and providing care to ourselves so that we can respond well when we are ready, rather than reacting.

8. Stop throwing the Second Dart

Oh, oh, oh! This was a big aha moment for me.

Since we're talking about a Second Dart, there must be a First Dart, and there is. As Dr. Hanson explains, the First Dart is out of our control - a negative or unwanted experience happens, but it is HOW we react to the First Dart that creates a Second Dart, and we can prevent the latter from ever being thrown in the first place by becoming aware of ourselves and choosing to respond rather than react.

The reason Second Darts need to cease being thrown is because they are often more hurtful, painful and destructive. And here's the best news of all, Second Darts are entirely avoidable and never unavoidable. In other words, we need to stop hurting ourselves in such a way that is entirely avoidable to do so.

Screen Shot 2022-04-23 at 4.47.46 AM

An example of what a Second Dart looks like: Your boss or colleague gives you the cold shoulder at work or doesn't consider your idea, or even invite you to share (first dart); immediately, in your mind, you rush to doubt yourself, become angry for being ignored and immediately assume their treatment must be all about something you did/lack/didn't do/are not enough of/etc. (second dart). The second dart lacks any evidence and takes in no context for any other extenuating circumstances, and causing unnecessary suffering.

Dr. Hanson warns that sadly, some second darts can be thrown that are a result of a positive first dart that we, refuse to see as positive because we are doubtful and distrustful of ourselves. Example: you receive a genuine compliment and immediately question (in your mind) how it could be possible that someone sees something good, or you are fearful they will see through you. Again, you've caused yourself unnecessary suffering and you are creating neural connections that actually decrease positive growth in the mind.

Long story short, refrain from throwing a Second Dart, ever, ever, ever.

9. Consciously create a life of more moments and experiences to savor every day

Our brain has a negativity bias as discussed above. Understand this and you understand the vital importance of savoring, savoring, savoring. I often repeat in triplet this verb and it's not on accident. When we savor, don't just do it once, hold yourself in the moment, create an imprint of this awesome moment in your mind. Your brain is changing for the better, and thus your mind thinks better and your life changes for the better.

Hanson shares ideas that I have a feeling will look quite familiar to readers and listeners of TSLL blog and the corresponding podcast. (1) look around you, throughout your day and your life for what you are grateful for, look for the good news in other words and so much of the good news is seemingly small and insignificant, but it is not insignificant at all - it is fuel to focus on to improve your life - beautiful scents, steady steps toward a goal, your favorite weather forecast, a healthy body!, clean water; (2) savor the experience for longer than you may have thought necessary - hold it in your awareness, drink it up - the longer you do, the "more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory"; (3) recall the journey of challenges you overcame to arrive where you are and are grateful to be - this rewires the brain, deepens savoring and adds to our list of what we are grateful for; and (4) take in all of the good sensations from past good memories and current ones - the warmth of the sun, the peace you felt when you heard the good news, the first time you laid eyes on [insert destination/person/outcome].

10. Understand the process to rewiring the brain so that the mind can thrive

Begin the journey of mind transformation by keeping this truth in mind (pun not intended): it will take regular practice, but your mind will eventually change for the better. It will get rather difficult in the middle of the journey before it gets easier, so stick with it.

Hanson delineates the four stages we move through (the goal being stage 4) to reach a state of full awareness and awakening of the mind, in other words, strengthening our mind's ability to thrive.

  • Stage One: "you're caught in a second-dart reaction and you don't even know it"
  • Stage Two: "you realize you've been hijacked and must engage with the second-dart, but cannot help it"
  • Stage Three: "some aspect of the reaction arises, but you don't act it out"
  • Stage Four: "the reaction doesn't even come up, and sometimes you forget you ever had the issue"

Hanson explains that we often get stuck in Stage Two, thinking it is impossible to move forward into stage three. Why? Often because we have the incorrect idea that the life around us must change to suit us, but that is faulty thinking. Remember, we live in awareness and how we respond to what we cannot control will determine our ability to either simply survive or thrive. It's important to state this again (as much for myself as for readers/listeners), don't throw the second-dart. Simply don't do it, and you're already well on your way to Stage Three. The goal for growth is to aim for Stage Three and Four, but if you are living consciously in awareness and practicing the above steps shared, you'll get there and your life will be be full of more 'happiness, love and wisdom'.

"Over time, through training and shaping your mind and brain, you can even change what arises, increasing what's positive and decreasing what's negative. In the meantime, you can rest in and be nourished by a growing sense of the peace and clarity in your true nature."

There is far more worth understanding and exploring in this book, Buddha's Brain. Today I wanted to introduce you to the fundamental science behind why our brains are not our friend if we don't know how they work and just let it lead us where it will. We cannot let that happen or we won't find true contentment.

I think it is also important to point out, by focusing on the good, celebrating the awesome moments in life, Hanson explains, "[It] is not about putting a happy shiny face on everything, nor is it about turning away from the hard things in life. It's about nourishing your well-being, contentment, and peace inside that are refuges you can always come from and return to."

When we understand how our mind is initially designed, but at the same time understand what it is capable of, we set ourselves free to no longer be stuck in a cage we have the key to unlock.

Books, Blog Posts and Podcast Episodes previous shared about the Mind

Petit Plaisir

Maisie Dobbs mystery series

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #327

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 327BuddhaBrain.mp3
Category:health -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

 

 

"To attain wealth, the lasting kind, the kind that gives your life meaning, value and sustenance, base your daily existence on the generosity of spirit. Everything else you desire will follow of its own accord." —Deepak Chopra, Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth

To experience great joy in our everydays is to experience bliss.

If ever you find yourself smiling in the middle of your everydays just because, if you are me anyway, you are experiencing a bliss-filled moment.

We may find it surprising or difficult at first to imagine the possibility to experience such a natural state going about a life routine that happens nearly everyday, but that is exactly the point to living consciously. This is exactly why choosing to understand what true contentment is makes all the difference.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #326

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 326AbundantJoy.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

 

 

Spring kicked off officially yesterday, March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere, and as I worked out in my garden, ever so gently, signs of spring were definitely emerging.

Over the years here on the blog and podcast, there have been many posts celebrating the arrival of the spring season, and well, we all could be nourished by some brightness of spring, so I thought I would bring yet another such post/episode your way.

Below are 10 more ideas for reveling in the start of a season that arrives with the buoyant determination to grow, restart and find the awesomeness that surrounds us.

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #325

View the Show Notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast325

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 325Spring2022.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious LIfe

“Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinarily well.” —Henry David Thoreau

It's morning, early in our house. Norman has finished his breakfast served in the mudroom which is adjacent to the kitchen, and I begin toasting my steel cut oats. The clanking of pans being chosen for the two egg omelette, the whisk of the eggs in the mixing bowl provide the soundtrack of our mornings, and Norman finds his way onto the rug in front of the stove to enjoy his daily dental chewy. An ordinary moment that happens every single morning and to me it is extraordinary.

"Be extraordinary at the ordinary." —Andy Puddicombe, meditation teacher

One of the common refrains I heard from TSLL readers over the past two years was while disheartened and pained by the reason for the slower pace of life, was that it was in fact a pace they appreciated. No longer did they have to fight back or expend energy to explain why indeed the slower pace suited them and nourished them. Now that lives and schedules and expectations are beginning to pick up steam and the ability to pursue, travel and experience those unique and intriguing occasions we longed for as we were unable to for some time return, the importance of choosing our pace in our everydays and how we hold ourselves in our everydays, having seen the difference in ourselves, a better time could not be had to continue to, or fine-tune so as to improve how we go about living in the ordinary moments.

Often the word ordinary connotes a 'hum-drum' energy, an energy not desired or seen as inferior especially when we think of its relation to the word 'extraordinary'. However, all ordinary means is that it, whatever 'it' is, is commonplace. And for our purposes in today's episode/post, ordinary simply refers to the ability to have a day without strife, to tend to a job or a task to make money so that we can live our lives, to eat our daily meals and move about our home and community engaging with our family and coworkers and neighbors as they too move about a schedule similarly including the same elements.

Why I gravitated to the quote I share above - be extraordinary at the ordinary - is because at its core we are choosing to focus on what is necessary, and so thereby we keep those necessities in our days, eliminate what weighs down or expends energy unnecessarily, and thus, we are choosing to focus on quality over quantity which is a core premise of living simply luxuriously.

daffodilsteacup

An example from Shannon's life of making ordinary extraordinary in our everyday lives

As I type, it is early morning at Le Papillon. Norman is snuggled up next to me, softly snoring, and the house begins to warm up while the classical music plays softly providing a gentle easing into the day. The day, by objective definitions, is ordinary, but in this moment, it feels extraordinary. The companionship and good health of my pup, a home and thus a roof over my head to keep me warm and safe, the means (my computer) to do my work well, and the beauty of art (the music) to lift the day, yet keep it calm.

How exactly do we elevate the ordinary to the status of extraordinary? Start with how you move through your everydays.

While Henry David Thoreau's quote shared above is less known, it partners well with the quote that immediately springs to my mind, and more widely recognized, as is a mantra I display in my office as a way to ground me. I change the pronouns of course and do so as well here.

"I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of [her] dreams, and endeavors to live the life which [she] has imagined, [she] will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

The awesomeness of life happens in the everydays, and guess what? The super majority of the days of our lives are everydays. Therefore we have so many opportunities to make them extraordinary.

Let's break it down a bit further. Here is a list of concrete practices to incorporate into how you live in your everydays to welcome the extraordinary to be experienced:

  1. Understand the power of presence and then hold yourself in the present moment each day, each moment
  2. Learn the skill of savoring (doing so is one way to hold yourself in the present), listen to episode #323
  3. Celebrate and appreciate all that is going well around you and don't hold it all inside - express it - say thank you, share what you enjoy (not what you dislike), be brave and vulnerable in sharing what makes you smile
  4. Slow down when you eat your meals - make them an opportunity to connect and refrain from watching the clock
  5. Grow and nurture a garden
  6. Take on the serious responsibility of caring for a pet and nurture them as you would yourself or a child (literally, clean their teeth, create healthy routines, regular exercise, build trust)
  7. Make and revel in daily, weekly or monthly rituals - make them special and important - and hold them firm as you would an appointment.
  8. Engage in one activity at a time
  9. Give yourself permission to not be engaged in any activity at all for a period of time each day - just be still, rest, relax
  10. Quality ingredients, seasonal fare for delicious everyday meals (fewer ingredients are necessary and appetites are satiated more quickly as the food is full of flavor and balanced for what the body needs
  11. Become a student of the mind, exercise (thereby strengthen) it regularly, put yourself in the driver seat so emotions that spring up due to events out of your control don't derail your day, your relationships, your life, as you know all emotions are evanescent.
  12. Fall in love with reading and have something to read that holds you in the pages - for pleasure or learning something new and deepening your knowledge.
  13. Thoughtfully and patiently curate a home, a wardrobe, a routine for your days that is an investment that will last and nurture your priorities.

Each of the ideas suggested are merely a sampling of how we can elevate the 'ordinary' everyday to something extraordinary to experience each day. If you have been a long-time reader of the blog or listener of the podcast, you know that nearly all of the content you find shares inspiration, ideas and examples of how to do exactly this - live an extraordinary life in the ordinary moments.

A key component, something we've tangentially talked about in a variety of ways is to understand why we/you place so much value on the extraordinary moments celebrated by outside sources - the awards, the status symbols, the life markers set by society one must achieve. While we are social creatures, and we want to feel included, we want to feel seen, appreciated, applauded and accepted, when we seek out healthy sources of each of the A's as David Richo describes as the 5 Key A's in a healthy adult relationship (ep. #287), we can find them and savor them in our everydays.

So often we seek something that is already within each of us or capable of being nurtured with those in our everyday lives already. When we discover how rich we already are for living an extraordinary life in our everydays, the supposed 'grand' achievements become less tempting to pursue especially if doing so takes us away from what we know is quite special and we are quite fortunate to have - healthy, loving relationships, a career or calling that fulfills us, a home that gives us safety, shelter and security, a community that is at peace, small, yet significant opportunities to learn and grow.

When we choose to embrace the choice of living extraordinarily in our everydays as Thoreau advises, it becomes easier to hold ourselves in the present moment, and because we are doing our best in those moments that each day offers, we go to bed each night more at peace and thus slumber is deeper, more nourishing which makes the new day that we awake to full of all the more potential to be extraordinary all over again. The cycle feeds itself, and we hold the key in how we hold ourselves, what we notice, what we engage in, how we engage, what we let go, etc. . Expend energy on the things that bring value, find strength to let go of unhelpful, unnecessary or detrimental tasks, habits or relationships, and your life will begin to feel quite extraordinary.

Find inspiration for each day of the year, how to live well in your everydays in TSLL's new book - The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment (available now).

~Take a peek inside the book, listen to an excerpt and discover why the title - Le Papillon - was chosen in this 15 minute video with Norman and I.

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Murder in Provence, BritBox (based on M.L. Longworth's Provençal mystery series)

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #324

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 324Extraordinary_.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

dinnerafterparty

The clock neared midnight, the candles on the table still flickered just at a slightly lower height than when they were lit only six hours ago, the kitchen was full of dishes and the platters of food offered crumbs and hints at the menu that had just recently been shared and enjoyed amongst friends.

The first dinner party at Le Papillon took place over this past weekend, and after being thoughtful about when to invite friends in a large gathering into my home, honoring each's comfort level and ensuring safety and health precautions were clearly communicated so all could relax and enjoy the evening (all friends were boosted, and tests were made available to ease everyone's mind), the date was set, and the menu began being planned as well as how to inaugurate Le Papillon as this would be the first dinner party ever held.

My friends said yes. Each showed up with an enthusiasm and welcoming spirit that warmed my heart and reminded me of so much that I missed during these past two years. As each course was served, each glass poured - sipped and held up to toast, the volume of the playlist was turned up ever so slightly as the ease of stepping back into the conviviality of seeing each other, talking intimately, laughing heartedly and listening closely felt second-nature despite the delay of enjoying such a setting.

As goodbyes were exchanged, fresh-from the oven cookies were given to each guest to enjoy on the car-ride home. I closed the door, turning around to look at my home and the visual reminder of all that just been shared and enjoyed. I sighed deeply and my smile grew widely. Gratitude washed over me, and I knew I wouldn't be going to bed soon. Not because there were dishes to be cleaned, but because I was energized in a way only such occasions can lift my spirits naturally. And so I reminded myself to savor.

In episode #213 in 2018 I detailed in nine steps and ideas how to savor any given moment in which you find yourself wanting to remain in the present moment, taking all that you are experiencing in fully so as to hold it in your memory, but as well, to let it be what it is, not forcing it be what you want it to be. Today I would like to further the conversation on savoring and share with you 6 everyday moments to savor or moments in which we may forget to savor well, giving ourselves permission to take it in, slow down and revel in the awesome gifts received by the moment that we are delighting in.

Studies have taught us that there are three different ways to savor life moments, and when we do consciously welcome the art of savoring into our lives, we improve our well-being. So while it may see indulgent, even selfish and at the very least unnecessary to engage in savoring, the truth is, to know how to savor, and incorporate doing so into our everyday life, is to increase the quality of our life.

As detailed through extensive research by Dr. Jordi Quoidbach of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, the three types of savoring depend upon when and what you are savoring as it relates to time:

  • Anticipatory Savoring: looking forward toward an event that will be occurring in your future
    • the act of savoring in this definition would be reading books to prepare you for the event so you are well prepared, planning your wardrobe, watching films, preparing necessary information, anything that might enhance your experience when the event actually arrives
  • Experiential Savoring: holding yourself in the present moment.
    • using your senses to appreciate all that is taking place around you and not letting your mind wander ahead into your schedule or dilly-dally back into the past.
  • Reminiscent Savoring: consciously savoring an event, moment, experience that while you know it would have an end, you hold space for the feelings that were created by the event in your memory.
    • A concept introduced was Peak-Theory which is caused when we consciously plan a positive activity to experience at the end of the trip, occasion, moment that we had been long anticipated, greatly enjoyed when it arrived, but also knew it would last forever. The Peak-Theory concludes the moment with a grand positive note, so that we savor the experience all the more in our memories in Reminiscent Savoring.

Much of what will be shared in the list below are moments that we have long anticipated and hoped would go well, and upon such an event going well, we consciously choose to create space for a Peak-Theory moment as a way to fully savor what has just concluded and deepen the much appreciated event even more.

Following my first dinner party held in far too long, offered such such an opportunity to create a Peak-Theory experience.

For me, when any of the moments listed below occurs, I give myself permission to just be still. I edit out most if not all plans or consciously choose to not make any new plans, and give myself an hour, a morning, afternoon, evening or, if I can, a full day, to just let the good memories wash over me one more time. Partly I do this so that I do not forget a moment. I will even sit down and put it all into my journal as I know I will forgot those small details that made the evening/event/experience so special. Usually I am home for this carved out time, so I will make sure I have a fridge with food for a good meal to be enjoyed, I will snuggle up in my cozy pajamas or leisure clothes, make a pot of tea, soak in a hot bath at some point during the day, maybe (most likely) take a nap at some point and if I am not at home, but perhaps traveling, I will let myself just wander about the city, town or countryside I am visiting, give myself permission to then lounge about in the accommodations and drink in the momentary state of appreciation, calm and giddiness I may be feeling.

One of the key components and truths of savoring to remember is that savoring is all the more important because it will never be that all is going perfectly in our lives. We cannot wait to savor siting the need for there not to be any hiccups or stresses occurring - bills still need to be paid, jobs still need to be tended to, the world is still grappling with unrelenting pains. In fact, it is precisely because there will always be some kind of unwanted thing happening in our most intimate lives as well as the grander world that we must incorporate savoring into our lives.

When we teach ourselves that savoring is not indulgent but necessary, when we acknowledge that such awesome moments, as the ones listed below, but there are undoubtedly many more, do not happen every day, we are living in the present, we are living consciously and we are elevating the quality of our lives. We are appreciating being alive, being human and are stress-levels gradually decrease, we become better able to navigate through unwanted moments and we find a deeper, steady, resting state of contentment. Simply put, savoring life doesn't require perfection, rather the art of living a life you love requires savoring.

Let's take a look at ten moments in life to encourage you to savor by engaging in a Peak-Theory moment in which you linger a little longer after the much loved event/moment/experience in order to hold it in your memory and deepen your appreciation.

1.The moments as well as day after a long anticipated event - dinner party, celebration

As shared above, whether you have just hosted a dinner party that went well, perhaps after a big event that required much coordination - a charity gala, a wedding, an anniversary party, a reunion, a birthday party, etc. - let yourself savor immediately after by doing whatever enables you to just take it all in again, reliving it, thinking about, letting yourself smile and doodle about, doing any task or no task at all that lets it all soak in even more. Take the next day, the next half day, whatever you need to let the awesome memories marinate so they won't soon be forgotten.

2. Upon seeing/reaching/holding in your hands the outcome you have longed worked so hard for

Whether a work-related project or a personal goal being reached, once you have reached your mark - holding the published book in your hands, shaking hands with your new boss on the new job you just landed, finishing the home project you planned and saved for, arriving at the airport for the trip you saved up for - once you've reached where you've worked so hard to arrive, create a moment, hours, whatever time you need to drink in all that you have done to arrive where you long wished to be. Let yourself rewind and play back all that you overcame to be where you are so that you never forget and thus appreciate your arrival all the more.

3. Seasonal weather long missed - the first rain fall in weeks/months, the long anticipated snowfall, the break in the clouds after days of rain, clear skies after smokey, hazy, or foggy oppression

Just yesterday, the snow finally came back to Bend. Even if for a few short hours, we have not seen snowfall in Bend since late December. I reveled in it. I stayed inside, let myself cozy in and just gazed outside and smiled, smiled and smiled a bit more. Mother Nature will bring what she brings, and each of us based our preferences and where we live have weather we most enjoy. When it has not happened in far too long, when it does arrive, let yourself savor.

4. Finishing a book that transported you, moved you, taught you something unexpected, deepened your understanding in a way you had never known before

Upon finishing the book, reading the last word, last page, last chapter. You close it slowly, looking up at nothing in particular, and perhaps you smile as your thoughts seem to have been renewed and enlivened. Sit with this feeling of great expansion, and let yourself savor the gift you just gave yourself. You are changed, you are growing, you are living and that is an exciting place to find yourself and realize about yourself.

5. The first daffodil in the garden to bloom, the first of any perennial, tree blossom, favorite flower to return since the previous year

Whether you sit outside and simply gaze in awe at the beauty that has revealed itself, let yourself delight in the awesomeness of Mother Nature. If the weather is warm, I will sit on my porch or somewhere nearby the bloom(s) and take more than a moment to be in that space with the natural beauty. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I will sit with a cuppa, and sometimes I will just close my eyes and feel the fresh air kiss my skin. Savor such arrivals because they won't arrive in their first form such as this for another twelve months.

6. Stepping foot on the terra firma of a beloved destination, country, town, or home after a long absence

Perhaps you know you will be traveling soon or have just returned from traveling to a place you have longed to visit or return to after a much delayed absence. If so, think about how you will or can savor how it feels to see this place with your own eyes, feel the air of that place, the energy of that place, so you can hold it with you in your memory when you do have to eventually leave again. Is it visiting a favorite haunt and just sitting, taking all the going-ons around you? Is it taking part in a certain activity that you can only do at this locale? Or maybe it is a favorite food or drink you enjoy. Whatever it may be, let yourself savor the good fortune to have been able to return.


Knowing how to savor and why it is important to do so not only strengthens our muscle of mindfulness as it involves the awareness of our mind and where we let it travel and where we hold our thoughts, it also shows us how awesome our one and only life is. When we pay attention to how certain moments that make us feel good in a natural way, we are honoring our most true selves. When we honor our true selves the quality of our days improves and thus the quality of our lives.

The powerful truth of savoring is that it reminds us that whether the good moments in our lives are large or small, seemingly significant to the outside world or not seen at all, we become more in tune and aware as to how truly rich our lives are, and what we think we lack is actually far less than previously thought. In fact, we may have all that we need if we would only give ourselves permission to savor more regularly. The exciting truth is, everyday moments abound for us to savor if only we would have the courage to lose our inhibitions and revel in them and then hold them close so that we never forgot how great life truly is.

book3-sidebar

~Learn more about purchasing/pre-ordering a copy of TSLL's 3rd book - The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #323

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 323SavoringpartDeux.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:04pm PDT

Photographer and Paris blogger, founder of Everyday Parisian, Rebecca Plotnick joins me on today's episode to talk about traveling to Paris during the time of Covid. Travelers are gradually beginning to make travel plans abroad, and as Rebecca traveled to Paris this past October, I invited her on the show to share her experience as well as assuage travelers who may wonder exactly how to meet the requirements for testing and proof of vaccination.

This past August, Rebecca shared a detailed Q & A here on the blog during TSLL's Annual French Week; however, I purposely waited for her to join the podcast until after she returned from Paris as I wanted her to talk specifically about what travelers can expect and thus prepare for as they step back on plans to visit the City of Light.

I recently read that Paris is the #4 destination American travelers have booked flights to for their summer 2022 travels, and as you will hear in our conversation, while visiting any time of year is wonderful, visiting in spring may be quite a special time to take in the natural beauty as well as the other sites and favorite tastes of a city so many TSLL readers love.

~NOTE: Since the recording of this episode, France as updated their requirement of a proof of vaccination (US Embassy for France) (French (French website - in English). You will need to secure a Vaccine Pass, but their online site is temporarily unusable. Currently what you can do, is as soon as you arrive in Paris, visit a local pharmacy, and for $40, show them your proof of vaccination (CDC card), as well as your passport, and you will be able to attain the necessary health pass to ensure access to all of the sites you came to Paris to see.

Links shared in today's episode:

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~Explore all French-Inspired episodes from the podcast here


~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #322

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 322RebeccaPlotnick_.mp3
Category:French-inspired -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

hydrangeasbedroom-1

December has the ability to take us out of our daily and weekly rhythms. With all of the joviality and celebration, we often excitedly step into the change and welcome the shift of energy and focus.

Similarly, when we have chosen a temporary project to focus our attention, our life routine, where we place our energies, what is prioritized and how we go about our days voluntarily changes. However, what we realize, is the routine preceding December or the commencement of the project, if we intentionally cultivated it, was created for a helpful reason.

As shared in episode #316, our lives need 'white space' as that is where we breathe, think, settle, found the ground and our balance before moving forward well into whatever is in front of us. To look at it another way, why is beautiful music so beautiful? Claude Debussy explains, 'Music is the space between the notes.' When our lives become too full, too jammed with demands, even if they lead us to supposed exciting results, our beings suffer, our peace of mind suffers and we ultimately end up exhausted gasping for space to catch our breath, unable to connect well or fully in a way that would actually foster the life we love living.

Inspired by my own life at the moment, the week ahead is my first week stepping back into the weekly and daily routines I have longed desired to be a part of my everyday life. The contractors are done. I have one job to hold my focus during the workday hours and I have five days in front of me to reset.

Resetting does not necessarily mean returning to what was. After all, the project has concluded bringing a result not previously part of your life, and if you are resetting after the winter holidays, you no doubt experienced either connections, conversations, or moments that deepened, awoken or informed you about something unknown prior to the month of December. You have the opportunity to apply what you are now aware of and enhance your way of dancing with your days and weeks.

How to reset constructively:

1. Let the rest and recovery happen

Your body is likely more tired than you realize as you have been traveling at a different pace and it has been carrying you with adrenaline to push through; however, this is not sustainable for clear thinking or engaging.

Often you know you need to give yourself excessive rest when you fall asleep far earlier than you ever would (7pm on the sofa - zonked out). Your body is trying to speak to you. This is not a bad habit because it is not a habit. It is a need, and when the body is fully rested, you will be able to return to your regular 7-9 hours of sleep, turning in at your usual time and waking up to begin your day well. However, in the meantime, honor what your body is asking for.


2. Reflect on your previous routine pre-project/holidays

What I have done and did do this past weekend was pull out my old journals as I keep a list of my daily schedules as they evolved over time. I read them closely to understand how and why I chose them, and even though you may think you will remember, often, it is the details of the day that make it harmonize with what you need, so read and look closely.

Bring back what you missed, ignore what was a headache, and then read #3 . . .


3. Decompress

Now is the time to just put down on paper in a journal or talk with a counselor what you are relieved about, anxious about, hopeful about, excited about, etc..

Often we think by 'thinking about' each of these items in our head, we've helped ourselves out, but actually, they remain jumbled in our mind and we haven't sorted out the 'why' clearly or rationally.

When we see our thoughts on paper, when we hear our words spoken outloud and being received by another person who is objective, we can ascertain where we are being constructive in our thinking and where we are still stuck in the stress or jazzed-up, adrenaline fueled energy (that is unsustainable) caused by the project or holiday season.

Before we make any changes, additions or deletions, we want to make sure our mind is grounded, and our clarity of what we want our daily and weekly routine to foster understood without confusion by the previous temporary shifting of how we were going about our lives.


4. Don't do anything drastic

Often January turns into the month of extreme restriction - dry January or excessive working out. Essentially, reverting to extremes that are never intended to be a regular rhythm keeps us in a state of instability. No wonder we get out of rhythm easily and have difficulty shifting to a helpful pace if we swing from one extreme to the next. When we have a steady, grounding daily and weekly routine, we can savor those extras, those beautiful surprises, those moments that exceed our imaginations whenever they arise whether in January, December or anywhere in between for whatever reason.


5.Strengthen the foundation - food, exercise and mental massage

The tripod of health is something long talked about here on the blog. Make sure your three pillars of good health are tended to and brought back into rhythm in your routines - (1) what you eat, (2) your consistent physical exercise routine (aerobic, strength) and (3) regular strengthening of your mind.

In my case, my weekly grocery shopping became irregular as I usually shop on Mondays after reading through cookbooks and planning the week on Sundays. I look forward to returning to this weekly routine as the markets are quieter, often restocked after the weekend and the week becomes fresh and full of delicious meals waiting to be enjoyed.

My exercise thankfully does not need to be revamped as that was the self-care component that kept me steady throughout the regular changes and arrivals and tasks in the house happening - each week different than the next. The one thing the contractors did know was that Shannon would be out of the house in the morning with Norman taking a walk and would be back to answer questions momentarily.

My meditation and mindfulness practice wasn't perfectly steady, but it was inconsistently steady. So while I need to improve it, it will be easier to reset as I have been returning to it as often as my days allowed and always, without fail, felt steadier after each morning practice.


6. Find space and time for your social connections

Begin to look outside of your work schedule, if the project that was all consuming was work-related, and connect with people and events simply because you enjoy their company and/or the activities you were not able to make time for. While truthfully, we should not extricate time with either as it reveals we have taken them a bit too much for granted, spend time and energy to acknowledge this awareness and step back or toward what you know is vital to your connection for social engagement.

From carving out time for visiting a local bookshop with no intended purchase in mind, meeting a friend for drinks, taking in a local theater production, taking a day-trip with a loved one somewhere that catches the curiosity for you both, make time and share time together.


7. Finding Your Financial Footing

After the holidays, often our budgets take a hit, and after a project we've invested in, the same too may be the case.

It may seem the best idea is to go to extremes, and really ratchet down your spending, but often this is counter-intuitive, similar to drastic dieting.

The best idea is to set a plan for, yes, reduction of spending, but also for paying off what needs your financial attention. Take the long-term, intentional approach, to slow your speed and find a rhythm with money that will last not just through January, but ensure you don't ratchet up the excessive spending or investment again next December or when it comes to projects, keep in perspective your appreciation for what you have put your money into and not rush to the next project just to keep your 'mind' busy.

If you do want to do a hard, but not excessive reset, simply take one full week off in January from spending anything. This will give you time to assess, find your footing and clarify any decisions moving forward.


8. Begin to think less about the future and more about today

Initially this may seem counter-intuitive, but likely as the year began you set either resolutions or revolutions or at least an intention for the year. I have included a post below full of ideas for creating a fresh start.

Once you have approximately 3 (but no more than 5) specific outcomes you wish you attain over the year, clarify the behavior, activities and small steps you need to tend to in your everydays. Then, let go of thinking about the future, and focus on how you move through your days.

If your intention is to learn specific skills on becoming a better master of your mind, or a better communicator or more loving, explore this list of books and instead of seeing them as a huge task to conquer, purchase one book and move through it in your own time, in your own everydays, without evening thinking about what will be next. You know where to look when you are ready to for the next book should you want to read it, but for now, focus on what you are doing now.

In other words, when you were immersed in the project, you were likely thinking about the outcome more than you wanted to, which pulled you away from your everyday focus, savoring the life you have the good fortune to live, investing well in certain relationships because you were all-in on the project. However, that needs to change, and the change needs to bring us back into the present. Trusting we've put into place the small tasks to tend to that will lead us where we desire to arrive, but along the way, keep us open to the beauty of the everyday.


9. Now, let go

When we are so hyper focused on one aspect of life - the holidays or a project we hope will change our lives for the better, we have planned, we have looked ahead, and we then are often so laser focused, but we often forget to just be, to just let go, to fully see what is presented by the people we happen to meet, the events as they happen to occur, the weather that dances around the days we try to structure so rigidly.

Let go, immerse yourself in the life you love living, savoring the simple pleasures along the way, listening well and sharing yourself fully, and see what happens.

January need not be the extreme month of deprivation or punishment it often becomes, but rather a month to reset, to take a deep cleansing breath and settle into a rhythm that elevates our everydays, setting precedent for how we will move through the entire year that awaits our travel forward.


The Extra Item for the Blog Reader (not heard on the episode)

10. Have patience and be gentle with yourself

Often, especially after a jarring life event (if unwanted), all we want is to get back to steady, to get back to calm, and even if we love the outcome of the holidays or the project we have just wrapped up, we want to be able to snap our fingers and be back into our regular rolling through the day, but more time is needed.

It takes time to acclimate to any new or new-as-of-late routine or rhythm, and when we understand this, we can be gentle with ourselves. This is why, bringing back more self-care than you may normally do on a regular basis would be a good idea. Take an extra bath this week, be okay, spend more time meditating than you may normally do on a regular day, take on less work if you can manage that, just so you get your sea-legs back.

The rhythm you are resetting your life to follow will return but instead of demanding it arrive and becoming frustrated when you don't feel settled as quickly as you had hoped, know that its slow arrival will ensure it stays in your days for a good long while.

Now I am off to take a bubble bath and settle into my evening. Bonsoir.

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #321

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Direct download: 321Reset.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

“You were brave and it paid off.”

I am starting with where you will be at the end of 2022 because it is absolutely possible.

Yes, it is.

Let me first acknowledge where you might find your mind when you first read the title of today's post/episode followed by the quote. Doubtful, skeptical, it is wishful and empty thinking you present Shannon.

Okay, I hear you, I acknowledge those same feelings arose in my own mind when such a question - What If . . . ? and just that quote regarding being brave first crossed my path. After all, we all have reason to be terrified after the past two years due to everything that has unfolded, what has been revealed, what we have had to do to make it through. We all have beyond justifiable reason to play it safe, to hold on to what is left (or what we think is left), to be scared, to be doubtful, but I am choosing to look at it differently, and this will come as no surprise to readers of the blog and this podcast as the content shared on TSLL especially over the past two years, but over the entire life of the blog (12 years) has defaulted to possibilities becoming reality.

More than any time previously, collectively speaking, the world has witnessed both the privilege and the disparity, the unexpected and never predicted as well as the power of people. We can utilize what we have witnessed and elevate not only the lives of those around us, but our own life or we can ignore it and continue to just get along.

I choose the former and I am confident you will as well.

In the Broadway play If/Then with Idina Menzel cast in the lead role, a play I had the good fortune to watch in 2014 - my first ever to see with my own eyes in NYC - the idea is presented regarding what happens when two different paths are chosen by the same person. How does one's life unfold? Will we end up in the same place years removed or will we give up opportunity? Does fate play a role or not? From romance to career, to friendships, (there is even a song titled, What If? - listen to here or below), both storylines play out before theater-goers' eyes, and what is witnessed is that our choices do matter, our bravery matters; however, in both storylines, we cannot control the other pieces of the story - the other people, the world events, the interactions and storylines of other people and what they are going through in their own lives. But we can dare to love, dare to step forward into the unknown, dare to try, dare to be fully human and be kind and curious because when we choose this approach, we let love into our lives in both hoped for and unexpected ways, we create memories we never want to forget and we build relationships and legacies we are proud to have taken part in with our whole heart.

https://youtu.be/IiqiSEc1Msc

Below I have gathered up potential hoped for and desired scenarios you may hold in your heart as you stride into 2022 as Norman is striding onto the beach in the picture below. Paired with each I have included what each of us will need to do in our lives to ensure the best possibility for our hope to materialize. In other words, we cannot sit, cross our fingers and be passive. No, we must act, we must take part, we must engage and do so in constructive and secure ways to give the opportunity the best enticement to unfold before our very eyes.

Let's take a look at the list below.

What If . . . your health flourished?

What If . . . you met and built a healthy, loving relationship with someone?

  • Dare to trust and let go of stories: episode #319

  • Learn the skill of non-violent communication: check out #4 in this post/episode #294

  • Teach yourself how to be love in your everyday interactions.

  • Practice patience: be investigative rather than expectant, let yourself be amazed as you courageously reveal yourself gradually and attentively observe them as they reveal themselves to you.

What If . . . the world changed in a way that opened up unexpected possibilities in which your skill-set soars?

What If . . . you found a steady peace of mind in your everydays?

What If . . . you fell in love with the work you do or began doing work you love?

Our lives are unfolding as we read this post. And the gift to each of us is that we are here, alive and capable of being the main character in our story if we choose to engage fully.

By choosing to engage with loving-kindness and integrity in each of our actions, we build a force of energy full of peace of mind as we know while we have been true to ourselves we have also considered those we love and what selflessly is what will honor their journey as well. We don't ignore ourselves, but rather respect ourselves. We are loving in the thoughts we let about in our mind which further strengthens our peace of mind and how we 'see' the world, we are loving in our actions, we are loving with our words. But rest assured, being loving doesn't mean being weak or soft or a push-over, but it does require us to allow others to be who they are even when it doesn't make sense to us, even if it is different than how we would live our lives. Loving asks us to extend appreciation, sincerely and often which means we must look for what is going well all the time which makes it far more difficult to look for what is not going well, thus limiting or eliminating any reason to complain. Loving asks us to be affectionate, to be vulnerable and not withhold giving love to others - a touch of the arm, a hug, a kiss, a kind word.

So won't you too step forward and dare to elevate the potential of what this year can bring into your life and those you love?

Living in the mindset of "What If . . . ?" is not to hold on to hope. In the context of what we are talking about today, it is a taking responsibility of our actions, how we present ourselves - the thoughts that turn into words, the words we use, the tone surrounding those words, the actions we take rather than being passive, what we step toward and engage with and what we let go and let be.

Living in the mindset of 'What If . . .?" removes us from the director's chair and puts us on the stage of life to engage with what is presented by others on the stage with us at any given moment.

Living in the mindset of 'What If . . . ?' requires us to live in awareness and to take action where we acknowledge we need to grow, where we are hindered by our current choices/actions/thoughts the life we desire from materializing. It requires us to handle our egos with command of understanding when it is unhelpful and guiding us down a path that will not be fortuitous, and also knowing when it can help us, but never letting it lead.

Living in the mindset of 'What If . . . ?' reiterates the importance of putting in the time. Time when we are not recognized, not out in front of the crowd, not receiving attention, but instead trusting ourselves to invest with both our time, our money, our focus to create the possibility of a new reality.

May 2022 delight and amaze you, and may you find the courage to be brave. Here we go!

SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY



Petit Plaisir

~Hacks, HBO Max

SKIMS Cozy Bouclé Robe (bone, and more colors)

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #320

~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

Direct download: 320WhatIfTake2.mp3
Category:lifestyle -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

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